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Cult Classics That Bombed at the Box Office

Donnie Darko

Donnie Darko was released in theatres on October 26th, 2001. The film barely earned enough to break even with the production budget. The film didn’t perform well likely because it was released very soon after the terrorist attacks on 9/11. This left many American citizens shaken. It probably discouraged a lot of people from going out to watch the latest sci-fi thriller. This Halloween-themed movie is more of a psychological thriller than a classic horror. It has gained a cult following akin to many classic horror films.

The film starred Jake Gyllenhaal, and the film didn’t have a great reception initially. Fans later agreed that Donnie Darko was his breakthrough film. Maybe the world just wasn’t ready for the twisted, psychological mind-games present throughout the film when it was released. Today, however, it has become incredibly popular, and it even inspired a sequel as well as a stage adaptation.

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

Today, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is considered a classic, beloved by adults and children alike. It is based on the Roald Dahl novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The film was released in 1971 and featured the wonderful actor Gene Wilder. However, not only it perform poorly at the box-office, but the movie failed to capture the positive attention of critics. Gene Siskel described the film as “barely acceptable,”. Even The New York Times cruelly reported it to be “tedious and stagy.”

The film was produced by Paramount Pictures. The one who relinquished the film’s rights in 1977. He managed to earn a third of what it cost to make. Warner Bros., however, saw the value in the film, and purchased it for $550,000, desperately cheap considering the film cost $3 million to produce. Warner Bros. used their marketing expertise to air it on television, and before long, the nation realized just how wonderful Willy Wonka truly was.

Office Space

The quirky comedy Office Space was released in theatres in 1999. The film barely broke even, and it hardly left a mark on the world until it was released to video. Many viewers found the poster confusing, and advertisements unfortunately made it seem boring. After its disappointing run in the theatre, the movie was repeatedly aired on television. A few years later, bringing in more audience members that would soon fall in love with the hilarious film. Before long, many snippets of dialogue became essential parts of everyday conversation, and the movie even led to the birth of a few early memes, some of which are still used today.

Office Space also eventually inspired the creation of the beloved sit-com The Office, although the two are very different from one another.

The Shawshank Redemption

Most people are shocked to learn that The Shawshank Redemption bombed at the box-office. After all, it stars both Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins, and is based on a Steven King novel. However, it performed terribly in theatres, running number nine the weekend it was released. It only earned $16 million in theatres, but the film cost $25 million to make! Unfortunately, both Forrest Gump and Pulp Fiction were in theatres at the time, and The Shawshank Redemption had a lot of competition. Furthermore, movies about prison life weren’t popular at the time, making it a risky move. Thankfully, film critics saw the genius in the movie, and it was nominated for seven Academy Awards. Today, it is ranked #1 on IMDb’s poll of the greatest films ever made.

If you think that The Shawshank Redemption’s box-office bomb was surprising, you’re in for an even bigger shock. Make sure you stick around until the very end, where we’ll reveal which one of the most iconic films in American history was a disaster at the box-office. And, if you’re enjoying this video so far, please take a moment to like the video and subscribe to our channel for more.


The 1985 film Clue has earned the well-deserved reputation of one of the most legendary films of all time. However, it was half a million dollars short of its budget after it was released in theatres. It wasn’t until the 1990s, however, that Clue found its way into the hearts of its audience members. Surprisingly, the board game was far more popular than the film at the time, and young children who loved the game were delighted to discover that it was also a movie. The younger generation actually ended up discovering the true genius of the movie, and before long, it was all anyone would talk about.

The fact that the movie was played across many television channels also certainly helped it to reach a wider audience, of course. The rebirth of the movie surprised the actors, and star Tim Curry even described its resurgence in popularity as “a bit of déjà vu.”

Blade Runner

Shockingly, the iconic 1982 film Blade Runner absolutely tanked after its release. This came as a huge surprise to many of the people involved in the making of the movie, especially since Harrison Ford was a household name from his work in Star Wars. It failed to break even at the box-office, and critics complained that it was too slow and boring to be captivating. However, after a few years, the film gained more acclaim from audience members. According to The Guardian, it is the best science-fiction film ever made, and it had a huge impact on other films in the genre. In fact, it’s influence ended up playing a huge part in the science fiction films that we know and love today. The film became so popular that it even earned a sequel in 2017, Blade Runner 2049.


Heathers was released in 1989, but the high school satire film didn’t strike a chord with many. Likely, many people didn’t realise that the film was satirical, and thought it was just another rom-com about high school. Sadly, the movie didn’t even make half of its budget while it was in theatres. After it was released to home video, however, it soon grew in popularity. Today, its popularity has soared even more. It inspired a musical of the same name, as well as a TV adaptation. Heathers is just one of those precious gems of a movie which proves that, sometimes, a good thing is worth waiting for. The world may not have been ready for the movie when it was first made, but it certainly is now!

The Wizard of Oz

This wonderful film has gone down in history as one of the most iconic cinematic masterpieces ever created. However, Metro-Goldwyn Mayer lost $1.1 million dollars after the film was released. Part of this can largely be owed to the film’s insane budget of $3 million, which is roughly equivalent to $56 billion dollars today. It was originally described as being a “dismal failure” by the producers, although the crew was aware that fantasy films are always high risk. Today, we can’t be thankful enough that the creators took that risk, because The Wizard of Oz ended up being one of the most beloved and influential films in history.

Were you more shocked to learn that The Shawshank Redemption bombed at the box-office, or The Wizard of Oz? Let us know in the comments below, and don’t forget to subscribe to Facts Verse for more!

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