The most basic definition of a ‘cult film’ is a movie that has attracted a cult-like following, for one reason or another. That said, this isn’t a very accurate definition when it comes down to it, because even the most popular movies today have their own “cults”, yet they’re not considered as cult films by critics. So what exactly makes a cult film? More importantly, what makes cult films very popular?
The answers to these questions are hotly debated by pundits and industry experts even to this day. In most cases, though, a film is considered a cult film when it has generated a fairly sizable group of fans, despite it underperforming at the box office. Using this point of view, cult films are appealing because they are perceived as unappreciated gems and their fans relish the distinction of enjoying something obscure.
However, there’s more to cult films than popularity through obscurity. Most critics agree that a movie can only be considered a cult film when it encourages its fans to participate in cult-like social gatherings, like screenings and fan conventions. In this point of view, cult films are appealing because they provide great opportunities for like-minded individuals to meet up and share and enjoy the same interests. And now that fans can watch movies online for free, the followers of these cult films can easily expand their appreciation online.