No director has risen to the pinnacle of Hollywood – and stayed there – without surviving the occasional flop. Everyone from Steven Spielberg and Quentin Tarantino to Martin Scorsese and Denis Villeneuve released a film that, for whatever reason, didn’t resonate with audiences during its initial release. Film is a fickle industry and if you make enough films, one of them is bound to fail.
Many, many movies fail because they are absolutely bad. In fact, if a blockbuster or big franchise does poorly at the box office, it’s safe to assume that the bad reviews and poor word-of-mouth are what scared audiences away. 2023 has given us many examples of big-budget flops that flopped due to poor quality, such as ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’. Considering the slew of badass superhero and action movies that are able to make a profit on name recognition alone, those are usually the most catastrophic and memorable failures.
That said, there are a multitude of other reasons a film can lose money at the box office. Many great films have fallen victim to bad timing, ineffective marketing campaigns, or just too “out there” for general audiences. This year has also given us examples of gems that have sadly been overlooked in their stage run, such as the charming family comedy “Are You There God? It’s me, Margaret. Fortunately, a disappointing stage performance doesn’t have to be a death sentence, and many flops are reevaluated as classics, cult or otherwise, in their own right. Read on to see some of our favorite movies that have been storming the box office.
Ryan Lattanzio, Zack Sharf and Christian Zilko contributed to this story.
(Editor’s note: This post was published in July 2019 and has been updated several times since.)