The main reason people are so engaged in the movie business is unpredictability. Sometimes, people would make a massive hit from basically zero budget. Yet, there were numerous cases of struggling productions with colossal funding issues and stressful shooting conditions, with a pure masterpiece as a result. For example, "Godfather" and "Halloween" were made that way. But this article isn't about them, but the opposite cases. Some movies had everything necessary for success, yet they flopped like the buttered side of bread. So let's see what are the most notable examples of hyped movies that surprisingly failed.
10. "The Lone Ranger"
It's hard to imagine that in the 2010s, Disney was struggling with its movies. The company that made its name by adapting various fairy tales into animated movies got stuck with a couple of projects that damaged its reputation. We'll mention both of the hardest Disney flops, starting with the lesser one.
Lone Ranger was Disney's attempt to repeat the formula of "Pirates of the Caribbean." Hence, they gathered the same trio behind the Pirates: Gore Verbinski, Jerry Bruckheimer, and Johnny Depp. The idea was to begin another hit series with a beloved character. Unfortunately, the production was somewhat troublesome, with the movie's reception lukewarm at best. The Lone Ranger flop was the second in a row for Disney, and their reputation was seriously damaged. As a result, the company started adapting its own animated movies into live-action.
9. "The Golden Compass"
After the tremendous success of "The Lord of the Rings" movies, the New Line Cinema studio decided to adopt another beloved book in a movie trilogy. So, they bought Philip Pullman's "His Dark Materials" rights and made the first film in the planned trilogy - "The Golden Compass." As it turned out, it wouldn't happen. New Line Cinema executives apparently overestimated the popularity of Pullman's books, expecting to make a new "Harry Potter" movie franchise.
Those expectations were quickly scattered away, as "The Golden Compass" performed below average at the box office. The movie premiere was met with mixed reviews and fans' disappointment. The main reason for such a letdown was the simplification of the original material. Therefore, the movie unceremoniously sank in the US market. However, "The Golden Compass" turned some profit thanks to the decent performance outside the country. Nevertheless, plans for the "His Dark Materials" franchise were buried until the TV show with the same name.
8. "Justice League"
Sometimes, a flop is not a matter of money - take "Justice League" as an example. With more than $650 million earned, we could hardly call it a financial failure. However, not every success is measured by money. The "Justice League" shooting was notoriously bad, with reshoots, astronomical budgets, and change of the original concepts. The final product was so underwhelming that it stopped all the planned sequels.
Furthermore, for a superhero movie that contains some of the most famous pop culture figures, earning 300 million just didn't cut it. Thus, "The Justice League" will still go down as the most profitable flop of all time. Fortunately, after years of protesting and petitions, we finally got Snyder Cut, or how the original "Justice League" movie was meant to be. Furthermore, it even came to big screen.
7. "Solo: A Star Wars Story"
Call it irony or fate's sense of humor, but the first "Star Wars" movie that didn't return money was the one about Han Solo, a man who owes money to half of the galaxy. Before that, "Star Wars" movies were insanely profitable regardless of the quality. Nevertheless, there are many possible reasons for the "Solo" movie to flop. First of all, it's franchise exhaustion since the public gets fed up with a Star Wars movie every year. Next, the "Solo" release was in the middle of the fan backlash after "The Last Jedi." Hence, boycotting the franchise took many potential viewers away.
The partial guilt is on the movie itself, as it was on the weaker end quality-wise. While the critics weren't disastrous, they weren't stellar either. Furthermore, "Solo" had to compete with the ridiculously successful "Deadpool 2" and "Avengers: Infinity War," which were still going strong in the cinema worldwide. The "Solo" flop greatly affected the Star Wars franchise and their mother company Disney. The silver lining of this flop is that it was probably the reason we got "The Mandalorian" and "The Book of Boba Fett."
6. "King Arthur: Legend Of The Sword."
King Arthur and his loyal Knights of the Round Table inspired many works of art for almost a millennium. That includes the movies, where Arthur is usually depicted as a paragon of knighthood, virtuous and brave until his last hour. King Arthur's quintessential actor was Nigel Terry in John Boorman's "Excalibur." Now imagine "King Arthur" directed by Guy Ritchie, with "Sons of Anarchy" protagonist in the titular role. Sounds like the worst idea ever? Not if you're a Warner Bros executive.
Warner Bros studio wanted this movie to succeed badly. Therefore, the plan was to create an entire franchise of Arthurian myths in the style of Marvel Cinematic Universe. Fortunately or not, the movie's poor performance at the box office canceled all the plans. As expected, people weren't ready for King Arthur, who talks and behaves like an early 21st-century chav. The most distinctive thing about "The Legend of the Sword" was David Beckham's performance.
5. "Terminator: Salvation"
The Terminator franchise is very resilient, like its protagonist. However, it is evident that these movies have faltered in quality ever since "The Judgment Day." True, it's hard to make a follow-up to one of the biggest blockbusters ever, yet it's not an excuse for making subpar movies. "Terminator Salvation" was an ambitious attempt to revive the franchise and the first one set entirely in the future. Also, it was supposed to be the first movie in the new trilogy connected with the original "Terminator" movies.
Everything looks really well, as the budget was substantial, and John Connor was played by Christian Bale, fresh out of the success of "The Dark Knight." Despite all of that, "Terminator Salvation" bombed harder than Skynet. The first critics of the movie weren't favorable, citing one-dimensional performances, predictable story and the lack of Arnold Schwarzenegger. The movie's earnings almost doubled the budget but counting the money Warner Bros and Sony gave for distribution rights, "Salvation" was a huge letdown. Yet, that didn't stop Warner Bros from making two more Terminator movies before realizing the franchise is dead.
4. "Steve Jobs"
Creating a biopic is one of the surefire ways to make your movie successful, or at least critically acclaimed. It's a part of the holy trinity of Oscar movies, including Third Reich and body deviations. Following Steve Jobs' death, we received two movies focusing on his life.
Our topic is the latter one because it is an objectively better movie, so it is a bigger surprise it failed so hard. Although, the shooting of "Steve Jobs" was pretty problematic as well. David Fincher quit the project to be replaced with Danny Boyle, followed by major distribution issues. However, the movie featured a fantastic cast, with Aaron Sorkin writing the script.
This resulted in the movie's critical success and many awards for actors and screenplay. Unfortunately, this didn't guarantee commercial success. In theory, Apple customers should've rushed to see Steve Jobs' biography. In reality, two Jobs movies in three years were a bit too much, even for them.
3. "John Carter"
Remember when we said that Disney had two major movie flops? This is the other one and the bigger one. Disney had huge ambitions with "John Carter," which was supposed to be their own Star Wars franchise. And they had all the reasons to believe in the success of the Mars saga. They dished out more than $250 million into production, hired Oscar-winning Andrew Stanton to direct, and assembled an impressive supporting cast. Moreover, the source material was made by legendary Edgar Rice Burroughs, the writer of Tarzan. But, with great confidence comes the great fall.
Disney apparently overestimated the interest of the public for another space saga. The critics weren't so harsh, but the lack of audience buried "John Carter" deep into sheep-dip. In the end, "John Carter" lost Disney a flick load of money - over $100 million. Consequently, that canceled the "John Carter" franchise for good. So, instead of making their own "Star Wars," Disney bought the original "Star Wars" the following year.
2. "The Mummy"
Universal Pictures has the rights for an entire specter of horror movies featuring the most famous monsters. Dracula, Frankenstein, Wolfman, Dr. Jekyll, and Mr. Hyde, King Kong, name it, and they probably got it. Therefore, Universal Studios makes movies coating the classic monsters in a new groove to keep the movie rights. Some are better than others, but "The Mummy" movies with Brendan Fraser were most successful.
Universal Studios got the idea to make the Dark Universe, in which different movie monsters will fight each other. For that reason, they made a high-budget movie about the Egyptian mummy, with Tom Cruise as the leading man. On paper, everything looked perfect. So, what happened? While "The Mummy" wasn't an exact box office failure, Universal Studios needed way more money to justify the franchise's continuation. Thus "The Mummy" was the first and the last movie in the Dark Universe. Universal decided to go a different way and make lower-budget projects of their monster properties.
1. "X-Men: Dark Phoenix"
"Dark Phoenix" was the last X-Men movie by Fox Studios before Disney/Marvel acquired the rights. This fact added to its significance, as it was the end of an era and the last attempt to make a decent X-Men movie under Fox. Plus, the audience was aware those characters were on the verge of being rebooted within Marvel's Universe. Furthermore, the earlier X-Men movie "Apocalypse" failed to deliver. The story of the Dark Phoenix was previously adapted in the infamous "X-Men: The Last Stand." Simon Kinberg, who wrote it, returned as both the writer and the director.
Near the movie's release, there was an info leak about reshooting the whole ending because it was unintentionally too similar to "Captain Marvel," which came out earlier that year. The "Dark Phoenix" trailers made the movie look somber and gritty, with inspired cast performances. Unfortunately, it was a disaster in every possible way. The script was even worse than "The Last Stand," the acting was lifeless, with the ending downright insulting. The magnificent Dark Phoenix saga deserved a much better movie, and we can only hope it will get one under Marvel.
The movie business is unpredictable, and it evades logical rules. Hence, sometimes the movie campaign creates unrealistic expectations. Therefore, too much hype isn't good, especially if you're going for something innovative in the movie business.
How do you feel about these failed overhyped movies? Which ones would you add to this list?
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