The thought of intelligent life somewhere in the night sky has thrilled, frightened, and sparked imagination within mankind for centuries. In relatively recent years this fascination and fantasy has been played out on the big screen making for some of the most intriguing, unique story lines seen in the film industry and pushing for advances in CGI development. Due to this fiction being completely up to the imagination there is an infinite amount of ways to approach the topic, from the way the aliens look to how they come in contact with humans or if they even met humans at all.
Within this sub-genre one of the most popular topics is that of alien invasion. Whether it is due to the need to see humans come out on top against an advanced threat or the thrill of not knowing if the humans will win, we seem to be drawn to these types of stories.
If we have learned anything from the movie industry though, it is that not all stories are created equal. Some alien invasion films have set standards for the genre and set a precedence for graphics in all genres. Others, however, have become laughing stocks receiving scathing reviews from critics and audiences alike. This list compiles the fifteen alien invasion movies that have terrible reviews but actually brought in the money.
15 Battlefield Earth
Battlefield Earth takes place in the year 3000 after humans are enslaved by an alien race and decide to fight back. The film has received terrible reviews by audiences and critics alike receiving a Rotten Tomatoes critic score of 3% and an audience score of 11%. Usually IMDb is a little more generous with reviews, but they gave this movie a 2.4 out if 10. John Travolta has always had a love/hate relationship with critics but this film pushed that relationship to a new low. The film brought in $11 million on opening weekend with a gross income of $21 million. With a budget of $73 million Battlefield Earth was a Blockbuster Bomb.
All negativity aside, though, Travolta’s costume did answer one important question. What would it look like if Danny Zuko and a Predator had a baby?
14 The Host
When an alien race takes over the bodies of humans and erases their memories, it falls upon one young girl to save those she loves, proving once and for all that love overcomes all obstacles. That may seem more like the plot line of a corny teen romance novel, and that would be because it is. The Host is the film adaptation of the Stephanie Meyer book by the same name. The film falls as a pretty decent size smug on Saoirse Ronan's career but didn’t seem to slow her down with her going on to be nominated for Best Actress in Brooklyn. The Host had a budget of $40 million but only managed to bring in $10 million on opening weekend with a total gross of $26 million. This lack of ticket sales may be due to the underwhelming 8% critic review and a 50% audience review on the Tomatometer as well as a 5.9 on IMDb.
13 The 5th Wave
While we are on the subject of teen books, let’s not forget The 5th Wave. This film, and the book on which it is based, picks up after four deadly waves of an attack from aliens when most of the earth has been destroyed. Chloe Moretz's character, Cassie, does whatever it takes to save her little brother. Although it was not marketed to the level of some of the other films on this list, The 5th Wave did alright at the box office bringing in $10 million on opening weekend with a total gross of $34 million against a production budget of $38 million. Even though it almost made its budget back, the film didn’t do as great in the reviews. IMDb gave the film a 5.2 out of 10 while the critics gave it a 16% on the Tomatometer and the Rotten Tomatoes audience reviews stands at a rotten 39%.
12 The Watch
The Watch had comedy potential but had issues from the very beginning with having a name change due to a high profile shooting being too closely related. The plot focuses on four men who form a neighborhood watch to get out of their mundane daily routines. They soon find out, however, that they are now the only line of defense between Earth and an alien invasion. The top billed cast boasts some of comedy’s biggest staples such as Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill, and that one guy everyone loves from The IT Crowd (his name is Richard Ayoade by the way). Unfortunately, the star power didn’t bring in the money or the praises. The Watch received a 17% from critics and a 39% from fans on Rotten Tomatoes and a 5.7 on IMDb. The film had an ambitious budget of $68 million but only brought in $12 million on opening night and only made $34 million gross.
11 I Am Number Four
Intergalactic bounty hunters are hunting aliens across the universe and land on Earth in search of an alien and his guardian that are hiding out. There is an order in which the aliens must be killed and we are thrown into the story after the third has met their demise. I Am Number Four has a strong cast with top billed cast including Alex Pettyfer, Timothy Olyphant, and Teresa Palmer. The film may have scored decent on IMDb with a 6.1, but only received a 33% from critics on the Tomatometer and an audience score of 57%. Even though the film got less than great reviews it was not a box office bomb. The budget for I Am Number Four was $60 million and the film made $22 million on opening weekend with a total gross of $55 million almost breaking even.
10 Escape From Planet Earth
In Escape From Planet Earth an astronaut by the name of Scorch Supernova (this is our first sign that this movie is going to be bad) voiced by Brendan Fraser (uh oh, here is sign number two) finds himself stuck in a trap on a dangerous alien planet when he responds to an SOS. The film has many talented actors as the voices behind the cartoon characters with names such as Rob Corddry, Ricky Gervais, Jessica Alba, Sofia Vergara, Paul Scheer, and Sarah Jessica Parker. Unfortunately, not all this star power could save the film from the reviews. IMDb gave the film a 6.0, which is not the worst score out there by any means, but the Tomatometer has it at a 33% and an audience score of 57%. This film came during a slowdown in Fraser’s career that it seems he has not overcome. He has made few films since this one and even fewer of them have decent or positive reviews.
Taylor Kitsch, Alexander Skarsgard, Rihanna, Brooklyn Decker, and Liam Neeson all in one movie! Is it too good to be true? Yes. Battleship (yes you read that right, this is an alien invasion movie based on a child’s board game) is the story of a fleet of ships and their crew that finds itself forced to wage war on a squadron of alien ships to stop them from invading the Earth. This film had a decent opening weekend bringing in $25 million and grossing a total of $65 million. This would be an outstanding amount compared to the budgets of many of the other films on this list, however, Battleship was given a generous budget of $209 million by Universal and Hasbro. IMDb gave the film a 5.9 whereas Rotten Tomatoes has an audience score of 54% and the critics gave the movie a rotten 34%. Maybe they should put the brakes on making movies based off of board games.
When aliens receive a communication of classic arcade games and take it as a declaration of war, they take the form of the video game characters (because… logic). In Pixels the world is now in the hands of Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Michelle Monaghan, Peter Dinklage, Josh Gad, Sean Bean, Jane Krakowski, and Dan Aykroyd. Those are a lot of names, but even with two Game of Thrones greats and a singing snowman, they can only save themselves from aliens, not the critics. The film started getting bad reviews before it even came out, which never bauds well. Pixels did manage a 5.6 on IMDb but only received a 16% on the Tomatometer and an audience score of only 46%. Despite critics telling people not to see it before and after it came out, Pixels managed to bring in $24 million on opening weekend with a total gross of $78 million, all against a budget of $88 million.
7 The Day The Earth Stood Still
The Day the Earth Stood Still is a remake of the 1951 film of the same name. In the film, an alien visitor and his giant come to inform Earth of destruction. As the strongest powers and minds try to figure out the meaning behind the alien's message, the only one who understands him is one doctor and her step-son. The film stars Keanu Reeves, Jennifer Connelly, Kathy Bates, John Cleese, Jon Hamm, and Kyle Chandler and made gross earnings of $79 million against a production budget of $80 million. Not too shabby for a film that only got a 21% by critics on the Tomatometer. Audiences are usually a little gentler with their reviews but that is not the case with this film. The audience score was a mere 27% on Rotten Tomatoes and IMDb gave the film a 5.5, not making it the worst alien invasion film, but still far from the best.
6 Battle Los Angeles
Battle Los Angeles fallows the story of Marine Staff Sergeant Nantz who is about to retire when aliens land off shore in Los Angeles, California and he is thrown into a new platoon. This film is for everyone that watched The Dark Knight and thought, “Man, I would really love to see Harvey Dent fight a bunch of aliens.” Other than Aaron Eckhart, the film stars Ne-Yo, Michael Pena, and Michelle Rodriguez. The movie had a less than spectacular opening weekend only bringing in $1 million but bounced back with a gross of $83 million. That compared to the production budget of $70 million makes this the first profitable movie on the list. Maybe more people wanted to see Harvey Dent face off against aliens than we realized. Don’t be fooled however, just because it made money doesn’t make it a good movie. The film earned a 5.8 on IMDb, a critic score of 35%, and a 48% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes.
5 5. Oblivion
Jack Reacher… no, Jack Harper (Tom Cruise must like the name Jack) is a security repairman who lives with the rest of Earth’s survivors in a colony far away after an alien invasion wipes out the majority of its inhabitants and leaves the Earth uninhabitable. Before he ends his mission and returns home, he comes across a downed spaceship from which he saves a woman’s life. This starts a chain reaction that leaves him questioning everything and leaves him to battle for the fate of mankind. The film stars Tom Cruise and Morgan Freeman, neither of which are strangers to blockbuster movies or good reviews, however, both would elude them for this film. Oblivion managed to do something unseen on this list gaining a positive review from audiences leaving a score of 61%. This film also has a decent 7.0 on IMDb, but alas it is rotten according to critics with a 53% on the Tomatometer. The film brought in $37 million in its opening weekend with a grand total of $89 million gross, but it wasn’t enough to make up for its grandiose $120 million budget.
4 Cowboys & Aliens
The quiet wild west town of Absolution sees the arrival of an unwelcomed stranger who seems to suffer from amnesia and sports an odd metal shackle on his wrist. Although he is not greeted with the warmest welcome, the tide quickly turns when an alien invasion sets in on the town. The stranger is the only hope the town of Absolution has and unites the townspeople with nearby Native Americans in order to go head to head with the new threat. Cowboys & Aliens stars Daniel Craig, Olivia Wilde, and Harrison Ford. The film was also directed by John Favreau. Favreau did not see the same success with this movie as he did with Iron Man however, seeing an IMDb score of 6 out of 10 and a rotten 43% on Rotten Tomatoes. Similar to the previous film on this list, Cowboys & Aliens didn’t see all of its money back from the U.S. with a domestic total gross of $100 million with an opening weekend of $36 million, but a production budget of $163 million.
3 Independence Day: Resurgence
As the Fourth of July approaches, a satellite engineer by the name of David Levinson sees a 3,000-mile-long alien space ship approaching the Earth. Conveniently, the world joined together 20 years prior in order to fight an alien attack. Since then, the best scientists on Earth have devoted their time and energy to using leftover alien technology from the first attack to prepare for such an event as this. However, mankind forgot its most beneficial asset for the second fight, Will Smith. This gives the aliens a strong upper hand. Who will win? You will have to watch to find out; or just Google it because the reviews are not that great. Despite a strong cast including Liam Hemsworth, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Judd Hirsh, and Vivica A. Fox this film received a Rotten Tomatoes score 31% and an IMDb score of 5.3 out of 10. Resurgence earned a domestic total gross income of $103 million spurring $41 million on opening weekend and had a production budget of $165 million.
2 Chicken Little
Chicken Little is hit in the head by a piece of sky and goes into a panic. He tries to save his town by letting them know that the sky is falling. As he has no proof and no one else has had the same experience, he becomes the laughing stock of the town. After a year passes, Chicken Little tries to get back on the town’s good side by joining the baseball team and helping them to win a pivotal game. However, on the night of the big game, he is hit in the head again and soon figures out that it isn’t the sky that is falling but instead it is part of the cloaking device falling off of a UFO. It is now up to Chicken Little to convince the town of the invasion and save the day. This animated film boasts the voices of Zach Braff, Don Knotts, Patrick Stewart, Steve Zahn and Wallace Shawn. It received a 36% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 5.8 on IMDb. This film brought in $40 million on opening weekend and a total domestic total gross of $135 million while having a production budget of $150 million.
Home begins after Earth is invaded and taken over by an alien race called the Boov. Once in control, the Boov relocate all humans but miss one little girl who manages to hide out and her cat. Tip (the girl that evaded relocation) comes across a Boov named Oh. Oh is different from others Boovs in that he longs for friends and enjoys having fun. Once the two set aside their differences they decide to work together in order to find Tip’s mother. At the same time, however, the Boovs biggest enemy the Gorg are on their way to Earth. Home currently has a 47% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 6.7 out of 10. It stars Jim Parsons, Rihanna, Steve Martin, and Jennifer Lopez. Against a production budget of $135 million the film grossed a domestic total of $177 million with an opening weekend of $52 million
Sources: IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes
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