I didn't have a problem with BAD being a cult thing, either -- hell, I'm not exactly a huge seller, myself, so it's not like I don't sympathize with the concept! Believe me, it's fine. But I'm simply offering my answer in the spirit of the above hypothetical ("Why didn't they?").I don't know if anyone saw the Adam Curtis 'Can't Get You out of My Head' series on the BBC, but one of the episodes was called 'What If the People Are Stupid?'
A lot (most) of the best music isn't commercially successful. But then BAD had the backing of a major label and were fronted by a 'name'? Maybe that actually worked against them, as some have already noted.
I liked BAD being a cult thing. The gigs in London were nearly always sold out.
My other point was (and is) that being a name with a track record can work against you, in that a) it's harder to stir up the same kind of excitement on a second go-round, and b) the expectations are less forgiving, from a corporate standpoint -- you either generate a certain amount of sales, or you're out of there, unless you happen to be the pet project of somebody who's already in power. That's basically all I'm saying.