My Top 5 Movies That Cratered at the Box Office
You know, it's interesting how TV has saved some pretty darn good movies from being lost forever. In the early days of TV, a lot of stations would show old movies at night after their late news and, as a result, a whole new generation of people discovered some really great movies that would have just gone away.
That situation is even more true today since at any given moment there are at least 100 movies being shown on one network or another. Once again, thanks to that situation, a lot of movies that didn't do all that great at the box office have found new life and even bigger audiences on TV.
Today, I was reading an article from E-Online about the subject of movies that have become world-wide favorites only since they were shown on TV. When these movies were new, they either didn't even meet their production costs or only made investors two beers and a potato chip.
Here are my Top 5 Favorite Movies that Bombed at the Box Office. No particular order to these, by the way.
1. It's a Wonderful Life - I'll never forget seeing James Stewart on the Tonight Show telling Johnny Carson how badly this movie bombed at the box office. It's a well known flop, but it's still hard to believe that it wasn't a monster hit.
Yeah, I know it's hokey and corny and just too sweet for words, but I'm a sucker for Frank Capra;s take on the world. It's not the way the world is, but it's the way it could be.
2. Shawshank Redemption - This is one of those movies that I'll stop and watch no matter where it is in the movie. There's nothing about this movie that doesn't work for me. Great heroes with deep character flaws and great villains, too! Who can resist Morgan Freeman's great narration?
3. The Wizard of Oz - Here's another movie that bombed when it was first released. For the life of me, I can't imagine why. When this movie started getting annual showings on network TV, audiences reacted in a big, big way. Is there anyone who hasn't watched this movie? I doubt there are many people who don't own a copy! Here's the original 1939 trailer.
4. Citizen Kane - Okay, let's face it, this movie is considered to be one of the best ever made. So, why did it barely make it's production costs? The movie cost over 3/4 of a million to make and it only did $1.5 million at the box office. I don'[t have the answer to this one. maybe it was the political climate of the time, or perhaps in 1941 people were looking for a bit lighter fare. At any rate, the thinly disguised portrait of William Randolph Hurst just didn't fly.
In all honesty, the first time I tried to watch Citizen Kane, I just couldn't get into it. A few years later I watched it through different eyes and just loved it.
By the way, Orson Wells did not write a word of the screenplay. The movie was written by Herman J. Mankiewicz, and yes, he's the grandfather of Ben Mankiewicz, the TCM host. Wells asked to be listed as one of the writers so he could draw a bigger paycheck. that doesn't take away a bit from the talent of Wells who was far ahead of his time.
Here is the 1941 trailer for Citizen Kane
5.Office Space - This is one of those movies that friends nagged me into seeing. I'm so glad they did, because it's just hysterical. I thought it was going to be just a dumb movie with low humor and I was right. It is a dumb movie with low humor and it cracks me up every time I watch it. For my money, Stephen Root (and his stapler) just stole this movie. It's crazy and just close enough to the truth to make it funny.
If you'd like to read the original article about more movies that bombed at the box office, there's a complete list at E! Online. Check it out and see if one of your favorites is on the list.