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11 Beloved Movies That Were Box Office Flops

It’s hard to believe that many of the movies we love the most were considered failures when they were first released. There are plenty of reasons why the box office doesn’t do well, even with a good movie: its initial budget may have made profitability a real risk, it may have been up against stiff competition, or maybe it was just too cerebral for moviegoers who wanted pure escapism when they went to the theater. The first reason was the downfall of The Wizard of Oz.

Believe it or not, The Wizard of Oz was a box office bomb when it was released in 1939. At the time, it was Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's most expensive film ever with giant sets and state-of-the-art special effects. MGM had high expectations for the film, however, audiences weren't keen on making the journey to the Wonderful Land of Oz.

In fact, MGM lost $1.1 million on The Wizard of Oz because of its high production and distribution cost. Despite its middling box office numbers, it garnered four Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture and won two Oscars for Best Score and Best Original Song for "Over the Rainbow."

Read the reasons behind the box office failures of Fight Club, Blade Runner, The Shawshank Redemption, Citizen Kane, and more at mental_floss.

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I remember the absolutely worthless commercials for Fight Club on TV... It was basically the line "How much can you know about yourself if you've never been in a fight?" followed by a super close-up of a pink bar of soap with "Fight Club" engraved into it... It was utterly worthless except to put the name out there with no context. I had no interest in seeing the film after seeing the commercial repeated hundreds of times, which is regrettable, because I consider it a great film.

I expect lousy advertising is the #1 problem across the board... Studio execs don't WANT to make a commercial that will tell you whether you want to see a film... They arrogantly take the target audience for granted, and meanwhile focus advertising on attracting those who will NOT like the movie, to get them to buy a ticket regardless. It makes a certain type of cynical sense, but over the longer term has made people skeptical of movie advertisements, and the feedback loop has driven us to the proliferation of formulaic and awful films we have today.
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