Have you ever seen a movie that you thought had a lot of potential – but it just didn’t fully perform like you thought it could? There are a lot of movies out there that have a lot to work with, whether it’s a great cast or a stellar story, but somewhere along the line a bad decision was made. So many otherwise enjoyable movies have to suffer because of one bad choice.
This counts for more mainstream movies and indie films, but there are a lot of films that don’t make it simply because they aren’t good enough for some reason. Not everyone can win an Oscar, you know? There’s a difference between a mediocre movie, though, and one that has the potential to be a blockbuster AND critical success, but squanders said potential because of bad calls in production and casting.
These 15 movies could have made it big – in fact, some of them did in a monetary sense. A film can make a lot of money, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t fall victim to poor choices, rendering it a critical failure. Here are fifteen movies that suffered, either financially or critically, due to poor decision making.
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15 Blade Runner
You might think the list is starting off controversially, but the cut of Blade Runner that made it to the screen is what’s being focused on here. Until you’ve seen the Director’s Cut of the now-iconic film, you’ve been exposed to a version that is heavily influenced by Warner Bros., including an ending consumed with dialogue by Harrison Ford – the studio’s attempt to make the movie’s meaning and finale more understandable to the average audience.
Ridley Scott was extremely unhappy by this decision on the behalf of the production company – thus the reason that if you want to watch this movie, you need to watch the Director’s Cut before any other version.
14 X-Men: The Last Stand
One of the most common film "snafus" is when directors, movie production companies or producers try to muddle a film with too many subplots and characters. Some directors and production staffs can handle a movie with a lot going on, but it takes a special talent. When it comes to the X-Men franchise, Bryan Singer found success in directing the first two films, but left when it came time to handle X-Men: The Last Stand.
Under the tutelage of new director Brett Ratner, the third installment of the franchise suffered from this famed bad decision, with too many characters coming in and out of the film with two big intersecting storylines getting attention, making the movie a mess.
13 2 Fast 2 Furious
When you think of the action series The Fast and the Furious, who comes to mind? Vin Diesel was the face of the first film, but left with previous director Rob Cohen to work on the movie xXx when it came time to film the sequel. The only original character to appear in 2 Fast 2 Furious was Brian O'Conner, played by Paul Walker.
Because of all the last minute changes, the script was entirely rewritten and deviated from the original story greatly. Many fans of the series think of the sequel as a stand-alone story instead of something linear. All of the behind-the-scenes switch ups made for a very disjointed plot, giving the movie a lot of room for improvement.
Even though Hancock was financially successful, this can be chalked up to good marketing campaigns. Critically, however, the movie didn’t fare so well. Because of studio interference and bad decisions on their part, the project became the victim of major meddling and the tone of the movie became disconnected.
It was originally supposed to be a grittier, more realistic look at a superhero movie, but the production company decided last minute that the film should be lighter to appeal to a more typical superhero audience. Couple this with a lot of pre- and post-production changes, Hancock didn’t stand a chance at being a good movie.
11 I Am Legend
If you read the original book that the film I Am Legend is based on, you’ll know that the semi-recent Will Smith film has a very different ending. In the film, Robert Neville blows both he and the infected creatures up as a form of self-sacrifice. In the original novel, Neville realizes that the creatures he’s been fighting are sentient beings that are more human-like than originally thought, and this is actually alluded to in the rest of the film.
Why? The more book-like ending was shot, but Warner Brothers made the film team cut this version after test audiences didn’t like it. This meant reformulating the ending, and thus coming up with one that wasn’t so faithful to the source material.
10 The Green Lantern
There’s a very big trend in movies right now that dictates CGI and stunning visuals are necessary for success in an action movie. It makes sense – shouldn’t movie companies take advantage of advances in technology?
The Green Lantern is an example of how this kind of ideology can ruin a movie with a lot of potential. While most superhero films as of late have received a mixed consensus on average, this particular film was given negative reviews by critics because it contained more CG than substance. This decision was made by Warner Bros., who wanted to expand their CGI library.
9 The Hobbit
It’s true that J. R. R. Tolkien had a tendency to get a little wordy with his books, but The Hobbit movies suffered from this in droves. While most books stick to just one movie per volume to get the job done, some books expand their films into two-parts. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows and Twilight: Breaking Dawn both suffered from this syndrome, but The Hobbit takes the idea to an entirely different level.
Split up into three films, The Hobbit elongates a story that could have easily been told in one movie, perhaps two if they wanted to pay special attention to all details. Instead, fans of The Lord of the Rings had to sit through one-to-two extra films that could have been skipped altogether.
8 Bram Stoker’s Dracula
The 1992 horror film Bram Stoker’s Dracula was a critical and commercial success, helping to revitalize a dying sub-genre of cinema. Between a great cast and script, it was set up for success and performed well universally.
Despite this fact, the movie suffered from one blemish – Keanu Reeves. His portrayal of a Victorian solicitor was an odd choice to begin with, and the fears that he would flop were confirmed. His performance felt like he had no idea how to act within the setting and time period, making him stick out like a sore thumb throughout the entire picture. Even though it was ultimately a success, it could have been a triumph with some simple recasting.
7 Spider-Man 3
Spider-Man was a great film for a superhero movie, and helped boost the popularity of the genre over the past decade. It spawned a very successful sequel in Spider-Man 2, which made fans even more excited for the then-trilogy to be complete. This excitement only increased when comic fans learned that a villain in the film would be Venom, one of the more iconic Spider-Man villains.
Sadly, the director of the movie, Sam Raimi, wasn’t so keen on using Venom in the project. While fans were excited to see the loved character, Raimi decided to pull focus and shift attention to other points of the film – making the whole project a muddled mess with too much going on.
6 Iron Man 2
After the success of Iron Man, Paramount was extremely excited to start working on a sequel, as well as the potential the franchise had with The Avengers underway. The production company decided to split Iron Man 2 evenly between setting up the ties to The Avengers and continuing the story of Tony Stark.
While this task could have been easily accomplished, director Jon Favreau was forced to make the film come out faster while The Avengers was also in production, thus putting a lot of strain on the entire crew of the movie. This made Iron Man 2 rushed and muddled with too much going on at once.
5 Alien 3
It’s not often that directors disown their own films, but all of the production problems involved with Alien 3 made director David Fincher attempt to remove himself from the movie as much as possible post-production. As his directorial debut film, this film should have been something Fincher could be proud of – instead, it was exactly the opposite.
The shooting of the film started while the script wasn’t even finished, went through multiple writers and directors and had a fair amount of discourse between the production studio and other crew members. All of this made for an underwhelming performance both financially and critically. The film is also known as the worst in the series.
4 Star Wars: Prequels
When the Star Wars fans of the 70's and 80's learned that George Lucas would be adding prequels to the franchise, they were obviously apprehensive but excited. Unfortunately, while the new Star Wars prequel trilogy did revitalize the franchise, the movies came equipped with many problems.
One such problem was evident in Anakin Skywalker – both his casting and his presence in the films. While fans are supposed to see the natural progression of Anakin as he turns into Darth Vader, the actors chosen for the role were clunky and starting him off as a young child really stunts his storyline. This sets up his inclusion in the other two films to be very ill-fitting and designed.
3 Batman Forever
Warner Bros. probably shouldn’t have asked Tim Burton to direct two Batman movies. While the two he created were very well-received critically, the darker subject matter and grittier look didn’t sync up with the underage audience that enjoyed the comic character more than anyone else. After both Burton and Michael Keaton, the original Burton Batman, learned of the tone shift from dark to more kid-friendly, they dropped the project (though Burton still produced the film).
With a new director, direction and Batman, Batman Forever was very disjointed and focused more on monetary success and merchandising than a plot and being a good movie. Critics hated it, as well as the subsequent Batman & Robin.
Fans of the Batman franchise balked when they learned their legendary superhero idol was going to be played by Ben Affleck. While the actor has had many great roles during his career, most fans of comic series remember his involvement in the mega-flop comic project Daredevil.
The role of Matt Murdock earned Affleck a Golden Raspberry for Worst Actor, if that’s any indication of how horrible his performance was. With wooden acting and a total misunderstanding of the character, his presence was one of biggest reasons the film flopped, though a clunking plot and bad script-writing didn’t help him out. Overall, however, his casting as the titular hero was the movie production team’s biggest mistake.
1 Breakfast at Tiffany’s
Hollywood has a problem with “yellowface” – or a white actor portraying themselves as an East Asian person with the use of prosthetics, makeup and/or an accent. This isn’t an archaic trend, either. In 1982, Linda Hunt won an Oscar for her portrayal of a Chinese male – and she is a white woman.
One of the most ironically disastrous examples of this trend appears in the famed classic film Breakfast At Tiffany’s, with decidedly white Mickey Rooney playing the role of I. Y. Yunioshi. At the time of the film’s production, 1961, this kind of acting trick was commonplace. In the 1990's, however, the film became the subject of criticism for the acting choice. The inclusion of such blatant racism is one of the only blights the film suffers from, showing that sometimes a film doesn’t age well due to cultural change and difference.
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