8 All-Time Classic Movies You Didn't Know Flopped At The Box Office

8. Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory

Paramount Pictures

Of all the eventual children's classics that started out as box office bombs, it kind of makes sense that Willy Wonka failed to catch on right away. Even a decade as weird as the 70s couldn't possibly get on board with the super creepy, at times nightmarish spectacle that Mel Stuart and Gene Wilder worked together to create.

At least not right away. And that reluctance showed in the initial run's numbers, where Wonka and his orange-faced compatriots pulled in a meager $4 million from a $3 million budget.

It received a second life once Warner Bros acquired the rights from Paramount and re-released the dark candy man's story on video in 1996. Suddenly, a movie that rightfully earned its status as a "cult classic" became an iconic piece of pop culture that generations of families could be completely freaked out by. It earned an additional $21 million from the ensuing video sales.

Willy Wonka is now essential viewing for anyone with a pulse, but it's hard to believe the film started out much closer to Labyrinth than E.T. in terms of acclaim and box office success.


Jacob is a part-time contributor for WhatCulture, specializing in music, movies, and really, really dumb humor. You can follow him on Twitter @JakeTrowbridge.