Some movies are bad, some are horrible, and some magically take us beyond merely horrible, into a wretched limbo that’s part fascination and part agony. Naturally, movies with terrible storylines, childish graphics, and emotionless actors are flayed mercilessly by critics and buried six feet under. And this would almost definitely result in a loss at the box office. There are also movies that have big budgets (and thus no real excuse for shortcomings), but end up being a flop: The Lone Ranger, 47 Ronin, John Carter. Then there’s another kind of movie altogether – well-acclaimed, but still becomes an unexpected box office failure.
- The BFG
Also touted as “Steven Spielberg’s box office bomb”, Walt Disney’s BFG was released on 21st July with splendid ratings from critics – scoring 4 out of 5 stars from The Guardian and 73% on Rotten Tomatoes. Despite its reviews, the film went on to gross a worldwide total of just $165.3 million, against a production budget of $140 million.
This has led many to question if Spielberg has lost his “box office touch”. After all, he did only have one other flop – 1941 – understandable, seeing that it was critically trashed. Most would expect an award-winning director known for his time-tested box office record and solid reviews coupled with Disney, one of the most successful studios ever, to strike a formidable partnership. That expectation though was not reciprocated by the almighty revenue figures.
The legendary Martin Scorsese’s Hugo wowed critics, received eleven Academy Award nominations (winning 5), and earned Scorsese his third Golden Globe for Best Director. Unfortunately, it grossed only $185 million at the box office against a budget of $150–$170 million, making it a box office bomb.
With a 94% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, film buffs and audiences alike will be wondering why this masterpiece didn’t receive the monetary accolades it so deserved. Not that Scorsese needs it though, he did sell us the Wolf of Wall Street.
- The Shawshank Redemption
IMDB’s highest rated film of all time and the movie that critics adored with all their hearts grossed a mere $16 million against a budget of $25 million. The film contained every element needed to be a hit: great storyline, masterful direction, and impressive acting. Plus, Stephen King who has had many successful film adaptations – The Shining, Pet Sematary, Stand By Me – even considers it to be one of his favourite film adaptations based on his work. And still, it flopped. There really is no accounting for taste.