The Shawshank Redemption, released in 1994, is one of those movies that has left an indelible mark on the world of cinema. 1994 was one of the golden years for Hollywood. From Tom Hanks’ Forrest Gump to the Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt starrer Interview with the Vampire, the cinemas saw an abundance of action, comedy, drama, and violence.

A still from The Shawshank Redemption
A still from The Shawshank Redemption

Another cinematic masterpiece released that same year was Pulp Fiction, which gave tough competition to other movies during the awards season. In fact, it seems to be the possible reason for the box-office failure of The Shawshank Redemption.

Pulp Fiction Overshadowed The Shawshank Redemption at the Box Office

The prison drama The Shawshank Redemption is adapted from Stephen King’s novella Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption by Frank Darabont. It was Darabont’s feature film debut and turned out to be a box office failure with a worldwide gross of $16 million, despite being played on 944 screens (via Deadline).

Bruce Willis and John Travolta in Pulp Fiction.
Bruce Willis and John Travolta in a still from Pulp Fiction

The movie’s collection did not even touch the production budget of $25 million. Numerous reasons were listed for its poor performance, but the one that stood out the most was the competition it faced from Pulp Fiction at the box office.

Pulp Fiction is a crime film co-written and directed by Quentin Tarantino. The movie, featuring actors like Uma Thurman, Bruce Willis, John Travolta, and Samuel L. Jackson, follows four intertwining tales of crime in California. It grossed $213 million worldwide although the number of screens it played on was significantly lesser than any other film in the 20 highest-grossing films of the year (via Box Office Mojo).

Read More: Morgan Freeman’s Soul Wrenching Words For ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ Would Move You to Tears!

The Shawshank Redemption‘s true potential was discovered when it received 7 Academy Award nominations including Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Actor for Morgan Freeman for portraying a prison inmate Ellis Boyd Redding who befriends Tim Robbins’ Andy Dufresne, another prisoner at the Shawshank State Penitentiary.

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Although the awards went to Forrest Gump, the penitentiary movie opened in the theatres for a second time in 1995, and this time, the box office gross increased to $73.3 million. Over the past few decades, it has earned the status of a classic movie.

Frank Darabont on the Challenge He Faced While Making the Movie

Frank Darabont | Source: El Rey Network on YouTube
Frank Darabont | Source: El Rey Network on YouTube

Several other reasons contributed to the movie’s lackluster performance of the movie such as the long run time of 142 minutes, the title that was beyond the understanding of most cinema-goers, and the poor marketing. However, Darabont had clearly done a great job at making the movie.

Read More: “That doesn’t sell you”: Morgan Freeman Blamed The Shawshank Redemption’s Weird Name For Its Awful Box Office Performance

In an interview with Deadline, the director revealed the challenge he faced in the making of the movie:

“Well, I think with Shawshank, I knew it was a very open-hearted story and something that was, you know, this fine line between honest sentiment and being overly sentimental. I knew that there was always that fine line and you don’t cross the line where it becomes corny sentiment.”

He was able to maintain the tone that he aimed to achieve with Freeman and Robbins playing the key characters in the story. He also praised editor Richard Francis-Bruce for helping him edit the movie.

The Shawshank Redemption is available for streaming on Apple TV+.

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