15 Hit Movies That Were Expected to Flop

POSTED BY , UPDATED ON October 5th, 2018


7. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs 1937

While Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs now stands out as a landmark in animation, it is often overlooked how much of a risky endeavor it was for Disney. It was the very first animated movie that went over 80 minutes and there was a legitimate doubt about whether or not children would sit for that long to watch it.

Before the release, the Hollywood press would refer to the movie as “Disney’s Folly” and even Walt Disney’s own wife Lillian believed that it would be a commercial flop. The horror elements furthered fueled the speculations. Once Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs hit the theatres, it became an incredible commercial success and was bestowed an Academy Honorary Award.


6. Star Wars (1977)

Star Wars 1977

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At the time of its production, actors Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher were practical nobodies in Hollywood. All of them barely had any acting experience and director George Lucas thought that Star Wars was going to be crumbled at the box office by Steven Spielberg’s space movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

Expectations were rock bottom due to a paltry budget of $11 million and cheap alien costumes. When a cut of the movie without special effects was shown to Fox executives and Lucas’ director friends Brian De Palma and Steven Spielberg, it was met with disappointment. Thankfully, the finished product with visual and special effects wowed audience and critics alike and Star Wars became an iconic part of cinematic history.


5. Iron Man (2008)

Iron Man 2008

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Marvel Studios were in a tough situation when Marvel Cinematic Universe was on the verge of taking off. Marvel’s A-list superheroes such as Spider-Man, X-Men and Fantastic Four were either sold to Fox or Sony and they were forced to utilize relatively unpopular superheroes.

Among them was Iron Man. Casting Robert Downey Jr. was a risky decision as well since he had become more renowned due to his arrests and most of his recent movies were not at all remarkable. To top it all off, it was predicted that even if Iron Man is any good, the audience would be more interested in The Dark Knight which was released the same year as well. Astonishingly, Iron Man became a booming success in terms of critical and commercial feedback.


4. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

Guardians of the Galaxy 2014

Image Source: imdb.com

At first glance, Guardians of the Galaxy seems like an exceedingly weird B-movie. It had a talking raccoon, a talking tree, a dim-witted muscular alien and a leading star who had had fourteen years of acting experience either as a supporting character or an extra.

Many predicted that Guardians of the Galaxy was going to be the first bomb of Marvel Cinematic Universe. Its superheroes were hardly known whereas actor Chris Pratt and director James Gunn thought that the movie was going to end their careers. Surprisingly, the movie was a tremendous success.


3. The Godfather (1972)

The Godfather 1972

Image Source: hollywoodreporter.com

How quickly the tides turn. Widely regarded as the greatest movie ever made, it is surprising to know that The Godfather was frowned upon by its own studio during production. The problems surrounded the movie as soon as its director was hired.

Paramount Pictures originally wanted Italian director Sergio Leone but he declined. The studio was firm on their decision to hire an Italian director due to the movie focusing on an Italian family so due to the narrow criteria, Paramount Pictures settled with Francis Ford Coppola.

Coppola barely had any directing credentials and numerous cases of studio interference ensued. Additionally, studio executives were strictly against Coppola’s choice of Marlon Brando as Don Vito Corleone; the actor had seemingly past his prime and had been starring in flops for a decade. Due to several other factors such as production being behind schedule, cost over-runs, studio interference, dark themes, and Coppola threatened to be fired, the overall impression of The Godfather during the editing phase was a “long, boring, dark movie.”

It was not expected to be a commercial success either and even Al Pacino called it:

“the worst film ever made”

prior to its release. As soon as The Godfather hit the theatres, it instantly became a part of American culture and won three Academy Awards including Best Picture.


2. Titanic (1997)

titanic predicted to flop

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Now widely regarded as a masterpiece in terms of disaster genre, James Cameron’s Titanic received an overwhelmingly positive response from critics and for many years, held the top spot in the list of highest grossing movies of all time. However, its production was anything but a smooth sailing (pun intended).

Due to excessive budget increments, Titanic became the very first movie to a have a budget over $200 million. It had so many production delays that the Los Angeles Times ran a daily column titled “Titanic Watch” which shed light about the delays. Predictions about the fate of the movie were not bright as well since the audience would be watching a movie that was a major spoiler in itself (The ship would sink).

Titanic would shockingly defy all expectations by becoming the first movie in history to make more than $1 billion at the box office and impressively won eleven Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director from its fourteen nominations. Above all, Hollywood would earn one of the most dependable and greatest actors of his generation – Leonardo DiCaprio.


1. Avatar (2009)

Avatar 2009

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James Cameron pops up in the list again! Similar to the hurdles of Titanic, Avatar was riddled with numerous stubborn complications such as gradually increasing budget, production delays, and frequent script rewrites.

Moreover, the movie would have a running time of nearly three hours, an unknown actor in the leading role and the press was adversely labeling it as an extravagant overdose of CGI effects. History would repeat yet again as Avatar became a critical success and became the first movie to earn more than $2 billion at the box office.

We hope you enjoyed reading our list of 15 hit movies that were expected to flop. Feel free to share your views in the comments below!