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Top 5 Retro Box Office Bombs That Became Cult Classics

Updated on May 15, 2017

Box office success is usually the benchmark for memorable movies. While we love these blockbusters, there are the handful of movies that were big financial duds as well. Most of the time those duds are destined to become obscure trivia questions or the butt of jokes. However, some have found their audience well after leaving the theater.

Included here are five of those special movies. Each have become a cult favorite for their own reasons but they are definitely worth watching again or for the first time if you have missed out on them.

Top 5 Cult Classics That Were Box Office Bombs

1. Fight Club
2. Heathers
3. Dazed and Confused
4. The Big Lebowski
5. Shawshank Redemption

1. Fight Club (1999)

We all know that the #1 rule of fight club is that you don't talk about fight club, but this box office bomb is a perfect example of a cult favorite. This movie only grossed about $37 million domestically at release and did not receive very good reviews. Rosie O'Donnell hated the movie so much that she actually ruined the twist ending on national television.

The movie eventually found an audience when it was released on DVD and people were able to really enjoy the hidden details that made this a dark classic movie. The fact that Brad Pitt and Edward Norton have only continued to become bigger stars hasn't hurt its reputation either.

2. Heathers (1998)

This movie had a production budget of only $3 million but it only made about $1.1 million at the box office. Ouch! The dark storyline of two teenagers plotting to kill the cool kids did not find an audience in the theater. The rise of Winona Ryder's career made people find this gem on dvd.

Along with Christian Slater and Shannon Doherty, this film was destined for its cult standing. But when you hear the great one liners in this movie, you have to love it. If you haven't seen this you are truly missing out because when hear, "Dear diary, my teen angst bulls...t has a body count...", you know you have to see this one.

3. Dazed and Confused (1993)

This movie was filled with actors who are now household names. But they were nobodies when this film premiered in 1993 and as a result it did not get great marketing. It just slightly made a little over its budget but as the star power of Matthew McConaughey and Ben Affleck continued to rise, so did the popularity of this fun movie.

If you have not seen this fun coming-of-age movie filled with teen hijinks and laughs, do yourself a favor and enjoy it soon so you can appreciate the now classic "alright, alright, alright."

4. The Big Lebowski (1998)

No cult favorite movie list would be complete without The Dude and The Big Lebowski so here it is on our list. This movie had the unfortunate timing to open at the same time as a little movie you may have heard about a ship named Titanic. As a result, it was overshadowed and brought in just $5.5 million on its opening weekend. The film cost $15 million to make and before its theater run was over it had managed to pull in enough to break even.

This film was loaded with actors we know and love. It found an audience on DVD and turned into a huge cult favorite. This movie is so popular that it actually has a religion and fan festival in its honor!

5. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

The Shawshank Redemption is a compelling movie filled with great acting and memorable lines such as, "get busy living, or get busy dying." But this movie was basically forgotten at the box office and earned just $25 million. This was partly due to bad timing as it premiered against films like Forrest Gump and Pulp Fiction so it would have been hard to not get lost in the shuffle.

However, this movie has gained strong admiration since its release. IMDB placed it on its list of Greatest 250 Movies of All Time. This compelling film has earned its place as a cult favorite since its difficult start as a box office bomb.

There it is, the list of five great cult favorites that started off as box office failures. The next time you realize that there is nothing worth watching, watch one of these and enjoy being a member of their cults.

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