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How significant is popularity at the initial release of a film in making the film a long-time classic?

Most films that are released and gain popularity quickly remain popular with the general public for a long time, but others are initially criticized and later become classics. Are most of the classic films members of the former or of the latter? Why do some movies become classics over time and others carry their initial popularity throughout time? Essentially, how powerful is the influence of a film having an excellent release to the public?

  • Understanding this has been the film industry's philosopher's stone. From what it seems, films that are initially successful opening weekend are so because they either have a very popular or very well advertised pre-existing intellectual property. Outside of that, having big talent attached or being backed by a strong enough concept are reasons enough for a film to make its money back opening weekend. Usually what gives a film lasting appeal is its story or influence on future generations. If I had to guess, a cult classic is born when the work is more relevant to future generations or when incredibly famous people admit to being influenced by it. Or in rare cases, --yet will become much more common as more people create for online-- a work gets overshadowed and becomes outright forgotten. – Travis Cohen 6 years ago
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