A play or movie that many people see only because they feel it has a certain intellectual cachet, or because they feel that doing so would impress other people.
Since Midnight's Children clocks in at three-and-a-quarter hours, the absence of any variation in tone makes for a very exhausting experience.
It's hard to imagine why the [Royal Shakespeare Company] has squandered its precious resources on such folie de grandeur. In the programme notes we're told that this play is partly based on a five-episode, 290-minute television adaptation that Rushdie did of his own book, a project that the BBC wisely decided to abandon in 1999. The only thing I can think of is that the RSC is hoping for a 'snob hit'.
Toby Young, "Losing the plot," The Spectator, February 8, 2003
The first television review to come in called Les Miserables 'a snob-hit the kind of show that must be seen and cheered although in your heart you know it's hollow'.
Holly Hill, "Intimacy restricts effectiveness," The Times (London), March 16, 1987
Snob hit is the stage or screen analogue of the unread bestseller. In the same way that such a book is purchased only so other people can see it on one's bookshelves, the snob hit is attended only so one can leave the program notes or ticket stubs in some conspicuous place where other people will notice them.
Snob hit isn't a new term. It was coined by screenwriter and playwright William Goldman in 1969:
The insistence on trying for the Snob Hit and importing wave after wave of English special material is just one more reason why American writing talent is shying clear of Broadway.
William Goldman, The Season: A Candid Look at Broadway, Harcourt, 1969
However, I found five citations from the past couple of months, so it appears the phrase is enjoying something of a renaissance.