Though the term “box office bomb” is synonymous with failure and essentially indicates a terrible film, you might be surprised to know that sometimes great films flop hard. It appears that, indeed, quality doesn’t always equal success – at least in terms of financials – as the below ten films suggest. It’s frustrating because this happening only helps make studios more cynical and more confident in generic, production-line mulch rather than taking chances on creatively risky endeavours such as some of these. Here are ten great films that dive-bombed at the box office.


1. Heathers

Despite costing a measly $2m, Heathers still only pulled in about half that in revenues, all the more surprising given that it was one of the most intelligent and brilliantly provocative teen films of its time, and today, it remains a high benchmark that has rarely been met. With its risky storylines about teen suicide and murder, Heathers eviscerated the high school experience with a razor-sharp edge, daring to go to the dark, unsavoury places that was just so uncommon in Hollywood at the time. Post-Columbine, this sort of subject matter would prove extremely prickly, and pretty much every studio would surely pass on it, even though a sequel of some kind is in fact in the works (though you can bet it’ll shift the focus considerably).

It’s staggering to think that a film starring two young, popular actors – Winona Ryder and Christian Slater – along with such an incisive premise didn’t get butts on seats; there’s no accounting for taste, I guess.

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This article was first posted on September 23, 2012