The original film bombed
Surprisingly enough, the film wasn’t a box office hit when it first came out. While today, the film is regarded as one of the best Westerns of all time and was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant,” back then critics savaged the film. Claiming that it was inferior to the Japanese original and stating it was too long, were some of the biggest issues, while Yul Brenner, Steve McQueen and Charles Bronson weren’t well known enough to be a box office draw.
It went on to become incredibly popular overseas and amassed a critical following in North America, over time.