Box Office Bombs That Were Actually Pretty Good

Quite a few of my favorite movies are not necessarily movies that were big financial successes.

Blade Runner is considered one of the best science fiction films ever made. It's beautifully made and I dare say that Ridley Scott never made a film as great as that one afterward.

But did you know that it came out at roughly the same time as E.T. and The Thing? All three of those films competing at once. Can you imagine? No wonder it didn't make a lot of money.

But Blade Runner isn't the only example of a film that saw more of an audience well after its initial release. Far from it.

People shared their thoughts with us after Redditor Okwar3191 asked the online community:

"What's a movie that bombed at the box office but was actually pretty good?"

The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

"The Shawshank Redemption notoriously bombed at the box office and went on to receive critical acclaim."


This is an excellent example. It's one of the most popular films of the last 30 years but if you lacked context, you'd think otherwise.

The Thing (1982)

"The Thing."

"One of my all-time favorite horror movies! I understand it's regularly taught in film schools, not just for the practical effects, but for the paranoia that was central to the story. You never knew, even at the very end, who was genuinely human and who was an imitation."


Good call! The Thing is probably director John Carpenter's finest film — yes, even better than Halloween.

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)

"For the classic film it is, the 1971 Willy Wonka film didn’t do well at the box office and earned lower than the budget was for it."


A good choice. I'm not a fan of it myself but there's no denying it's a classic. Quite a surprise that it didn't make a lot of money back in the day.

Clue (1985)

"Clue. Given its current reputation, it's hard to believe it didn't make its budget back."


This is partly because of the way it was marketed — instead of the film having three endings that aired one after another, they released three separate cuts, each with its own ending.

The schtick was that you wouldn't know which ending you were going to see, and that you could see it multiple times to try to see the other endings. Needless to say, audiences didn't find that prospect appealing.

It's a Wonderful Life (1946)

"It's a Wonderful Life is probably the biggest example of this. It was an absolute flop at the box office. It almost killed the studio that made it."

"At one point there was some debate about ownership of it and nobody wanted it so TV networks could air it without paying anyone. That's when it started getting shown on TV constantly around Christmas, and it gained it's status as one of the best Christmas movies of all time."


A phenomenal movie. I'm glad it was made and that it found a second life on television.

Tremors (1990)

"Tremors. I saw Tremors late at night, probably on USA, during a stretch of insomnia. It was far better than it had any right to be."


Tremors is incredible and immensely rewatchable. And correct — it totally flopped back in the day.

The Princess Bride (1987)

"The Princess Bride."

"They didn't know how to market it. Is it a fantasy film? Is it an action film? Is it a comedy? Is it for kids? All the reasons it became a classic are the same reasons they couldn't get people into the theaters to see it."


This is a blessing in disguise, as they never felt the need to make 2 Princess 2 Bride and retroactively ruin it.

The Iron Giant (1999)

"I don't know if it "bombed" but Iron Giant was supposed to get a sequel and they decided not to do it because apparently the first movie didn't do well enough in theaters. I would have loved a sequel."


I love Iron Giant, but I'm glad it didn't get a sequel.

I think I'm happier imagining all of the iron giant's body parts scaring the bejesus out of passersby as they crawl their way toward the head.

Galaxy Quest (1999)

"Galaxy Quest. Galaxy Quest and Kung Fu Hustle are my two desert island choices. I can always watch either one and be completely happy to do so."


The victim of poor marketing. The marketing team decided to go with the goofy comedy for kids was the right way to sell it, when it reality it was semi-serious comedy aimed at adults that just happened to be kid friendly.

Big Trouble in Little China (1986)

"Big Trouble in Little China. The history of John Carpenter films."



See the aforementioned The Thing.

Chances are that your favorite movie wasn't necessarily a box office success. Be glad it was made — it's no doubt brought a lot of joy to you over the years!

Have some movies of your own to share? Tell us more in the comments below!

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