10 Box Office Bombs That Became Cult Classics Despite Disastrous Hauls

10 Box Office Bombs That Became Cult Classics Despite Disastrous Hauls
Image credit: Warner Bros, Universal Pictures, Gramercy Pictures

We tend to bury the movies that flop at the box office, but that’s not always right. These 10 bombs went on to become the world’s most cherished cult classics!

10. Blade Runner (1982)

The most iconic cyberpunk movie to have ever cyberpunked, Blade Runner became one of Harrison Ford ’s best outings. Despite the story about a replicant hunter going on to become a cult classic and even spawn a Ryan Gosling sequel decades later, the original movie failed to break even: it only earned $41M against its $28M budget.

You can stream Blade Runner on Max, Netflix, and Prime Video.

9. The Thing (1982)

John Carpenter’s legendary horror movie that redefined the genre didn’t do well at the box office, either. The Thing managed to haul just under $20M which paled in comparison to its $15M budget, and wasn’t even well-received initially. Later, of course, it became the golden classic of sci-fi horror and earned its recognition.

You can stream The Thing on Max, Netflix, and Prime Video.

8. Highlander (1986)

Today, Highlander is known for two reasons. First, it’s “the movie Henry Cavill and Chad Stahelski are remaking.” Second, it’s one of the best fantasy movies of the 1980s. This wasn’t the case when it hit the theaters, though: Highlander earned less than $6M against its production budget of $16M, which was an absolute disaster.

You can stream Highlander on Peacock and Prime Video.

7. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

Now, when someone says, “the golden classics of the worldwide cinema,” your mind jumps to The Shawshank Redemption pretty much right after Citizen Kane (which failed at the box office, too, by the way). But Frank Darabont’s masterpiece was off to a terrible start when it was released, earning only $28.8M against its $25M budget.

You can stream The Shawshank Redemption on Max, Netflix, and Prime Video.

6. The Big Lebowski (1998)

You’re undoubtedly familiar with this movie’s most iconic line, “Where’s the money, Lebowski?” But we bet you didn’t know that this is the exact same phrase The Big Lebowski’s creators were yelling after seeing its box office haul: $19M against a $15M budget. Luckily, the movie raked up another $28M internationally later.

You can stream The Big Lebowski on Prime Video.

5. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)

Perhaps the best monument to excessive drug usage in the history of cinema, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is among the most divisive movies ever: it’s either loved or hated with no in-between. But it’s safe to say that initially, it saw no love at all, as for a movie that cost $18.5M to make, its box office haul of $10M was pathetic.

You can stream Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas on Apple TV and Prime Video.

4. Fight Club (1999)

One of Brad Pitt’s most iconic films, Fight Club is a cult classic, plain and simple. The movie’s legacy is undisputed, but its box office history almost insists that it was average. Somehow, this unanimously loved masterpiece failed to break even, bringing in only $101M internationally against its $63M production budget.

You can stream Fight Club on Netflix, Disney Plus, and Prime Video.

3. The Chronicles of Riddick (2004)

Hands down Vin Diesel ’s best role beyond his notorious Fast & Furious franchise, The Chronicles of Riddick took viewers on a captivating trip into humanity's dark future in space. The now-iconic film raked up a solid $115M haul at the box office… That didn’t do much to even cover the insane $120M production costs.

You can stream The Chronicles of Riddick on Max, Netflix, and Prime Video.

2. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010)

Today, we see Scott Pilgrim vs. the World as the best tribute to the 2000s, the era that will never be back. But when the movie was released, its bold directing choices were not quite as appreciated. Boasting a surprisingly big budget of $60–85M, the ultimate teen movie only brought back under $52M, branding it as a failure.

You can stream Scott Pilgrim vs. the World on Max, Netflix, Apple TV, and Prime Video.

1. Dredd (2012)

An unfortunate reboot story, Dredd might be cherished and well-respected now — but a dozen years ago, it failed to captivate the audience. Unlike its predecessor, the new Dredd made only $41M against its $50M production budget for reasons unknown: as far as reboots go, it’s considered one of the best examples.

You can stream Dredd on Netflix and Prime Video.