13 Movies That Were Massive Failures At The Box Office, But Now Are Classics People Love

Image Credit: Walt Disney Pictures

There’s no accounting for taste or current public opinion, especially when it comes to art. Something is terrible one day, people love it a month later after it gets a cult following, and sometimes, it takes years (or more) for people to really embrace something that was once dubbed a failure.

One of my favorite examples is It’s a Wonderful Life, the now-adored Frank Capra drama about a man who learns that life is about more than success and money and adventure. People really hated it when it hit theaters; I bet a few of those people were gobsmacked to see it become a beloved holiday staple in thousands of homes.

Here are 13 other movies that you probably can’t imagine life without – but were totally panned and dismissed at the box office.

13. Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World

This movie might have been a little too niche and uncomfortable for the mainstream audience – it lost around $12k – but since then it’s amazing cast, killer aesthetic, and quotable script have endeared it to many.

11. Mother!

Despite an all-star cast (Jennifer Lawrence in the lead!), people just weren’t interested in this film and it barely made any money at all. Since then, people have embraced the quiet horror parable and is celebrated by fans and critics alike.

10. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

This film made about $1M, still considered a flop in the industry. To be fair…that movie is pretty messed up. You kind of have to go into it knowing what to expect and being okay with it.

9. Donnie Darko

This one flopped to the tune of $3M and only stayed in the theaters for about 28 days. It was unsettling and unique, and came out about a month after 9/11, but since the world has changed, people have come to embrace this little cult hit.

8. The Rocky Horror Picture Show

No one is really sure how much this one lost, but it was a good bit – since its original release in 1975, though, it’s been screened longer than any other movie. It’s a legacy.

7. Blade Runner

It might surprise you to learn that both Blade Runner movies underperformed at the box office, but here we are. Of course they’ve found much love among scifi lovers the world over.

6. Heathers


This precursor to the modern power chick flick lost almost $2M at the box office, but has made up for it with video, a musical, and even a television series.

5. Hocus Pocus

Personally, I don’t get the love but this is a Halloween staple in so many households. Audiences agreed with me at the outset, and didn’t seem to really connect.

4. Kubo and the Two Strings

This one made a relatively small amount of money, but audiences soon realized what they were missing and embraced this fantasy gem.

3. Matilda

I can’t believe this one wasn’t a smash-hit from the start, but there’s no accounting for taste. Critics were generally positive, and now, of course, people have embraced this off-beat story.

2. The Shawshank Redemption

These filmmakers barely made their money back on a movie that would come to be almost universally beloved. It did impress the Academy, though, and with a re-release, people began to see what they had initially missed.

1. Almost Famous

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love this Cameron Crowe classic, but it totally busted at the box office. People now love this coming-of-age drama for its cast and vintage feel.

Good art always rises to the top in time, like cream.

Can you think of other movies you would put on this list? Share with us in the comments!