A movie can flop at the box office for any number of reasons. It could, for example, have had a mismanaged marketing campaign that sold the audience short. Or maybe there were bigger, more mainstream offerings from rival studios released at the same time. But arguably one of the main factors for financial failure is that the movie is, well, simply not very good. Yet there have been some great movies with bad box-office receipts – and here are 20 to revisit.
20. Donnie Darko (2001)
Cost to make: $4.5 million
Box-office takings: $517,375
Before director Richard Kelly had shot a frame of his cult classic Donnie Darko, he’d been told that the movie would be impossible to market. The logic here, as Kelly told Forbes in 2016, was that “it didn’t fit into any category.” In addition, the film came out less than a month after 9/11. So, it’s perhaps unsurprising that its box-office receipts were poor. Still, the movie eventually found an audience who came to adore its bold and fearless storytelling.
19. Fight Club (1999)
Cost to make: $63 million
Box-office takings: $37,030,102
According to IMDb users, David Fincher’s Fight Club is the tenth-best movie ever made. And on Rotten Tomatoes, the film scores a “certified fresh” rating of 79 percent among critics. So how did such a celebrated movie fail at the box office? Well, film critic Emanuel Levy reported in 2014 that Fincher blamed the advertising department. “Fox marketed Fight Club mostly on the World Wrestling Federation. That’s when I knew we were doomed,” the director reportedly said.