One would imagine that some of the greatest films ever made must have become so by the virtue of being massive box office successes. However, that is not always the case, as you’re about to find out. 

1. The Shawshank Redemption

I hope, we have all watched The Shawshank Redemption. I hope. It’s an amazing film. But did you know, when it released in 1994, it had actually flopped earning only $16 million during its initial theatrical run? Upon its release, it was competing with Pulp Fiction and Forrest Gump. And being a prison film didn’t help its cause either. 

Vanity Fair

2. Annihilation

The Alex Garland sci-fi thriller staring Natalie Portman garnered some serious critical acclaim and is widely considered to be one of the better sci-fi movies to have ever been made. However, it only grossed $32 million on a production budget of at least $40 million.

3. Children of Men

This dystopian drama directed by Alfonso Cuarón received Oscar nominations for Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, and Best Film Editing. However, it only earned $70 million worldwide and just $35 million in the U.S. despite a budget of $76 million.


4. Fight Club

YES! Even Fight Club was a dud at the box office. Widely considered as one of the most iconic films ever made, it only earned $36 million at the box office. Apparently, Fox had advertised it as an action film and promoted it at wrestling events, which clearly baffled the audiences that flocked to the theatres wanting to watch a very different movie. 


5. The Master

While the film earned Oscar nominations for all three main actors: Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Amy Adams, it managed a meagre $16 million in the U.S. and only $28.3 million worldwide. It opened as an indie darling but was drowned out by big budget movies releasing that fall. 

Empire Onlin

6. Scott Pilgrim vs The World

Everyone has seen this film at some point. It has gained a cult status now. However, when it released, not many people cared. The Michael Cera-led comedy bombed with $30 million in the U.S. and less than $50 million worldwide despite having a budget of $60 million. What it did though, was launch the career of Brie Larsen and aren’t MCU fans grateful for that!

Student involvement

7. Sunshine

The 2007 sci-fi film starring Cillian Murphy was visual masterpiece for the time. It told the story of astronauts on a mission to save the dying sun. However, it only earned $3 million in the US and $28 million worldwide despite a budget of $40 million. 

Nathan zoebel

8. Warrior

The Tom Hardy-starrer is widely considered to be the best mixed martial arts film ever made. It was gritty, emotional and hurt you in ways you didn’t know you could get hurt. Amazing performances by the leads, Hardy, Joel Edgerton and Nick Nolte made sure you stuck with the brothers till the end. It even earned Nolte an Oscar nomination. However, it bombed with just $13 million in its pockets. 

And so it begins

9. Citizen Kane

Considered widely to be one of the best films that have ever been made, Citizen Kane had originally failed at the box office. RKO Pictures lost roughly $160,000 on Citizen Kane, but managed nine Oscar nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director for Orson Welles. 

The Guardian

10. Mullholland Drive

While time has been kinder to this David Lynch thriller, the box office wasn’t. Named the best film of the 21st century by BBC, the movie only made $7 million despite a budget of $15 million and remains one of the rare failures of Lynch’s career. 

Aural Crave

As you can imagine, this is not a recent phenomena. However, with the rise in OTT platforms, one can hope that good films actually get their due.