“Turner started airing ‘Shawshank’ on TV like every five minutes for years,” Darabont said. “There was this endless opportunity for people to catch up with it on a Turner network, and so I bless Ted Turner as well. Because he played the heck out of it.”
It’s important to remember that, despite its critical acclaim both during its release and afterward, “The Shawshank Redemption” actually never made a ton of money at the box office. Box office reports during its first theatrical run claim that it only grossed around $16 million against a budget of $25 million (via Box Office Mojo), marking it as a box office flop.
“The people who saw it really dug it,” recalled Darabont. “The trick was getting people to see it. When it came out, it really didn’t do well at first.”
However, after it received seven Oscar nominations, it was re-released in theaters, where it barely recouped its initial budget. At the time, the audience just wasn’t there for the film. That is until Turner-owned networks such as TNT began airing it. The film had been produced by Castle Rock Entertainment, which the television mogul owned at the time. As such, Darabont joked that it didn’t “cost him anything” to regularly air “The Shawshank Redemption.” Needless to say, without the Turner Broadcasting Network, the film might not have garnered its current status as one of the best films of all time and a lazy afternoon classic. What can we say? Dudes rock.