The holiday season is typically just as good for Hollywood as it is for retailers. That’s because all around the country, movie fans show up in droves to hide out from wintry weather and partake in a little good-old fashioned cinematic magic. Big studios often save at least one of their big releases for the weekends leading up to Thanksgiving and through Christmas.
This year, movies like Disney’s Moana and the Harry Potter prequel, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them have hit it big. But there are several other films that have severely under-performed as far as ticket sales are concerned. Some of these movies were up against stiff competition. Others failed to hit the mark because the marketing behind them was all off. All in all, each of these movies lacked one crucial element for success: they didn’t appeal to the average moviegoer. Here are five of the worst movies that have bombed big at the box office this season.
1. Bad Santa 2
File this one under “sequels no one ever asked for.” This dark comedy picks back up with Bad Santa‘s Willie Soke (Billy Bob Thornton) and gives us a glimpse into his further misadventures. There’s just one problem with this premise: The magic of the first film, which became something of a cult hit after it was released in 2003, was that his bad behavior was novel. This time, it’s just obnoxious.
Bad Santa 2 didn’t get much love from critics, who felt that it more or less missed the mark. Moviegoers weren’t any more enthused by the prospect of getting another glimpse into Soke’s life — after all, it’s hard to imagine him being any badder than he was the first time around. The film first appeared in theaters nationwide on November 23, and failed to break the $10 million mark in its opening weekend. To date, it’s made less than $15 million on a $26 million budget.
2. Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk
Ang Lee is a revolutionary filmmaker, whose past work has included Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Brokeback Mountain, and The Life of Pi. So expectations were high for his latest endeavor, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk. The film is based on a 2012 novel of the same name, and tells the story of a young soldier who struggles to readjust to civilian life after he returns from war and is celebrated as a national hero. The story itself is compelling — and Lee employed a state-of-the-art filming method to bring it to life. He was the first director to use the high-frame rate of 120 frames per second in 3D at 4K HD resolution — and much of the film’s marketing and buzz heralded the cinematic achievement and what it could mean for films going forward.
Here’s the thing, though — those numbers don’t mean much to the average moviegoer. And they didn’t translate well in the film’s trailers; in fact, to the untrained eye it looked like just another movie. Billy Lynn didn’t just suffer from mixed messaging in its marketing; the film itself received lukewarm reviews from critics who felt that it just didn’t hit the emotional resonance it was shooting for. It opened in the United States on November 11 to little fanfare. So far, it’s recouped just $1.69 million domestically on a $40 million budget.
3. Rules Don’t Apply
It’s been quite a while since Warren Beatty appeared in a film — 15 years, to be exact. Apparently, movie fans didn’t miss him that much, since they completely ignored his attempt at a comeback. Rules Don’t Apply is a passion project for the actor, who wrote, directed, and starred as the notoriously eccentric entrepreneur Howard Hughes. The film also stars Beatty’s wife, Annette Bening, and soon-to-be Han Solo Alden Ehrenreich.
It’s meant to be an examination of Old Hollywood and all its foibles — but instead, it turned into yet another casualty of today’s particularly sluggish Hollywood system. Reviews for Rules Don’t Apply have been mixed — but it’s hard to say, at this point, if enough people have even seen it to arrive at any kind of general consensus about its quality. It opened across the country on November 23, and made just $2.2 million dollars. For those keeping track, that’s the worst debut for a wide-release on Thanksgiving weekend ever.
4. Shut In
On paper, Shut In sounds like it would be a perfectly chilling thriller — one that would fit right in with The Shining. Starring The Ring‘s Naomi Watts, and recent breakout actors Jacob Tremblay (Room) and Charlie Heaton (Stranger Things), it’s a psychological suspense film about the dangers of isolation. It follows a mother dealing with the disappearance of a child she took in, while also trying to care for her infirm son.
Unfortunately, the indie thriller, despite an intriguing premise, failed to capitalize on its stars’ popularity or capture the interest of any potential horror movie fans. It hit theaters on November 11 to dismal reviews, and has managed only $6.8 million in ticket sales. While that’s not a total fiasco for its distributor, EuropaCorp — considering the budget was just $10 million to begin with — it’s hard to argue that the film was a success in any sense of the word.
There was a time in Hollywood where combining powerhouse actors like Tom Hanks and Felicity Jones, a director like Ron Howard, and a story from best-selling author Dan Brown would almost certainly guarantee box office success. That time has apparently passed, though — because Inferno was a major flop.
A follow-up to the wildly popular The Da Vinci Code, the movie follows Robert Langdon (Hanks) on yet another one of his adrenaline-fueled adventures. Though the novel itself was a hit with readers, the big-screen adaptation failed to ignite even a tiny spark of interest from film fans. Despite a high-profile advertising campaign, it opened domestically on October 28 and made just under $15 million its first weekend — significantly less than the $25 million that was projected. Though it’s faring better internationally, it really should have been a hit stateside, and Imagine Entertainment will likely need to spend some time to figure out why it wasn’t.
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