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Exclusive: Expensive Critical Bombs

Date Posted: 2012-03-04
Posted by:
GregMo Roberts
Source: Killer Reviews

This Friday sees the release of John Carter, a big budget science fiction roll-of-the-dice by Disney Studio’s about a Civil War vet that is transported to Mars where he does battle with the alien inhabitants.  John Carter joins the Total Recall remake and Battleship as $200+ million budget gambles by studios this summer to bring untested ideas and characters to the big screen with hopes of becoming the next Avatar. 

But throwing money at a production doesn’t necessarily mean that the end product is worth the investment.  Sure, large special effects films can usually make their money back on the international market, but in the court of public opinion, many of the biggest budget films of all time have fallen flat with critics and audiences alike.

Killer Reviews takes a look back at 7 of the most expensive films of all-time that failed to garnish a ‘Fresh’ rating (> 60%) on  It is a list as familiar as it is disappointing and the list starts here:

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (2007)
Production Budget: $300 Million
Rottentomatoes Score: 47%
The third film of the lucrative Disney franchise debuted to large numbers in May of 2007.  But an ambiguous plot and a lack of character fun that made the first Pirates of the Caribbean such an adventure had audiences less than enthused.  The film opened to a whopping $114 million week-end and went on to gross $309 million domestically.   At World’s End is still listed on as the most expensive movie ever made.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (2006)
Production Budget: $225 million
Rottentomatoes Score: 54%
It might be surprising that one of the most popular franchises of the past 25 years has two entries on our list.  But the follow-up to Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl proved that the seas were rough with critical appraisals.  Thanks to the popularity of its predecessor and the emergence of blockbuster star Johnny Depp, the film went on to gross more than $450 domestically and over $1 billion worldwide. 

X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)
Production Budget: $210 million
Rottentomatoes Score: 57%
Director Brett Ratner took over behind the camera for the third film in the Marvel Comics franchise and turned in an ambitious yet ultimately passionless book-end to the trilogy.  All the main characters were present and accounted for including Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine (who would eventually have his own spin-off).  But the film was diluted with too many characters and any emotional attachment to the heroes that was established in the Bryan Singer original was muddled in a special effects driven conclusion. 

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009)
Production Budget: $200 million
Rottentomatoes Score: 20%
This messy, unfunny and loud sequel gave us more robots, more destruction and more headaches than we could handle.  Director Michael Bay was back in the director’s chair and relied on computer animated action sequences to help distract audiences from the overall lack of plot and character development.  The movie was a big box office success and went on to gross over $800 million in worldwide grosses.  But no one is naming the film as one of the best of 2009.

2012 (2009)
Production Budget: $200 Million
Rottentomatoes Score: 39%
Director Roland Emmerich was no newcomer to big production efforts.  Emmerich was involved with such event films as Independence Day and The Day After Tomorrow.  But in 2009, Roland decided to exploit the idea of the end of the world as predicted by the Mayan’s in a disaster film that dwarfed all others.  John Cusack did his best to keep a serious face as he dodged buildings and donuts in a collapsing world, but it was the destruction of Vegas and California that was featured in the trailers and got us paying top dollar to screen 2012 in our local theatre.  Outrageous and outlandish, the film was far too hokey to be taken seriously and the result was mostly apocalyptic sized headaches.

Green Lantern (2011)
Production Budget: $200 million
Rottentomatoes Score: 27%
Comic book adaptations seemed to consume the marketplace in recent years and Warner Bros. gamble on the DC Comic’s character Green Lantern was no exception.  Ryan Reynolds embodied our green loving character after his character is given an alien ring that gives him incredible powers (and a form fitting suit).  Big things were expected from the adaptation, but audiences were not amused and the film was able to amass only $219 million in worldwide ticket receipts. 

Cars 2 (2011)
Production Budget: $200 million
Rottentomatoes Score: 38%
Betting on anything Pixar was considered a sure-fire win until 2011’s sequel Cars 2 drove into theatres.  Most of the voice characters were back with the exception of the late Paul Newman who was replaced by a new character voiced by Michael Caine.  A tedious script and uninspiring animated should have landed this film on the direct-to-DVD shelves.  But thanks to the popularity of the Pixar name, Cars 2 was released in June 2011 and was greeted with a $66 million opening.  Word of mouth stalled the sequel’s momentum and Cars 2 only recouped $191 million domestically before U-turning onto the international market for an additional $360 million haul.

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