Known to modern audiences as a cult classic with a loyal fanbase, Disney’s Tron was a surprising success when you really look at the box office numbers. On a $17 million budget, the Jeff Bridges starrer made $33 million in its theatrical release domestically during the busy box office year of 1982. By those standards, you could technically call the film a hit. However there’s a wild-yet-sad fact that was noted as part of the celebration of Tron: Legacy’s 10th anniversary: Tron’s arcade game actually made more money by 1983 than the film did in the domestic market.
Fandango released a video today highlighting facts pertaining to both Tron and Tron: Legacy, as the latter film has now reached the decade milestone. Discussing all things Tron, one of the most interesting stats to come up about the performance of the 1982’s groundbreaker is the fact that $45 million in revenue was raked in by the official Tron video game. While it sounds impressive for the game, it’s a downer when compared to the movie’s healthy, but not overwhelming success total success.
Tron’s arcade game was even quicker on the draw in terms of getting its own sequel, as Discs of Tron would be released into arcades a year later in 1983. Tron: Legacy, on the other hand, once held the record for being the longest gap between a sequel and its predecessor, clocking in at 28 years. That’s got to be a ridiculous amount of cycles in The Grid, when you crunch the numbers.
Much like Tron: Legacy, Tron’s slow but steady path of decent returns prevented a sequel from being talked out in the halls of the Disney studio lot. Though, much like fellow box office bombs of 1982 Blade Runner and The Thing, director Steven Lisberger’s movie saw home video keep it in the hearts and minds of fans for the almost three decades in between. Of course, there were still tie-in projects, like comics and other video games like Tron: Killer App that branched out into the deeper mythology of what happened after Kevin Flynn came back from The Grid.
While there hasn’t been a game as iconic as the original Tron arcade cabinet, the fanbase for the film has continued to thrive on the hopes of a third film. With the new Jared Leto-fronted project gathering steam, it looks like audiences won’t have to wait another 18 years to see how the world Tron: Legacy has inspired will move forward into the future. That being said, there’s plenty of time to get a new and exciting video game underway, while waiting for those developments to pan out.
Tron and Tron: Legacy are both available on Disney+, if you’re feeling a little nostalgic and want to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Joseph Kosinski’s epic follow-up. Though if you want to play the original Tron video game, and you are near a retro arcade you feel safe enough to visit, you just might be able to return to 1982 in your own special way.