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How to Tell If a Movie Is a Classic



Most movies don’t reach any level of success. Some achieve modest levels of success. And then there are the movies that catch a huge wave of success from critics and audiences alike. These are the classics, and they’re the ones we all know and (largely) love. Some movies are so successful that they create an empire. Fans seek out any and all related media, looking for tie-ins like introductory slot offers to play spin games based on the movie, and quoting its famous lines any chance they get. So, how do you know if a movie is a bona fide classic? Let’s take a look at just a few telltale signs. 

There Are Sequels and Spin-Offs

If a movie has been so popular that it has audiences clamouring for more, then you can be reasonably sure that it’s a classic. Most popular movies don’t go into production with a 40-year plan but, for some, they do end up lasting that long. Who could have predicted that the world would still be crazy for Star Wars 45 years after the original movie hit the cinemas? Movies that delight the world don’t burn bright and fast — they become an everlasting candle that never truly leaves the public’s hearts and minds.

Related Media

A movie on its way to becoming a classic takes on a life of its own. With modern movies enjoying huge advertising output as part of the studio’s budget, sometimes movie campaigns become bigger than the director, actors, and actresses that star in the movie. The ‘related media’ section on the movie’s Wikipedia page is long and comprehensive and could include video games, slot machines, fan-fiction movies, music based on the movie, theme parks, and just about anything else that can be branded.

Audiences and Critics Love It

Some movies, everyone hates. Then there are movies that critics love and audiences find boring. And then, there are movies that audiences love and critics sneer at. Finally, though, there’s the sweet, awesome third option, which is a movie that everyone loves. If a movie has a 90% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and an 8.0+ score on IMDb, you can be pretty confident that it’s a classic. After all, a movie’s job is to entertain while being artistically distinguished — and if both audiences and professional critics love it, then it’s achieved both those goals.

Lines from the Movie Enter the Canon

We could sit here and throw out a bunch of famous lines, feeling pretty sure that you would know which movie they came from. The thing about those iconic movie lines is that even people who haven’t seen the movie know where they originated. Is there a single person over the age of 25 who doesn’t know where “May the force be with you” comes from? They must exist, but they’ll be rare. 

It Has a Star Performance 

You’ll know a movie is a classic if you can picture the actor’s performance on cue. Who can’t picture Marlon Brando as the Godfather, Anthony Hopkins in The Silence of the Lambs, or Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight?

You and Everyone You Know Has Seen It

Finally, let’s go with the most effective way of telling if a movie is a classic: you and every single person you meet has seen it. It would be shocking to meet someone who hasn’t seen Titanic, The Lion King, or any of the Star Wars movies, and you know why? Because they’re out-and-out classics that you essentially have to watch in order to belong to the human race. 

In Conclusion 

We could have put a few other signs in this blog, but the ones we’ve included are the most trustworthy. After all, a movie that wins an Oscar could be a classic, but there have been plenty of classics that didn’t win — and plenty of forgettable movies that picked up a statue or two, too. If you’re in doubt about whether a movie is a classic or not, use the above list as a guide, and we’re pretty sure you’ll figure out the answer.

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