The best films’ failures

When a film is presented to the critics, the producers have high expectations, especially if the film is based on a  book or if it is a remake of another one!

In this article we have selected for you some films that, even if today are considered ‘cult movies’, they did not have such a success in the past.

Give a look at our selection and let us know which is your favourite one!



The first version of the film directed by Mel Stuart in 1971, is shot entirely in Germany. At the time, it was not exactly a success. However, today Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory is considered a classic. It is frequently broadcast on TV during Christmas’ vacation period, especially the latest version, the one directed by Tim Burton in 2005.


The film is based on the famous novel written by Roal Dahl. You may remember that in the remake of Tim Burton bad children leave the factory, while in the original version of the film they seemed to completely disappear. In your opinion, what happened?


Gene Wilder in “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory” (Source:



J. Edgar is a film directed by Clint Eastwood, dated 2011. It describes the career of the FBI director J. Edgar Hoover. The film was not a great success at the box office, it did not exceed expectations. The critics was strict: many judged negatively the interpretation of Leonardo DiCaprio performing J. Edgar, even if the execution of this role costed him a lot of effort.


In fact, during the production of this film, DiCaprio had to undergo long make-up sessions (about 6 hours), in order to adjust in particular the face and hair. This happened because the film production time was limited, and it did not allow the actor to gain weight in natural way.


Leonardo di Caprio in “John Edgar” (Source:



We also add an animated film to our list. Probably the best known ‘flop’ that became then ‘cult’ is The Iron Giant of 1999, directed by Brad Bird. This film is based on a book, The Iron Man by Ted Hughes dated 1968. Probably its failure was due to an inadequate marketing campaign by Warner. Today The Iron Giant is considered one of the best animated films ever: absolutely recommended to an audience of all ages.


At the beginning it was conceived as a musical, but later the producers opted for an animated film. Perhaps you don’t know that is Vin Diesel the voice of the giant, while Jennifer Aniston is the voice of the mother of Hogarth Hughes. In addition, as you can notice, the child, the main character of the story, and the writer of the book have the same surname: in this way the producers payed homage to the author.


A scene from “The Iron Giant” (Source:



Released in theaters in 2001 and directed by Richard Kelly. Perhaps one of the most unusual films in history: this is probably why it did not initially succeed at all. But later, it became the best ‘cult movie’, and we can say that without the collaboration of Drew Barrymore this would not have been possible: she wanted to produce Donnie Darko so much, so that she also gained a part in the film, interpreting Ms Pomeroy.


Maybe you don’t know that, Donnie Darko and Elizabeth Darko, are not only brothers in the film, but Jake Gyllenhaal and Maggie Gyllenhaal are brothers in real life too. Another curiosity: the scene in which Donnie Darko is dressed as a skeleton and rides a bicycle is very significant, as it is a tribute to E.T., the film that launched Drew Barrymore.


A scene from “Donnie Darko” (Source:



We lack for nothing, neither the Italian film! Febbre da cavallo dated 1976 and directed by Steno, is one of the most popular comedies of our country. Initially it was not appreciated by the public. Fortunately, the situation drastically changed: it became a successful comedy, thanks to local TV, especially the Roman ones, which frequently broadcast the film. It became such a cult that, 26 years later, Carlo Vanzina directed the sequel entitled Febbre da cavallo – La Mandrakata.


The careers of the actors Gigi Proietti and Enrico Montesano started with this film. Another little anecdote: if you look carefully at the film you can see some identical faces. Why? Unfortunately, the budget did not allow to hire many background actors, so the same extras were used several times to interpret different roles.


The protagonists of the film “Febbre da cavallo” (Source: