1. Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Though it turned a small profit in 1992, the original film version of Buffy was ravaged by critics and largely ignored by audiences.
Revived as: One of the greatest TV shows of all time, how ‘bout? Creator Joss Whedon revamped it into a smart and emotional teen drama, and it became one of the most beloved shows of the ’90s/’00s. The episode where (spoiler alert!) Buffy’s mom dies is still one of the most gut-wrenching episodes to grace the small screen.
Disney’s film musical about the Newsboys Strike of 1899 bellyflopped at the box office in 1992, but steadily gained a cult following on home video.
Revived as: A Broadway extravaganza. Debuting in 2012, it earned 8 Tony nominations and will open on London’s West End in 2014. Not too shabby.
3. Kinky Boots
Released in 2005, the British film about a traditional shoemaker who turns to producing footwear for drag queens in order to save his failing business, earned middling reviews and grossed a paltry $9 million internationally.
Revived as: A Broadway smash in 2012 by Cyndi Lauper and Harvey Fierstein. It earned six Tony Awards in 2013, including Best Score, Best Actor, and Best Musical. Let’s be real, this story was always meant for the stage.
Serenity, based on the ratings-challenged TV show Firefly, was a would-be franchise kickstart that stalled at the box office in 2005, earning $38 million against a $39 million budget.
Revived as: Comics! After the film failed to reinvigorate the franchise, Dark Horse released a series of comics (there have been 7 series or one-shots) and the publisher has no plans to slow down—a new sequel series to the film is currently in production.
The film tanked hard in 1986, grossing around $5 million in America, but it was enough of a hit on home video to warrant a sequel, Highlander II: The Quickening. Not surprisingly, that film also bombed.
Revived as: A hit television series, which ran for six seasons in syndication. There were also a couple more movies that messed with the series’ continuity and (quelle surprise!) also tanked. Folks must reeeally love their Highlander VHS tapes for this franchise to be so pervasive.
Luc Besson’s 1990 film Nikita and its American remake Point of No Return weren’t really bombs per se, but neither film made waves at the box office and critics were sort of “meh” about both versions.
Revived as: Two different hit TV shows. The ’90s television adaptation of La Femme Nikita was a monster success, and the arguably better 2010 version (once again simply titled Nikita) added exciting Alias-style intrigue and better costume changes, because everyone loves a sexy wig.
7. The Golden Compass
The 2007 adaptation of Philip Pullman’s beloved novel series earned a meager $70 million against a $180 million budget—and since overseas rights to the film were sold to fund the production, New Line saw little of the overseas profit.
Revived as: A video game? Strangely, the video game version released alongside the film was a baffling success, selling nearly 3 million copies. To put that into perspective, that’s around the same number the recent Tomb Raider reboot sold.
8. Little Shop of Horrors
The original Little Shop of Horrors, a low-budget black and white comedy, graced cinemas in 1960 and failed to attract an audience.
Revived as: A Broadway play, and eventually a more successful film. The original film’s popularity grew on television in the ’60s and ’70s, which led to a successful stage musical in 1982. That production was then adapted into the classic movie we all know and love, though its Golden Globe-nominated song “Mean Green Mother From Outer Space” unfairly lost to Top Gun’s “Take My Breath Away.” Rude.
9. Lost Highway
Though it’s become a bizarro cult classic since its release in 1997, David Lynch’s strange psychological thriller floundered at the box office, earning less than $4 million.
Revived as: Uh, an opera, apparently. In 2003, it was adapted by Austrian composer Olga Neuwirth, which mounted additional productions in 2007 and 2008. While this may intrigue Lynch fans, you might want to give a listen to this sampling of the music before shelling out cash for the next production.
10. The Big Lebowski
The Big Lebowski was a box office disappointment in 1998, earning just $17 million.
Revived as: A religion. The cult movie inspired a philosophy called Dudeism, based on the film’s main character The Dude. Dudeism’s primary objective is to promote modern Taoism blended with Epicurean concepts. You can even get ordained as a Dudeist minister.
Though 2003’s Hulk earned $245 million worldwide, it was considered a disappointment by critics and fans alike. Not exactly a bomb, but let’s not argue about details.
Revived as: A somewhat better movie. 2008’s reboot The Incredible Hulk fared a bit better, and successfully led into the monster Avengers franchise. If at first you don’t succeed, recast, choose a darker shade of green, and try again.
Paul Verhoeven’s so-bad-it’s-good masterpiece fizzled out in theaters and managed to ruin Elizabeth Berkley’s career before it had even started. It earned a record 13 Razzie nominations and has gone down in history as one of the most notorious bombs of all time.
Revived as: The greatest drinking game of all time. The DVD, which grossed around $100 million, includes shot glasses, movie cards with suggested drinking games on them, and a deck of playing cards.
Also revived as: An off-Broadway musical, which includes tunes like “Don’t Lick That Pole, Girl” and “You’re a Whore, Darlin.’” Maybe don’t take Grandma to a matinee.
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