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The 15 Worst-Reviewed Films To Become Box-Office Smashes

31 January 2014 | Features, Film Lists | by David Biggins

If a film makes 100 million at the box office it’s safe to assume that it has been a hit with audiences (regardless of whether or not the film makes any profit). Despite critical hatchet-jobs, these films made well in excess of double that figure; each making an obscene amount of money.

This list demonstrates that film critics have no power what-so-ever in affecting box-office performance. You’d even be hard-pressed to find many members of the public who actually enjoyed any of the movies that feature, so perhaps the lesson here is to take film reviews more seriously.


15. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011)


Critics baulked at its inane script, and Depp’s lack of chemistry with co-star Penelope Cruz. Regardless, it pirated a booty of over a billon dollars at the box-office.

Worldwide box-office: $1,045,713,802

Adjusted for inflation: $1,082,988,500

Rotten Tomatoes rating: 33% rotten

Best quote from a critic: “A movie so dark, dank and devoid of coherence that you’d swear it exists only to pillage gullible buckos of their bucks.” – Al Alexander, The Patriot Ledger


14. Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (2004)

Bridget Jones The Edge of Reason

In the first Bridget Jones film, she was a plucky singleton who was determined to forge a successful career in cool Britannia. In this pointless sequel, Bridget was a largely incompetent klutz who couldn’t do anything without a man. Thankfully, The Edge of Reason received a much-deserved critical mauling.

Worldwide box-office: $262,520,724

Adjusted for inflation: $323,748,228

Rotten Tomatoes rating: 27% rotten

Best quote from a critic: “When a sequel has to hit the reset button and take all its characters back to where they started, it probably didn’t need to be made.” – Keith Philips, The A.V. Club


13. Godzilla (1998)


Lambasted for blatantly ripping off Jurassic Park, Godzilla also managed to pick up Golden Raspberries for Worst Remake or Sequel, and Worst Supporting Actress for Maria Pitillo. It made major bucks at the box office, but the critical reception was so poor than a planned franchise was cancelled.

Worldwide box-office: $379,014,294

Adjusted for inflation: $541,681,183

Rotten Tomatoes rating: 25% rotten

Best quote from a critic: “Emmerich and Devlin’s ‘Godzilla’ turns out to be almost as overblown as the 1977 revision of ‘King Kong.’ The only thing that might send you screaming from the theater is the horrifying Puff Daddy song heard over the end credits.” – James Sanform, Kalamazoo Gazette


12. Pearl Harbor (2001)


Historically inaccurate, and surprisingly mushy; critics warned audiences to stay away from the infamously dreadful Pearl Harbor. Though they can be forgiven for suspecting a bomb, it was wildly successful.

Worldwide box-office: $449,220,945

Adjusted for inflation: $712,928,945

Rotten Tomatoes rating: 25% rotten

Best quote from a critic: “The film has been directed without grace, vision, originality, and although you may walk out quoting lines of dialogue, it will not be because you admire them” – Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times


11. The Da Vinci Code (2006)


Despite the award-winning combination of Ron Howard and Tom Hanks, The Da Vinci Code didn’t work on the big screen. The book’s acclaimed twists became garbled as actors rushed through silly and overly-complicated dialogue. With universal disappointment (and terrible reviews) the biggest mystery was how it managed to make so much money.

Worldwide box-office: $758,239,851

Adjusted for inflation: $876,176,989

Rotten Tomatoes rating: 25% rotten

Best quote from a critic: “Some protesters believe that if you see this film, you’ll go to Hell. They got it backwards. I think if you go to Hell, you’ll probably see this film while you’re there.” – Collin Souter,



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  • Ana

    The real question is, if these movies are so bad, why do they make so much money at the box office – and why will bad films continue to make lots of money at the box office?

    Is it purely a matter of marketing? The more money spent on hyping a film, the more money it’ll bring in – regardless of quality?

    Is it a demographic issue? These films are targeting particular audiences and the ‘ingredients’ of the films are cleverly meeting the criteria for what counts as a ‘good’ film for a particular demographic – which are clearly very different from the criteria being applied by the critics? (And I’m thinking here of the girl teen demographic targeted by the Twilight franchise, commented on above.)

    Is it just star pull? Will Smith has a huge fan base who’ll see anything he’s in, no doubt. And, I confess as a teen I rather liked Cocktail – and Tom Cruise’s smile… (Now, of course, much older and wiser.)

    • ethomson92

      It’s a mix, but I think star pull and demographic are the big factors. Some of it is luck or (at least to me) inexplicable. For example, why didn’t Green Lantern or The Lone Ranger do well at the box office?

      The reason for Lone Ranger may have been because Johnny Deep wasn’t the star and people don’t care about Armie Hammer.

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  • edmartinezm

    I always knew Michael Bay was a thief.