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Ten Cult Classics and the Forgettable Movies That Trounced Them at the Box Office On Opening Weekend

By Dustin Rowles | Box Office Round-Ups | July 30, 2013 | Comments ()


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I was listening to the latest episode of the brilliant How Did This Get Made? podcast this morning, with Paul Scheer and Jason Mantzoukas, and they were dissecting Over the Top, the ridiculously awful Sylvester Stallone movie in which he was paid $12 million (as Mantzoukas noted, “That was a lot of cocaine back in 1987.”) The movie, however, was a huge box-office failure, making only $5 million on its opening weekend, landing in fourth place. Someone asked what movies were ahead of Over the Top at the box office. No one had an answer, but thanks to the Internet, I can tell you that Over the Top was beaten by Platoon, Outrageous Fortune and Mannequin.

Clearly, that’s not a great example for the exercise below because both Platoon and Mannequin have better legacies than Over the Top (but just barely!). I have no idea what Outrageous Fortune is. Anyway, it got me thinking about cult classics, and the forgettable movies that likely beat them at the opening weekend.

I know a lot of you are saying, because you’re nitpickers who like to COMPLAIN ABOUT EVERYTHING that it’s like comparing apples to oranges, because many of the cult classics opened in limited release, while the forgettable films opened wide. Yes, that is true. But it is also true that the forgettable films made more money than the cult classics on their opening weekend than the cult classics made during their entire box office run, so the point still holds.

Still, because you are contrarians by nature, some of you are saying, “Well, duh. Box office has no bearing on on the quality of a film.” And to you, I say: Shut up. I know. We all know. It’s just a silly exercise, OK. Stop taking things on the Internet so goddamn seriously.

You have any more quibbles you’d like to mention? Maybe that Fletch Lives is a really good movie?

No, sweetie. You’re wrong (*head pat*) and now you’re getting on my last nerve.


Donnie Darko ($110,000) vs. K-Pax ($17 million)

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Descent ($8,000) vs. Rush Hour 3 ($49 million)

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Shaun of the Dead ($3 million) vs. The Forgotten ($21 million)

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Kiss Kiss Bang Bang ($150,000) vs. Doom ($15 million)

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Heathers ($170,000) vs. Fletch Lives ($8 million)

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Office Space ($4 million) vs. Message in a Bottle ($16 million)

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Reservoir Dogs ($170,000) vs. Under Seige ($9 million)

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The Big Lebowski ($5 million) vs. U.S. Marshall ($16 million)

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Mulholland Dr. ($587,000) vs. Bandits ($13 million)

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Hedwig and the Angry Inch ($156,000) vs. American Sweethearts ($30 million)

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not


  • saijanai

    You failed to mention Bubba Hotep vs just about anything else released that year.

  • misslucyjane

    I just want to let you know that thanks to this entry I am now addicted to "How Did This Get Made?"

    My productivity has taken a serious hit this week.

    I'm sure the two are related.

  • BlackRabbit

    Thing is, Doom and KK, BB both scratch different itches equally well. Do I want to think and enjoy good dialogue, or watch 'splosions and the Rock and Urban shoot monsters? It's a coin flip. Though the fact that Kiss kIss didn't make more makes me sad.

  • Salad_Is_Murder

    Sadly, there is no more need for Doom now that there is DREDD.

    I don't even care that he doesn't take off the helmet, I know he's under there.

  • Mandingo Effect

    Why did the author/compiler of this piece manage to misspell the names of three movies? Seriously. You put the names RIGHT over the posters OF THE MOVIES and managed to misspell them three times. Not to nitpick, but some proofreading might serve you better, next time.

    Just a thought.

  • Chris Thomas

    Descent only made 8 grand! Did it only open in one theater? I feel like that's the price of a movie ticket these days. LOL

  • gnibs

    I'd rather watch Under Siege than Reservoir Dogs.

  • kirbyjay

    US was good, crazy fun. RD was .......I don't know because I shut it off when the cops ear WAS GETTING HACKED OFF.

  • Jenn TheYellowDart

    Mulholland Drive is not a film. It's an atrocity.

  • e jerry powell

    Why did anyone ever watch Fletch Lives? I hope never to learn that anyone I know did. Millions of brain tumors for breakfast, I guess.

  • Jifaner

    It makes me sad that a Steven Segal movie ever beat anything at the box office.

  • Slash

    I was one of the people who contributed to the "Donnie Darko" box office.

    I also paid to see "Judge Dredd" (the one with Stallone). I'm deeply sorry for that.

  • Arran

    Some of these are actually kind of misleading. No, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang didn't do great overall, but that opening you list was on eight screens, while Doom was on over three thousand. Reservoir Dogs opened on nineteen screens. Hedwig opened on nine. Etc etc.

  • pajiba

    DID YOU EVEN READ THE OPENING SECTION?

    *throws hands in air*

    *gives up*

    *apologizes for losing temper*

  • Uriah_Creep

    *apologizes for losing temper*

    What are you, Canadian?

  • Arran

    CLEARLY I DID NOT, SIR

    I AM AN INTERNET COMMENTER, DO YOU ACTUALLY EXPECT ME TO READ AN ARTICLE BEFORE OPINING ON IT

    HOOOOOW DAAAAARE YOOOOOOU

  • F'mal DeHyde

    I figured you posted that just to send Rowles into a tizzy.

  • Slash

    Yeah, I agree. Uninformed opining is SOP on the intertubes. C'mon.

  • Some Guy

    Given the popularity of the new Batman franchise, I'm going to throw UHF with Weird Al into the mix. Its release was bookended by Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and Burton's Batman. Granted neither is really forgettable, though the Batman purists do have a case, but still. Pretty stiff competition.

  • sean

    I saw UHF in a theater! I took my step brother who was about 10 at the time. Also, ex-Mrs.Sean #1(before she was Mrs. Sean), and her little sister. We all had a great time with that movie.

  • sean

    Weird to me. I saw Heathers,Office Space,Shaun of the Dead,Resevoir Dogs,Mulholland Dr. ,Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, and Descent in theaters. Some of those theaters had lots of people in them. The "bigger" movies, I saw on cable. Except Under Siege. That I saw really drunk with a group of people from work.

  • erich

    To be fair, Under Siege is pretty damn awesome

  • F'mal DeHyde

    It's the only Seagal movie I like and I'm kind of embarrassed to admit that.

  • gutpunchprod

    You haven't seen OUTRAGEOUS FORTUNE? It's...it's...it's 'The Heat' of it's day! Touchstone Pictures, bitch!

  • Three_nineteen

    You don't remember when Danny Devito was married to Bette Midler? And then Judge Reinhold and Helen Slater kidnapped Midler? And then highjinks ensued?

  • llp

    That is the plot of Ruthless People. RUTHLESS PEOPLE! It is much better than Outrageous Fortune.

  • Three_nineteen

    So Outrageous Fortune is the one where Bette Midler and Shelly Long date the same guy?

  • llp

    Yes.

    I am surprised by how much I remember about these 80s movies. I can even remember the opening credits sequence for Ruthless People. Impressionable age, I guess.

  • Mrs. Julien

    I'm not sure if I've seen The Forgotten. Is it the one where Julianne Moore cries?

  • Every time I see it, I have an overwhelming urge to punch Billy Crystal's smirking face. I guess it's good I don't live anywhere near him, huh?

  • Misomaniac

    You used data for Descent with the poster for The Descent. Which movie are you talking about? The one with the monsters in a cave, or the one that opened in two theaters, for two weeks starring Rosario Dawson. You don't actually get to mix and match like that.

  • Abbsworth

    Agreed, that line is misleading. Opening boxoffice for THE Descent was $8.9 mil. Not a blockbuster, but not too shabby.

  • bblackmoor

    Bandits is actually a pretty good movie.

  • Jelinas

    My husband RDJ was in US Marshals?

    *adds to Netflix queue*

  • Take it off - it was REALLY bad. (...and you can't have RDJ - he's mine! Mine, I tell you!)

  • Jelinas

    NO, HE LOVES ONLY ME!!! Bad advice dog told me so.

  • frozen01

    How Kiss Kiss Bang Bang isn't more well known is beyond me. It's funny as hell, has big named actors (who did an excellent job), and none of the traits of a "cult classic". When someone recommended it to me and told me who was in it, I was shocked that I'd never heard of it before. It sounds like a stereotypical big budget summer blockbuster (well, at least pre-Transformers).

  • TherecanbeonlyoneAdmin

    "Clearly, that’s not a great example for the exercise below because both Platoon and Mannequin have better legacies than Over the Top (but just barely!)."

    I have sent a parcel to your house. You should open it with your eyes closed and try and guess what's in it. Here's a hint: I made it myself. It's a representation of what I think of the above sentence. Please let me know when you've figured it out.

  • Ana Kes Godinho

    Descent only made $8,000?! I didnt realise it was that indie. It's problably because here (Portugal) it actually came out in theaters. That's rare.

  • That's an extraordinary number, as is $150K for Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.

  • John W

    The Forgotten. How aptly titled.

  • Some Guy

    Judging from the poster, it seems to be about the disappearance of Julianne Moore's career.

  • yewsernaim

    I'm ashamed to say that when Shaun of the Dead came out I had no idea and went and saw The Forgotten, a terrible movie, in the theater. If only I had known!!!

  • Jim

    K-Pax, Fletch Lives, Under Seige. cof cof Can someone open a window or at least light a match or something?

  • apsutter

    How Did This Get Made is just wonderful. One of my favorite podcasts, for sure. Question: What the hell is K-Pax? I legitimately feel like I've never even heard of it. Maybe I blocked it from my memory

  • AudioSuede

    It's a slightly underrated but still not very good movie wherein Kevin Spacey plays a mental patient who claims he's an alien. His performance is the only thing about it that's any good, but it's not enough to make it worth watching.

  • I have no idea what Outrageous Fortune is.

    And your life is sadder for it.

  • llp

    Yes, Outrageous Fortune was an excellent Midler vehicle (with bonus George Carlin and Shelley Long!), and is just such an 80s movie. Imma gonna try and watch it again this weekend.

  • Jim

    Outrageous Fortune is on US Netflix as I sit here. Ruthless people can likely be found in one of the darker places on the interwebs. I believe I see a double-feature in my future.

  • PDamian

    A movie I remember only because my mother and aunt wanted to see it, and my mom couldn't cope single-handedly with her older sister, her walker and her oxygen tank, so I went along as sherpa. I honestly don't remember much about the film -- probably because mom and aunt kept me running between the concession stand and the theatre. "Mija! Mija! Get me a Dr Pepper and some nachos!"

  • e jerry powell

    Nachos and Dr. Pepper.

    ...

    I just don't know.

  • alone in the dark

    Yeah, but "Ruthless People" is the ur-document.

  • llp

    It really is.

  • Wild Rumpus

    I've been kidnapped by K-Maaaaaart. *sob*

  • Jim

    "You muthafucker!!! {sweet voice} Oh, they MADE me say that."

  • Jim

    Indeed. A source of many memorable lines from Midler:

    - {bangs payphone} "Gimme back my fuckin' quarter."
    - {describing fellow she's social engineering} "Polyester pant ... and thighs."

    and the one I use on a regular basis

    "I'm gonna shoot it off, Ralph."

  • zyronife

    "Does the term Needle-Dick, The Bug Fucker mean anything to you?"

  • LadyKarinsky

    If this post taught me nothing else, it's that there's a new ep of How Did This Get Made. Excuse me while I go thoroughly enjoy myself.

  • JJ

    "Excuse me while I go thoroughly enjoy myself."

    Literally.

  • KAT

    Bandits is actually a really good movie. I'm surprised it made as much as it did -- it has top tier actors, but it's weird.

  • KC

    Yeah....but vs Mulholland Dr? I liked Bandits as well, but it was one of those movies that is mostly forgettable. Decent but not a cult classic. You know?

  • Jelinas

    I enjoyed it, too. Billy Bob was super-fun in this one! He reminded me of his character in A Simple Plan, but comedic instead of tragic.

  • LoudVal

    See, I thought that read: Mulholland Dr.($587,000) vs.TIME Bandits($13 million), but I was sorely mistaken.

  • Sardonical

    How dare you not recognize the brilliance of Under Siege!? He's a cook... and a navy seal... and a COOK! Tommy Lee Jones gets stabbed in the head! And Gary Busey in drag?! My heart breaks. I guess Reservoir Dogs is alright too...

  • Arran

    Under Siege was possibly my first R-rated film (the rating system is different in New Zealand, but still), and certainly the first time I saw boobies on a big screen. For that, if nothing else, I salute it.

    (Also, it really is the best of the Die Hard clones. Great villains, ideal setting, and makes genuinely good use of Steven Seagal's limited skillset.)

  • Slash

    I enjoyed the shit out of that movie. It is fucking awesome. I think I paid to see it multiple times (at the cheapo movies, because I'm not insane). I mean, it's got everything. Hot topless chick. Steven Seagal being a badass, blowing shit up with a microwave. Tommy Lee Jones AND Gary Busey in full-on crazy mode. Seriously, it doesn't get better than that.

  • Exactly! And there's a stripper in a cake...with a heart of gold or something. And kablooms! Lots and lots of kablooms!

    Under Siege was a cheap back scratcher to reach the part of my brain where the testosterone was all itchy.

  • Fredo

    That cake scene instantly propelled me into adolescence and is probably responsible for my lust for short-haired blondes with great racks and tight butts. (I know, I know. Such a specific taste).

  • alone in the dark

    A stripper with a backside of titanium, you mean. And "The Forgotten" is actually a pretty good movie. Much better than most of the high-grossers on this list.

  • sjfromsj

    Is it in Billy Crystal's contract that he always pose like that? It seems so out of place for that poster.

  • BWeaves

    He doesn't photograph well, so I think they just reuse the same one photo and photoshop different clothes on him.

  • ohwhitneykay

    Or photoshop his head onto the stock photo image of the smarmy-but-lovable agent type.

  • BWeaves

    I'm sorry, but I hated Donnie Darko and Hedwig. The sad part is, they are the sort of movies I generally love, and they were recommended to me by people who know my taste in movies. Don't tell me I'm wrong. I didn't say they were bad movies, just that I didn't care for them. I get the appeal of them.

    I loved Shawn of the Dead and I don't even like zombie movies. Go figure.

    I have never seen any of the higher grossing flops listed.

  • frozen01

    Haven't seen Hedwig, but I agree that Donnie Darko was extremely overrated. I've even watched the film twice, trying to figure out why everyone said it was so amazing. It seems to think being "dark" automatically equals edgy and deep. It was neither of those things. It simply says what every person who suffers from depression thinks, without actually making such a salient point.

  • FrayedMachine

    I find it very very odd that I have only ever heard of the cult classics on this list and none of the box office toppers.

  • Yes, I've not seen any of those piles of crap, fortunately.

  • kirivinokur

    Really? Not Fletch Lives? US Marshals? Rush Hour 3? Under Siege?

  • FrayedMachine

    Oh, sorry, I will take back that I have heard of Rush Hour 3 but the rest - Nope.

    Edit: Haha being down voted for never seeing movies, oh my dear priorities.

  • VivaKnievel

    Probably best not to comment on movie articles, then.

  • syradobomako

    мy coυѕιɴ ιѕ мαĸιɴɢ $51/нoυr oɴlιɴe. υɴeмployed ғor α coυple oғ yeαrѕ αɴd prevιoυѕ yeαr ѕнe ɢoт α $1З619cнecĸ wιтн oɴlιɴe joв ғor α coυple oғ dαyѕ. ѕee мore αт...­ ­ViewMore----------------------...

    You used data for Descent with the poster for The Descent.
    Which movie are you talking about? The one with the monsters in a cave,
    or the one that opened in two theaters, for two weeks starring Rosario
    Dawson. You don't actually get to mix and match like that.

  • FrayedMachine

    Seeing as my comment is completely relevant and does nothing but prove the *point* of the article, I'm going to keep on doing what I'm doing~

  • BWeaves

    I think that was the point of the exercise.

  • FrayedMachine

    I'm fully aware of it. I'm just shocked to what *extent* it proved itself, at least in my situation. I was expecting to see a list of box office hits that I had heard of but simply did not care for, not actually seeing a list of hits that I *literally had never heard of ever*.

  • pajiba

    Now, that's a lovely, affirming response. Thank you.

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