Classics that flopped on first release

Discussion in 'The Moving Picture' started by Inkstainedwretch, Sep 6, 2016.

  1. Inkstainedwretch

    Inkstainedwretch One Too Many

    United States
    This is about the great films that were not appreciated when they first hit the theaters, but became classics later, when they went to television/video.

    The earliest I can think of is Disney's "Fantasia." It had a huge Disney buildup but Middle America just didn't get the point. Way ahead of its time.

    "The Wizard of Oz." Had everything going for it but Depression audiences rejected it. Became a classic on tv in the '50s.

    "Blade Runner." Critics and audiences alike didn't get it in the early '80s. Became a recognized masterpiece on VHS and DVD.

    Any others?
  2. Stearmen

    Stearmen I'll Lock Up

    • The Shawshank Redemption
    • Office Space
    • The Big Lebowski
    • Citizen Kane
    • It's A Wonderful Life
    2jakes and Touchofevil like this.
  3. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    "Duck Soup." It cost the Marx Brothers their contract at Paramount, and sent them into the waiting embrace of Irving Thalberg, who immediately gelded them. It didn't become "a classic" until college kids adopted it as one of their favorites in the 1960s.

    Abel Gance's "Napoleon," at least so far as the US is concerned. The original version screened only once, in Paris, before being taken out of Gance's hands and cut up by various distributors. MGM released it in the US as a butcherd 90 minute programmer that made no sense at all, and was panned by every critic. It didn't become "a classic" until Kevin Brownlow's reconstruction played in the US in the early 1980s.

    Buster Keaton's "The General" lost a bundle of money, because American audiences were apparently not ready for a war comedy in which people were flat-out killed.
  4. 2jakes

    2jakes I'll Lock Up

    Alamo Heights ☀️ Texas
    My all-time favorite screwball comedy.

    A flop upon it’s release in 1938 with Kate being labeled as

    Last edited: Sep 23, 2016
    Mae and Stearmen like this.
  5. 2jakes

    2jakes I'll Lock Up

    Alamo Heights ☀️ Texas
    "A Christmas Story" is a favorite holiday flick even though studio execs did think so at first.

    Also "Fistfull of Dollars" which was released in Europe in '64 and
    not until 1967 was it shown in
    the U.S. with most critics panning

    Nevertheless these spaghetti westerns including the music,
    made gold.

    The last one saving my
    bacon during my tour of Vietnam.
    I overslept after watching the late viewing.
    Missed my flight which went down.

    Thanks Clint.
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2016
  6. Harp

    Harp I'll Lock Up

    Chicago, IL US

    A double digit midget missed the chopper, which was shot down. Another time a VC mortar in Saigon tried for a takeoff strike. Luck can rule or run.
  7. 1mach1


    Arlington, Virginia
    Brazil (1985)
  8. Edward

    Edward Bartender

    London, UK
    It's interesting how many 'classics' this happened with - films that we nowthing of as era-defining and such. Perhaps there's an element of instinctive revisionism in that....

    While now regarded as one of the ultimate cult films, the Rocky Horror Picture Show bombed on release in 1975. Panned by critics, not least for shoddy production values. It could have been a big, glossy, rockstar-filled hit, but Jim Sharman, O'Brien and their team wanted to stick with the little family they'd created across the various original stageshow productions (London and the Roxy in LA, both of which were big hits; then the Belasco in NY, which flopped, as I recall.) Fox agreed, but stiffed them on the budget by way of return: USD1 million only (roughlt equivalent to eight million today). In 76, the film was put out on rotation on the midnight circuit in order to try and claw back some of the money it lost, and from those screenings was born the cult we know today. These days, it could equally have been a cult hit, but as it would have gone straight to DVD, it would have been a whole different animal, without the 'community' element that made it what it now is.

    In more recent times, Zoolander failed to set the box office alight, but became such a hit on DVD that it is now considered a classic, and spawned a big screen sequel over a decade after the original.

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