Hollywood star Tim Robbins has a theory about why The Shawshank Redemption, one of the most rewatched classics in Hollywood and an important film in his career, flopped at the box office when it released in 1994.
Based on Stephen King’s 1982 novella Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption, the story revolved around Robbins’ Andy Dufresne, a banker who is wrongly imprisoned for the murder of his wife and her lover and lands in Shawshank State Penitentiary, an unforgiving place where he finds a friend in Red, played by Morgan Freeman.
The film, which explores the theme of hope and survival in the face of adversities, is also one of the most fun jailbreak stories.
When it came out and was not well received at the ticket window, something that may surprise fans today, Robbins believes its title may have played a role in its performance.
“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,” he told Entertainment Weekly on the occasion of the film’s 25th anniversary.
Robbins believes the testament of a great film is that it still resonates with people years and years after it was made.
“We all have various things that imprison us in our lives. Sometimes it’s a job you hate but you have to go to. Sometimes it’s a relationship that you’re trying to make work that is hurting you in some way. Sometimes it’s the circumstances you’re born into.
“Overcoming trauma, overcoming past traumatic experiences, all of these things are things that factor into what eventually is a lack of freedom in our own lives. And something about that film talks about freedom as being something that is inside of us, and that with the proper approach to life, regardless of your circumstances, freedom is possible. And I think that is another theme that’s deeply resonant with audiences,” he said.
The film released on October 14, 1994.