Tim Robbins Once Explained Why Shawshank Redemption Initially Failed

Bihter Sevinc

Back in 1994, ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ struggled at the box office, earning just over $16 million. However, the film has transformed into a classic over almost three decades. Because it’s often shown on TV and rented often, it shifted from being a disappointment to a cult favorite.

One of the main characters in the film, Tim Robbins, spoke to Entertainment Weekly in 2019 to discuss his feelings about being part of such a beloved production. When asked about the movie’s initial failure at the box office, the actor explained:

“When it came out and was not well received at the box office, there were various reasons given: Well, it’s the title; no one can remember the title. And that makes sense, too, because for years after that film came out, people would come up to me and say, ‘You know, I really liked you in that film ‘Scrimshaw Reduction’ or ‘Shimmy, Shimmy, Shake’ or ‘Shankshaw’ — you know, so many different ways that people got it wrong.”

Robbins continued, giving other reasons why the film commercially failed in the first place:

“But again, the immediate reaction at that time wasn’t as important as whether the film would have life in video and on cable. And when given a chance, when people actually started to see the movie, it became something that was a movie that people had to watch several times.”

As he told in the rest of his interview, Robbins believes ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ resonated with the audience because it’s a rare movie about a deep and enduring male friendship. Additionally, it’s a story of hope, showing that anyone can overcome life’s challenges with patience, belief, and generosity.

Adapted from Stephen King’s novella ‘Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption,’ the film tells the story of Andy Dufresne, played by Robbins, a banker wrongly imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit. During his time in prison, he forms a lasting friendship with Red, portrayed by Morgan Freeman, who is serving a life sentence.

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