How does a movie that grossed less than $15 million (just about what it cost to make), gain a fandom?
The answer—basic cable in the 1990s.
Allow Shmoop to take you back to a time before Netflix and DVR. Back then, kids who wanted to watch TV had to settle for whatever was showing on the screen at the time. It’s crazy, we know.
But this is how Clue thrived.
After it totally bombed in the box office, Paramount sold the rights to show the movie to basic cable channels looking to fill up airtime. Loads of bored teenagers flipping through the channels on a Saturday morning ended up discovering Clue and loving it.
It helped that the cable and VHS versions of the movie showed with all three endings one right after another. Having to choose which ending to see might have been what really hurt the movie in theaters. People couldn’t figure out which version to go to, so they just didn’t go at all.
We can’t say we blame them. Would you pay to see essentially the same movie three times? Hey, Shmoop isn’t made of money, after all.
Today, fans gather for shadowcast events all around the country. People dress up in 1950s costumes and performers act along with the movie as it’s played on the big screen. Even the TV show Psych turned one episode into an homage to Clue. Fans were pretty psyched about that.
Tim Curry said in an interview that the Clue fandom reminded him a whole lot of his success with The Rocky Horror Picture Show. It just sort of grew up organically and no one quite gets why.
Even Christopher Lloyd (who famously starred in Back to the Future) says that fans mention Clue to him almost as much as Marty McFly. And Jonathan Lynn told an interviewer that gets more fan mail about Clue than any other project he’s ever worked on.
Hey, if people still like something did 30 years later, you’re definitely onto something.