Spice World Premieres, And Everyone Hates It, Making It A Cult Classic
By | December 10, 2019
Spice World was a number-one hit out of the gate
December 15, 1997 is a day that will live in infamy forever. Theaters across the country were invaded by Spice World, a film that followed the madcap adventures of the Spice Girls on their quest for worldwide domination. More visual collage than film, this cockney fever dream sends up the larger-than-life celebrity of the Spice Girls without ever committing to a narrative. It gave fans of the girl group something to experience between albums and tours, but despite its success, the film wasn't a critical darling by any means. It was panned across the board as pop music fluff, but somehow, the film has persevered.
In the decades since its release, Spice World has taken on a new life. Kids who grew up with the film have only doubled down on their love, and pop culture historians have noted the film's surrealism and avant-garde nature that have bolstered its status as a camp classic.
This isn't the story of a film that failed at the box office only to garner a meager cult audience decades after the fact. The film was a huge hit on both sides of the pond, grossing $151 million against a $25-million budget and breaking the U.S. record for box office sales during Super Bowl weekend.
Whether they knew it or not at the time, 1997 was the apex of the Spice Girls' career. The film hit theaters one month after the album of the same name hit music store shelves, which is about as close as the British get to total world domination. By the end of its initial theatrical run, Spice World was number 53 at the worldwide box office in 1998 with $56,042,592 in ticket sales. By comparison, The Big Lebowski only made $46 million, and Terry Gilliam's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas only made $13 million.
The film continued its success on home video
People who loved Spice World really loved it. When it was released on VHS in 1998, the film became the number-one charting video. It was the ninth best-selling VHS of 1998 in the U.K. and the fifth in the U.S. Tragically, right around the time of the film's home media release, Geri Halliwell ("Ginger Spice") left the group, but while that definitely weakened the Spice Girls' stock as a group, it didn't do anything to hurt sales of the VHS. In fact, it's possible that the film was so successful because it provided fans the only way to see their favorite group together forever.