WHEN THE BOX OFFICE GETS IT WRONG
From now on I’ll mostly be doing more general posts as I don’t have as much time to watch films sadly. January is where the studios dump the movies which won’t make money and will be critically panned. Thankfully this January isn’t as bad as last January though. The box office really can go wrong though. To acknowledge the passing of the dump month, here are 12 box office bombs which shouldn’t have been, and 12 hits which deserved to bomb.
Box office bombs which deserved better:
12. Citizen Kane: Yes this actually was a commercial failure on release. Citizen Kane is not the greatest movie of all time, but it is a very admirable and innovative one. It didn’t deserve to fail and not even win best picture afterwards. It’s interesting to imagine what the dismissive public would have thought if they realized they’d ignored the most admired film of all time.
11. Let Me In: It’s good that people are ignoring horror remakes, but this one actually deserved the cash. Melancholy, powerful and brilliantly acted, it’s strange that people decided to go and see Paranormal Activity 2 instead. What’s better? Cheap jump scares, boring clichés and obnoxious horror with the scare level of a terrible ghost train attraction at a funfair or a moving love story? That’s what I thought.
10. Hugo: This one’s very uninterested in the kids for a kids movie and is too long, but the box office results don’t do it justice. It’s a good film and a heartfelt tribute to cinema with amazing visuals and some fine performances, and as 2011 was a terrible year for cinema this is one of the few genuinely good movies that came from that year.
9. Clue: Maybe a film based on a board game was never going to do great business and critics are fairly sniffy towards it. Who needs critics? This is one of the most entertaining comedies ever made with enough energy to power a small town. This isn’t for everyone, but it truly deserves to be more than just some cult film.
8. The Lone Ranger: This one was a bit outrageous. Summer 2013 was full of mediocre blockbusters, yet when a good one came along no-one would acknowledge it. The Lone Ranger’s toxic reviews were on the budget and running time, not the film itself. Hammy and overlong as it is, this is brilliantly eccentric fun which is far better than the Pirates of the Caribbean sequels.
7. Cloud Atlas: Another one which was perhaps doomed to fail, this dazzling, hypnotic mosaic of emotion, action, love and death is the best movie of 2013. No-one else shares that opinion with me, but I don’t care. It’s a long and confusing film but if you give it a chance your patience will be rewarded.
6. Blade Runner: Yet another film no-one would have guessed would become a classic, this slow, moody and surprisingly deep science fiction movie is Ridley Scott’s best film, and while its refusal to stick to convention may have put people off, there is beauty in the darkness as well.
5. Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World: This one is a bit inexplicable. Surely such a cool looking movie from the director of the Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy would have done better? Exploding with heart, brilliant visuals, humour and action, this is geek heaven and for once a movie being like a video game is actually a good thing.
4. Fight Club: This cult classic is something approaching a masterpiece. However you interpret the film, it’s brilliant. It’s visually ingenious, superbly written and boasts Brad Pitt at the absolute peak of his form. This one is smarter than it looks and although its morals are easily misunderstood, this is deep and fully relevant.
3. Children of Men: Perhaps this one was doomed by being a British film. This is the best film of 2006, not Pan’s Labyrinth. Missing out on a best picture nomination and criminally overlooked upon initial release, Children of Men shows how close a movie can come to being perfect. It was above Reservoir Dogs, The Godfather Part II, The General and other undisputed classics on my best 25 list from last year, which shows how great it is.
2. It’s a Wonderful Life: The Christmas movie to end them all was a huge commercial flop. It’s hard to believe, but it was. This is quite possibly the most inspirational film ever made and there won’t be a dry eye in the house. Thankfully, it’s now regarded as a classic as it should be.
1. The Shawshank Redemption: This is my favourite film of all time so this was inevitable, but it deserves the number one spot. A film which is the equivalent of 50 000 fists punching the air will send your spirits soaring and Pulp Fiction cowers in its shadow. The acting is top rate, as is the direction and script writing, and it sits deservedly at the top of the IMDB top 250.
12 box office hits which should have bombed:
12. The Amazing Spider-Man: Apparently people want to go and see a story which was told just 10 years earlier in far better fashion again except without the humour, heart and thrills which helped Spider-Man launch the superhero movie. OK fine it’s a bankable brand but this dark, boring reboot is about as exciting as sweeping cobwebs away much of the time.
11. Pirates of the Caribbean On Stranger Tides: Enough already. Even Johnny Depp who was fantastic in earlier instalments isn’t that bothered any more. A phoned in and bloated sequel which isn’t really any fun, it’s quite clear Jack Sparrow has outstayed his welcome and should just go and drink his rum and leave us be.
10. Pacific Rim: It flopped in the US. Why didn’t it flop everywhere else? The most ridiculous thing about this cardboard science fiction adventure is that it sparked a debate about the Bechdel test and how blockbusters use female characters. Who cares? It’s a stupid movie! Who cares?
9. Bolt: This may be the most generic animated film ever made. It sticks out like a bus in a bus lane. Talking animals, Toy Story similarities, a journey, a clichéd moral, a celebrity voice cast. Waste of $150 million. Why did people want to see this so much?
8. Avatar: OK, it was natural people would be interested in seeing this but this is a special effects movie and nothing else. It really isn’t very good. The story is total toilet paper, the entire thing is focussed on the visuals and emotionally it leaves you cold. Maybe it shouldn’t have failed but 2 billion and 3 sequels is the biggest overreaction since the release of Paranormal Activity.
7. Grown-Ups: It delivers on the immature humour, but when the funniest thing in a comedy is a funeral you’re in trouble. Watching Grown-Ups is like waiting in line for a theme park ride for 2 hours only to have it break down when you’re sitting on it. It’s a lazy comedy which goes nowhere. The fact it made so much money makes me wonder why I love film.
6. Pearl Harbour: The gross of all of Michael Bay’s films is preposterous and depressing, but many of them have big stars or are based on popular brands. This one is a soppy, sloppy and horrendously dreadful historical romantic drama which, although the marketing campaign was excellent, somehow made nearly $450 million worldwide despite having the intelligence level of the Tellytubbies.
5.Paranormal Activity 4: This one is just lazy. The first sucked, the next 2 were better but lazy, but by now surely people have had enough? Apparently not. No-one was even trying. If you want to see a good found footage horror check out the one Studio Film School made a couple of years ago. That’s scarier than this.
4. Clash of the Titans: Who wants to go and see a film where blank characters fight endless blobs of CGI. Loads of people apparently. There’s no plot or character development whatsoever, the action is pure video game nonsense and Sam Worthington is on full Pinocchio mode.
3. Epic Movie: Did no-one realize this was going to be terrible. This has a couple of funny moments but it’s undeniably an amateurish and sloppy exercise in desperation which spits out so many bad gags it feels like the Friedberg/Seltzer team throwing a tantrum over their lack of talent. Yet they still got rewarded with more than $80 million.
2. The Devil Inside: This found footage horror is terrible. That’s the objective truth. Trying to find a silver lining is like trying to solve a Rubix cube in a black and white world. The box office returns dropped heavily thanks to negative word of mouth but the damage was done. This made over 100 times its budget. Outrageous.
1. The Twilight Saga: These may be based on popular material, but that’s no excuse. These, with the acting, writing and directing from the inner depths of hell, feel like flaming trucks ploughing through every decent, hard working movie studio around. Since you could find more emotion, art and energy in a compilation of Final Destination death scenes, this entire franchise is unbearable from beginning to end. Kristen Stewart redefines bad acting.
Thanks for reading!