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     1916 – 1979 
  • D. W. Griffith's Intolerance was such a failure that it bankrupted his studio — even though his preceding film, The Birth of a Nation, was the most successful movie of the time and in fact the first Hollywood blockbuster. Today, Intolerance is considered one of the greatest films of The Silent Age of Hollywood, and while The Birth of a Nation is better known today (and still appreciated by film historians for its pioneering cinematography), it's mostly for the stunning levels of Values Dissonance.
  • F. W. Murnau was regarded as a genius and great film-maker even by his contemporaries but his films weren't always commercially successful. Still he was invited to America and he made three films, now regarded as landmarks — Sunrise, City Girl and Tabu — which were unable to recoup their cost in their day. They were also dismissed by nationalist critics who felt Murnau was a Sell-Out for going to Hollywood. Tabu was cited by later film-makers for being especially modern for its criticism of colonialism, its use of non-professional Polynesians, and its avoidance of general stereotypes.
  • Fritz Lang's German films - Dr. Mabuse, the Gambler , Die Nibelungen, The Woman in the Moon - were far more commercially successful and critically acclaimed than the film he is best known for: Metropolis. It had the most advanced special effects of any film from the silent era and nearly bankrupted the UFA Studio. For a long time, the film was regarded, even by Lang, as a fiasco, until later films like Star Wars and Blade Runner took inspiration from it and led to its reevaluation as the first science fiction masterpiece. Even critics who disliked the film came around upon the the rediscovery in 2008 of a 95%-ish complete print.
    • Lang's second sound film The Testament of Dr. Mabuse was banned by the Nazis and internationally released in heavily-edited, dubbed versions. The uncut German version was eventually found in the mid-'70s, becoming one of his best-regarded movies.
    • Fritz Lang's American films were written off by nationalist critics, since they were smaller in scale, more subject to censorship and on the surface, less artistic than the silent German mega-productions. Thanks to the French New Wave however, Lang's American films like Fury, You Only Live Once, Scarlet Street, The Big Heat, While the City Sleeps, Beyond a Reasonable Doubt are now considered to be classics. His collaboration with Bertolt Brecht, Hangman Also Die is also regarded as one of the most unusual anti-Nazi propaganda films, and it inspired Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds.
  • Charlie Chaplin:
    • A Woman of Paris was a flop due in part to Chaplin's acting absence (apart from a cameo where he is unrecognizable). Audiences at the time didn't know what to make of a slapstick filmmaker embracing something completely serious. What people could only recognize in subsequent decades was that Woman of Paris is a milestone in the shaping of silent cinema, and especially the development of the Chaplin style towards immortality.
    • Monsieur Verdoux suffered similar misunderstanding. Critics and audiences in America, expecting the light-hearted humor of Chaplin's Tramp films, instead got a bleak and edgy murder-mystery-comedy, so people backed away from it in disgust. A European fanbase sprouted a few years later, but Americans never fully embraced Verdoux until The '70s.
  • Buster Keaton
    • Keaton in general was viewed with apathy at best for the greater part of his career, partly because his comedic style was viewed as overwrought and pretentious, (although the French appreciated it), and partly because his shtick was a lot more ironic and emotionally detached than Chaplin's in an era when hipster irony hadn't quite caught on. He has now been hailed by most critics as more visual and technically innovative than Chaplin (if not necessarily funnier), and quite a few current actors, most famously Johnny Depp, have looked to him for comic inspiration (many of Depp's goony facial expressions as Tonto in The Lone Ranger, for example, being pure Keaton).
    • Sherlock, Jr., considered today to be one of the finest examples of silent slapstick and a landmark satire of the film medium itself, was unappreciated at the time it came out (and perhaps for that very reason).
    • The General was not only a box office failure but widely panned by critics for being too dramatic and for casting Confederates in the place of the film's heroes. It would subsequently be regarded as Keaton's greatest film - ironically, even as Confederate soldiers have become even more unsympathetic in American popular folklore.
  • Erich von Stroheim was seen in his day as a Prima Donna Director par excellence who made impossible films. Today he's considered to be one of the most radical and experimental film-makers of The Roaring '20s for his ability to push and tackle complex subject matter and realistic drama in the silent film medium, cited as an inspiration by Jean Renoir, Orson Welles, Billy Wilder, and many, many others. Greed was famously butchered (this is understandable since Stroheim planned for the film to be a two-part film of 3 hours each, after cutting down from his rough cut of 7 hours and 42 minutes). By the time Greed reached cinemas, it was in a sorry, hacked-apart state. Critics and the public have since embraced the elements of the film that survived.
  • The silent 20s version of Ben-Hur made a considerable amount of money (becoming one of the top grossers of 1925), but not enough to cover legal costs surrounding the film's Troubled Production process. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer therefore counted it a failure. Nevertheless it continued to build income for the studio in re-releases over the following decades, doing astounding business until topped by the Charlton Heston remake.
  • The Rise of the Talkies destroyed the box-office potential of two major 1928 releases from MGM: King Vidor's The Crowd and Victor Sjostrom's The Wind (1928). Both have been hailed in recent years as highlights of silent cinema.
  • The majority of Carl Theodor Dreyer's works were flops. The Passion of Joan of Arc took several decades to find re-evaluation.
    • It also took decades just to be found. The film was mercilessly chopped down and taken apart by censors just after its premiere, and the original copies were all but destroyed. The director's original cut was thought to be lost for years until a copy was found in a closet in a Norwegian mental institution in 1981. Up until then, only the dissected and significantly shorter censored version was available. Since its rediscovery, the full cut of the film has been very well-received, especially by musicians and composers, who have created a variety of scores for the silent film.
  • Sergei Eisenstein's October faced a deadly critical and box-office blow in the Soviet Union when it didn't conform to the Josef Stalin-implemented "Socialist Realism" program. Its reputation has soared over time, especially with multiple generations of filmmakers who look to Russian cinema for montage techniques.
    • Eisenstein's Ivan the Terrible was regarded in its time as Stalinist propaganda and people regarded him as a has-been who hadn't made a movie since The Roaring '20s (two of his productions were aborted while Alexander Nevsky was shelved). The release of the shelved Part II during the Khrushchev Thaw radically changed opinions and today, both films are considered to be masterpieces and rank alongside The Battleship Potemkin as his best works.
  • Rouben Mamoulian's Applause was released just after the start of The Great Depression, and its unusual moodiness for a film of that period (and ESPECIALLY for a musical) repelled the public. Only in subsequent decades has there been appreciation for its advancement of quality sound-recording techniques in film, as well as its daring storyline.
  • The Three Stooges made hundreds of 18-minute comedies for Columbia Pictures from the mid 30s to the early 50s. They weren't very popular back then, even in comparison to other comedians in the short subject field. Nowadays they remain extremely popular with countless generations.
    • One short film in particular, Punch Drunks] (1934), failed to click with the sensibilities of Great Depression moviegoers. It is now one of the more critically acclaimed Stooge episodes. It was the only one of their films which was selected for preservation by the National Film Registry.
  • Freaks was actually banned in 1932 in many countries, to the point of ruining the careers of many people involved (the freaks themselves were able to walk it off, or, in Prince Randian's case, crawl it off), because it was seen as offensive and exploitative. During The '60s, someone dug it up and realized that it was neither.
  • The 1933 W.C. Fields short The Fatal Glass of Beer was poorly received by audiences when it was first released. Today, it is considered one of Fields' funniest movies.
  • Leo McCarey.
    • The The Marx Brothers movie Duck Soup was considered a box-office disappointment when it was released in 1933, and helped in finalizing the end of their contract with Paramount. Horse Feathers (1932) had been quite profitable for Paramount, but Duck Soup failed to match its box office success and was negatively compared with a more popular Paramount-produced comedy film, Mae West's I'm No Angel (1933). Today, it is their most popular film and considered one of the greatest comedies in the history of cinema.
    • Make Way for Tomorrow was a flop with audiences when first released due to its dramatic themes and Great Depression-inspired premise. Nowadays, it is considered one of the best films of the 1930s and the only film to have been screened at the Telluride Film Festival three times (due to audience demand). Director Leo McCarey himself even felt it was his masterpiece.
  • Werewolf of London flopped in its initial 1935 release and was criticized for being too similar to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931). Many years later, cinematic historians established it as a classic.
  • Reefer Madness was made as a moral tale of the dangers of smoking weed. Seemingly unable to sell it as such, the distributors of the film recut it into a rebellious underground-art piece. Its campy dialogue turned off most viewers in 1936(!), but the film gradually built a tremendous fanbase in the "drug-experimenting" community (this is a case where a work was vindicated in a way its creators wouldn't have preferred).
  • Frank Capra, one of the most successful directors of the Golden Age of Hollywood, had his fair share of disappointments which turned out to be undeserved for a particular film.
    • Lost Horizon was a critical and box-office dud in 1937, but its reputation has grown immensely over time. The same is true of The Bitter Tea of General Yen.
    • It's a Wonderful Life was one of Capra's most financially unsuccessful features, and suffered critical indifference. The production company of the film (Liberty Films) was threatened with bank foreclosure following the film's failure, though Paramount soon purchased the company and covered its debts. The film's distribution company, RKO Pictures, also lost money in attempts to promote the film. About three decades later, the film was recognized as a timeless and inspirational holiday classic, aided in no small part by frequent airings on TV after it accidentally went into the public domain.
  • Bringing Up Baby was just too weird for cinema-goers of the late '30s. Today it is regarded as among the best comedies of the late 30s, and an artistic jewel in the crown of director Howard Hawks as well as Katharine Hepburn's finest comic performance.
    • Howard Hawks in general was considered a reliable journeyman director who mostly made Cary Grant and John Wayne movies and directed the original Scarface. Today he is considered second only to John Ford in terms of esteem and influence in the Hollywood Pantheon.
  • The Pre-Code Era, on account of the rising censorship, was banished from American screens for most of the intervening decades between The Roaring '20s to The '70s. Since then, later audiences have rediscovered this era and many films that were once condemned by Moral Guardians and practically forgotten by audiences, came to be seen as classics, primarily for its Older Than They Think appeal.
  • The Wizard of Oz netted Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer a loss of over a million dollars, only breaking even when it was rereleased in 1948–49. Audiences liked it, as did most critics (though others called it "stupid and unimaginative"), but dozens of other great movies were being churned out in 1939. In the extremely fierce competition, Gone with the Wind and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington came out on top, while others such as Oz floundered. It wasn't until The ’50s television screenings that Oz became so famous and highly-regarded.
  • The Rules of the Game by Jean Renoir was poorly received by French audiences in 1939. After World War II it was re-evaluated and is considered by present-day critics to be his best work.
  • Orson Welles's career is constantly subject to widely changing opinions and revision:
    • Welles made Citizen Kane at the age of 25, and he was seen, and widely resented, as an Enfant Terrible upstart who was being pampered by RKO Pictures rather than a genius. The controversies of The War of the Worlds and his theatrical productions had already made him infamous. Kane became notorious because media mogul William Randolph Hearst was tipped that Charles Foster Kane was based on him in an unfavorable light, and did his best to suppress the film. Hearst ensured that the film would be poorly publicized upon its release: no newspaper or radio station under the jurisdiction of his empire was allowed to print an ad for Kane, and movie critics for those papers and stations, if they wrote a review at all, were pressured into writing a negative one. Theatres refused to run it and it only played on a tiny number of screens. Kane lost money in its initial 1941 opening, and was even booed at the Academy Awards. It was well-received critically, at least by the few who had seen it, and it was nominated for multiple Academy Awards, with Welles and Herman Mankiewicz winning Oscars for the Screenplay. But it was only in The '40s and The ’50s, mainly in France (where it played at the Cinematheque), that it came to be seen as the Greatest Film Ever Made. For instance, the first Sight and Sound didn't include Citizen Kane on its list. Kane would go on to top the decennial list every decade onwards from The '60s to The '90s.
    • A test screening of The Magnificent Ambersons, based on the novel by Booth Tarkington, was met with complete ridicule. RKO then proceeded (without Orson's approval) to change the ending, which did nothing for its appeal to American audiences in The '40s. Nowadays, while it might not be as fantastically unforgettable as Citizen Kane, it is very highly regarded and still considered a masterpiece.
    • The same applies for nearly all of Welles' films. His Shakespeare adaptations were criticized for their American Accents, their unusual staging and changes to Shakespeare's plays, but today, the film are praised for this very reason. His Film Noir, The Lady from Shanghai and Touch of Evil are also considered masterpieces, while The Trial and F for Fake were forgotten or criticized but today, are regarded as masterpieces. Welles was essentially too ahead of his time, and it took a while for audiences to catch up to him.
  • Preston Sturges's work was known for its decidedly offbeat humor. Sometime his style was a hit, and sometimes it just wasn't.
    • Sullivan's Travels was a commercial failure in its first run, gradually picking up its comedy-classic status in later releases.
    • Unfaithfully Yours was a box office disappointment when it came out, but grew on people willing to accept the Black Comedy genre.
  • The original To Be or Not to Be, which delved into controversial territory regarding the situation in Poland at the time, was a critical and box office bomb. Today it is hailed as a comedy masterpiece.
  • Despite winning the Best Picture Oscar, Casablanca was treated by audiences and critics, and its cast, in 1942, as So Okay, It's Average. The film became a classic in The '60s where it was constantly played in college campuses, leading to its colossal reputation.
    • This was partly due to Humphrey Bogart's reputation. In his time he was seen as, first, a character actor in 1930s gangster films, then as an Anti-Hero who romanced women half his age in crime films. He was popular but in his day and age, Bogart was not as big a star as Gary Cooper, John Wayne and Clark Gable. It was only in The '60s with the rise of the "Bogart Cult" and the re-evaluation of Film Noir in general, that he came to be seen as an Icon of Rebellion and the epitome of cool, and proved to be far more modern and accessible than the other big stars of his time. The fact that he was liberal (as compared to Wayne and the others) and opposed McCarthyism gave him street cred.
  • David Lean
  • Akira Kurosawa, up until his death, was far more popular and acclaimed in the West than in Japan and was even accused by Japanese film critics of being "too Western". When Dodes'ka-den bombed in 1970, most of his small amount of Japanese popularity and acclaim vanished completely and he was considered to be a hack that was beloved in the West for what Japanese critics believed was mere exotica and overrating by their American counterparts. After his death, his Japanese reputation increased dramatically.
    • Rashomon was panned and dismissed as junk in Japan on its release in 1950. Shortly afterwards it was embraced by American audiences, and the resulting popularity of samurai flicks in the West convinced Kurosawa to make more movies in that genre, leading to the even greater classics Seven Samurai and Yojimbo. Rashomon remained a dud in Japan for a while but gradually built up its well-deserved reputation as a really good film.
    • The Idiot and I Live In Fear have been vindicated to a lesser extent.
    • Throne of Blood and The Lower Depths were met with mixed critical and public opinion, primarily their departure from the acclaimed Seven Samurai into a more pessimistic tone. Subsequent generations of viewers have become more appreciative of the artistry in those two works.
  • Ace in the Hole, recognized today as a highlight of the career of Billy Wilder, was a flop.
  • Scrooge, one of the most beloved film adaptations of Dickens's A Christmas Carol, failed in cinemas in 1951.
  • Two landmark films from the '50s, High Noon and Salt of the Earth, suffered when first released due to suspicions of pro-Communist themes.
    • High Noon was vindicated in part by Dwight D. Eisenhower, who was a huge fan of the film and started the tradition of White House High Noon screenings. Bill Clinton screened it a record 17 times.
    • Salt of the Earth was so controversial that it was dubbed a "blacklisted film", the only film to be so labelled.
  • Singin' in the Rain made money, but was considered a box office disappointment after the success of Gene Kelly's previous film, An American in Paris. Singing in the Rain earned about 6 million dollars at the North American box office, becoming the 5th most commercially successful film of its year of release. But it was completely overshadowed by the smash hit of the year, The Greatest Show on Earth, which earned 14 million dollars at the box office and major awards. Singing in the Rain was also snubbed by the Oscars, getting only two nominations and winning neither. It is now considered one of the greatest movies of all time.
  • The Band Wagon had high expectations but was commercially flat on its debut. Critics and audiences have since come to agree that it is one of the best MGM musicals.
  • Gojira (1954), the first of the Godzilla series, while commercially successful, was criticized as being tastelessly exploitative of recent memories of World War II and the accidental irradiation of a Japanese fishing boat that same year due to the testing of the world's first hydrogen bomb. It is now considered to be one of the greatest Japanese movies ever made. Kinema Junpo magazine listed it as one of the top twenty Japanese films created, while 370 Japanese film critics surveyed listed it as the 27th greatest Japanese film in Nihon Eiga Besuto 159 (Best 150 Japanese Films). When American critics got to view the original version of the film in 2004 (most for the first time), they raved about it.
  • The Night of the Hunter was neither a critical, nor a commercial success, when it came out. Today, it is considered a masterpiece.
  • The Searchers was reviled by audiences in 1956, particularly for John Wayne's performance as a bigoted Anti-Hero and the underlying negative portrayal of Americans in the Old West. Now film buffs hail it as a milestone in cinematic storytelling, and countless A-list directors cite it as one of the biggest influences on them.
    • Another John Ford Western, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, received tepid reviews despite its good box office. Reviewers typically dismissed it as just another John Wayne Western; one critic even called it "an actionless, colorless, humorless embarrassment." Today critics consider Valance one of Ford and Wayne's best movies, and among the greatest Westerns ever.
  • Nicholas Ray only had Rebel Without a Cause (known more for James Dean than for him) among his commercially successful films. Yet he became a major cult director for film-makers of the French New Wave, the German New Wave, the New Hollywood and for later independent film-makers, especially former student Jim Jarmusch.
  • The Court Jester is currently one of the most popular works of Danny Kaye (due in large part to individual comic moments such as the pellet-with-the-poison tongue twister), but was unsuccessful in its initial theatrical run.
  • Stanley Kubrick is the master of being vindicated. Nearly all of his films divided audiences in admirers and haters. Only in time have most of his films been reappreciated as classics.
    • The Killing went through its first run ignored by moviegoers, but a handful of critics championed it until it got the recognition it deserved. More humorously, its Halloween-masked bank robbers arguably inspired the "Ex-Presidents" in Point Break (1991) and the rubber-faced clowns in the opening scene of The Dark Knight.
    • Paths of Glory, another early Kubrick classic which is considered one of the most poignant stories of war ever told, failed on its first release. It was banned in France until 1970 for its criticism of the French army.
    • 2001: A Space Odyssey was not immediately successful, garnering brutally negative responses from critics and total dismissal from older adults (which was initially the majority of those who saw it), but over the course of '68 and '69 positive word of mouth spread among younger people, who kept flocking to see it whenever it popped up in a theater. This way it gradually picked up its status as the science fiction film of the century, and managed to become the 2nd-highest-grossing film of 1968.
      • A further vindication: the original 2001 story had Discovery going to Saturn, and finding the Monolith near its moon Iapetus (or Japetus in the Queen's English). Production issues associated with re-creating Saturn for the screen led Kubrick to change the setting to Jupiter, with the Monolith near Europa instead. The Voyager probes in the late 1970s would find Europa to be infinitely more interesting with its possible subsurface ocean of liquid water, ultimately making Europa even more likely than Mars to host extraterrestrial life. 2010 and further novels would take the idea and run with it. As for Iapetus... Cassini discovered it to be little more than a flying walnut, though sister moon Enceladus could possibly have subsurface water as well.
    • A Clockwork Orange was relatively successful, but so controversial that it divided audiences whether it was really a good film. Many serious reviews from that time dismiss it as merely "a film that glorifies sex and violence." The copy-cat crimes inspired by this film didn't help matters very well either. Today it is generally appreciated as a high quality film and the definitive adaptation of the novel.
    • Barry Lyndon bombed critically as well as financially, but over the next few decades exerted enormous influence over a newer set high-profile directors like Quentin Tarantino.
  • Critics and audiences in the late 1950s, expecting something different from Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis than what they eventually got in Sweet Smell of Success, absolutely hated the film. It has since gained a reputation as one of the film-noir highlights of its era.
  • 12 Angry Men, one of the most famous courtroom-drama films ever made, bombed at the box office despite support from critics, and for a short while was largely forgotten.
  • Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo was somehow not exciting enough for cinemagoers in the late 50s and most people ignored it. This in part was responsible for Hitchcock's creation of the horror blockbuster Psycho two years later, since he required something much more shocking to put himself back on the map. Ironically, current polls frequently rank Vertigo above Psycho as Hitchcock's ultimate masterpiece.
  • Porgy And Bess earned back only half its budget in 1959, spelling financial disaster for its producer Samuel Goldwyn (and convincing him to retire from filmmaking). The film has been revived in the public's eye and earned much critical recognition.
  • Imitation of Life was derided in its day as a "soap opera", only to be re-evaluated in the following decades as a artistic gem.
  • The films of Ed Wood, Plan 9 from Outer Space being the ultimate example, took a different path to vindication through their So Bad, It's Good nature. Plan 9 has been lovingly dubbed the worst movie of all time.
  • Peeping Tom ruined the career of one of England's greatest directors, Michael Powell. It is now considered a masterpiece on par with Psycho in the serial-killer genre. Unlike most instances of this, Powell ultimately lived long enough to see this film, and by extension he himself, have its reputation restored. He even noted it himself:
    "I make a film that nobody wants to see and then, thirty years later, everybody has either seen it or wants to see it."
  • Happened to the French film Eyes Without a Face. The film had some troubles from the start. First, the themes of the film shocked European critics, specially the Mad Scientist who was a case of Too Soon for German critics and audiences. Also the gore scenes, while short and downplayed, were too extreme for formal circles of The '60s. Critical and public responses were neutral at best, and outright terrible at worst. Years later, the film was rediscovered by modern audiences and new critics praised the film for its haunting atmosphere, nods to German Expressionism and the complexity of its characters. Eyes Without a Face was saved from fading into obscurity and is now considered among the best examples that the Horror genre has. In fact, it averted the Horror genre ghetto as it attracts fans of classic art-house films.
  • John Huston's The Misfits has gained momentum after a disastrous initial run.
  • The original The Manchurian Candidate didn't fare as well as it could have due to its star Frank Sinatra pulling it from release after the Kennedy assassination.
  • Ride the High Country, a failure on its release in 1962, has gained favor from modern critics as an exemplary western and a top-notch early work by Sam Peckinpah.
  • All the works of Jean-Luc Godard in The '60s are praised by lovers of European film, but there was a period in the early part of that decade when a handful of his movies (including Vivre Sa Vie and Contempt) were initially bombs.
  • Sergio Leone
    • The "Man With No Name" Spaghetti Westerns were popular with audiences, but critics didn't take them seriously because... Spaghetti Westerns are automatically cheap B-movies. Read Roger Ebert's review of For a Few Dollars More (1967): he gives it a positive rating but treated it more like a Guilty Pleasure than a genuine work of art. Ebert himself lampshades this in his Great Movies review of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
    • Leone's operatic western Once Upon a Time in the West was not received very well upon release in 1968. In fairness, the American release was heavily edited (from 168 minutes to 144), jettisoning several important scenes and subplots. These days, you would be hard-pressed to find a notable director who does not claim to have been influenced by it in some way, and it frequently appears on Greatest Films lists.
    • The most overlooked post-1964 film by Leone is undoubtedly Duck, You Sucker!, which went virtually unnoticed upon its release. Now, it has gained critical and audience recognition and was shown in Cannes in 2009.
  • The Great Race was initially derided in cinemas for being too cartoony (which was said mostly because it came from an apparently unexpected source: Blake Edwards). Several years went by before it gained the popularity it truly deserved, to the point where it inspired the Hanna-Barbera primetime series Wacky Races and The Perils of Penelope Pitstop.
  • 7 Faces of Dr. Lao, a failure in 1965, is regarded nowadays as a classic fantasy film.
  • The most ambitious work of Jacques Tati was Playtime, which flopped so colossally in 1967 that the director went bankrupt. He was never able to make movies again, except with aid from others. Guess which of Tati's films is the first (and so far the only one) to show up on the prestigious Blu-Ray format?
  • Seijun Suzuki's satirical yakuza film Branded to Kill was a commercial and critical flop, and got him effectively blacklisted from making another movie for 10 years. Nowadays it is recognized as a countercultural classic.
  • As far as the United States goes, Barbarella failed when it was first released there in 1968. It performed much better when re-released in 1977, to follow in the heels of Star Wars, and that earned it its reputation of a campy Cult Classic.
  • Tony Richardson's The Charge of the Light Brigade was the most expensive British film made up to 1968 - and the biggest flop. Audiences were baffled by the movie's changing between broad social satire and angry antiwar commentary, while critics found the narrative sloppy and the battle scenes muddled. That Richardson presaged its release with a savage Take That! against critics (calling them "intellectual eunuchs") didn't help. It has been significantly reassessed over the years, however, and is often listed among the best epics of its era, and a high point in British cinema.
  • The Producers by Mel Brooks was not well-received at all upon its theatrical debut (1968), and never managed a nationwide release, even though it won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. Its failure (combined with that of Mel's second film, The Twelve Chairs) reduced Mel to scavenging for loose change on the sidewalk (according to Mel, anyway). A friend of his working for Warner Bros. saved him from obscurity by recruiting him as director on the appealingly controversial Blazing Saddles, and since that and Young Frankenstein (both came out in 1974) Mel's status as a comedy wizard has never been questioned. The Producers has since become one of the great American comedies, and only had its reputation enhanced further when it became the basis for a hit Broadway musical and a big-screen remake at the Turn of the Millennium.
  • Head, an experimental comedy by The Monkees which late 60s audiences (somehow!) found too weird, has become embraced by critics as one the greatest examples of that era's counterculture.
  • The 1969 film Army of Shadows was extremely unpopular in its home country of France, so much so that no U.S. distributor would pick it up until 2006, by which time it had gained respect as one of Jean-Pierre Melville's greatest works.
  • Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970) flopped in the United States, only picking up its classic status after home video release in The '80s.
  • Zabriskie Point, directed by Michelangelo Antonioni, was critically trashed and hated when it came out, billed as "the worst film ever made". Several decades later, reviews changed positively, praising the stunning scenery and cinematography, great soundtrack from The Grateful Dead, Pink Floyd, Patti Page, and the like, and pioneering direction that baffled the first-time viewers of that time.
  • The weirdness of Harold and Maude was not in sync with the early '70s, what with a teenage boy having a romance with an octogenarian woman, and it failed horribly. People have since come to understand the film's finer qualities better, and its reputation has skyrocketed.
  • Two-Lane Blacktop was released with no advertising thanks to Universal executives lacking faith; it tanked miserably at the box-office. Its popularity has skyrocketed in the 21st century with various DVD releases.
  • Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory had a disappointing theatrical run in 1971, a time when family movies just weren't big draws (this being when the New Hollywood wave was sweeping over the film landscape), and only found its audience through TV and home video — after Paramount's rights to the film were transferred to Warner Bros. Ironically, the exact opposite happened with its source material's 2005 film adaptation; in fact, this movie's enduring legacy is what caused the backlash against the latter film.
  • George Lucas' THX 1138 remained unpopular even after the success of Star Wars. Around the time the aforementioned franchise's prequels were coming out, 1138 gained a lot of momentum.
  • Wake in Fright bombed spectacularly when first released in 1971 (at least in America and Australia).note  However, despite the film receiving critical support at Cannes and in Australia, United Artists did nothing to promote the movie outside one trailer for it. To make matters worse, the film opened in America (under the title Outback) in a single theater on the east side of New York on a Sunday night. During a blizzard. Unsurprisingly, not a single person saw it during its opening day. Also, even if anyone did see it, the film's brutal portrayal of the Australian outback and protests caused by actual footage of kangaroos getting shot being used in the climactic hunting sequence didn't help matters. The film was then lost for a few decades before its negatives were found in 2002 by editor Anthony Buckley in a bin marked FOR DESTRUCTION inside a Pittsburgh warehouse.note  After a few years were spent painstakingly restoring the film digitally, it was re-released in 2009 to unanimous acclaim. It also became only the second film to ever be shown at the Cannes Film Festival twice, when it was selected as a Cannes Classic by the head of the department, Martin Scorsese, who first saw Wake in Fright when it premiered at Cannes in 1971, when he was just an unknown director.
  • Nicolas Roeg
    • Walkabout flopped in 1971 and critics were mainly unresponsive, but it gradually rose in stature. It is now considered to be one of the films that kicked off the Australian New Wave.
    • The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976) was vindicated partially because cable and video releases were of the original 136-minute British cut rather than the U.S. theatrical release which cut and reordered scenes (this was partially Bowdlerisation). It not only made it into The Criterion Collection (as has Walkabout), but was one of its first four Blu-Ray releases.
  • McCabe & Mrs. Miller had little fanfare when it first came out, but over a short period of time gained its well-deserved status as a cinema classic.
  • The theatrical success of Werner Herzog's Aguirre, the Wrath of God was destroyed by the financiers' decision to air it on TV at the same time. Aguirre has since become the most popular work of Herzog.
  • The Rocky Horror Picture Show did NOT do well when it was first released into U.S. theatres in 1975. However, noticing that those people who liked it really liked it, the studio relaunched it as a midnight movie, the fandom grew and developed Audience Participation rituals, and 35 years later it is still in limited release. It is the longest run of any movie, hands down.
    • In some places, it never stopped running. It is rare, but there are a few theaters that have shown it every Friday night since it first premiered.
  • The original Assault on Precinct 13 (1976) by John Carpenternote  was made on a very small budget, and had a lukewarm critical reception and unimpressive box office returns. This was no doubt in large part thanks to it being largely a modern-day Western (Carpenter himself has often described it as a Spiritual Adaptation of Rio Bravo), a genre that was in decline with American audiences by 1976 due to oversaturation. However, when shown in Europe, it gained both critical acclaim and was a box office hit, as European audiences weren't as tired of Westerns. It subsequently underwent a reevaluation in the States once Carpenter hit it big with Halloween (1978), and is now considered to be one of the best action film of The '70s and a true Cult Classic in its own right, such that it was eventually remade in 2005.
  • Eraserhead, the shoestring-budget horror film David Lynch debuted with, barely made a blip at the box office. Now it is well-loved as a textbook example of cinematic creepiness.
    • Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me was reviled when it first came out. The premiere of the film at Cannes was greeted by boos and jeers, and Lynch was kicked all over town by American reviewers, who accused the him of betraying fans of the series. Moreover by that point there was significant backlash against Twin Peaks as a whole which was widely perceived as having run out of steam. European reviews of the film were more favourable, and the film was a smash hit in Japanese cinemas, however, and over time the film has undergone a significant critical reevaluation, to the point that it is considered one of Lynch's better films.
  • Upon its release, William Friedkin's Sorcerer was panned by critics outraged that Friedkin had dared to remake The Wages of Fear (seen as a classic by many) and was a box-office flop due to the release of Star Wars. In recent decades, the film has been reassessed and hailed as a misunderstood classic.
  • Slap Shot was not well received when it was released, as people found it ridiculously violent and vulgar. Critics also went on to deride it for similar reasons. Over the years however, the movie gained a solid cult following and today is considered one of the best sports movies ever made (and the best hockey movie ever made as well; it even left a lasting mark on hockey culture). In fact, Gene Siskel went on to say that giving the movie a poor review was his biggest regret as a critic after viewing the movie multiple times.
  • According to John Cleese, Monty Python's Life of Brian, out of the three most famous Monty Python movies, was the easiest to make and their best work as a team. Most everybody, even those outside the fanbase, will agree. On its release in 1979, however, the controversy surrounding its premise was too much and a fair number of countries (e.g. Ireland) banned it.
  • The Warriors under-performed at the box office; fights and three homicides caused by rival gangs showing up at the theater to see the film only hurt it further. Today its a recognized cult classic; even the ridiculously naive depiction of gang members as misunderstood Noble Savages seems fresh after so many years of urban crime dramas that have painted a very cynical, unflattering portrait of their subject.
  • Miloš Forman's adaptation of the rock musical Hair did poorly at the box office despite critical praise. Many, many people have embraced the film version in subsequent years.
  • Alien was a commercial success upon release in 1979, but one that received mixed reviews. While critics praised the set and creature design, they saw the rest of the film as style over substance, with an empty plot and characters masked by its production values. By the time the Director's Cut came out in 2003, many of those critics had come to recognize it as a masterpiece of sci-fi horror.
  • The 1975 Indian film Sholay didn't do very well when it was originally released, but word-of-mouth spread and the film ended up having a full house for five years. It is now considered a Bollywood classic.
  • John Waters' Multiple Maniacs was a pure underground film at the time, but it is included in The Criterion Collection and has a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

    1980–present 
  • The 1980 Robert Zemeckis/Bob Gale comedy Used Cars met mixed reviews and barely made back its budget, getting lost in the shuffle against competition from the likes of Airplane! and Caddyshack. Coming right on the heels of another bomb in 1941 the prior year, its failure almost killed the careers of Zemeckis and Gale, their screenplays gaining a reputation for getting high marks from focus groups that didn't actually translate to box-office success. While it remains obscure among casual moviegoers, among film geeks and critics (especially fans of Zemeckis and Gale) its reputation has improved considerably, with many considering it to be on par with the films it competed with and one of the hidden gems of '80s Hollywood comedy.
  • After Taxi Driver, the legendary Martin Scorsese made the disastrous New York New York (which so far hasn't quite been vindicated), and a losing streak started for him in the '80s as the "New Hollywood" crumbled down on him and other major '70s filmmakers.
    • The first in the losing streak was Raging Bull in 1980. Although it was Robert De Niro's way of saving Scorsese's life (Scorsese was depressed and doing heavy drugs after New York New York), and it was successful in that regard, Bull just barely reached the modest-hit mark in its first run, dismissed by most moviegoers as being too gratuitously violent, and most critics latched onto the tiniest inaccuracies of the film on its subject matter which they believed spoiled the whole thing. Ten years later, it was hailed by every film poll as Scorsese's masterpiece and the ultimate example of '80s Hollywood cinema.
    • Then came The King of Comedy and After Hours, which tanked commercially and critically but have since gone on to be hailed as comedy classics.
    • The title song for New York New York (or a cover of it performed by Frank Sinatra, to be more specific) eventually became incredibly popular within New York City itself, to the point that even most New Yorkers don't know that it was originally composed for a movie.
  • The films of Harold Ramis:
    • Caddyshack was a moderate box office success, but received negative reviews and was overshadowed by other comedies at the time. Today it's usually ranked as one of the top comedy films of all time and it's hard to find anyone older than 30 who hasn't seen it.
    • Groundhog Day ranked # 13 in box office in 1993. The critics liked it, but didn't love it. Since then, it has been listed among the 30 best screenplays ever, the 10 best comedies ever made, and among the 10 best films ever made. Roger Ebert included it in his Great Movies collection, very rare for a comedy, and rarer for a film he only gave 3 out of 4 stars in his original review. One critic observed that "'Groundhog' will never be designated a national film treasure by the Library of Congress" - it was later designated a national film treasure by the Library of Congress.
  • Star Wars:
    Empire had the better ending. I mean, Luke gets his hand cut off, finds out Vader's his father, Han gets frozen and taken away by Boba Fett. It ends on such a down note. I mean, that's what life is, a series of down endings. All Jedi had was a bunch of Muppets.''
    • As the above exchange showed, for years many older fans considered Return of the Jedi the weakest Star Wars movie and a disappointing conclusion to the trilogy, deriding its overall Lighter and Softer tone, the Ewoks, and the puppets used. That was before the prequels. After that, Jedi gained a new appreciation for its truly great moments like the scenes with the Emperor, the practical creature effects, and the spectacular Final Battle in space all done without CGI. As for the Ewoks? Spaced stated it best:
    Tim: "Jar Jar makes the Ewoks look like fucking Shaft!"
    • Also, Revenge of the Sith, has been observed to make Return of the Jedi an even stronger film when paired together with it, as there are many key similarities and differences in the story and between the characters of Anakin and Luke that add a dramatic weight to repeat viewings Return of the Jedi, which wasn't there before Revenge of the Sith was released.
    • Although still rather divisive, the prequels themselves are starting to be seen in a better light nowadays due to several reasons: fans who watched them as children growing up and coming to their defense, the realization that many of the criticisms towards the films are either overblown, a case of Mis-blamed or were present in the original trilogy as well to varying degrees, their original concepts as well as The Clone Wars improving on certain aspects of the movies and criticism of the sequel trilogy, especially The Force Awakens rehashing the original trilogy and the very polarizing The Last Jedi changing too much of the formula. The popular Prequel Memes subreddit also helped vindicate the three films.
  • The Stunt Man failed financially and didn't gain many positive reviews, but over time has amassed enormous popularity.
  • Heaven's Gate. Well-publicized reports of its legendarily Troubled Production meant that many critics went in having sharpened their knives beforehand, and they found the film to be a bloated, self-indulgent mess. This poor reception led the film's release to be delayed into 1981 in order to do a Re-Cut that cleaved over an hour from the film, which only made matters worse. For decades, Heaven's Gate was remembered as arguably the most notorious Box Office Bomb in history, one that not only destroyed the career of writer/director Michael Cimino, but took down United Artists as an independent studio with it and wrote the obituary for both The Western as a mainstream genre and for the "auteur period" of '70s Hollywood. However, European critics, having not been constantly exposed to the reports from the set, had long felt that their American counterparts were too hard on the film; while it flopped in the US, it met rave reviews at Cannes. In 2012, a director's cut of Heaven's Gate that was not dissimilar to the original edit premiered at the Venice Film Festival and was released as part of The Criterion Collection, causing many critics who had previously dismissed the film to reassess it as an overlooked gem, arguing that the theatrical edit did the film a grave injustice and that many people at the time of its initial release were too focused on the cloud of its production to judge it fairly.
  • Stanley Kubricknote 
    • The Shining also divided many moviegoers. Most horror fans felt it was a long anti-climatic buildup and Stephen King fans (and King himself, for whom this is still a Disowned Adaptation) thought it had a very different tone compared to the novel it was based on. It actually got Kubrick nominated for Worst Director at the first ever Razzie Awards. Shocking to imagine today.
    • Full Metal Jacket also divided audiences, because the second half of the movie seemed not as strong as the first half.
    • Eyes Wide Shut got a lot of press attention and high expectations since it was released after Kubrick's death. Again, critics and audiences were divided on the quality of the film.
  • It seems that after the blockbuster success of his landmark Slasher Movie Halloween (1978), John Carpenter just couldn't catch a break. Christine and They Live were the only films of his after Halloween to receive unambiguously positive receptions from both critics and moviegoers alike at the time of their release. His frequent collaborator Kurt Russell has outright attributed Carpenter's success and now-legendary status to the rise of cable and home video, noting how many of his films initially bombed in their theatrical runs only to be rediscovered.
    • While the 1980 film The Fog was a commercial hit, it met mixed reviews at the time due to Halloween being a Tough Act to Follow, and Carpenter himself has poor memories of working on it due to reshoots and the low budget he had to work with. It's more fondly remembered nowadays, precisely because of its small scope and lack of visceral horror, and has built a reputation as one of the hidden gems in Carpenter's catalog.
    • Escape from New York made a respectable splash in the cult sense when it was first released in 1981, but wasn't considered a classic by any stretch of the imagination. It has gained much more recognition over the years, mainly due, no doubt, to its influence on other media, with works as diverse as Metal Gear Solid, ReBoot, and The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy being only a few examples.
    • The 1982 The Thing, competing against Steven Spielberg's E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, was a flop at the box office that made only $13.8 million in the US against a $15 million budget, with most critics dismissing it as nothing but "gore for gore's sake" and a pale shadow of the original 1951 The Thing from Another World, with even the director and star of the original coming out to trash it. As people rediscovered it in the '90s, they started seeing the strength of those practical effects, as well as the horrifying story underneath the gore. Nowadays, it's seen as a rival to Halloween as Carpenter's masterpiece, it regularly appears on lists of the best sci-fi and horror movies ever made, and it has spawned a comic book, a video game, and a prequel. While The Thing from Another World is still fondly remembered today by those who have seen it, Carpenter's version has become a classic case of Adaptation Displacement.
    • The same year as The Thing, Carpenter produced Halloween III: Season of the Witch, an attempt to turn Halloween into an anthology series, with each film having a standalone, self-contained story related to the Halloween holiday. Audiences and critics at the time rejected the film for having nothing to do with the first two films, lacking any returning characters (including iconic villain Michael Myers) or plot elements in favor of a sci-fi/horror story about a toy company using magitek Halloween masks to carry out a mass Human Sacrifice. It was the lowest-grossing film in the series up to that point, and its failure led Carpenter to turn the series over to producer Moustapha Akkad. Starting in the late '90s, however, people who have gone into the film understanding that it has no connection with the rest of the series have reevaluated it, viewing it as a biting satire of American consumerism and manufacturing and arguing that, had it not been called a Halloween film, it might have found its audience much sooner. Today, it's something of a Cult Classic.
    • The reception to Starman was lukewarm, but over time it has achieved an impressive fandom.
    • Big Trouble in Little China bombed especially bad (an $11.1 million gross versus a $25 million budget). Its campy outrageousness has since become extremely well-loved, especially by those who grew up in The '80s, and its self-aware tone and Deadpan Snarker protagonist have proven especially influential on modern blockbusters, most notably the Marvel Cinematic Universe through films like Guardians of the Galaxy and Thor: Ragnarok.
    • Prince of Darkness did well at the box office, but received incredibly negative critical reviews; Leonard Maltin even named it one of the worst movies of that year. It's much more generally acclaimed these days.
    • In the Mouth of Madness is a near-identical case to Prince of Darkness, its Mind Screw plot turning off many critics and causing it to fail at the box office. The opinion now is that it's the last truly great film Carpenter ever made, and one of the best translations of the style and feel of H. P. Lovecraft to the big screen (even if it wasn't based on any one of his stories).
  • Blow Out, Brian De Palma's thriller about a slasher-flick sound mixer who finds audio evidence of a murder, bombed at the box-office due to negative word of mouth. Its reputation has since climbed and the film is highly lauded as an artistic gem of the 80s.
  • Rambo: First Blood was released to mixed reviews in 1982. Today it is considered one of the classic anti-war thrillers of The '80s with a resounding message about the dehumanization and mistreatment of Vietnam veterans (complete with a famous speech on the subject at the end) that lets it stand out from its more action-oriented and thematically-conflicted sequels.
  • TRON turned a tiny profit but in the same vein was no competition against ET, and was even denied an Oscar effects nomination due to "cheating" by the use of computers. Today, it's considered a bold pioneer in CGI for film. In 2010, more than twenty years later, it had a sequel released, which was rare in an age where any movie over 10 years old would be a candidate for a reboot instead of a direct sequel. It doesn't hurt that TRON directly inspired Disney's Chief Creative Officer John Lasseter to make feature-length computer-animated movies...
  • The 1982 film adaptation of Annie, a box office flop with mixed reviews (like TRON, it competed with ET) that were often hostile, due to the elephantine conception, divergence from the musical, the darker nature, and the fact that John Huston was the wrong director for the film. However, it has become a cult favorite among people born after 1976 since its home video release.
  • The non-Muppet non-Sesame Street movies of Jim Henson are a major example, gaining large enough fanbases after their theatrical runs in The '80s that since their initial DVD releases in 1999, they have been among Sony's best-selling titles. Each also enjoys an Expanded Universe via graphic novels.
    • The Dark Crystal (1982) did okay in theaters, but Henson's kiddie-friendly reputation made this darker High Fantasy production a tough sell with audiences and critics at the time.
    • Labyrinth was intended as a lighter-hearted Spiritual Successor, but proved to be an outright flop in the summer of 1986 (costing $25 million and making $12.7 million). Reviews tended towards divisive opinions and TriStar's ad push was half-hearted, perhaps because it was coming on the heels of several Magical Land films that hadn't caught on (Return to Oz, Legend, etc.). But now it's so loved by its fanbase that beyond it spawning an Expanded Universe of comics, the 2005 Spiritual Successor MirrorMask was created on a small budget and given a limited release specifically because Sony wanted to create another cult hit.
  • David Cronenberg's Videodrome lost money in theaters with a $2.1 million gross versus a $6 million budget. After his subsequent films The Dead Zone and The Fly (1986) were successful, it started receiving more positive notice. The Criterion Collection's 2004 DVD release cemented its reputation as one of Cronenberg's strongest and most ambitious films, and it's turned out to have a great deal of Values Resonance with the rise of the Internet, social media, virtual reality, and so forth.
  • Fast Times at Ridgemont High, upon release, was largely written off by critics as another Porky's/Animal House rip-off (Roger Ebert, in particular, wrote a very scathing review for it). Fortunately, once people realized how realistic the film's characters and situations were (along with its realistically unglamorous depiction of sex — something unheard of in teen sex comedies circa 1982), the film gained considerable momentum throughout the years. Not only that, but it practically invented the Generation X "slacker" culture (or, at least, that culture as it was imagined by Hollywood) that countless less serious films would reference, rehash, and parody for nearly two decades afterward. It now stands alongside The Breakfast Club and Dazed and Confused as one of the best teen movies of its generation.
  • A Christmas Story was financially lukewarm, and the critics were pretty mixed. Its timing of release (1983) arguably wasn't very good, as a large chunk of its supposed appeal depended upon 1930s/1940s nostalgia that had been pretty common in films since the early '70s and appeared to have run its course by the '80s, especially since the '50s and the '60s were the preferred nostalgic fodder by that time. Now it's a very popular holiday classic - even replacing It's a Wonderful Life in that stature in many viewers' minds. Time Magazine TV critic James Poniewozik wrote a December 2007 essay explaining its appeal as he saw it: while A Christmas Story takes place during roughly the same time period as It's a Wonderful Life (indeed, given certain aspects of the setting it would appear to be taking place earlier), its casual and emotionally aloof attitude toward the subject matter reflects modern sensibilities much better than It's a Wonderful Life.
  • Monty Python's The Meaning of Life wasn't well received in 1983 because of its sketchy format and grossly over the top jokes. It has been re-appreciated over time as an uneven but enjoyable film that is more in tune with their original TV series since it doesn't follow a direct narrative and is, at times, rather offensive.
  • Eddie and the Cruisers suffered from being saddled with a studio, Embassy Pictures, that didn't know how to properly distribute films; as a result, the film, largely marketed for a teen audience, was released in September of 1983, when teens were in school. The film barely grossed $4.7 million, was heavily negatively-reviewed, and ended up failing so dismally that it was pulled from theaters after three weeks. At the time, the only well-reviewed thing about it was its soundtrack, which climbed the charts as the movie was failing. Then HBO showed the film in 1984 to great success, prompting a limited re-release in theaters for one week... which failed just as dismally. Television airings and home video releases in the following years enhanced its reputation significantly.
  • Once Upon a Time in America, Sergio Leone's 1984 companion piece to Once Upon a Time in the West, failed miserably (a $5.3 million gross versus a $20 million budget). Its release was horribly botched; while its premiere at Cannes met the sort of rave reviews one might expect given its present stature, its US release saw the film's run-time cut down from 229 minutes to 139 and scenes were rearranged in chronological order. Critics who knew about the longer Cannes cut attacked the recut, critics who didn't thought that the movie was an incomprehensible mess, and audiences stayed away. The film's reputation was saved when the studio released the original cut, and it is now acclaimed as one of the greatest crime dramas ever made. An anecdote told by James Woods is that one critic who proclaimed the recut to be the worst film of 1984 went back and proclaimed the original cut to be the best film of the entire decade upon seeing it. Currently, the recut is commercially unavailable.
  • Rob Reiner.
    • This Is Spın̈al Tap, upon initial theatrical release in 1984, lacked an audience aside from hardcore Heavy Metal fans, and its final box office numbers were very weak. Thanks to critical acclaim, however, the film proved extremely popular on VHS and cable, and single-handedly launched the mockumentary as a palatable genre.
    • The Princess Bride was a modest success when it was first released, but not enough to immediately ensure it wouldn't fade into obscurity. It was time, word-of-mouth and the VHS release that boosted the film's popularity.
  • 1984's Gremlins was a box-office hit and reviews overall leaned positive, but critics at the time were highly polarized over its violence (especially for a PG-rated film), Black Comedy, and Norman Rockwell-inspired Sugar Apocalypse setting. It was one of the films responsible for the creation of the PG-13 rating due to backlash from Moral Guardians, and a number of critics actually preferred its sequel, Gremlins 2: The New Batch, due to its Lighter and Softer tone (most notably Leonard Matlin, who has a cameo in the sequel in which he repeats his criticisms of the first film). Nowadays, of course, it's considered one of the greatest horror-comedies ever made.
  • Ishtar was met with critical hostility and was a Box Office Bomb upon its release in 1987, but as more and more people started watching it in spite of its reception, they found that it was Actually Pretty Funny, and it's become another Cult Classic that even had a documentary about it.
  • 1987's The Monster Squad was a Box Office Bomb that met a mixed critical reception, with many people not knowing what to make of its mix of genuinely creepy Universal monsters with a kids' adventure story in the vein of The Goonies. However, regular showings on HBO helped it build its reputation through the '90s, and by its 20th anniversary (commemorated with a special edition two-disc DVD set), it had come to be remembered as one of the great horror-comedies of the '80s.
  • David Lynch.
    • Dune cost $40 million and made $29.8 million in theaters, flopping mainly because Lynch's directorial vision was compromised by Sid Scheinberg. It's considerably more popular nowadays, mainly thanks to the internet.
    • Blue Velvet didn't turn much a profit at all ($8.6 million gross versus $6 million budget), but was well-liked by most critics who stuck by it and soon it was re-evaluated by the general public as among the very best pictures of the 80s.
  • Tim Burton examples:
    • Early in his career, Burton worked with Disney but was fired in 1984 after the production of Frankenweenie. They thought he wasted their money for a film that was too scary for children (it was intended to run in theaters with a Pinocchio reissue). Burton went on to become a successful director and finally the short saw home video release in The '90s. And a quarter of a century later, Burton remade it as a stop-motion feature — produced by Disney.
    • Burton's biopic Ed Wood failed at the box office with a $5.9 million gross versus an $18 million budget. But there was was enough critical and industry affection for it that it won two Oscars (Makeup and Supporting Actor) and eventually became known as a great work.
    • Batman Returns (1992) disappointed at the box office, due to both its overhyped U.S. release and parental outrage at the gruesome horror and sexual themes in a film that was blatantly marketed toward children. While it didn't quite ruin Burton's career, it did bring his late 1980s/early '90s hitmaking period to an abrupt end and forced Warner Brothers to move in a much Lighter and Softer direction with the Batman franchise. In the years since, it's been acknowledged as perhaps the best pre-2005 Batman movie and a major influence on almost all superhero movies released since.
  • The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension. Although it did not do well in theaters due to poor promotion, it has since become a cult classic. It also had bad sound, making it no easier to follow; this has been corrected in some home releases.
  • Three of Terry Gilliam's failures are currently among his more famous creations:
    • Brazil: Critically acclaimed (its screenplay was nominated for an Oscar) but it wasn't a financial success in the U.S. Thanks in part to multiple releases by The Criterion Collection, its reputation has skyrocketed.
    • The Adventures of Baron Munchausen was barely released in the U.S. due to studio politics and became known as one of the biggest bombs in film history. It hasn't quite achieved classic status, but it's getting there and many look to it as the last of Gilliam's great fantasy films.
    • Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: It opened against Godzilla in 1998 and bombed horribly. Now you can't go into a college book shop without seeing its poster in every corner.
  • Akira Kurosawa'snote  Ran wasn't a success (nor was it a flop) when it was released in the US in 1985, doing modestly at the box office (if not slightly above average for a foreign film) and winning only a handful of awards, despite near-universal critical acclaim. Its response in Japan however, — like most of Kurosawa's post Red Beard efforts — was largely of disinterest and the Japanese film board actively sabotaged its chances of being nominated for a Best Foreign Film Oscar. Nowadays, it's widely considered among Akira Kurosawa's masterpieces and among the best movies of all time.
  • Woody Allen's The Purple Rose of Cairo made money, but not enough to recoup its budget (falling $5 million short). It's been nominated for several American Film Institute awards since then.
  • 1986's Highlander also didn't recoup its $19 million budget and was not well-received upon its initial release... in America. It became a huge hit throughout Europe and the home video market, gaining it cult classic status, four sequels, a television series, books, comics, video games, and other components of the huge franchise it is today.
  • 1987's Predator, upon its initial release, received mixed-to-negative reviews from critics for its perceived shallowness and paper-thin plot. Later, its groundbreaking special effects, iconic antagonist, well-filmed action and built tension, in addition to its very subtle Genre Deconstruction, have led to it being reappraised as a sci-fi action classic, nowadays often appearing on many "Best Of" lists.
    • The second film has also gone through this. When it was first released, it was widely regarded as a big step down from the first film and got mixed reviews at best. As time went on and far more divisive entries came out, people began to revise their opinions about 2. It's now generally considered a pretty good follow-up that's just not as instantly memorable as the first movie, and it's often praised for trying to do something different instead of copying its predecessor.
  • The Blob (1988) bombed at the box office, and while some critics liked it, others saw it as a needless retread of the 1958 original that did nothing but amp up the gorn. Today, it's not unheard of to find people who prefer the remake over the original, for both its improved special effects and for its added Government Conspiracy storyline, with the two films' IMDb scores being identical.
  • Scrooged did okay at the box office, but received a plethora of negative reviews upon release. The success it received in the home video department, however, helped it build a reputation as a Christmas classic and one of Bill Murray's best films.
  • Stand and Deliver was completely overlooked on its release in 1988, buried amid a slew of big blockbusters. Critics are nowadays championing it as a top-notch drama.
  • UHF was critically panned and flopped (at $6.2 million, barely recovering its $5 million budget) at the summer 1989 box office — ironically, the latter was because its studio was so confident it would be a hit that it was scheduled amongst much higher-profile blockbusters (Batman, Ghostbusters II, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, etc.). It became a cult hit among "Weird Al" Yankovic fans and eventually found even greater reception upon its DVD release — which was due to popular demand that outstripped any other MGM-owned title that hadn't received a DVD up to that point.
    • Weird Al Lampshades this in the DVD commentary. During the credits, he reads several poor reviews the film got, ending with one positive one (possibly the only one he could find). While UHF has soured him on the idea of ever doing a movie again, he seems pleased that people still enjoy watching it.
  • Heathers was shunned in theaters for the perceived glorification of teen suicide (although this was not the case at all). It made $1.1 million against a $2 million budget. Upon arrival on home video it was a top seller, and is highly regarded nowadays.
    • Though in another case of Vindicated by History, all portrayals of suicide, no matter the intent, run a strong risk of copycats. If a notable character in a popular show or movie commits suicide, no matter how much it is intended to serve as a cautionary tale, expect a wave of suicides committed in a similar manner to the portrayal to occur.
  • Licence to Kill was initially another disappointment of the blockbuster-heavy summer of 1989, further hurt by comparisons to the Bond films that had preceded it. This, combined with legal issues over the franchise, ensured that another Bond film would not be made for 6 years, and that Timothy Dalton would not return to the lead role. License to Kill has since been re-evaluated as among the best installments of the franchise.
    • Timothy Dalton's overall taciturn, violent portrayal of Bond is now considered to be almost prophetic, as it anticipated Daniel Craig's rendition of the character by nearly twenty years. At the time, most viewers had grown comfortable with Roger Moore's lighthearted Bond.
  • Bull Durham was a modest critical and financial success on its release, but in more recent years it's undergone a critical reevaluation and is now considered one of the best sports movies ever.
  • The Coen Brothers made five films in the 1990s that are all now very popular and considered true classics. However, of these five films, Fargo was the only one to achieve first-run theatrical success.
    • Miller's Crossing cost $14 million and made only $5 million. While it will never see as much praise as Fargo, it has gained a fair amount of respect from critics (even making some "Best" lists) and particularly from fans of the Coens, and is generally thought of as the "other" great crime film of 1990.
    • Barton Fink cost $9 million and in its theatrical run made a disappointing $6.2 million. It picked up popularity on VHS after winning the top prizes at the Cannes Film Festival.
    • The Hudsucker Proxy suffered the most. Costing $25 million it was their most expensive film of that decade, and made the least amount of money ... $2.8 million, a tremendous loss for Warner Brothers (and probably the reason the Coens never had Warners as a distributor again). Hudsucker was re-evaluated after the success of Fargo, and gained a sizeable fandom.
    • The Big Lebowski made $17 million in the United States, enough to recoup its $15 million budget but not nearly enough to be considered a success. It remained a dud in the US (although it managed to turn a sizeable profit in foreign markets) until its home video release. Its popularity then exploded to gargantuan proportions ... Lebowski is now one of the biggest cult classics, and since 2002 a "Lebowskifest" has been held each year in every single U.S. state. It even has a religion centered around The Dude's lifestyle.
    • Before all of these were the first two Coen films in the 80s, Blood Simple. and Raising Arizona. They were not flops (in fact they turned enough of a profit to satisfy the distributors), but they were also not considered artistic masterpieces until MANY years later.
  • Quentin Tarantino
    • Reservoir Dogs barely made back its cost due to limited advertising, limited exhibition, and the fact that Tarantino's brutal style caught most people who saw it off-guard. Only after the enormous success of Pulp Fiction did audiences manage to truly embrace Reservoir, which (along with sex, lies, and videotape and El Mariachi) became the fuel that ignited independent cinema in America.
    • Jackie Brown got positive press when first released, but it could not shake criticism of it not being enough like Pulp Fiction. More recent years have been kinder to the film, with people even starting to consider it to be Tarantino's best film.
    • Grindhouse, a package feature he co-directed with Robert Rodriguez, gained its big cult following after horrible box office and mixed to negative reviews.
    • Even Pulp Fiction itself is an example. While it was a big success at the box office, it wasn't exactly the instant cultural phenomenon one might think it was. It was only after the turn of the millennium that people started to consider it the Citizen Kane of the '90s.
  • Fire in the Sky got horrible reviews and was only an average performer at the box office when it was first released. Today, it is considered by many one of the scariest films ever made and has a strong following among sci-fi fans.
  • Lethal Weapon 3 and 4. Whether people have a higher opinion of both movies is questionable, but both films look much better by comparison after the Die Hard films Live Free or Die Hard and especially A Good Day to Die Hard came out, and Weapon is considered to have maintained a more consistent level of quality versus that rivaling 80s /90s action franchise.
  • Dazed and Confused, upon release, was admired by critics but barely broke even at the box office. Subsequent years have seen it listed very near the top on various countdowns of the greatest cult films and high school comedies ever made, and as Cracked would later note, the film served as a prototype for many of the "average guys doing average things" comedies that proliferated in the '00s.
  • While Wes Craven's New Nightmare earned good reviews, it was the lowest-grossing film in the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. The only reason it wasn't an outright Box Office Bomb was because its budget was so low that even its meager take was enough to recoup its production costs. Now, fans of the Nightmare films regard it as up there with the original film and Dream Warriors as one of the best entries in the series, especially from a pure horror standpoint, and fans of Wes Craven regard it as a prototype of sorts for Scream (1996) due to its similar metatextual ideas.
  • The Shawshank Redemption was released to critical acclaim and a handful of Oscar nominations. Box office success? Not so much, as it was in the shadows of Forrest Gump and Pulp Fiction at the time of its release. In its first run it made $16 million versus a $25 million budget. Its current popularity is almost exclusively thanks to heavy broadcasts on cable and home video.
    • A TV special on the director showed that the public chased it on video after hearing its name over and over during the Academy Awards. A theatrical re-release also took place during the Oscar season, in which the film was much more successful.
  • When the 1994 Street Fighter movie came out, it was initially pretty widely disliked and considered a shining example of Video-Game Movies Suck, though even then it did have a small following due to its campy nature. However, as time went on, its camp and the passing of Raúl Juliá would make it relatively fondly remembered. Cementing this is the release of the next Street Fighter movie, Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li which was universally reviled and almost every Street Fighter fan agrees that, for all its flaws, the first film was better.
  • The Western film The Quick and the Dead flopped, despite an all-star cast of actors like Gene Hackman, Leonardo Dicaprio, Russell Crowe and Sharon Stone, who was enjoying the super-stardom she gained after her role in Basic Instinct. It cost 32 million to make, but only made 18 million back. Today, the film has a huge cult following.
  • Demolition Man: When it was released was seen as a subpar sci-fi action movie getting mostly panned by critics, barely recouping it's budget despite opening at number one, though it did make up for it internationally. In recent years it's seen more for what it really is, a pretty solid fish-out-of-water satire of sci-fi action movies from the '80s.
  • The consensus in 1995 was that the Clerks prequel Mallrats sucked (with a $2.1 million gross against a $6.1 million budget), but many have since agreed that its quality equals that of Clerks and Chasing Amy.
  • Clueless was a respectable hit at the box-office, but it didn't exactly set it on fire. About a decade later and it's became the teen movie of the '90s.
  • Billy Madison was critically panned back in the '90s and made little money. It became looked back upon more fondly as Adam Sandler rose to the top of the Hollywood A-list.
  • In two decades, Friday went from being a moderately popular comedy to a defining classic in black cinema.
  • Starship Troopers, in its day, was criticised for having little to do with its source material in favour of being a Rated M for Manly action movie to bring in the teenage boys, but over time, has been re-evaluated as an excellent satire of right-wing militarism, as well as just a fun and enjoyable movie in its own right.
  • Dark City was a commercial flop that divided critics when it came out, not helped by studio-mandated edits. Over time, it has developed a large cult following, has received a re-release that restored director Alex Proyas' original cut, and is frequently compared favourably to similar films of the time such as The Matrix.
  • Wes Anderson wasn't really a well-regarded filmmaker until the success of The Royal Tenenbaums.
    • Wes's first film Bottle Rocket didn't recoup its modest indie budget in theaters (a $1 million gross versus a $7 million budget). It has since proven itself on VHS and DVD as a classic.
    • His second film Rushmore, originally a box office flop, has gained immense notice.
  • EDtv, initially dismissed as a ripoff of The Truman Show, has gained widespread recognition in recent years as a brilliant satire.
  • Whit Stillman's The Last Days of Disco was a financial failure, but acclaim for its artistry has been growing since its release.
  • Fight Club. During its North American theatrical run, the film garnered a very polarized reaction from critics (just as much for its at-the-time graphic violence as its actual quality) and performed mediocre at the box office (a $37 million gross versus a $63 million budget). However, once the film made it to home video, it quickly developed a large and loyal cult following. At the same time, many critics seriously reconsidered their original assessments of the film, gradually making it one of the most acclaimed movies of the last thirty years and landing it on many "Best Movies Of All Time" lists. There's also the issue of people creating "real Fight Clubs" after seeing the movie.
  • The Boondock Saints was a massive flop, only making back $30,471 from its $6 million budget. It was also harshly criticized for being the worst of the Tarantino-inspired movies coming out at the time, mainly due to its juvenile characters and messy editing. Most of its failures can be attributed to the Columbine high school massacre happening right before its release, with people finding the film particularly distasteful for its violence as a result. The film would later develop a cult following and has grossed over $50 million in domestic video sales. Now-a-days it is noted for its innovative approach to action scenes and chronology, its thought-provoking ending and Willem Dafoe's performance. It even got a sequel...
  • Mike Judge
    • Office Space was poorly marketed, and barely broke even at $10.8 million. Now it's the champion of all workplace comedies, and among the most quoted films ever.
    • Idiocracy made around $495,000 in theaters against a $25 million budget, mostly because of the limited number of theaters it played at and barely any advertising. It became a smash hit on DVD.
  • Election did okay at the box office but was unimpressive compared to American Pie, which came out around the same time. Today it's regarded as one of the best teen comedies ever made, as well as one of Reese Witherspoon's best performances.
  • Ride with the Devil ($635,100 gross versus a $38 million budget), hailed as an Ang Lee masterpiece.
  • Mike Leigh's Topsy-Turvy lost money in its theatrical run, and is now considered a classic.
  • Almost Famous cost $60 million to make and only managed to rake in $47 million. But critics kept rooting for it, and eventually Cameron Crowe's Oscar win for best screenplay helped boost the film's popularity on home video. The film launched Kate Hudson's career into the stratosphere, and even after the Hype Backlash she got over her string of romantic comedy hits, Almost Famous is the one film of hers still well-regarded today.
  • The Live-Action Adaptation of Josie and the Pussycats received mixed reviews and bombed at the box office, with many critics feeling that its parody of the corporate Teen Idols of the late '90s and early '00s rang hollow in the face of the over-the-top amount of Product Placement it carried. It killed the careers of the writer/director team of Harry Elfont and Deborah Kaplan, who wouldn't direct another movie and would stick to screenwriting from there on out. It's since been reevaluated as a hilarious satire, the plastering of corporate logos in every shot having been part of the entire joke that critics at the time missed the point of (notably, none of those logos were actually paid for by the rights holders). The film's soundtrack in particular, put together by a who's who of big-name '90s songwriters and producers with Letters to Cleo's Kay Hanley on vocals, stood the test of time well enough that it was rereleased on vinyl in 2017.
  • 2001's Donnie Darko did not make much of a splash during its modest theatrical run (making $4.1 million, narrowly missing the $4.5 million breaking-even mark), but quickly developed a large cult following and on home video found an unprecedented amount of belated fame. The poor theatrical showing might have been due to its coming out a month & a half after 9/11.
  • The 2001 comedy Wet Hot American Summer had poor critical reception (Roger Ebert gave it one star) and a virtually nonexistent box office when it was first released, partially thanks to a truly awful distribution deal. It ultimately became so popular as a cult classic that it actually received a prequel series on Netflix in 2015 which debuted to extremely positive reviews and became the streaming service's fifth smash hit (after House of Cards (US), Orange Is the New Black, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and Daredevil (2015)).
  • Zoolander had the misfortune of coming out in late September of 2001, just weeks after the 9/11 attacks. The world was therefore not in the mood for comedy or, in many cases, even to leave the house, and while it made back its budget, it was not a hit by any stretch of the imagination. Since then, the film has more than made up for the theatrical misfortune with DVD sales, and the sequel Zoolander 2 was finally released almost 15 years later.
  • Terry Zwigoff's 2001 Live-Action Adaptation of Ghost World was screened at various film festivals before it was given a limited commercial theatrical release, where no audience seemed to catch on that well despite nigh-universal critical acclaim. Today, it can be found on various lists of the greatest comic book movies of all time, and has been released as part of The Criterion Collection.
  • Punch-Drunk Love garnered critical acclaim in 2002, especially for Adam Sandler's surprising dramatic turn, but failed to attract audiences because of Adam Sandler's surprising dramatic turn. The box-office failure of this film, combined with the similar performances of Spanglish, Reign Over Me, and Funny People, officially caused Sandler to be typecast in silly comedies. Only in recent years, in large part due to public backlash over Sandler's recent films, has the film become more highly regarded by audiences.
  • The 2003 theatrical cut of Daredevil underwhelmed after critics and audiences complained that it was a watered-down comic book film coming on the heels of other critically- and commercially-successful Marvel properties like X-Men and Spider-Man. Several months later, the Daredevil Director's Cut restored a significant amount of material (making it much more Darker and Edgier), which gave the film a whole new focus and restored its credibility among audiences who had previously dismissed it out of hand.
  • Mean Girls received a similar reception to Groundhog Day and The Big Lebowski upon its release in 2004 — critics' reviews were good, but not great, and while it was certainly a hit, it wasn't a blockbuster either. By the time of its ten-year anniversary in early 2014, it was being hailed as one of the best comedies of the '00s and one of the greatest teen movies ever made, with quotes from the film becoming part of the Generation Y and internet lexicon, and October 3rd being hailed as "Mean Girls Day", in a situation not unlike May 4th as "Star Wars Day". Its ten-year anniversary was a major internet and social media event, garnering much more buzz than some of the biggest movies of 2004 like Shrek 2 and The Passion of the Christ. By that point, it was considered the definitive film of 2004 much like Pulp Fiction had become for 1994 or Goodfellas for 1990.
  • Edgar Wright:
    • 2004's Shaun of the Dead, with a $5 million budget, made a profit at the UK and US box office but not an impressive one. On DVD, the movie has become a huge hit, and one of the most acclaimed British comedies ever.
    • Hot Fuzz did quite well in the UK box office in 2007, but did poorly in the US due to being released around the same time as Epic Movie. But once it was brought to DVD and Blu-Ray, it has become very popular in the US as well as the UK.
  • An odd example with Son of the Mask. When it was first released, it was almost unanimously panned by critics and audiences. Today, while it's not technically considered good, per se, its reception has gotten a tad warmer, with some referring to it as a love letter to classic cartoons and others praising Alan Cumming as Loki. Nonetheless, it is still considered very inferior to the first film as a whole.
  • A minor example; while the Tim Story-directed Fantastic Four films from 2005 and 2007 were never held in high regard, some have gained more of an appreciation for them after Josh Trank's reboot of the series was not only trashed by critics and audiences, but a Box Office Bomb on top of it. Basically, the 2015 film's weaknesses made those of the previous duology look less bad, and made their strengths stand out more.
    • The Roger Corman Fantastic Four film has also undergone something of a re-evaluation by some. It was for years considered by fans to be a mere B-movie, and dismissed as a cheap Ashcan Copy. But again, with how bad the 2015 movie is considered, this version of the Fantastic Four is being recognized by fans in a more positive light in comparison, considering that it seems like the makers of this one cared more than the makers of the 2015 reboot. It is also considered the closest a Fantastic Four movie has come to matching its source material in many ways. The movie is also considered to have a low budget charm that the other Fantastic Four movies do not have.
  • 2005's Hard Candy wasn't really a "flop," since it was an indie film, with a fairly small release anyway (never more than 150 theatres). That said, it just barely broke $1 million domestically. While it's never gotten Donnie Darko-level popular, its recognition has definitely grown over time.
  • Serenity, the 2005 feature-film continuation of the TV series Firefly, got a mixed response from critics, and failed to earn back its $39 million budget in theaters despite support from Firefly's fandom. Only on DVD did it gain the tremendous popularity it has now. Appropriately enough, this is the exact same way that the show built its fandom in the first place.
  • Sky High (2005), was well-liked upon its release in 2005, but it was largely seen as one of several Harry Potter imitators trying to create stories in Hogwarts-esque Adventure Academies. The child-targeted film faded out of public consciousness quickly. However, people started to look back upon the film more fondly about a decade later. Part of that is because stars Danielle Panabaker and Mary Elizabeth Winstead found greater success. But also, with the growing popularity of the superhero genre in film and television, people were open to looking at more novel takes on the genre. Like with Mean Girls, it has become a source of high school nostalgia for its grown-up audiences, and surprisingly complex themes about social class (the conflict between the heroes and sidekicks), betrayal (when the girl you fall in love with is really evil) and relationships between parent and child.
  • Stranger Than Fiction, while never really panned by critics, only received moderate critical acclaim upon its release (mostly because of skepticism towards Will Ferrell's acting abilities). Today, it stands as possibly one of the strongest films of 2006, usually highly regarded for its effective life message and its powerhouse cast.
  • Despite good critical reception, Children of Men failed to break even among a sea of similarly ambitious 2006 releases. As a result of the less-than-impressive returns, director Alfonso Cuarón would go more than half a decade without any directorial work. Its DVD sales have been more generous, elevating it to mainstream popularity as one of the greatest sci-fi films of the 2000s.
  • 2007's Spider-Man 3. While still highly polarizing, it has been treated with more leniency after The Amazing Spider Man 2 was released to even worse reviews and became a Franchise Killer for the already-contested reboot series. It received further vindication in 2017 with the Editor's Cut release, which is widely considered to be superior to the original version of the movie.
  • The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford was hounded by release issues: it was originally scheduled for September 2006, then February 2007, before finally being released in September of 2007, almost two years after filming wrapped. Given a limited release, the film grossed just over $15 million, slightly more than half of its $30m budget. DVD releases of the film have helped it significantly.
  • Lars and the Real Girl didn't recoup its budget during its initial theatrical release in 2007, though it was critically acclaimed. Today it's well-regarded by such outlets as (but not limited to) Christian media as a textbook example of tolerance (believe it or not, considering the film's less-than-wholesome premise).
  • Speed Racer was an enormous critical and commercial bomb upon its release in 2008. However, as the years have gone on, the film has found several defenders and even a decent sized fanbase, with even Time Magazine and Den of Geek looking back at the film as being underappreciated, and is sometimes even favorably compared to works like Scott Pilgrim vs. The World and Pacific Rim in terms of "anime-influenced films".
  • 2008's In Bruges recouped its budget twice over, but opened to mixed reviews. It has since gained a cult following, and won Colin Farrell a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy.
  • Steven Soderbergh's 2008 film Che, a biopic of Che Guevara, has built up a very high profile in the two years since its theatrical bombing (having made $41 million on a $58 million budget).
  • 2008's The Hurt Locker never got a wide release and grossed just $17 million in theatres, despite near-unanimous critical acclaim (the disappointing box office mainly due to Summit having higher hopes on flops such as Bandslam, Sorority Row, and Astro Boy). However, the film managed to became a huge hit on DVD and won several Academy Awards (including Best Picture).
  • Indie filmmaker Duncan Jones debuted with a sci-fi drama called Moon. Getting little attention in 2009 apart from the film festival circuit (with a gross of $7 million, it barely made its money back), Moon has since taken off on home video and propelled Jones to the director's seat on a number of top Hollywood projects.
  • The 2009 horror-comedy Jennifer's Body met a poor reception from both critics and audiences at the time, with a 43% on Rotten Tomatoes and a C- Cinemascore, and while it made its money back due to its low budget, it was still a box office disappointment. It killed the buzz that Megan Fox had after Transformers, and it also cast a cloud over the then-white-hot career of its writer Diablo Cody, who was following up her Oscar win for Juno. Nowadays, it's hailed as an unsung classic of feminist horror, one that was ahead of its time in both its treatment of rape culture and in how it portrayed the friendship of its two teenage girl leads, and which had the misfortune of being marketed as a campy sex romp and alienating its target audience while being a victim of the pop culture Hype Backlash against both Fox (seen as a vapid glamour model after Transformers) and Cody (seen as a hipster one-trick pony after Juno).
  • The extent to which Trick 'r Treat was Screwed by the Studio is somewhat legendary. After its planned release in 2007 was delayed indefinitely (either to avoid competition with Saw IV or to punish writer/director Michael Dougherty and producer Bryan Singer for the disappointment of Superman Returns), it only saw the light of day at festival screenings. However, Dougherty wasn't prepared to give up on it, nor were the rabid fans it made at those screenings. Warner Bros. finally dumped it on DVD in 2009, whereupon it gained significant traction from the internet and word of mouth. Nowadays, many people consider it a Halloween classic, and judge most other modern anthology films, horror-comedies, and Halloween movies in general by the standard it set.
  • A minor example with Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and Transformers: Dark of the Moon. The former was widely seen as vastly inferior to the first film, and the latter was somewhat of an improvement, but it was seen as too little, too late. With the releases of Transformers: Age of Extinction and Transformers: The Last Knight, the first two sequels to Transformers are looked upon more favorably, with many recognizing the various merits in those films. While they still have many detractors, most of the haters have gone forward to attack the newer films, and defenders point out the Narm Charm provided by Shia Labeouf, the Visual Effects of Awesome, the Awesome Music provided not just by Steve Jablonsky, but also Linkin Park (especially after the passing of Chester Bennington), and the more interesting cast of characters.
  • Zack Snyder's film adaptation of Watchmen bombed theatrically when released in 2009 and received a very polarizing reaction from audiences and critics. Fans of the source material were unhappy with the creative liberties taken, especially in regard to the ending. Conversely, general audiences were turned off by the fidelity to the comic and were disappointed how the film wasn't as action-packed as promised by the trailers. However, it earned a reappraisal in later years following the release of a director's cut that added more action and character drama. It helps that the movie's murder-mystery plot and noir style made it stand out from the more bombastic superhero films. Subsequently, the movie gained a significant cult following with many coming to respect Snyder for his audacity in adapting the unfilmable comic and his willingness to push the bounds of the genre. Attack on Titan mangaka Hajime Isayama has cited Snyder's adaptation as a major influence with Levi and Erwin being expies of Rorschach and Ozymandias. Likewise, Doctor Strange (2016) director Scott Derrickson calls it his favorite comic book movie and the "Blade Runner of superhero movies".
  • March of the Penguins was overshadowed by the monster success of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but later became a popular film for teachers to show in schools, as it teaches children about the lives of penguins.
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    In-universe examples 
  • Cloud Atlas: Sonmi's actions make her go from being the face of a rebellion to an outright god worshiped by Zachary and his tribe.


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