-- Rev. W.A. Nance
2003 was not a kind year for Affleck. He released Daredevil, Gigli, and Paycheck. That's an average Rotten Tomatoes score of 26% for the man about to play Bruce Wayne. Man, I'm stoked. Anyway, RT says that Affleck and Lopez lacked chemistry in this movie. In real life, they were dating at the time. An actual couple couldn't be convincing on-screen that they were attracted to each other. I'll just let that sink in for a minute.
Budget: $75.6 million
Domestic Gross: $6.1 million
It took an independent production company, a German film distribution company, and millions of Travolta's own money to get this abomination to theaters. Starring Travolta in ridiculous makeup, even the trailer couldn't hide his horrible overacting. It featured the cleverly named "Psychlos" as the occupying, look-eerily-like-humans-with-dreadlocks alien species, and sports an unheard of 2% on RT.
Budget: $73 million (or maybe just $44 million; there was a fraud case brought against the production company saying they vastly overstated the budget. This was obviously a classy affair all around)
Domestic Gross: $21.5 million
Making a movie out of a 1960's soap opera is an interesting choice. Changing the genre from dramatic to comedic is an unadvisable one. Johnny Depp stars, and we haven't seen the last of him on this list (get right with Transcendence, Johnny!). By 2012, you could feel the collective groan of the audience when a trailer was shown revealing Depp playing yet another quirky, effeminate character in heavy make-up, and anyone paying attention at the studio should've seen it coming.
Budget: $150 million
Domestic Gross: $79.7 million
Audiences were smart enough to recognize R.I.P.D. as Universal's cheap ploy to do their own Men in Black. The aliens are ghosts instead and the surreal home office is moved to limbo. Otherwise, they changed little. Take a brash new recruit and stick him with a crotchety veteran who may be out of place in this time and give them glowing blue guns to take down the bad guys. Their attempted deception at passing this one over on audiences was so obvious and crass that even the same moviegoing public that lets the Madea franchise print money were turned off.
Budget: $130 million
Domestic Gross: $33.6 million
What do you get when you spend $215 million to make a movie based on a TV show too old to resonate with modern audiences, too American-centric to resonate with international audiences, take your only bankable star and cover him in face paint, make it PG-13 to be seemingly family-friendly, but then let it weigh in at well over 2 hours, thus ensuring no kids will pay attention that long? Fired. You get fired. Though surprisingly no high-ranking heads rolled, I'm sure plenty of underlings lost their jobs, like NFL coaches passing the buck by firing their coordinators at the end of a crappy season. Forget the stupid debate about whether Johnny Depp should've been cast as a Native American. Until you show me the Comanche movie star they should've used instead, I have no issue with it.
Budget: $215 million
Domestic Gross: $89.3 million
Between this, #3 on the list (spoiler alert!), and Savages, we've probably seen the last of Mr. Kitsch as a leading man. How could we have known it would flop? Uh, they based a movie on a board game (I mean, it does have a Battleship in it. I don't remember the aliens in the boardame though...), threw Rihanna into it (and in a major role, no less!) and actually thought it wouldn't flop? That takes astronomical levels of denial. On a related note, I can't wait for the 2014 release of Ouija, starring Miley Cyrus. I made up less of that sentence than you'd imagine.
Budget: $209 million
Domestic Gross: $65.4 million
Kevin Costner has the prestige that Taylor Kitsch doesn't (two Academy Awards) and it still took him more than a decade to fully recover from this one. Taking place in 2013 (timely!), it was yet another debacle where Costner tries to recapture the magic of Dances With Wolves (arguably one of the most overrated Best Picture winners of all time) by spending 3 hours martyring himself. By 1997, audiences were wise to his act. Protip for moviemakers: don't set your ridiculous future absurdly close to the present. It just lets us mock you when that date rolls around.
Budget: $80 million
Domestic Gross: $17.6 million
Based on the novel A Princess of Mars, John Carter began life titled John Carter of Mars. The studio didn't use the name A Princess of Mars because they feared that would alienate the male demographic. They worried "of Mars" would alienate the female demographic so they dropped that as well. With this reasoning, they wound up with the incredibly bland sounding John Carter. The lesson, kids, is you can't focus-group everything. If you've seen the movie, you know it wasn't that bad, it just didn't do the pre-production math. It needed to make around $600 million worldwide just to break even, which fewer than 70 films have done. It featured no bankable stars or crew members, and was saddled with zero name recognition in the public consciousness. It was then given a lackluster marketing campaign, and Disney had the gall to act surprised when they lost a boatload of money on it.
Budget: $250 million
Domestic Gross: $73 million
Several hundred years in the future (better than setting it in 2013!), all the polar ice caps have melted. In reality, this raises sea levels by roughly 35 feet; in Waterworld, it's perma-Noah-flood. In reality, evolution takes epochs; in Waterworld, it takes roughly 15 generations. But at least it featured Costner wearing some stylish seashells as earrings. Rumors abound that millions were spent on CGI to enhance Costner's hairline, and make his gills appear less like, ahem, lady-parts.
Budget: $175 million
Domestic Gross: $88.2 million
That's right, the #1 slot is being used for a little prognostication. Just like I mentioned in the intro, sometimes you can just tell. Even the trailer can't sort out the plot. Is it gargoyles vs. humans, or are the gargoyles on our side? What the heck is Bill Nighy doing here, chewing his way through the scenery? If we're including him, and it's from the producers of Underworld, why didn't we just make Underworld 4 and throw Frankenstein (it's actually Frankenstein's monster, but nobody seems to care about that anymore) into it? Plus, I'm pretty sure there's a scene in the trailer where Aaron Eckhart is doing "The Robot" (seriously, when Yvonne Strahovski tells him he's only a monster if he behaves like one, I can't imagine any other reason he moves like that). I think audiences are going to pass on Harvey Dent and his fancy pizza cutters, and pass big.