Sometimes, even acclaimed film critics make hasty conclusions about new movies. Some of the best movies that were originally panned by critics turned out to be some of the most famous and beloved films of all time. Some films were released with mixed reviews, while others totally bombed. In the end, however, fan support made all the difference in these films' popularity.
When it comes down to it, critics have a subjective opinion, just like every member of the audience. Critics also tend to be more cynical and biased towards films that are breaking new ground, because they have seen so many movies in their lives. Many of these great movies that were initially hated on by critics withstood the test of time or were adopted by audiences as their favorites.
A lot of the films on this list were missed by critics because they were expecting one thing and got something else entirely. This is the case with Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Predator. Critics claimed there was no plot in either movie, and that they lacked real story-telling structure. The reasons why audience members like these movies, however, had nothing to do with a well-put together plot line. Many people enjoyed them because of their unique exploration of a subculture, or graphic action sequences.
Not all movies are instant classics. Some require the kindness of time to look more appealing, or the interest of a select group of fans to turn the movie into a cult classic.
Upon its release, the reviews for Psycho weren’t all terrible but rather just so-so. It's rise to Classic Film status just goes to show that if a film strikes a chord with the public, its greatness can't be denied.
At the time, though, the film was “plainly a gimmick movie,” and even a “blot on an honorable career.” In a particularly pretentiously written review, the New York Times said it had “not an abundance of subtlety” and was an “obviously low-budget job.” No one hated it, but no one thought it to be anything all that special either.
New York Daily News called Fight Club “hardly groundbreaking,” the Miami Herald referred to it as “a bit of a dud,” and the Boston Globe said that its “chic indictment of empty materialist values fizzles.”
When It's a Wonderful Life was first released in 1946, it received generally negative reviews. It was the next generation of the '60s and '70s that so loved the film that it became the classic that it is today.
Bosley Crowther, writing for the New York Times, complimented some of the actors, including Stewart and Reed, but concluded that "the weakness of this picture, from this reviewer's point of view, is the sentimentality of it – its illusory concept of life. Mr. Capra's nice people are charming, his small town is a quite beguiling place and his pattern for solving problems is most optimistic and facile. But somehow they all resemble theatrical attitudes rather than average realities."