5 Hollywood 'Bombs' That Made More Than Your Favorites
Recently, yet another Jared Leto Joker movie was announced, leaving most of the internet wondering if they'd died and gone to Hell and no one had told them. How could this happen? Wasn't Suicide Squad universally decided to be the literal worst thing ever? Didn't fans storm out of theaters demanding refunds?
Well, that was the narrative fans came up with when they decided they didn't like the movie. It's only when you look at the numbers that you realize that some of the films we remember as hilarious failures actually did well, sometimes outperforming ones we thought were universally loved. For instance ...
Terminator Genisys Made $60 Million More Than Mad Max: Fury Road
The original Mad Max was a solid cult film, The Road Warrior is great, and I like to yell "WHO RUN BARTERTOWN?" when I'm drunk, but Fury Road is an all-time classic. It was the best film of 2015 in any genre, and has six Oscars to show for it. It may possibly be the best action movie ever filmed. Not according to the box office, though -- and more specifically, not according to, oh fuck me, Terminator Genisys.
The perception of these two movies couldn't be more different. Fury Road is the Mad Max series distilled to its purest, most satisfying elements, lovingly crafted over decades of obsessive effort. Genisys, on the other hand, is like the spoiled child of the Terminator series, demanding more time travel, more dumb timeline altering, and some Arnold Schwarzenegger, even though Arnold clearly does not want to be there. Hell, no one wants to be there; the whole project feels like a bored attempt to squeeze a little more box office out of a franchise that ran out of creative juice two movies ago.
And it beat Fury Road by about $60 million. In the world of mega blockbusters, 60 million doesn't sound like much, but it does say something to the people who make these things: "In the long run, carefully crafted action films aren't worth as much as franchise sequels that we just kind of smeared everywhere." Why didn't word of mouth drive more ticket sales? Weren't every one of our friends raving about this movie for a solid year? Didn't half of them go back to see it five times?
Suicide Squad Grossed More Than Logan
Logan was this amazing Superhero/western film in which a grizzled Hugh Jackman delivered both pathos and decapitations in equal measure. It earned the Modern Superhero Film Stamp of Approval, in that it was called "The Dark Knight of its series" a bunch of times, a phrase that means nothing but sounds super neat. Suicide Squad, on the other hand, was a tonally incoherent stab by Warner Bros. to see if they could somehow mutate Guardians Of The Galaxy into a sequel to Batman v. Superman. And it kicked Logan's ass.
Logan made $226 million domestically, which means that it didn't even surpass X-Men: The Last Stand, which is by far the worst X-Men team film. Without counting inflation, it is the fifth-highest-grossing X-Men film and the 32nd-highest-grossing comic book adaptation. Honestly, it deserves more, because it's a great movie. But when the most important X-Men film of all time can't even beat 2006's worst major superhero film, it's no surprise that 20th Century Fox seems to be panicking and reshooting their mutant movies about once every six seconds.
Suicide Squad, on the other hand, nearly beat Batman v. Superman at the box office, and is the fifth-highest-grossing out of ALL of DC's movies, beating Justice League, Man Of Steel, and even Batman Begins (even adjusting for inflation). So in the next few years, when we see yet another Joker "collaboration" with a famous rapper and something called a "Skrillex," it's because Suicide Squad taught them that this is what fans really want.
The Beloved Spider-Man: Homecoming Still Didn't Manage To Beat The Hated Spider-Man 3
Let's get this out of the way: I like Spider-Man 3. Sure, it's jumbled, overstuffed, and the characters could use some work, but I would take director Sam Raimi's "Gee willickers!" charm and sincerity over about half of the Marvel Cinematic Universe's output. Plus, as I've written before, if you hate it for the goofy dancing scene, you don't understand Spider-Man as a character. However, this is usually seen as the worst Spider-Man movie, mostly because, even though I dig it, it is an astounding drop in quality from Spider-Man 2.
It's also the lowest-performing of that particular Spidey trilogy ... but still grossed more than any Spider-Man movie since.
Neither of the Amazing Spider-Man films managed to beat any of Raimi's, and neither did the universally praised Spider-Man: Homecoming. Now, Homecoming is a fun movie with solid action, a likable Peter Parker, and one of those Michael Keaton performances that make you wonder why Michael Keaton isn't in every movie. And currently, Homecoming sits at $334 million, which is only 2 million behind Spider-Man 3 but lags more in ticket sales, since prices have gone up since 2007. Yet we regard Homecoming as a franchise-saving rebirth and remember Spider-Man 3 as a Tobey-Maguire-shattering failure that nearly ruined cinema.
This is especially weird when we look at the reviews that came out around Spider-Man 3's release. There are some harsh ones, but for the most part, they all seem to think it was just ... whatever. And "just whatever" is definitely a little better than "The movie is so bad that it literally shot my uncle." Does Spider-Man 3 deserve the all-too-common "It's been a few years now. Is this movie SECRETLY a MASTERPIECE?" treatment? No. God, no. But it's weird how badly we want the numbers to conform to our opinions.
The Pirates Of The Caribbean Movies Outperform Most Pixar Releases
If there was a festival for "Why Is This Still Happening?", the emcee would be The Walking Dead, and The Big Bang Theory would be the opening act. The headliner, though, would be the Pirates Of The Caribbean series, which has seemed to retroactively last too long. I remember seeing the second one, Dead Man's Chest, in 2006, hearing about the third one coming out in 2007, and thinking "Oh. That sounds like a lot." Fast-forward less than a year, and At World's End had made nearly a billion dollars worldwide. Ten years after that, the fifth movie (Dead Men Tell No Tales) still cranked out nearly $800 million worldwide. If you're wondering why Hollywood spends most of its waking hours attempting to build franchises around Johnny Depp, it's because of that.
But so what, right? It's a big action series, so of course it would make a lot of money. However, in the process, it's also outdoing most of the other non-Marvel/Star Wars stuff that Disney is producing. Ya know, the films that are supposed to be enchanting children all over the Earth?
If we're counting worldwide numbers, since 2007, only two movies from Walt Disney Animation Studios have managed to outperform the worst-performing Pirates movie (the last one). If you're wondering about how bad POTC 5 is, when I saw it in theaters, a little kid sitting in front me told her dad, "I wish I wasn't here." Not "I don't like this movie" or "Can we go?", but hoping to be wiped from existence out loud.
But everybody KNOWS that Walt Disney Animation is for GRANDPAS and LAME-O'S. When it comes to carefully run subsidiaries of Walt Disney Studios, PIXAR is THE SHIT. Yet, if Dead Men Tell No Tales was a Pixar movie, it would be the sixth-highest-grossing one, beating out Up, WALL-E, and the first two Toy Story films. And if Dead Man's Chest was a Pixar movie? It would earn the silver medal behind Toy Story 3's gold. I wish I wasn't here.
The Hobbit Movies Have Stomped All Over The MCU
The Hobbit film trilogy did everything wrong that the The Lord Of The Rings trilogy did right. Overlong, full of CGI that weirdly removed any stakes from the action, bursting with forced references to the original films, as well as awful subplots that seemed designed only to extend the runtime. Entire character arcs get dropped, entire effects sequences seem unfinished ...
... and the second film ends with a cliffhanger that is resolved almost with a shrug in the third. They're a cautionary tale for how not to do an adaptation, and also they've whipped the pants off of the current king of the adaptations, the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The domestic grosses for The Hobbit are pretty standard for the "giant blockbuster based on characters that everyone knows" genre -- around $300 million. But their worldwide grosses are massive, outranking the first two Lord Of The Rings films, and only falling short of Return Of The King. The Battle Of The Five Armies, a weird, sad blend of CGI and copious winks at people who know what happens in Fellowship Of The Ring, earned $956 million worldwide. It did the worst of the Hobbit films, and yet it would rank around seventh when compared to the MCU.
An Unexpected Journey, despite having a second act that's around four days too long, made over a billion dollars, and it would also be in that seventh place ... meaning it beat Spider-Man: Homecoming, both Guardians Of The Galaxy flicks, and Thor: Ragnarok. Before I looked at the numbers, I figured that there was no way that more people passed away from old age in the middle of Desolation Of Smaug than enjoyed Captain America: The Winter Soldier around the globe. But those poor souls still count, and meandering Tolkien adaptations are still one of the only forces on Earth that can beat Thor.
So if you're wondering why Amazon is spending half a billion dollars on a LOTR prequel series, that's why.
Daniel Dockery has a Twitter that is mostly about Spider-Man and Pokemon. So that's something.
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