MovieChat Forums > The Dark Crystal (1982) Discussion > Why did it bombed at the box-office?

Why did it bombed at the box-office?




I just don't get it, it wasn't a succeess but later it became a hit on video and DVD over the years.

"Oh wow, good Nyborg"-Heavy Metal.

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I believe Dark Crystal is what they call a cult hit. Not a mainstream hit, but gathered enough fans over the years that it gained 'cult' status and enough of a niche. I think it may have bombed because no one had seen anything quite like it before, all puppets and no human actors, and it may have put people off. In 1982 it would have been competing with E.T., if it was still in theaters when The Dark Crystal was released.

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[deleted]

The fact that the Disney channel used to air The Dark Crystal (& Labyrinth) quite a bit back in the 90's may have been a contributing factor to its later success on the home video market. A lot of the people who missed the movie the first time around were probably introduced to it through that. I know I was. This is just a guess though.

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Well personally i think it's a better movie then the overrated mainstream "Labyrinth" which stole this movie's limelight.

"Oh wow, good Nyborg"-Heavy Metal.

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and 10,000 times better than the mainstream 'Spielberg Syrup' of ET

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labyrinth was an equaly awesome movie that came out like what, 4 years later? I really doubt it had any influence on TDC's boxoffice.

I am Gods gift to women. God is a cynical bastard.

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My opinion for it bombing is because it couldn't find a true audience. The use of muppets and the wonderous fantasy setting suggests that it's geared toward children, yet the movie deals with dark themes like genocide and apocalypse which would be too serious for younger viewers. Don't get me wrong, it's still a great movie.

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Well, E.T. was a major successful. People were more interested in that movie than anything else.

"While guys hold on to their toys forever, girls soon throw out their playthings."

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Why did it bombed at the box-office?

um... cause it's a gloomy, plodding, run-of-the-mill fantasy film?

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Sorry I disagree with you Onepotato2. The Dark Crystal was beautifully done, full of fantasy and mysticism. I will admit the skeksies still scare me a lot. A definite 10/10 in my book. Why it bombed at the box office I shall never know, though Legend and Krull both bombed as well, and both are beautiful films, though if I had a favourite of the two, I'd go for Legend.






"Life after death is as improbable as sex after marriage"- Madeleine Kahn(CLUE, 1985)

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I'm gonna attack all of these one at a time...

I just don't get it, it wasn't a succeess but later it became a hit on video and DVD over the years.

I believe Dark Crystal is what they call a cult hit.


The film was a success, it just didn't meet the studio's expectations. A $40 mil domestic gross from a $15 mil budget isn't a failure by any means. Especially when you take into account foreign box-office.

1982 it would have been competing with E.T., if it was still in theaters when The Dark Crystal was released.


E.T. had been out for about 6 months, but it was still a powerhouse at the box-office. It had an effect on the Dark Crystal's success, but it was only one of several factors.

The fact that the Disney channel used to air The Dark Crystal (& Labyrinth) quite a bit back in the 90's may have been a contributing factor to its later success on the home video market.


Dark Crystal had been out on VHS for almost a decade by that time. It was a reasonable rental success when it came out (video was a new money-making format at the time), but by the early 90's it would be safe to say that it was actually disappearing from store shelves. It did ok on DVD, but that could be down to the explosion of interest in the fantasy genre at the end of the 90's/ early 00's fuelled by things like 'Harry Potter' and 'Lord of the Rings'. Also DVD's are cheap to buy, and with internet rentals you can 'queue' many titles, which means in some ways it's more accessible than it's ever been to people who might like it. The internet allows people to see the names of films (or have them recommended) and then go and see them in a way that was never possible before. If you'd asked a teenager in 1990 what they thought of the Dark Crystal, 99% of them would never have even heard of it, because it hadn't been successful enough to impact the national conciousness. The internet and DVD have allowed it to find its audience through being 'linked' to other films. 'Labyrinth' endured slightly better, largely due to it's lighter tone, and the fact that it featured both a legendary star (Bowie) and someone who would become a star (Connelly). So even though Labyrinth really did flop ($25 mil budget - $12.7 mil box-office), it had a larger built-in fan base prior to the internet. Just looking at the current votes on IMDB: Labyrinth has 33,000, Dark Crystal has 14,000. Considering Dark Crystal was a much bigger cinematic hit, it really underlines the much broader appeal that Labyrinth has.

Well personally i think it's a better movie then the overrated mainstream "Labyrinth" which stole this movie's limelight.


Labyrinth never stole its limelight. Dark Crystal had already started to fade from memory by the time Labyrinth came out. Dark Crystal was sandwiched between 'E.T.' and 'Return of the Jedi' in terms of its era, and it - like 'Krull' - disappeared in their shadows. Labyrinth had nothing to do with it.

um... cause it's a gloomy, plodding, run-of-the-mill fantasy film?

Sorry I disagree with you Onepotato2. The Dark Crystal was beautifully done, full of fantasy and mysticism. I will admit the skeksies still scare me a lot. A definite 10/10 in my book. Why it bombed at the box office I shall never know, though Legend and Krull both bombed as well, and both are beautiful films, though if I had a favourite of the two, I'd go for Legend.


It wasn't run-of-the-mill when it came out. But yes, it does have a rather slow pace compared to modern films, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. As for 10/10; I personally rate no film that high, as it implies perfection (or an inability to criticise effectively). Dark Crystal is far from perfect, if it had been perfect it would've beaten E.T. at the box office and would be one of the most famous films of all time. It was very flawed, but it also had some great and highly original things in it. As it stands, I believe it is a good (but not, in my opinion, great) film. 'Krull' is also flawed in many ways. And 'Legend' while beautiful to look at, is also flawed.

There are reasons these films did not become monster hits, and it wasn't simply poor advertising or heavy competition. Back in the 80's, films released theatrically could hang around for a long time, so even if a film had a modest opening weekend, if the word of mouth was good it was entirely possible for it to grow and become even more successful (which is unlikely today). These films failed because they lacked the universal appeal and the near-perfect structure that would cause someone to rush round to a friends house and say excitedly, "Have you seen 'The Dark Crystal'?! No? I have! It was amaaaaazing! I wanna see it again, you've gotta come with me this weekend!" I saw the Dark Crystal at the cinema, and while I liked it, I wasn't bowled over by it. I can, however, still recall people rushing around recommending 'E.T.', 'Ghostbusters', 'Back to the Future', and others. Why? Because the films were, quite simply closer to perfection, or at least, many many more people thought so.

'Tron', 'Krull', 'The Dark Crystal'; though they are all good films that tried to achieve something unique, and though they all had the standard 'quest' structure which should be understandable and appealing to a mass audience, they all failed because their flaws were a little too big for the general populace to embrace them.

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Very insightful comments humanfly. All the films you mention do have pretty big flaws but I would def rather had a film that tries something unique and fails then something more competent but completely generic.

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I remember watching The Dark Crystal a lot on tv in the 80s, when I was little. I always thought the movie was pretty well-known by kids my age at the time. My cousins and friends knew the movie well. We all liked it. In the 90s, I got the VHS and one of my other cousins, who is about 6 years older than me, borrowed it. I talked about it with other people my age. I always thought it was more well known in the 80s than what I've read online. Maybe it was popular with kids who had cable. Not everyone had cable then. I believe I saw it on HBO. Same with Labyrinth.

Anything I could have said I felt somehow that you already knew

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Don't forget that this came out with a HQ (for the time) first-time correct AR of 2.35x1 WIDESCREEN transfer on Laserdisc in 1992; It was a 2 disc collectors edition, supervised by Henson himself. He chose to use a very dark transfer of the film.

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I have a dream that someday, people who use the words "it bombed", will actually learn what "bomb" means.

This film made more than 2x its budget- $40 million gross VS a $15 million budget in the US alone... NOT a bomb at all... not a huge hit, but not a bomb.

Bomb = Making less than production costs back at the box office...

Aka, this didn't bomb.

"Give Me Immortality, Or Give Me Death"

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Dark Crystal was before its time. People didn't know what to make of it.

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[deleted]

Not sure if there is a correlation but I grew up in the 80s, and the first I heard of this film was on a VHS tape of He-Man cartoons my parents had bought me. It contained a trailer of the film that scared the *beep* out of me everytime I saw it! However, I found the preview intriguing enough to hire the film later on. I thought it was quite a good film and remember being thankful it wasn't as scary as the trailer made it out to be!

I'm wondering if the preview was on many kid VHS tapes hence the popularity after the cinema release.

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