When we go to the movie theater, we all want to have a great time. Sometimes, though, we get so excited to see a particular film that it actually hurts when it doesn’t live up to expectations. That leads to the box office backlash that smacked the following films right upside the head. Here are the biggest bombs that should have been great!
Expectation: This was the one that was going to turn everything around. The first photorealistic animated feature — and still the most expensive video game movie ever made — Final Fantasy: The Spirit Within was supposed to erase all memories of Super Mario Bros.: The Movie and the countless other video game-to-film failures. Plus, The Spirit Within featured what was to be the very first artificial actress to appear in several movies, Aki Ross.
Result: Dead eyes, dead eyes, dead eyes. While the animation is absolutely beautiful, the entire film has the warmth of several staring dolls. Critic Roger Ebert gave it a big thumbs up, but the film’s ultimate box office failure bankrupted the studio and left Aki to hope she gets called for a SyFy TV movie.
Expectation: Hoping to catch up with the Marvel Cinematic Universe at twice the speed and with half the character development, Green Lantern was planned as the very first film in Warner Bros.’s DC superhero franchise. It had all the ingredients for success: the character was well-loved and Ryan Reynolds can be very charming. (The fact the film had been in development hell since the late 90’s when Kevin Smith submitted a screenplay after everyone ran screaming from his Superman Lives script was seen as a minor deterrent.)
Result: The real reason it was in hell was because no one could agree on a tone — was the Green Lantern about comedy? Action? Serious drama? Unfortunately, the studio opted for a Whitman’s Sampler of all three, resulting in a film where everything ends up tasting like the lemon creme (i.e. they made a movie that was bad). The director covered this with special effects that made the suit extremely shiny. In the end, Warner Bros. said that Man of Steel was the real start of their DC franchise, and Green Lantern won’t be seen again (until they try again with Bradley Cooper).
Expectation: After Cloud Atlas, Speed Racer, and two Matrix sequels that really made you struggle to keep loving the first one, Jupiter Ascending was supposed to be a return to form for the the Wachowskis.
Result: Once again, the Wachowskis seemed so intent on world-building and spectacular effects that they forgot to take a second pass at the script, or even find out if it made any sense. There’s a good chance even their mom would have read about half-dogs and universe princesses and said, “Oh, dears. No.”
Expectation: Based on the book that inspired Avatar, Star Wars, and countless other box office hits, John Carter was planned to be the definitive example on how to do a science-fantasy movie. It was even directed by the guy who warmed our hearts with Wall-E.
Result: Well, when you’re the inspiration for so many movies, everyone has already seen what you got. Also, Disney cut short the full title, John Carter of Mars, when Mars Needs Moms wound up being the second biggest film bomb of all time, leading the studio to believe the very mention of Mars was box office poison. (The Martian would beg to differ.) This resulted in posters that seemed to be advertising a movie about some guy, perhaps a grandnephew of former president Jimmy Carter, who really enjoys cosplaying as Conan the Barbarian. The movie tanked as Disney put all their money on what they proclaimed would be their sure-fire winner for the following summer… The Lone Ranger.
Expectation: Brad Bird directed the critically-lauded animated movies The Iron Giant, The Incredibles, and Ratatouille, and his first live-action film, Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol is widely considered the best in the series. Clearly there was nothing Bird couldn’t do, especially with a story involving magic, Disneyland, and George Clooney.
Result: While there have certainly been bigger box office bombs, Disney was actually quite taken aback by how far their projections were off on Tomorrowland, as the movie made everyone wonder why they had skipped the straight-to-VOD option. Needless to say, the chances of a movie based on such other Disneyland theme areas like Frontierland, Adventureland, and Mickey & Friends Parking Structure are now minimal at best.
5 Movies That Had Huge Buzz and Then Bombed