With all the discussion about Transformers 2‘s nearly record box office haul, despite it’s nearly unanimous negative reviews, I decided it was time to take a look at some past films who were undeserving of their box office numbers. Transformers 2 will easily become the least deserving money maker of all-time, but let’s not forget the stinkers of yesteryear and some money that we will never get back.
10) Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (2006)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 53% | Box Office Haul: $423.3 million
Why it Succeeded? The first Pirates of the Caribbean film became a huge sensation, making Pirates the new cool thing. The second film in this franchise made teenage girls and their mothers giddy for another chance to see Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom and it made teenage boys appreciate the pirate escapism.
Sample Review: “The new plot has all the appeal of a seaweed sandwich, being dark, salty, and indigestible.” — Anthony Lane, The New Yorker
9) National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets (2003)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 32% | Box Office Haul: $220 million
Why it Succeeded? You can go all the way back to Indiana Jones if you’re looking for someone to blame for inspiring this new trend of intellectual, history-learning crime fighters. I do not understand the appeal of Nicolas Cage in an action-hero role, but he seems to be successful at it. And people are paying to see him.
Sample Review: “This diminishing-returns sequel sends Nicolas Cage on another quest to strike it rich, get young auds excited about history and solve puzzles that are generally less stimulating than yesterday’s Sudoku.” — Justin Chang, Variety
8) How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 53% | Box Office Haul: $260 million
Why it Succeeded? Family Christmas movies are usually an automatic at the box office. This film was a recognizable story, with pretty set designs and an over-saturated ad campaign. Plus Jim Carrey is a star that brings in the dough regardless of the quality of the movie.
Sample Review: “Universal Pictures has definitely left something under your Christmas tree, but you might want to clean it up soon before it leaves a permanent stain.” — Chris Gore, Film Threat
7) Twister (1996)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 55% | Box Office Haul: $241.7 million
Why it Succeeded? Released towards the beginning of the destruction flick hey-day, Twister had all the elements of a blockbuster plus an early summer release date. It was a time when people saw a trailer of things blowing up, and they said “sign me up.”
Sample Review: “You know a movie is in trouble when a cow provides its only moment of authentic human interest.” — Richard Schickel, TIME
6) X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 57% | Box Office Haul: $234.4 million
Why it Succeeded? Just when the X-Men franchise had gained enough steam to really make an impression at the box office, the helmers who made the first two film left and it was up to Brett Ratner, who prefers explosions to pathos. Well, explosions do sell tickets.
Sample Review: “Without the first films’ textured relationships, the story becomes just another episode of Orange Fireball Cinema.” — Colin Covert, Minneapolis Star Tribune
5) Rush Hour 2 (2001)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 51% | Box Office Haul: $226.2 million
Why it Succeeded? The kung-fu action hero teamed with the wise cracking sidekick won a lot of people over. Plus, it has the sequel factor and a director who likes to blow things up.
Sample Review: “How can a movie allow [Tucker] to be so obnoxious and make no acknowledgment that his behavior is aberrant?” — Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
4) Shrek the Third (2007)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 41% | Box Office Haul: $322.7 million
Why it Succeeded? After the second Shrek film was an enormous success, the creative minds behind the third Shrek film knew they could just throw things an autopilot and the film would still make millions. And that they did, but the families still came in droves.
Sample Review: “The big story of 2007 is that the humor is all in the business and nowhere in the lame story.” — Stephen Hunter, The Washington Post
3) Meet the Fockers (2004)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 38% | Box Office Haul: $279.3 million
Why it Succeeded? By the time Meet the Fockers was released studio execs had figured out the sequel money-making formula: regurgitate the story, add a few huge stars, and you’re good to go. Adults went to see it because of Hoffmam, De Niro, and Streisand, and younger people saw it because of a cat peeing on a toilet.
Sample Review: “There are few things sadder than wasted potential, unless it’s sitting through 115 minutes of mediocrity desperately searching for a few decent jokes.” — James Berardinelli, ReelViews
2) Hancock (2008)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 39% | Box Office Haul: $227.9 million
Why it Succeeded? The answer can pretty much be summed up in two words: Will Smith. He is the summer movie box office king, with the ability to turn any piece of garbage into gold. Most people probably had the same reaction to the movie – that was horrible, but I LOVE Will!
Sample Review: “Hancock the jaunty, jokey riff on the screwed-up inner emotional life of a traditionally ironclad superhero becomes Hancock the icky lesson in the importance of personal responsibility, loyalty, and continued family togetherness. Also, of making the world a better place, and keeping Will Smith’s income steady.” – Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly
1) Alvin and the Chipmunks (2007)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 27% | Box Office Haul: $217.3 million
Why it Succeeded? The movie came along during an otherwise quiet Oscar season at the Box Office where movies like No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood were playing on only a limited number of screens. So what was left for families and those without access to the good movies? A dismal piece of family entertainment.
Sample Review: “For adults, it’s like being hit over the head with a mallet every 10 seconds for 90 minutes. Two days later, I still had a headache.” Lou Lumenick, The New York Post
Here’s the question? Which movies have you seen that you most want your money back from?