Movie producers and directors covet awards that qualify their films as critical successes. An Oscar or Golden Globe can earn a movie great prestige among peers and moviegoers, but these awards don't always translate into success in terms of box office revenue. Below are five films that were praised by critics but still qualified as bombs from a revenue standpoint.
"The Artist" won the Oscar for best picture at the 2011 Academy Awards. The film also saw a big jump in revenue as a result of the Oscar win. Despite the acclaim, "The Artist" still only garnered around $40 million in total box office revenue. However, the film still turned a profit. "The Artist" cost an estimated $14 million to make, but it still qualifies as a flop. To be considered a blockbuster, a film has to generally earn $100 million or more at the box office. In this case, critical acclaim failed to push enough audience members into the theater.
"Man on the Moon"
Back in 1999, comedian Jim Carrey was hoping for an Oscar for playing comedian Andy Kaufman in the movie "Man on the Moon." Somewhat surprisingly, the movie cost quite a bit to make. Total production costs were pegged at $82 million. However, the movie brought in total estimated global box office revenue of only around $48 million. This qualified it as a money loser and flop at the box office. There was speculation that fans of Carrey's comedy didn't have much interest in him paying tribute to a comedian that was more of a cult comedy figure.
"The Shawshank Redemption"
Anyone who watches cable television regularly has probably noticed that "The Shawshank Redemption" plays on TNT and other channels quite often. This demonstrates how popular it has become among movie fans. IMDB users also voted it as the best movie of all time. However, the film didn't do so well while it was in theaters back in 1994. It only brought in an estimated $28.3 million in revenue during its run. This is just slightly above its estimated production cost of $25 million.
Quite a few films bomb at the box office but gain a cult following when released on video. Mike Judge's "Office Space," also from 1999, certainly qualified as a box office flop. It only earned an estimated $10.8 million while in theaters. However, "Office Space" did turn a profit because its budget was $10 million. It also earned quite a bit of revenue after release on DVD. However, such a small showing on the big screen means it flopped. Today, the film is regarded as a cult classic.
All the way back in 1982, the film "Blade Runner" stood out as one of the best science fiction flicks of its time. It also served as inspiration for many films in the same genre for years going forward and was nominated for two Academy Awards. However, it flopped while playing in theaters. It brought in just under $28 million at the box office, which was right around what it cost to make.
The Bottom Line
To get a feel for how the older movies above performed in today's dollars, it is necessary to adjust them for inflation. Even with the adjustment, they fell well below what qualifies as a box office success. Critically-acclaimed movies can usually be made cheaply, and these films can be profitable overall when including global box office and video revenues. However, these films have large hurdles to overcome to compete with films that can garner hundreds of millions of dollars.
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