Most moviegoers would assume that a movie was a hit at the box office if awarded at the Oscars. But this is not always true, as some of the most well-known Oscar-winning movies were flops at the box office. These movies were underappreciated upon release but became popular when they were sent to syndication, which can mean a few things for movies.
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The most commonly known practice is when movies are on television to reach a wider audience who may not have seen the film in theaters. Other times, syndication comes when one studio releases a project to another in hopes that the new owners will have better luck with the film and its distribution. For box office flops, syndication can earn films new levels of popularity.
Office Space was well received when it hit theaters as other comedies that were less satirical and more outrageous were popular then. Workplace comedy became popular when The Office became a hit for NBC. With a similar name, it was easy to see how viewers would think the show and the movie were connected, even though they are unrelated.
After the meme of Bill became an internet staple, people became fascinated with its origins, bringing more eyes to Office Space. Home movie releases and syndication gave the movie new life (Source IMDb).
Hocus Pocus 2 was a long-awaited sequel to the Halloween classic Hocus Pocus. But when the movie was released, it didn't receive the same enthusiasm at the box office as fans have for the movie now. Hocus Pocus was a flop because it was released in July and was out of season for what moviegoers were looking for in theaters.
Like many holiday movies, Hocus Pocus made its way to television and sparked a new interest in viewers who loved the camp that the Sanderson Sisters brought to the screen. With a catchy soundtrack and star-studded cast, the movie became a Halloween staple.
It is hard to believe that A Christmas Story was ever considered a flop since it is one of the most popular Christmas movies, but it did not perform well at the box office. Syndication made this movie more well-known, especially when TBS started running a 24-hour marathon of the film on Christmas Day. With a cast of iconic characters, the Christmas movie has gained nostalgic fans.
As more generations have been exposed to the holiday cheer from A Christmas Story, a connection can be made between how children acted in the '70s and '80s versus now and how there is not much difference in childhood regarding the holidays.
The Iron Giant was a box office flop despite being a great movie. The movie was under-marketed by Warner Brothers, costing the studio millions of dollars. The Iron Giant is an emotional journey that shows the titular robot learning what it means to be alive and die, but it has heavy themes related to The Cold War.
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Once the movie went to VHS and television syndication, the film gained a new audience and earned cult classic status. By the time The Iron Giant reached syndication, the cast was considered star-studded, with Vin Diesel and Jennifer Aniston providing voices for some of the characters. This brought more attention to the movie, helping make it popular (Source Rotten Tomatoes).
The Boondock Saints focuses on two Boston brothers who claim their crimes are in the Catholic Church's name. While the movie's concept is compelling, the performance at the box office wasn't great. The movie only received a large fan base once it was sent to VHS, and Blockbuster got the exclusive distribution rights for home rental.
Also, the movie came out after the Columbine massacre, causing the movie to only be in theaters for one week in Boston (Source IMDb). With Blockbuster getting distribution rights, The Boondock Saints had a wider audience for the first time.
As with many of Tim Curry's films, Clue didn't perform well in theaters but gained a loyal fan base years later for the campy comedy and unheard-of concept. Even though the movie didn't profit, it became a staple for midnight showings and gained a devoted fan base. With Paramount allowing for televised showings of Clue, the movie has achieved cult-classic status (Source Buzzfeed).
The syndication of the film has not only gained the movie more fans but also reminds film lovers that Tim Curry has played several campy roles. The movie is similar to The Rocky Horror Picture Show as it has a large cast of characters that are completely different from one another.
The Shawshank Redemption is a beloved film by many, but when it was released, the movie was overlooked. At the same time this emotional prison film was released, Tom Hanks captivated audiences with his portrayal of Forrest Gump, making The Shawshank Redemption pale in comparison.
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Despite underperforming at the box office, the movie received rave reviews from critics, making it the perfect mark for syndication (Source Rotten Tomatoes). TNT purchased the syndication rights for The Shawshank Redemption, where the complex, compelling movie gained a wider audience, and word spread that the Academy Award-winning film was worth a watch (Source Mental Floss).
The Wizard of Oz is considered a beloved classic film with an original movie soundtrack that audiences love. With so many actors and scenes requiring intricate sets, The Wizard of Oz was an expensive movie for its time. The film only brought in around $3 million but cost the studio almost $4 million in distribution (Source: Syracuse.com).
After being sent out for television syndication, The Wizard of Oz reached new generations who appreciated the marvels of cinematography that the film displayed, like the use of black and white to technicolor. Television provided a wider reach for the film and has been remastered for new generations to enjoy the film.
Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory is a beloved childhood classic for many, but when the movie was released, it barely made a profit on its $3 million budget. Paramount Pictures was the original studio in charge of the film rights, but after underperforming at the box office, the rights were left for another studio to pick up.
Warner Brothers purchased the rights and distributed the movie to television networks for syndication (Source The Irish Times). The 2005 Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory remake drew attention back to the original film. While fans compared the two versions of the movie, more generations were exposed to the original version and gained an appreciation for it.
Despite being a treasured film today, one of the best classic Christmas movies did not perform well at the box office. It's A Wonderful Life tells the harrowing story of Jimmy Stewart and the struggles of his family. Despite being a heartwarming tale, the movie only made $3.3 million, which provided no return on the $3.7 million budget (Source Mental Floss).
In a strange turn of fate, It's A Wonderful Life went to syndication when it became public domain in the 1970s. This allowed the film to be played on several networks with no monetary restrictions (Source Mental Floss). Thus, It's A Wonderful Life was played repeatedly during Christmas, allowing home viewers to fall in love with Jimmy Stewart and his pursuit to make his family happy.
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