Sometimes critics (myself included) get a bad reputation from fans (also myself included) for being to critical and for good reason. You would be mad too if someone decided to get objective towards something you love. Whether it’s bashing two superheroes that don’t fight for a good 80 minutes in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice or finding no humor in giant robotic testicle jokes delivered by Michael Bay in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, critics always feel the wrath when they’re honest. As evil and terrible (all things I have been called personally based on a review) critics can come across when they rip a trailer of a classic being poorly remade, there are many movies that wouldn’t see an audience if it wasn’t for the critics being out in front of the film praising the work on-screen.
Small movies like Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction created a big buzz by recieiving excellent reviews and winning the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. This helped the film gross over $100 million dollars turning the little crime film into a dark horse hit. The Best Picture nominee would have probably gone unnoticed if it wasn’t for the critical acclaim that surrounded the film. The same goes for the big budget tent pole films as well. No one knew for sure if a tree, a raccoon and an unproven Chris Pratt could lead Marvel fans into the stars. After critics were allowed to see the comic space western early, they assured fans Guardians of the Galaxy was amazing and the film went on to gross $333 million in the US.
Fans don’t always listen and in turn they can find themselves missing out on a classic and being late to the party when it comes to certain movies. You would be shocked at the amount of beloved films that has enormous praise bestowed upon them by critics that were considered box office duds. In these instances the reviewers knew what they were talking about even if fans and ticket sales didn’t suggest that initially. Let’s check out ‘The 4: Classic Movie Flops’.
The Iron Giant
Budget: $70 Million
Initial Gross Domestic: $23 Million
Beloved by critics and the minimal amount of theater patrons who saw the film in 1999, The Iron Giant is a rarity. A fantastic animated family film with glowing reviews that bombed at the box office. So many bad kid’s films make bank so it’s ashamed to think The Iron Giant was all, but ignored heading into the turn of the century. Brad Bird (The Incredibles and Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol) who is considered Pixar royalty today directed the animated feature about a boy in the 1950s that befriends a mysterious iron giant. The film is full of humor, action and a whole lot of heart. I myself as a critic should be ashamed after leaving the heartwarming last scene of The Iron Giant off The 4: Final Scenes. Luckily, the film was discovered by fans and is now revered as an animated classic with it’s blend of hand drawn and computer animation. The film recently saw a remastered rerelease in a Signature Edition allowing fans to see the film on the big screen after missing it the first time around. If you have never seen The Iron Giant, check it out immediately. Don’t be afraid of the kid movie package.
Dazed and Confused
Budget: $6.9 Million
Initial Gross Domestic: $7.9 Million
Dazed and Confused may have made a million dollars, but that amount of money split up a hundred different ways throughout the studio process doesn’t amount to anything at the end of the day. Speaking of the end of the day, Dazed and Confused is a coming of age story about a group of high school juniors who spend their last day of school in Texas circa 1976 having a good time partying around their small town. Critics loved the film, but the rated R, drug fueled content couldn’t find an audience in a limited release in 1993. Once the budget was made back, Universal called it a day and Dazed and Confused headed to video. At home is where the high school movie about nothing turned into something. Teens related to the kids in the film, parents saw themselves in the characters since the film takes place in 1976 and the phrase “Alright, Alright, Alright!” became a fixture in American Pop Culture. If everyone would have listened to the critics, maybe Dazed and Confused could have been the crossover box office success Richard Linklater and Universal hoped it would be.
The Shawshank Redemption
Budget: $25 Million
Initial Gross Domestic: $16 Million ($28 Million after 1995 rerelease)
For a movie that people can’t seem to turn off when it’s on, it’s amazing to think The Shawshank Redemption was all, but ignored in the film’s initial release. Based on the story by Stephen King, Shawshank (as referred to for short by its countless fans) arrived in theaters with zero fan fare. Critics heaped praise on the film, but it only managed to make $16 million dollars at the box office. The Shawshank Redemption was an afterthought in the class of 1994 until the film was nominated for seven Oscars. Shawshank was given a rerelease in March of 1995 and the film finally emerged from the red earning a total of $28 million dollars. Still a small number considered how revered the movie is today ranking near the top of many all time film lists.
The Wizard of Oz
Budget: $2.7 Million
Initial Gross Domestic:$2 Million ($3.1 Million after 1949 rerelease)
Arguably the greatest film of all time was considered a financial flop. The Wizard of Oz had an enormous budget for 1939 standards and despite rave reviews and six Oscar nominations, the film couldn’t find an audience big enough to recoup the money spent on distribution. Even with close to a million dollars in international ticket sales, the film lost a ton of money because of distribution and marketing costs. It wasn’t until a 1949 rerelease that The Wizard of Oz finally turned a profit and found an audience turning the film into a classic that is passed down from generation to generation. Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion may be permanent fixtures in pop culture now, but in their infancy, they were considered failures in the studios eyes losing over 1.1 million dollars in its original run. I’m pretty sure the critics got this one right.
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Read all my reviews here–>Entertainment Now with T.M. Powell