The prison movie “The Shawshank Redemption” was an underwhelming box-office performer when it hit theaters 20 years ago this September, but it began to redeem itself, finding an audience on home video and later becoming a fixture on cable TV. The Wall Street Journal says “the film has taken a near-mystical hold on viewers that shows no sign of abating.” “Shawshank” was adapted from a novella, “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption” by Stephen King, who sold the rights to director Frank Darabont in the 1980s for $5,000.
The story involves a banker who is wrongly sent to prison for the murder of his wife and her lover. Darabont chose the Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, which had been closed due to inhumane conditions, to serve as the fictional “Shawshank” prison. After grossing $28 million at the box office in North America and another $30 million overseas, the movie went on to the video rental market and made about $80 million in sales. Television licensing fees to date likely have surpassed U.S. box-office receipts.