Summer is almost upon us and with that comes beach days, barbecues, sneaking out of your parents home to guzzle beer and summer movies. The summer season, traditionally starting on Memorial Day weekend but getting earlier and earlier each year, is when the studios typically release their big franchise movies. Anything involving a sequel, super-hero, science fiction, Harry Potter or Vince Vaughn, usually comes out during this magical period and why wouldn’t they?
Studies show that the biggest audience for movies is in the summer because school is out and many families are on vacations. It’s where colossal hits like, “Star Wars,” “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and “The Avengers” are born. But, whenever you’re trying to hit the gigantic bullseye, there’s going to be times when you miss the target completely. All of the following movies ended up biting it for various reasons and all the losses are adjusted for inflation in 2014 dollars. So, let us all enjoy these movies and wallow with a schadenfreudian glee in their magnificent failures.
* box office totals provided by celebritynetworth.com and adjusted for inflation.
10. R.I.P.D. (2013) loss – $65.4 million dollars
R.I.P.D. or Rest In Peace Department was about a police department made up of deceased police officers who are charged with destroying renegade ghosts or “deadoes” who inhabit Earth as monsters. On the surface, it doesn’t sound like a terrible idea for a summer movie. There’s shades of “Men In Black” and “Ghost Busters.” The comic book it was based on had a substantial following and its stars, Jeff Bridges and Ryan Reynolds had been in successful movies before. So, what happened?
For starters, the movie just wasn’t very good. Universal seemed to feel the same way because they screened the film the Friday before it opened which is never a good sign. Ryan Reynolds hadn’t had a hit in awhile and audiences weren’t familiar with the source material which is a huge disadvantage, especially during the summer. Frankly, there was just no compelling reason to see this movie. Lesson learned and at a cost of only sixty five million dollars.
The figures for this film were taken from ign.com
9. Stealth (2005) loss – $66 million
It’s always sad to see an actor you admire having to lie through his teeth about how a crappy movie is amazing. Such was the case at Comic-Con 2005 where Jamie Foxx insisted that “Stealth” was a cool, fun ride that he was sure the audience would eat up. They may have eaten it up but ended up regurgitating it later.
It just wasn’t very good as its 13% score on Rotten Tomatoes indicates.
8. Hudson Hawk (1991) loss – $74 million
Where does an 800 pound gorilla sit? Anywhere he wants. In 1991, Bruce Willis was said gorilla. He was coming off the success of “Die Hard 2” and “Bonfire of the Vanities” hadn’t been released when “Hudson Hawk” was greenlit. Willis co-wrote the story, hand picked the director and was very much a hands on producer.
The film was about a cool, master safe cracker/burglar who gets pushed into doing one last heist and man, did complications ensue. The movie was long and quite a mess. It couldn’t decide what it wanted to be; a heist movie, a farce, a quasi musical. Fortunately, following this movie’s failure, Bruce Willis’s ego did not go down one bit.
7. Ishtar (1987) loss – $76 million
For years, this movie was the go to punchline when talking about gigantic flops. “Waterworld” was often referred to as “Fishtar” but here’s the thing; the movie’s actually not bad. It’s okay. Harmless. It was basically a road movie in the Bob Hope and Bing Crosby mold but with Dustin Hoffman and Warren Beatty. Hoffman and Beatty played aspiring song writers who became involved with intrigue in the Middle East. In the end, the C.I.A. paid for an album comprised of tunes from the leads.
Problem was that Hoffman, Beatty and director/screenwriter Elaine May were notorious perfectionists and the production dragged on forever with expensive location shoots in Morocco. May shot way more film than most directors and didn’t have a good grasp on how to edit and Beatty tried to take over. In the end it was a way over budget mess that lost $76 million.
6. Around the World In 80 Days (2004) loss – $76.7 million
Yes, kids, there was a time in the not so distant pass where Germans had a lot of money and were looking to invest it in co-productions with American studios. This was an international star studded production starring Jackie Chan, Steve Coogan, Jim Broadbent and Arnold Schwarzeneger in a cameo.
The plot bore little resemblance to the Jules Verne novel it was based on. In the end, the reviews were terrible and no one showed up. It failed domestically and internationally. Most critics were negative, although Roger Ebert called it, “goofy fun.” He was half right.
5. Gigli (2003) loss – $77 million
This film is responsible for one of the most unique experiences I’ve ever had in a movie theater. I was the only one there and yes, it was because I lost a bet. What a piece of crapola. This thing starred Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez, collectively known at the time as “Bennifer”
He was a small time mobster who kidnaps a federal prosecutor’s mentally challenged kid in order to get his mob boss off on charges. She was a lesbian brought in by another one of Affleck’s bosses to supervise and coordinate the kidnapping because the boss had little faith in Ben. Justin Bartha (the guy who was unconscious in the “Hangover” movies) played the mentally challenged dude who was obsessed with “Baywatch.” The preceding was my best recollection of the plot, however, I fell asleep twice during the showing. I like to chalk that up to the human body’s defense mechanism at its finest.
4. Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (2001) loss – $99 million
Give it up for the first photorealistic computer animated feature film because audiences in 2001 didn’t. The movie took place in 2065 and was about how Earth was infested with phantoms that can kill humans just by physical contact so excuse me if I don’t want to shake their hands.
The movie looked amazing and should’ve because it cost over $137 million to make. It did get some good reviews but not enough to make it a hit. The consensus was that the film was over long and boring, two words you don’t want to hear in conjunction with a supposed summer blockbuster.
3. Speed Racer (2008) loss – $106 million
You ever notice that the Waschowski‘s haven’t made a good movie since the completion of “The Matrix” trilogy? Well, “Speed Racer” started that journey for them. “Speed Racer” is based off a Japanese animated series from the late ’60’s. It came to America in the 70’s where it was a cult hit. Maybe making a cult movie budgeted at $120 million isn’t the best idea.
The look of the film was interesting in that it had really bright colors that seemed to throb, especially during the racing scenes which looked like they could inflict a seizure. “Speed Racer” did well with gamers but that wasn’t enough for it to come close to making its money back.
2. The 13th Warrior (1999) loss – $125 million
This movie was based on Michael Crichton‘s “Eaters of the Dead” which was loosely based on Beowulf. The story is about a court poet in Baghdad who gets exiled after it is discovered he was having an affair with a nobleman’s wife. From there you find Norsemen, Mongol-Tater raiders and cannibals that are similar to bears…. Yeah, hard to see why people would want to stay away from this one in droves.
Production took forever because the film wasn’t scoring with test audiences. The experience was so unpleasant for actor, Omar Sharif, that he temporarily retired from acting. The pacing felt really slow and it seemed to go from set piece to set piece with very little drive. For most audiences, this film, instead of producing thrills, mostly provided yawns.
1. The Adventures of Pluto Nash (2002) loss – $134 million
The grand daddy of all flops, “The Adventures of Pluto Nash” was written in the 80’s, was shot in 2000 and wasn’t released until 2002. These were not good omens.
To the younger readers out there, there was a time when Eddie Murphy was an amazing comedic actor. Maybe the best of all time. His first three films, “48 Hours,” “Trading Places” and “Beverly Hills Cops,” were awesome movies that crackled with energy. Eddie managed to do the one thing comics have been trying do since movies began, be funny and cool. Then he stopped caring and got really lazy. What other reason could possibly suffice for him to make “A Thousand Words,” “Meet Dave” and “Imagine That?” I highly doubt he read the scripts and thought these are great creative ideas that I want to be a part of. And then came “The Adventures of Pluto Nash.”
Pluto Nash was supposed to be a sort of humorous “Casablanca” but on a moon colony. Eddie Murphy was a knockaround guy who always wanted to own his own club. He achieves this goal by buying one from a former associate who owes money to the mob. From there you’ve got some cloning, chases, the club gets destroyed and then rebuilt all the while, managing to be criminally unfunny. Mostly what you feel when watching this flick is sadness that such talent was wasted. Seriously, there should be some kind of movie jail for people who allowed this film to be made. Oh wait, there is. It’s called unemployment.