Over the past several years, there has been a growing disparity between what critics love and the films that moviegoers flock to see. Thankfully, many of 2016’s most despised films crashed and burned at the box office. Yet, some of the biggest moneymakers of the year were heavily drubbed by critics and proved to be divisive even among loyal fans.
We’re taking a look at some of the films that reined in hundreds of millions of dollars to become smash hits despite being universally despised by either audiences or critics. For the record, we’re not including films like the egregiously messy Independence Day: Resurgence and Paul Feig’s divisive Ghostbusters, as they’re both considered box office disappointments.
10. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
Firstly, Zack Snyder’s epic superhero smackdown may not be the masterpiece many were hoping it would be, but it does have its merits. There’s a real vision at play even if it’s not executed as well as it should be. Nevertheless, it still cracks on to our list because — despite the fact that many didn’t love it — the film earned $873 million worldwide. That’s a pretty hefty number for a film as problematic as this one.
9. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Likewise, director David Yates’ initial entry in what is being touted as a five-film series, set up the continuing story of dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald. Too bad that the characters are largely underwhelming and the new additions to J.K. Rowling’s mythology are murky. While many may have hoped this prequel would re-energize the Harry Potter series, it’s actually the weakest film yet.
8. The Secret Life of Pets
Ever wonder what Toy Story with pets would be like? May we introduce you to this cut-and-paste job, which supplants iconic characters like Woody and Buzz Lightyear with a pair of dogs who get in all kinds of misadventures while their owner is away. It’s like Pixar’s first film, minus the imagination, indelible characters, and heart. So basically it’s not worth your time, regardless of its $875 million worldwide gross.
7. Suicide Squad
While Batman v Superman has its problems, this follow-up chapter of the DC Extended Universe is way more of a mixed bag. Mostly, the film takes on too much and places its focus on an incredibly bland (and still undefined) villainous plan. For a release that was touted to be a shot of adrenaline in the superhero genre, Suicide Squad sure did play it safe on a number of levels. Hopefully, Gotham City Sirens will be better.
6. Jason Bourne
Blah. That’s all we can say about this Paul Greengrass film, which is the very definition of “quit while you’re ahead.” Despite the near-perfection that is Damon’s initial Bourne trilogy, the studio reunited the series’ star with Greengrass for a subpar revival of the franchise that feels like a lame replay of the greatest hits of the far superior earlier films. Audiences may have once wanted more from the character but not anymore.
Why does this movie exist? Moreover, why did its blatant collection of clichés, pop music covers, and pandering jokes manage to bring in $329 million at the worldwide box office? Sure, Justin Timberlake and Anna Kendrick are charismatic and make the soundtrack a surprising standout, but the film it’s attached to is a rough watch. Yikes.
4. Ride Along 2
A buddy comedy that caters to the lowest common denominator, we’re pretty sure this one just coasted by on the success of the first film and the widespread fandom for its two popular stars. In the right context, Ice Cube and Kevin Hart are fun to watch in just about anything. We only wish that they had better material to work with than what this by-the-numbers sequel provides.
3. The Purge: Election Year
The Purge franchise has always thrived on the allure of its ultra-violent premise, but this one tried to tie in to actual current events, with less-than-stellar results. From a business perspective, it certainly paid off, as the $10 million film brought in $118 million worldwide. We’re all for horror films rocking the box office, but in a year when so many other great films in the genre were released, this one is a bummer.
2. The Angry Birds Movie
It’s startling to realize just how polarized 2016 was for animated film. While films like Kubo and the Two Strings and Zootopia pushed the medium to new heights, this dull, unfunny adaptation of the video game tried to push it backwards with flat jokes, loud, obnoxious characters and little to no imagination to speak of. Since it raked in $349 million worldwide, we’re probably stuck with another unnecessary franchise.
1. Boo! A Madea Halloween
Tyler Perry’s Madea films clearly have a devoted fanbase, but despite being one of the most successful black filmmakers today, Perry resorts to gimmick after gimmick to wring as many box office dollars as possible out of his one-note signature character. Made for just $20 million, this film made nearly four times that much even though few critics will cop to actually enjoying it.
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