The Comeback Kids: 7 Films that Overcame Box Office Disappointment to Achieve Legendary Status

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These films proved that even a flop can have staying power.

The Wizard of Oz, 1939

Victor Fleming's musical fantasy film didn't receive much acclaim from the audience who wasn't particularly impressed by the story. Besides, The Wizard of Oz had to withstand the competition from the cult mini-series Gone with the Wind, which came out around the same time. However, ten years later, the movie was recognized as a major cinematic masterpiece of the 20th century.

The Shawshank Redemption, 1994

Once again, the movie's poor box-office performance was sheer bad luck: The Shawshank Redemption had to face tough competition from Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction, which was screened in theaters at the same time. In addition, the film was found too complicated by some viewers, which further discouraged the audience from watching it. Still, Frank Darabont's movie was praised by critics and received nine Oscar nominations. It was only years later that the film gained a cult following.

Blade Runner, 1982

This is another cult film that initially failed at the box office. Ridley Scott's sci-fi masterpiece was criticized for the abundance of special effects, which dragged attention away from the plot, as well as slow pacing and lack of action. Some critics suggested that the audience just wasn't ready for the picture and that it will become successful over time. They were right: Blade Runner received Academy Awards for Best Visual Effects and Production Design, and years later, the film is considered a sci-fi classic.

Blade Runner 2049, 2017

The sequel to the 1982 Blade Runner wasn't a success either — for some reason, moviegoers weren't willing to attend the premiere. Director Denis Villeneuve suggested that viewers were reluctant to see it because of the film's lengthy runtime. Those who did watch Blade Runner 2049 were disappointed too: it was advertised as an action movie, but in reality, the film was too slow.

On the contrary, critics were delighted with the sequel and speculated that, just like its 80s predecessor, Blade Runner 2049 would also one day become a cinematic legend.

Fight Club, 1999

David Fincher's classic cost $63 million to make but grossed only about $100 million at the box office. That wasn't a complete flop, but the creators expected bigger numbers. Nevertheless, Fight Club gained cult film status and was acclaimed for Brad Pitt and Edward Norton's outstanding performances.

Donnie Darko, 2001

Donnie Darko didn't just flop — it flopped badly: against the $4.5 million dollars spent on production, the film only managed to earn $517,000. Critics blamed Donnie Darko's bad timing: the film premiered on October 1, 2001, only a few weeks after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York.

Original Sin, 2001

Despite the film's star-studded cast of Angelina Jolie and Antonio Banderas, Original Sin wasn't successful at the box office. Perhaps, this was due to the film's numerous sex scenes: only the adult audience could watch it at the cinema. Over time, however, Michael Cristofer's movie attracted the attention of the wider public and was recognized as a classic erotic thriller.