3 Classic Sci-Fi Movies That Bombed Hard at the Box Office

3 Classic Sci-Fi Movies That Bombed Hard at the Box Office
Image credit: New Line Cinema

You didn’t know these iconic fantastic movies were initially theater bombs.

Science fiction as a movie genre has been revived by a recent release of the anticipated Dune: Part Two, which is setting new box office records, and, by contrast, flopped 49%-rated Adam Sandler ’s Spaceman.

But don’t rush to sideline Spaceman too soon, because these 3 movies also started off as commercial failures, only to enter the classic sci-fi hit movies lists and become genre icons later.

1. Blade Runner ( 1982)

You might be surprised but the first take on the Blade Runner universe was quite a flop at the theaters ($41.7 million off a budget of $28 million). Nowadays we all regard Ridley Scott ’s sci-fi dystopia as a timeless masterpiece and an inspiration for other filmmakers.

Blade Runner has even introduced a new movie genre called cyberpunk with its flying cars and futuristic cityscapes, setting its standards to the followers. It features a future police officer (so-called blade runner) Rick Deckard, impeccably portrayed by Harrison Ford. He is hunting the criminal replicants who have illegally entered Earth.

Surprisingly, Denis Villeneuve’s sequel, Blade Runner 2049, also failed at the box office, having lost the 2017 battle of fantastic movies to Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.

2. Donnie Darko (2001)

Second comes the Jake Gyllenhaal starring sci-fi psychological thriller about a boy who escapes a deadly accident thanks to his sleepwalking and then starts seeing a mysterious creature in a terrifying rabbit costume who is telling him what to do.

Donnie Darko’s unique direction decisions, quite an unusual narration including time travel and parallel realities and, besides, the presence of well-written comedy and cultish soundtrack have resulted in a movie’s classic status, especially among the young, nevertheless it didn’t earn enough money at the box office ($7M vs. the budget of $6).

3. Dark City (1998)

The most experimental sci-fi of the 1990s is just as dark as the title says, featuring an amnesiac main character (Rufus Sewell), who awakens in an unfamiliar place and then moves around the obscure city meeting mysterious men with superpowers, who interfere his investigation of the past events and of his own understanding of reality.

Dark City is remarkable for its unique cinematic code and filming set, which cost $27 million, which is about as much as it made at the global box office. Although the memories of this film became overshadowed by its more popular successor, The Matrix, which used the same decorations, it still became the masterpiece of the 20th century sci-fi.