I’ve been wondering about what the most financially successful movie ever riffed on MST3K is. My first guess is Godzilla vs. Megalon, but I’m not certain about that.
Probably Marooned, AKA Space Travelers. It made almost $9 million at the box office and the theatrical rentals were at $4.1 million. Still, IMDb considers this a flop as its budget was as high as $10 million.
I believe First Spaceship on Venus was a success in the Soviet bloc.
And the Soviet/Finnish ones.
Are we counting This Island Earth? That made $1.7 million with a $800,000 budget. Not too shabby.
Megalon was the first Godzilla film to sell under a million tickets in Japan (980,000) - though, in the US it did alight, and wound up earning 20 mil worldwide.
Sea Monster sold approximately 3,450,000 tickets in Japan, but I couldn’t find any numbers for the worldwide release.
The first Gamera was a hit, some of the later ones (from the 60s) didn’t play in US theaters, at least one went direct to TV in the States.
I’d be curious to know how the Russian films did, but couldn’t find any box office numbers.
That’s an interesting question. I’m sure some of Corman’s movies were very profitable. Same with Bert I. Gordon’s.
Wikipedia tells me that Megalon made $20 million on a budget of $1.2 million (1973 money), so that might be hard to beat for the title of most profitable MSTied film. It would be interesting to see a list of the ones that actually made a profit. It’s probably a surprisingly high percentage, since it was quite possible in the 50s and 60s to make a good chunk of change on the drive-in circuit.
Well, one won an Oscar.
Mac and Me is a success to at least one person.
I Was a Teenage Werewolf performed exceptionally well when it was released, mostly due to the youth appeal of Michael Landon.
Looking at where Wikipedia pulled that number from, it seems very murky. Megalon was considered an underperformer when it came out and its actual box office take in Japan only would have equaled a few million in the US. Its American take was only $300,000, which was considered solid, but was a long way off from $20 million. The film needed to perform exceptionally well in other markets for that number to hold, unless they’re including alternate revenue streams like merch and TV deals.
I don’t have sources in front of me to verify this, so strictly going by memory on this one — the commentary on last year’s Ilya Muromets (Sword and the Dragon) blu-ray stated that the movie was, at the very least, a massive technical accomplishment in the Soviet Union at the time. It was one of the first epic widescreen movies that Mosfilm ever produced and had a pretty substantial following from what I remember.
I’m not sure what sort of lasting impact it had, but Aleksandr Ptushko’s films (Day the Earth Froze included) seem to have enough interest among non-MST3K audiences to receive pretty substantial restorations.
I think most of the cheese factor comes from the American repackaging (and I wanna say Kevin Murphy said as much in the ACEG). Seeing these movies in widescreen and without dubbing really makes a difference, in spite of the weird/silly stuff going on in them.
Robot Monster and Eegah each grossed about a million dollars on five digit budgets.
It also helps to know Russian (and Finnish, for The Day the Earth Froze) folklore.
I was curious about how much money Gorgo made, but didn’t really find much talk about its box office take. Eventually I found this page, but I don’t have much info on how substantiated its numbers for it are:
It attributes it with $4.4 million in revenue, which is much heftier than the other numbers I’m seeing here (I’m pretty sure that Godzilla vs. Megalon number is fudge). It seems to me like if there were any movie to take the crown, it would be this one, as it was well-regarded when it came out and was considered a bit of a classic when it appeared on the show.
Well, by Leonard Maltin at least…
I know this is in jest, but I checked Mac and Me and it still made over $6 million. That has to do with higher ticket prices than most MST movies, likely.
I can’t find numbers for The Land That Time Forgot, but evidently that was pretty successful when it was released. Successful enough for a sequel, and the same crew returning for At the Earth’s Core, at least.
A site called The Numbers says it would make $13 million adjusted which is how much it cost back then. It would have been cheaper without that McDonald’s marketing. It opened in 11th place.
It doesn’t say the highest grossing movie, but most successful! By that standard Manos has probably outlived most of these other movies. It’s considered one of the worst ever and that has helped it to become quite popular. If you’ve seen “How I met Your Mother” you’ll know they used it in their show. And there have been sequels. There’s also talk of restoring it. As far as success is concerned, I’m not sure any other movie can beat it. Manos still has life 56 years later.
I guess there are three ways of defining “most successful”: most profitable; most well known; best quality.
The Godzilla movies are probably the most widely known, since Godzilla is a household name (even if the individual movies aren’t) and his films are prominent in a much larger monster-movie fandom. Santa Claus Conquers the Martians and the Ed Wood titles were high on lists of “worst movies” long before they got the MST3K treatment. And I believe there’s already another thread talking about the riffed titles that actually aren’t that bad as movies.