13 Flop Movies With IMDb Ratings of 8.0 or More

I have always wondered what separates the theater going audience with the people who vote on IMDb. Common sense suggests that they shouldn’t be any different, except that the latter is a subset of the former. So, why do so many films with such high IMDb ratings were box office flops? In fact the highest rated movie on IMDb, ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ was a box office flop. Does that mean people discovered the movie later. Or should it interpreted as the film got better on second and third viewing. Whatever conclusion you arrive at, the truth is we will never know exactly why do some great movies flop at the box office. For now, let’s look at 13 such flop movies that are rated 8.0 or more on IMDb.


13. Harold and Maude (1971) – 8.0

A young man in his twenties caught up in a romantic relationship with a 79-year-old woman. Not something that would go well with the viewers. And unsurprisingly, it didn’t. The film is a dark romantic comedy that explores the themes of life and death through people from seemingly different phases of life. ‘Harold and Maude’ was a critical and commercial failure during its time and was pushed to the forgotten corners of cinema only to be revived years later by cinema enthusiasts, developing a strong cult following years after its release. Many critics now have now re-evaluated the film and it has since featured in many “all time best” lists, most notably at number 45 on the American Film Institute’s list of 100 Funniest Movies of All Time.


12. Brazil (1985) – 8.0

Terry Gilliam is a maverick filmmaker who films are drenched in a sense of eccentricity and madness that you can’t help but be fascinated by its craft. His 1985 dystopian science fiction film, ‘Brazil’, tells the story of a worker in the ministry department craving for freedom and liberation from oppressive forces. Arguably Gilliam’s best work to date, ‘Brazil’ was, unsurprisingly, a commercial disappointment. After a long conflict regarding the final cut, Gilliam conducted separate screenings of the film for critics. The film failed to recoup its initial costs and ended up as a flop. But subsequent film enthusiasts and critics praised the film and admired it for its impeccable design, quality, well toned storyline and plot-twists and is now considered a seminal work of art in the science fiction genre.


11. The Wizard of Oz (1939) – 8.1

Almost every single aspect of this film has gelled with American pop culture. ‘The Wizard of Oz’ was pure cinematic bliss that revolutionised storytelling, visuals  and music and weaved magic with the medium. But the film was a near box office flop despite every single critic going crazy over its imaginative depth, creative vision and visual achievements. But redemption came for the film years later with a re-release in 1949 and a VHS release in 1980 which brought back the film to life and has since become one of the most popular films in the history of cinema.


10. Donnie Darko (2001) – 8.1

Richard Kelly’s indie sci-fi fantasy drama chronicles the adventures of its titular character as he is led outside by a monster like figure whose name happens to be Frank and tells him that the world is coming to an end in 28 days time. The film was praised by critics almost unanimously with praise directed mostly towards the film’s originality, tone and structure. However, things weren’t so good at the box office. The film’s advertising and promotional strategies were affected because of the devastating 9/11 tragedy and its release was limited. However, the DVD release of the film after a year shaped things up and the film has since been a frequent visitor in lists including the best films of the century and has garnered a strong cult following.


9. Blade Runner (1982) – 8.2

Technically, ‘Blade Runner’ wasn’t a flop but couldn’t quite live up to its expectations. Rivalled at the box office by Steven Spielberg’s ‘E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial’, the film could only manage to just gross $32.9 million at the box office. Critics reviews were mixed to positive with Roger Ebert praising the visual aesthetics of the film but criticising its story-line. Several versions of the film were screened as a result of the alterations done by studio execs. The film has gone on to influence many filmmakers and numerous films of its genre and is now regarded as one of the greatest science fictions films of all time.


8. The Big Lebowski (1998) – 8.2

Coen Brothers’ trippy stoner comedy embodies every element of a cult classic. ‘The Big Lebowski’ is a testament to Coen Brothers’ brilliant writing abilities as you see these hilarious characters breath life on-screen in a an absurd story-line that follows a case of mistaken identity and a subsequent kidnapping plot that goes awfully wrong. ‘The Big Lebowski’, not only flopped at the box office but also received mixed reviews from critics during its time with criticism mostly directed towards the film’s ludicrous plot-line. But the caught the attention of many cinephiles years later and has since gone to become a crowd favorite among ardent movie buffs.


7. Children of Men (2006) – 8.4


Brilliantly written and executed with finesse by Alfonso Cuaron, ‘Children of Men’ is a science fiction thriller which emotionally moves you while leaving you pondering about our future as a civilization and question your own faith and principles. With single-shot, realistic action sequences and unhinged realism and authenticity in its execution, the film set a new benchmark for action films. And yet, when it was a massive box office failure. Thankfully for Alfonso Cuaron, ‘Gravity’ must have made him everything back and some more.

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