To define success as it relates to movies, you'd look mostly to the amount of money it made versus what it costs to make. But that isn't always the case.
Some film were met with critical acclaim, but didn't translate at the box office to the point that they would be considered successful just based on commercial dollars earned. Some of those films are classics, others revolutionary and set the stages for others to follow.
Some were groundbreaking, heartwarming and under appreciated.
What they all ended up being were remembered and rightfully lauded for the success they were even if the numbers don't necessarily all add up.
Think about a movie like "Blade Runner," a film that broke even essentially from a money standpoint but showed the world just what science fiction and action together should look like for years to come. The phrase "ahead of its time" applies to Blade Runner on so many levels, even though at the time no one really paid attention to it. Now, it's considered the forefather of any science fiction movie that will forever follow in its footsteps.
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Critical darlings like "Blade Runner" don't always find a mass audience, and no movie epitomizes that thought more than "Shawshank Redemption." This 1994 film is 20 years old but still is considered timeless but was a box office loser. This film finds its way on to television at every turn and found life again on cable and when it was released to audiences at home after a failed theater run. "Shawshank Redemption" is perfectly acted and moving on a number of levels, and no one can sit through the end and not stand up cheer for the Andy character and his ability to break out of prison, where he was wrongly accused of killing his wife.
And no list would be complete with what arguably is considered one of the greatest fantasy movies of all time, "The Wizard of Oz." But not even Dorothy and company could convince movie goers that the film was worth much of their time. It broke even but eventually broke through the class ceiling and became a commercial darling, even though back in 1939, the film's company banked on this as their most expensive movie of all time and it failed to do much to move the needle.
The irony of these movies and others like it is that they didn't find an audience initially, which defined their initial labels, but ultimately found more than just moderate success over years and their lore and legacy only grew to the point that their appeal was considered mass.
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