8 Movies That Gained a Second Life on Cable TV
These gems had an underwhelming theatrical release, but were instant hits when they aired on TV.
There are many explanations as to why a movie fails to connect with audiences after its theatrical release. Ineffective marketing, negative word-of-mouth, and stiff competition can all undermine prospects for a solid box office. But that doesn't necessarily mean bleakness and doom for the future of cinema and the audience it finds. While that's no longer the case with the dominant nature of streaming services, there was a time when movies' second chances relied on exposure via home video and cable TV. The latter proved to be a lucrative outlet for many underperforming films, giving them a second chance at audiences and cementing their place in pop culture.
The Wizard of Oz
Although widely regarded as one of the greatest films of all time, The Wizard of Oz was barely a hit when it premiered in 1939. Despite critical acclaim and an Academy Award nomination upon release, the film grossed just over $3 million on a budget of $2.8 million (MGM's most expensive film at the time). However, after CBS acquired the television rights for $225,000 and first presented it to the A reported 35 million viewers delighted. Such viewings will soon become an annual tradition for countless families. "[It] changed the whole nature of that movie," historian Scott Eisman told the Los Angeles Times. "Seeing the film became a big deal." According to the Library of Congress, "due to its numerous showings on television ... it was seen by a larger audience than any other film."
It's a Wonderful Life
Perhaps traditional The ultimate movie to watch of the year is a Frank Capra classic. Ahead of its theatrical release, the iconic filmmaker was sure the film would be a huge success, going so far as to claim: "I think it's the greatest movie I've ever made. More importantly, I think it's the greatest film ever made." Great movie." But It's a Wonderful Life got off to a poor start at the box office and mediocre reviews, with many critics finding the film too sentimental and unpretentious. Nearly 80 years later, Capra's timeless story has become synonymous with the Christmas holiday thanks to decades of televised broadcasts. Capra said of renewed interest in his films in 1984: "The film has a life of its own now, and I can look at it as if I had nothing to do." James Stewart expressed a similar opinion, arguing, "Those who loved it, loved it so much, they must have told others. They would not have let it die any more than the Archangel Clarence would have let George Bailey die
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
Mel Stewart's adaptation of Roald Dahl's beloved children's book grossed just $4 million after its release on June 30, 1971. Believe it was in theaters for a few weeks. Then it disappears. It is not welcome. After that it was practically forgotten. That began to change when the film first aired on television on Thanksgiving Day 1974. Over time, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory became a public favorite through its broadcasts, endowed with unforgettable ’s musical numbers, imaginative storytelling, and Gene Wilder’s iconic performance as a veritable candy maker entered the cultural lexicon.^ Arguably, when it comes to Christmas viewing, Bob Clark ( Bob Clark's 1983 comedy debut was a hit, earning just over $20 million against a budget of around $3 million. Its initial performance with critics and moviegoers was certainly respectable, but it didn't really match the astounding success and longevity the film enjoyed through subsequent decades of television exposure. Like Capra's films, Clarke's irreverent and deeply moving comedy is forever associated with the Christmas holiday. Since 1997, with TNT leading the charge and TBS ultimately in charge, A Christmas Story, known for its marathon 24-hour run starting on Christmas Eve, firmly established its place in the collective consciousness zeitgeist and moved it from the A once mediocre vacation transformed into a must-see movie.
A Christmas Story
Few mainstream American films have been so affectionately viewed as a guilty pleasure with a touch of "bad-to-good" irony. Road House, a film starring Patrick Swayze, opened in theaters in the summer of 1989. Costing $17 million to produce and grossing $30 million domestically, the film certainly wasn't the bomb. But it didn't really become a hit until years later, when it was aired several times in a row on television. Thirty years after its release in the 2019-2020 cable season, Road House has aired 83 times on numerous networks, making it one of the most televised films of the year, Variety reported.
Kenny Ortega's comedy, now a signature holiday season staple, wasn't a worldwide hit when it opened in July 1993. The $28 million film opened in a blockbuster-packed summer to mixed box-office success. It cost $45 million during its run. Fast forward 30 years and Hocus Pocus is one of the most beloved Disney films of the modern era. According to Forbes, the film "benefits from repeated airings on Disney-owned channels (ABC Family, Disney Channel, etc.) and is a multi-generational favorite" and can often be seen on TV in the weeks leading up to Halloween . With constant updates and continued popularity over the years, Hocus Pocus will even have a long-awaited sequel coming in 2022.
Adapted from a short story by Stephen King, Frank Darabont's 1994 drama may be the brightest example of a film that gets a second chance with audiences years after its release. Despite doing well with critics and being nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, The Shawshank Redemption grossed just $28 million on a $25 million budget. Seemingly not having much of a cultural footprint that came and went, public interest in the film popped up frequently in the ensuing years Television, especially TNT. The Shawshank Redemption "has aired approximately every two months since 1997". Plus, it's consistently ranked among the best-reviewed movies of all time and is currently at the top of IMDB's top 250 movies list.
The Shawshank Redemption
Despite solid critical reception when it was released in early 1999, Mike Judge's directorial debut ended its theatrical run with just $12 million on a budget of just $10 million. However, it wasn't long before Office Space found its way into pop culture thanks to reruns on home videos and Comedy Central. Judge's film pokes fun at the all-too-relatable dynamic between professional misery and mediocrity, touching a nerve with viewers. A quintessentially modern satire on the workplace and all its baggage, the film's legacy has lived on and grown in the ensuing decades with its universal appeal, quotable dialogue, and archetypal characters. Judge was modest about his popularity in the wake of Office Space's disappointing box office, saying: "I'm just making a movie about what it's like when I'm doing these jobs. If anything, I think I'm about 10 years late."