5 Huge Hit Movies That No One Ever Talks About Anymore

Success and quality don't always go hand-in-hand, so when I started researching the biggest-grossing films of my lifetime, I was expecting to find lots of awful movies. Instead, I was shocked by how almost all the biggest films of the last 40 years are still very much part of our culture.

Universal Pictures
Thanks to this barely functioning mechanical shark, I still freak out when seaweed brushes my foot.

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But there were a handful of films, not necessarily terrible, that did not age well. Films that, despite making a ton of money and being the big movie of their time, just fall more soft and silent with each year. So here are five hugely successful movies that no one cares about anymore:

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5
Twister

Warner Bros.

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This seems like a great place to start, because it proves that it's not necessarily true that the oldest movies on this list are the most forgettable. In 1996, the theaters were packed with people who apparently wanted to watch a movie about storm chasers Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton. To translate that to today, that's like someone making a blockbuster about extreme fishermen Anna Faris and John Krasinski.

Jason Merritt/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
"I'm gonna catch that killer CGI fish or die trying!"

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But despite having a plot that boiled down to an estranged couple teaming up to drop a computer program into a killer tornado before a d-bag rival scientist does, Twister was a massive hit -- one of the top-grossing movies of the decade.

Why Did So Many People Go To See It?

Twister benefited from the Jurassic Park bump, because it involved Steven Spielberg, Michael Crichton, and a metric fuckton of CGI. Except Spielberg produced, not directed; Crichton wrote the script, not an underlying book; and the CGI was of a tornado, a thing people can see on the news or from inside of it when they get sucked in. But the CGI spectacle of it was new enough to get people in the theaters.

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What Do We Remember About It?

Not surprisingly, no one quotes lines from Twister, no one has Twister-watching parties, and no one recalls with fond admiration any of the performances. Mostly, if anyone speaks about Twister at all it's to say, "Hey, remember that scene where the CGI cow goes flying by?" Yeah, that's about it.

Warner Bros.
Best of Twister in three seconds.

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4
Smokey And The Bandit

Universal Pictures

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It might seem hard to believe, but there was a time when Burt Reynolds was the biggest star in the world. Yes, the guy from Boogie Nights. No? Um, the guy doing the voice of Burt Reynolds in Archer? OK, cool. Well, yeah, he used to be huge. And when he decided to play an outlaw with young, cute Sally Field while outsmarting Jackie "Bang Zoom" Gleason as a redneck sheriff, moviegoers made it the second-highest grossing film of 1977.

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Why Did So Many People Go To See It?

Boy, that's hard to say. Unlike some of these blockbusters, it wasn't based on a really successful book. You're pretty much going to have to accept that, for a period of time, this country just absolutely loved Burt Reynolds. Oh, and more importantly, car stunts. America loves car stunts, and this movie was directed by stuntman-turned-director Hal Needham. So I guess it actually makes sense. If the Fast & Furious movies can be hits starring actors with zero charisma, think about what happens when you add a few stars with actual comedic ability.

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What Do We Remember About It?

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Well, years later, the Dukes Of Hazzard TV show kind of tweaked the formula of a fast-driving outlaw thwarting a redneck sheriff, but for the most part, the most memorable part of this bygone Burt Reynolds era is Norm Macdonald's SNL impression.

Comcast/NBC
More Burt than Burt.

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3
Love Story

Paramount Studios

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Hey, remember Titanic? Of course you do. It was the love story of the '90s. But your kids won't remember it. Why? Because Titanic sucks. It's a garbage love story, packaged in a CGI spectacle. In 20 years, the only thing people will remember about Titanic is the line "I'm the king of the world!" Except they won't remember exactly why they know it or what it means. And that's what's become of arguably the biggest love story of the 1970s, unimaginatively entitled Love Story. It's the story of a rich Harvard boy who falls for a plucky working-class girl. That's the dullest-sounding movie in the world. That sounds like a sandwich made of white bread, mayo, and unsalted crackers. Also, she dies of cancer because that's what happens when writers of love stories can't think of an ending -- just give the girl cancer. Boom! An ending is born!

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Why Did So Many People Go To See It?

Well, it was a best-selling novel, and once every decade, people like to see a bad movie about two lovers in which one of them dies. Blame Romeo And Juliet. But whereas in a good tragedy a death is inevitable, in a cheap and easy melodrama death is used an excuse to heighten stakes and bring forth easy tears. Think Beaches or anything by Nicholas Sparks. Also, it has a killer theme song.

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What Do We Remember About It?

One sentence that no one understands: "Love means never having to say you're sorry." What does that mean? Hard to say, but everyone seems to agree on one thing: It's stupid and wrong. Is that two things? Who cares? Now that's something to not be sorry about.

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2
Airport

Universal

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Hey, remember that movie about an airport disaster with a large cast that made lots of money? Did you say Airplane!? Of course you did. We all did. Airplane! is one of the most beloved comedies of all time, and most people, including me as a child, didn't even realize it was a spoof at first. But before there was Airplane! there was Airport, an unintentionally funny drama about a doomed flight.

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Why Did So Many People Go To See It?

Well, it was based on a best-selling novel, as the trailer feels the need to tell you two times. Also, it had an all-star cast featuring George Kennedy as "lusty, gutsy Patroni" (I did not just make that up). It was nominated for several Academy Awards, so word on the street was that the film did not suck, and it was the most financially successful movie of the year it came out. Nevertheless, its star, Burt Lancaster, referred to it as "the biggest piece of junk ever made." But the people came, and Airport's success gave birth not only to Airplane! but the whole '70s disaster-movie genre, followed by The Towering Inferno and The Poseidon Adventure.

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What Do We Remember About It?

We remember EVERYTHING about it, but only in the spoof form of Airplane! Just go to the hysterical passenger scene in the trailer above at 2:20. I had no recollection of that, even having seen the film as a kid, but who could forget the Airplane! version:

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So, really, Airplane! isn't so much a parody as a barely altered remake.

1
Billy Jack

Warner Bros.

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Do you know Billy Jack? If you're under 50, the answer to that question is probably no. Indeed, I only knew Billy Jack as a punchline from my older brother's old MAD Magazines. What is Billy Jack? A very low-budget movie about a half-Caucasian, half-Native American Green Beret and Vietnam vet/drifter who protects a school of hippies from bad guys with advanced Hapkido martial arts. Nope, I did not drop a tab of acid before writing that sentence. Here's the trailer:

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Even the trailer is unwatchable.

Why Did So Many People Go To See It?

That's the real question, right? Because it's not surprising the film has fallen off the radar. Despite its huge box office, it was made for $800,000 and looks it. The acting is stiff, and it's impossible to watch that trailer without hearing the voices of Crow T. Robot and Tom Servo cracking wise.


"More like Billy Jack-off!"
"Hey, stop it Tom. You're better than that!"

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But aside from some kickass Hapkido, there's a reason it was such a hit. It was subversive while not being subversive. Our victim in need of saving: a damn, dirty hippy. It's the only action movie where the good guy is protecting a clan of hippies. And here's the thing about hippies -- with all the getting stoned and making love and not war, they're super bad at kicking ass. They really could use the help of a Green Beret. But wait? It's 1971. Vietnam vets are not beloved by the counter-culture. Here's an idea: Make him half Navajo! That'll make him cool. But dress him like a square so middle America still likes him. But give him a funky hat. Billy Jack treads the line between rebel and the traditional American ideal of a movie hero (at the time). Unfortunately, it also really dates this movie, which explains why it has not aged well, Hapkido notwithstanding.

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What Do We Remember About It?

Well, as mentioned above, unless you were old enough to see it or remember television replays in your youth, there's probably very little you remember. At best, you remember a TV show that came a year later employing a similar formula: Kung Fu -- the story of a drifter who was a half Caucasian, half Chinese martial artist who traveled from town to town sticking up for the downtrodden.

ABC Studios
He's even got a cool hat.

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At least there was a time when people cared about these movies. Now it seems everything Hollywood churns out is the sequel to a prequel based on the adaptation of an origin story. Check out why Hollywood keeps missing the mark in 5 Important Lessons Hollywood Won't Learn From Their Failure and 5 Hollywood Secrets That Explain Why So Many Movies Suck.

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