Great films, box office bombs

By Felix Trenbath

Movies can be a tough gig sometimes, one can assemble a team of hundreds and labour for years to craft the best possible film but for whatever reason the project gets lost in the dozens of other films and TV shows vying for our attention.

Such is the nature of business, sometimes you just don’t get the recognition or (more importantly) the success you deserve.

Be that as it may, let’s go on a short trip through great films that bombed at the box office to give a little love back to these gems, some of which you may have even heard of.

  • Note, overall budget includes the film’s production budget (listed below) plus the marketing cost which is typically the same amount as the production budget.

Fight Club

Directed by David Fincher

Production budget: $65 million.

Box office: $101 million.

This mind-bending cult classic has certainly made up for its initial failure at the box office with well-deserved praise over the past 20 years for its existential musings on how we live our lives, capitalism, the forces that control us and Brad Pitt’s washboard abs. In a way, maybe its financial failure only strengthened its meaning.

Edge of Tomorrow

Directed by Doug Liman

Production budget: $175 Million.

Box office: $370 million.

It’s Groundhog Day meets Saving Private Ryan meets an alien invasion. Starring Tom Cruise and directed by the guy who made the Bourne Identity. That pitch is so good it’s a mystery that this intensely entertaining sci-fi action film didn’t smash records back in 2014. The years have been kind to this one though, as cries for a sequel have only gotten louder and louder.

The Man from Uncle

Directed by Guy Richie

Production budget: $85 million.

Box office: $107 million.

At the height of the Cold War a CIA operative must work with a KGB agent to prevent a nuclear catastrophe. This remake of a 60s TV show brings the golden age of spy films back to life with one striking gamble that unfortunately did not pay off for director Guy Ritchie, star Hugh Grant and dads everywhere who loved the show as a kid. A shame.

Solo: A Star Wars Story

Directed by Ron Howard

Production budget: $300 million.

Box office: $393 million.

Now this is the film that sparked the interest to write this article as this rollicking sci fi adventure stands out as the only Star Wars film to actually lose money. No one wanted a Han Solo movie, so no one came out to support it. A shame considering that while it certainly ain’t perfect, this is a solid romp that captures the spirit of Han Solo in a hyper-refined package bursting with heart and humour.

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

Directed by Guy Richie

Production budget: $175 million.

Box office: $148 million.

Ah King Arthur, this is a personal favourite and came hot off the heels of director Guy Ritchie’s previous box office blunder, The Man from Uncle. King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is awesome, but it just came out at the wrong time, as fantasy, in 2017, was all the rage on TV with shows like Game of Thrones. TV had fantasy covered, making a trip to the cinema seem unnecessary. Which is a tragedy given that this hyper-stylized take on … well, King Arthur, is a damn fun time with its portrayal of the legend being closer to a medieval gangster film than a typical sword-and-sandals epic.

Honourable mentions: The seminal Blade Runner: 2049, original Blade Runner, The Shawshank Redemption, Citizen Kane and The Iron Giant.

On a side note

Poor old Guy Ritchie. This Pommy director has had many an opportunity to translate his signature rough-and-tumble style of small-scale English crime films into multimillion-dollar productions, his success has varied from the modest success of the Sherlock Holmes films to the number of massive productions in the past decade that just couldn’t find financial lustre. Including the aforementioned King Arthur and the Man from Uncle. It’s sad that the biggest film of his career is when he sold out and made a mediocre live-action Aladdin remake.

Featured image: These five movies are much better than box office returns suggest. Photos: YouTube trailers

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