There are hundreds of movies made every year, and while each one feels it has a fighting chance to be one of the best, a select few fall flat on their face & become cult films. At one time, having the cult film moniker attached a film meant that is was just a bogus movie being hyped up in arthouse theaters. Now, it’s not such a bad thing as some of the most popular movies of all-time are technically box office flops that have developed cult-like followings.
Here are five movies that were once failures in theaters, but over time, they’ve become beloved by audiences around the world:
The Boondocks Saints — This movie had a hard time finding an audience due to its excessive violence & being released around the same time as the Columbine school shooting. It wasn’t until it hit the home movie market that it garnered a massive following.
Office Space — Now revered for its take on the modern office setting, this movie from Mike Judge originally didn’t so well over its theatrical run. Nonetheless, as with any Mike Judge project, it slowly became part of the cultural collective as time went on, with certain catchphrases, one-liners, and entire scenes regarded as pure genius. As you’d expect, the release of this movie on home video was instrumental in establishing it as a cult classic.
Heathers — Again, a movie that included a level of violence that could make audiences uncomfortable, especially in a school setting, this film also seemed to have a hard time gaining traction in theaters even with some strong, young actors in the cast. The home movie market was its saving grace.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show — Almost no one watched this movie when released, which led to it being pulled from just about every theater & left to rot in random midnight showings. Throw in some serious audience interaction & a party atmosphere, and this movie is probably the best known cult classic ever with screenings still selling out over four decades later.
Citizen Kane — You’d think that a movie with a somewhat unfamiliar cast would have trouble being a hit; it just makes sense. This movie, however, was actually done in by the fact that the titular character was loosely based on William Randolph Hurst, the biggest newspaper magnate around. He didn’t care for the portrayal, so he essentially killed any promotional opportunities the film had in print. No worries though. Citizen Kane went has gone on to be considered the greatest movie ever made, so there’s always that.
Cult films have a life all their own, and in some ways, they can serve as a model for dealing with the initial sting of failure. No one likes to fall flat on their face, yet it’s a part of life. It’s what you do after tasting dirt that makes or breaks you. If you look at the list of directors, writers, and actors attached to the most famous cult movies, you’ll realize that many of them have gone on to have great careers. It’s all in how you bounce back.