Special Report

Classic Movies That Flopped When They Came Out

As the lackluster box office performance of Steven Spielberg’s new “West Side Story” – released 60 years after the original film version – goes to show, quality entertainment doesn’t always lead to strong ticket sales.

Every now and then, however, a movie that bombs during its initial release goes on to become a considerable success through rentals, streaming, and theatrical re-releases. Some are regarded as cult classics while others have become so popular or ubiquitous on streaming platforms and other media that it’s a miracle they ever failed in the first place. (For a list of movies whose fortunes didn’t revive, here are the biggest flops in Hollywood history).

Using an index based on audience and critic scores from Rotten Tomatoes and ticket sales figures from The Numbers, 24/7 Tempo has assembled a list of 25 movies that are now considered classics, but that bombed at the box office when they were first released.

Why did these now-iconic films tank in theaters? One might wonder. The reasons can vary from one title to the next. Sometimes the film wasn’t marketed properly. Other times, it rolled out to stiff competition and floundered as a result. Whatever the case, it won out in the end and even out-paced certain contemporaries in terms of lasting cultural value. Examples include “Office Space,” “Fight Club,” and “The Shawshank Redemption,” all of which underperformed at the box office. (Who’s ready to hate-watch?! Here are the worst movies of all time).

Click here to see a list of movies that did terribly when they came out but are now considered classics

It all goes to show that genuine quality and unique perspective will find a way, even if it takes years. Does that mean there’s still hope for the recent “West Side Story” remake? Time will tell.

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