Last weekend, in the middle of scandal, federal investigation, and exposure, FIFA released a film called United Passions which detailed the history of soccer/football and the creation of the FIFA organization. The film featured a surprisingly solid cast featuring Tim Roth and Sam Neill and had a limited worldwide release. Now, before I go any further, I just want to set the record straight. I am a huge soccer fan, and the ongoing FIFA Women’s World Cup has been amazing so far. But I, along with most other soccer fans (and people in general) am shocked and pretty pissed off about all the corruption within FIFA. Sick and greedy people are ruining a great sport.
Moving on, United Passions is FIFA’s $25 million dollar propaganda piece that they hoped would somehow fool people into believing that the organization is God’s gift to humanity. It didn’t work. The film’s total box office intake throughout its opening weekend was $607. Read it again. $607. Not $607 million, or even $607 thousand. Six hundred and seven dollars total. With the $25 mil budget, that intake leaves a deficit of, well, $25 million. Does the movie deserve to bomb this bad? Probably. By all accounts it is a useless movie and garbage filmmaking.
So, what other movies have been major box office disappointments? Which ones should (or could) have been awesome, but totally tanked and couldn’t pull in a profit? Here are All That’s Epic’s top 10 most disappointing (and expensive) movie flops.
10. Cowboys & Aliens
James Bond? Check. Han Solo? Check. Six-shooters, dusters, and giant spaceships? Yep, Cowboys & Aliens has it all! Unfortunately, this sci-fi western mixes two distinct motifs just about as well as ice cream mixes with pizza. It’s not really director Jon Favreau’s fault. Primitive cowboys fighting against technologically advanced aliens is a pretty cool concept on paper. Actually, it’s pretty freaking enticing, but it just doesn’t work well. And it’s hard for great actors to be on their A-game when the material is so strange.
If I could describe Cowboys & Aliens in a single word, it would be “fine.” It’s certainly not the worst movie on this list, not by a long shot. Daniel Craig is fine, Ford is fine, even Olivia Wilde is surprisingly at least okay. But when your film has a budget of $163 million, “fine” just doesn’t cut it.
Total estimated loss: $75,588,838
9. Jupiter Ascending
Remember when the name “Wachowski” was synonymous with “awesome”? Thanks to The Matrix and V For Vendetta, that was the case for nearly ten years. Then Speed Racer happened, and then Cloud Atlas, and then, finally, Jupiter Ascending.
Jupiter Ascending has all the trappings of a great space opera, but doesn’t deliver. It’s essentially two hours of Mila Kunis running around and getting in trouble, while a half-wolf half-man version of Channing Tatum constantly bails her out. The plot is beyond incomprehensible, and the special effects are way over the top. It’s a plain Jane confusing sci-fi action film, and the best summary of the film I’ve read calls it “miraculously unmiraculous” (David Edelstein, New York Magazine). Hopefully, the Wachowski’s can redeem themselves with their new show, Sense8, which was just released on Netflix.
Total estimated loss: $88,056,139
8. The Green Lantern
When The Green Lantern was announced, one of Hollywood’s coolest guys, Ryan Reynolds, was chosen to play one of DC Comics’ coolest heroes, the titular Green Lantern. But you know what isn’t cool? This movie.
The plot is tissue-paper thin, the special effects look overdone and incredibly cheesy, and the characters are terrible. Even Ryan Reynolds couldn’t save this bomb, which is a real shame, because The Green Lantern is a really cool hero with a ton of potential. The whole thing just felt really rushed, in a similar manner to the first set of Fantastic Four films.
Lantern will receive a reboot (or maybe just a re-try, a la The Incredible Hulk) in 2020. Let’s hope it improves on this disaster.
Total estimated loss: $90,074,414
7. Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within
I’m going to go out on a limb and say that, while The Spirits Within didn’t live up to the hype or the glory of the Final Fantasy franchise, it is one of the least disappointing films on this list. At the very least, it’s a decent video game film, and is better than most other gaming movies could have ever hoped to be.
The movie looks amazing, and, even fifteen years later, is still a textbook example of what great animation can look like. The musical score is also great, which is to be expected considering the quality of music in the FF games. The problem lies in the plot and the characters. Final Fantasy plots are usually pretty mind boggling and convoluted, but you have usually over thirty hours of gameplay to sort the story out, so that’s not a problem when playing a game. But the plot of Spirits Within is just as confusing and draining as any of the games, but it tries to cram all the material into a film that is less than two hours long. FF titles also usually have deep and rich characters, but because so much time is spent quickly developing the over-complicated story of Spirits Within, character development is limited to basically nothing.
Total estimated loss: $94,434,085
Sahara is based on the novel of the same name by Clive Cussler. Cussler is about as close as you can get to a household name in terms of action/adventure literature, and Dirk Pitt, his most famous character, is more or less a modern-day Indiana Jones. And Sahara was part of a wave of family-friendly big budget adventure films, alongside other movies like Pirates of the Caribbean, National Treasure, and The Mummy.
Sahara is fine for what it is — a mindless adventure film. However, if you want it to be anything more substantial, it will fail. The plot is pretty ridiculous, and the acting is mediocre at best. The movie did fine at the box office, but its huge budget, distribution costs, and legal battles with Cusser regarding the integrity of the film and the character of Dirk Pitt, all lead to it being a major box office flop.
Total estimated loss: $100,365,257
5. Jack the Giant Slayer
Jack the Giant Slayer had a lot going for it. If I told you I was going to go see a movie written by Christopher McQuarrie, directed by Bryan Singer, and starring Ewan McGregor, Ian McShane, Stanley Tucci, and Nicholas Hoult, you’d probably assume that it was going to be a great movie. And, under just about any other circumstance, you’d probably be right. However, in the case of Giant Slayer, those all-star names just don’t add up.
Giant Slayer is the story that we all know about the boy, the beanstalk, and the giants, with a little bit of extra warfare thrown in for good measure. Unfortunately, when you retell a common story and add nothing to make it more interesting, that gets really boring really quick. And the digital effects are bad and overdone. The giants look crappy, and it’s impossible to believe that they’re real. The actors look less natural among the giants than Michael Jordan does around Bugs Bunny. In the end, Giant Slayer is a middle of the road family action film that doesn’t really please anyone in the family.
Total estimated loss: $101,156,199
4. John Carter
John Carter is based on a series of stories from the early 1900s called The Princess of Mars, and interest in a film adaptation stems back all the way to 1931. But when various production studios attempt and fail to adapt a certain story for almost 80 years, maybe that move just shouldn’t be made.
Carter essentially suffered the same fate as Sahara. It isn’t really a terrible movie, and it’s enjoyable enough if you’re just looking to sit back and enjoy a nice looking film. But it can be extremely boring at times, not to mention confusing. A lot of blame for Carter’s poor performance eventually fell on the film’s marketing team. Advertising for the movie was minimal, and even fans of the book series were unaware that this was an adaptation of said literature due to the advertisements saying nothing about the content of the film nor the author of the books. Originally, two sequels were planned, but those are definitely not going to happen. Not with Disney, at least.
Total estimated loss: $108,610,950
Some of the movies on this list, while not great, are still pretty fun and watchable. R.I.P.D. is not one of them. Everything about this Men in Black knockoff seems rushed and poorly planned, and even more poorly executed. All this is a shame considering the all-star cast of Ryan Reynolds (poor guy, this is his second appearance on the list), Kevin Bacon, and Jeff Bridges.
R.I.P.D. feels like the poor man’s Ghostbusters, but doesn’t contain any of the wit, charm, and hilarity that made the 80s film a classic. Occasionally, the movie takes a positive turn, mostly due to the veteran acting chops of Bridges, however, for the most part, every second of this 96 minute film is childish and mundane. If I were in charge of making a headline describing the film, it would be “R.I.P.D. is D.O.A” (dead guy pun).
Total estimated loss: $114,837,890
2. The Lone Ranger
The Lone Ranger is a film that was destined to fail. From its inception, filmmakers had to deal with casting controversies, budget restraints and cutbacks (good thing, too), and even cancellation at one point. It probably should have just stayed cancelled.
Ranger introduces the dynamic duo of Tonto (or Chief Jack Sparrow) and the Lone Ranger to a new generation, and does so in a dry, confusing, and excruciatingly long manner. The visual effects look nice, but that’s probably the only bright spot for the film. The acting is pretty bad by basically everyone, and the whole affair is so over the top as to make it completely preposterous. And while some praised Johnny Depp for his portrayal of Tonto, I felt it was stale and paper thin, like Depp was told to just be a quieter and more serious Jack Sparrow.
Total estimated loss: $119,748,943
1. 47 Ronin
The tale of the 47 ronin who avenged the death of their master is one of the most well-known and revered historical legends in Japanese culture. Japanese audiences were thrilled about the big budget adaptation of the tale, and then left the theaters extremely disappointed.
47 Ronin had a lot of promise and the potential to be an entertaining marriage of 300 and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. It could have been a riveting, action-driven historical period film. But Ronin is long, dull, and features a cast of characters that are less interesting than wet cardboard. The action scenes are great, but are too few and far between to save this film. Keanu Reeves is his typical silent hero self, and is surprisingly one of the best parts of the movie. I was pretty excited about 47 Ronin, and thought it might fill a void left by Zack Snyder’s slo-mo action flicks when he started to work with DC Comics. It did no such thing, and there are no samurai warriors who are going to avenge the death of this movie.
Total estimated loss: $149,518,763
Which big budget movies didn’t live up to your expectations? Did we miss any that were really disappointing? How do you feel about the flopping of FIFA’s United Passions? Let us know in the comments!
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