One of the most interesting things about films is that a movie can do badly at the box office but still make waves later. Sometimes, a movie might not seem impressive when seen at your favorite Movie Tavern but will prove to be more enjoyable when seen at home.
This might sound odd because how can an enjoyable movie not deliver the best effects in a cinema where it’s meant to be seen? A lot of cult films prove can this to be true. In fact, a lot of cult films can prove that some movies age like wine and gets better every time you see it.
How? Here are a few cult films that demonstrate how a film can take a 180 turn and still be a hit even after failing to make good box office numbers:
Thirty years after its initial release, Heathers is still hailed as one of the best teen flicks out there, thanks to its unique charm. With its dark theme that contrasts perfectly with the bright and young cast and the cutting one-liners, it can be argued that it’s pretty much on a league of its own.
Unfortunately, it didn’t do well in the box office despite only having a production budget of $3 million.
Experts say, however, that it turned into a cult classic thanks to Winona Ryder’s climb to fame and the quotable lines that make this movie a masterpiece.
Another dark teen flick that became a cult classic after flopping at the box office is Donnie Darko. This very movie helped launched Jake Gyllenhaal’s career even if its release didn’t do well.
With a budget of $6 million, this movie did so frustratingly bad as it barely sold tickets during its first weekend. It also took a year before it was released internationally. The DVD was also released around this time and it was shown for midnight screenings in New York. It reached cult status after about two years which was when its director’s cut was released.
The Big Lebowski
Even if you’ve never seen the Big Lebowski ever (why, though?), there’s a very good chance that you’ve heard of it before. It’s a very common pop culture reference in books, movies, and TV shows that fully reaffirm the film’s cult status. This is why it can be surprising to know that it failed at the box office.
To be fair, this flick’s box office failure wasn’t entirely its fault. It was released at the same time as the Titanic and we all know just how massive that spectacle was. It also received mixed reviews so that might also have put off some potential viewers. It was still able to recuperate its production budget at the very least.
Despite tanking in the box office, it was still able to become a cult following later on. It can even be argued that it created one of the biggest followings as it has inspired a film festival and even a religion.
Another cult classic that you might not expect to have bombed in the box office is Clue. Being the first game to movie adaptation, it didn’t exactly excite a lot of people. This explains why it barely earned back its $15 million budget when it was released.
The tides turned during its VHS release as it was marked down from $100 to $20. People lined up to get their copies that will also let them enjoy their new VCR players at home. They fell in love with the comedy and now it’s a hallmark choose your own adventure film.
Following the success of Clerks, Mall Rats became a victim of comparison by those who enjoyed Kevin Smith’s debut. It also didn’t help that the production company didn’t even market the movie, so it shouldn’t be too surprising that it didn’t do well in the cinemas.
It became a cult classic through its creator’s sheer power, though. Kevin Smith’s cult following may be at its early years during this movie’s release but it was enough to give Mall Rats a cult status.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show
Despite getting great reviews from critics, The Rocky Horror Picture Show still didn’t fare well at the box office. It’s very limited release might have stunted its potential since it was only screened in eight cities during its initial release in 1975. It was soon pulled out of cinemas due to low viewer turn out.
Things changed for the film when it was shown in midnight screenings in New York the next year. It only needed the right audience and schedule to make it a cult classic because theaters continued to screen it every weekend for the next few years.
The legacy of the bizarre Rocky Horror Picture Show continues today as it still gets screened in various theaters around the country during Halloween. It even got a remake in 2016, although, it didn’t really compare to the grandiose and charm of the original.