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8 Random Movies That Were Way More Successful Than You Thought –

 

 

One of my favorite sites to visit is BoxOfficeMojo.com an encyclopedic source for Hollywood profits and budgets all neatly arranged and searchable. To me, it’s more than just numbers and figures, it’s a dive into our collective unconscious, a definitive statement on the bloody cement wall where art collides with commerce. So one of my favorite things to do is see how movies  we now consider “classic” or “essential” actually performed compared to the forgotten scraps of yesteryear. The goal here isn’t to make a definitive statement on the value of art, I just want to show you two movies and two numbers that “feel” wrong. What can I say? I think it’s neat.

 

1

Sorry Jason Bourne, but Xander Cage is America’s Favorite Super-Spy

The year was 2002 and for various reasons the classic cold-war spy movie didn’t resonate with audiences quite the same as it used to. Entering the fray were two visions of the future of espionage, one built on a series of smash bestsellers and the other, built on Vin Diesel’s stunt double on a snowboard. Considering the lasting impact of director Paul Greengrass’ shaky-cam style and hit sequels, you’d think Bourne would be top at the box office, and yet it’s XXX that won out. It’s only now, with the dominance of The Fast and the Furious franchise that classic blockbuster action-heroes have come back swinging and Matt Damon’s unlikely amnesiac shtick is looking dated.

2

The Legend of Tarzan outperformed The Edge of Tomorrow

While not a smash success in any sense of the imagination it’s safe to assume that you at least REMEMBER Tom Cruise’s mecha time-travel saga (based on gloriously titled Japanese light novel “All You Need is Kill”). Meanwhile I’m 90% confident that this post just made you realize that Alexander Skarsgård’s The Legend of Tarzan even happened (the other 10% only remember because they have huge crushes on Margot Robbie). But despite both costing around the same to make American audiences were statistically more enthused about the shirtless gorilla man than aliens and paradoxes.

3

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom made more than Disney’s Frozen

If you cast your mind back to 2013 it seemed like you couldn’t avoid the timeless story of a closeted magical princess and the power of sisterhood. The merch, the costumes, and inescapable music all made Frozen into a full-fledged phenomenon. Meanwhile, 2018’s Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom did great, it was a summer hit, but it wasn’t as visible or dominant as “Black Panther” or “The Incredibles 2”. Part of the disparity is inflation, but it’s still weird to see that one of the most beloved IPs in modern pop culture wasn’t quite as bankable than the “Indoraptor”.

4

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle plays Spider-Man: Homecoming

Since you’re on this site chances are you’re familiar with the breathlessly reported stumbling blocks that held up Spider-Man’s introduction to the MCU. Studio shakeups, lengthy negotiations, and constant rumors culminated in the near-religious clamor for Tom Holland’s debut in Civil War. And yet, when it was time for Sony’s big revamp of the franchise, people were excited, but not as enthusiastic as they were for Dwayne the Rock Johnson and Kevin Hart to fight CGI hippos in a family-friendly romp.

5

Terminator Salvation is a better sequel than Blade Runner 2049?

Another weird sequel matchup, if you judge these movies by their reviews, Terminator Salvation shouldn’t even be competitive with a 33% on RottenTomatoes unlike Blade Runner 2049’s 87% fresh rating. Yet that doesn’t tell the whole story. The Terminator franchise is synonymous with action blockbusters where gruff dudes shoot skeleton robots with huge guns, meanwhile Blade Runner’s contributions to the pop mindscape was always more about aesthetics than a rolicking good time at the theater. So even though both movies were flops based on fighting badass imposter androids, audiences preferred a loud apocalypse to a boring dystopia.

6

The Lorax outperformed Pixar’s Coco domestically

Pixar’s Coco might have been the number one tearjerker in animated history (stealing the crown from the first five minutes of Up) but it apparently didn’t affect audiences as much as Danny Devito’s stout orange environmentalist. From the same minds that brought you Despicable Me 2, this adaptation drew plenty of ire from fans of classic children’s literature, but it also gained legions of loyal fans on tumblr due to the emo-haired take on “The Once-ler” voiced by Ed Helms. This comparison is a little unfair because globally Coco blew The Lorax out of the water, but it’s a testament to how Illumination Entertainment is a real force in children’s animation, even if it doesn’t earn the same accolades.

7

Warm Bodies bodies Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later

Zombie movies, it seems like there’s unending swarms of them. A cinematic threat that’s rich in metaphor but easy on the budget. You’d think with how the shambling undead had infected pop culture that there’d be dozens of smash hits featuring the creatures and yet the most bankable zombie movies are actually subversions of the trope. Besides 2013’s World War Z, very few “true” zombie flicks make it to the top of the box office. Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later might have created the “fast zombie” sub-genre, but that was nowhere near as popular as the slow romance of Warm Bodies.

8

Power Rangers was a bigger monster than The Shape of Water

This one might be a “no-duh” for the more clued-in movie buffs among us. But I think it’s incredible to see how the most acclaimed, popular, and notable prestige picture (if you can call a fish-fucking Guillermo del Toro genre exercise “prestige” but whatever) of the year is still dwarfed in comparison to a major family adventure reboot, even a forgettable flop like Saban’s Power Rangers. In the end, movies are art, entertainment, babysitters and companions in our times of need. So while these numbers might seem “wrong” to some, remember that we all buy our tickets for our own reasons.

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