What is a sleeper hit? Generally, it's a production that, despite having little to no marketing to it encounters massive mainstream and commercial success. For example, take The Blair Witch Project(1999) or Rocky(1976).
What was it about these movies that made them so great and brought the previously unknown makers to stardom?
I've chosen this one because I think it is the most intriguing case of all. Before it, Sylvester Stallone was a nobody, broke and trying to sell his dog because he could no longer afford to feed it.
After allegedly writing the script in 3 days, it caught the eye of several production companies, none of which was willing to let Stallone have the leading role. Insisting that he played Rocky Balboa, he was eventually given a 1 million budget(about 25 times less then the initial assumed cost), a van and a camera.
A few months later, Stallone was accepting his Academy Award at the 1977 Oscars. Talk about being productive!
Like I previously said, the marketing budget was close to nothing and the film was released mainly in coffee shop theaters. After all, it seems like the only thing that could have boosted Rocky's popularity in such a way was word of mouth. But why was there even a 'word of mouth'? Why did people like it and why did they even decide to 'tell their friends'?
The title relates to the character, and the character to the people
This is a movie about a regular, happy and just plain stupid guy who, after being a smoker and an alcoholic, decides to beat the heavyweight boxing champion of the world. Even though he never actually wins the final fight, he does manage to knock the other guy down, somehow achieving something.
First of all, the movie focuses on Rocky's evolution from not even thinking of doing something with his life to being... successful. He has to go through the stages of figuring out what he wants to do, then doing it. It's a story, not a series of actions.
Second of all, the main character's simplicity and bright attitude is completely different when compared to other 70's movies. Almost everything else was a combination of cynical, dark and egocentric characters, fake-looking gunfights and car chases revolving around a pointless drug deal or kidnapping.
This time, the protagonist was close to the average viewer, sending some sort of a message of hope and 'you can do it if you put your mind to it' stuff.
But still, it would have never been as successful, grossing 225 million dollars worldwide without the title.
The title shows what kind of movie this is. It shows that this is a story of evolution and success. Can you imagine it with another title?
I think you guys see where this is going. Other notable examples would be Scarface, The Godfather and even Harry Potter.
For some reason, most people are attracted to people and not ideas or actions.