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10 Terrible Movies That Earned Tons Of Money At The Box Office

23 August 2016 | Features, Film Lists | by Khizar Hasen

terrible movies bombed at box office

There have been many great films. like “Fight Club”, “Blade Runner”, “The Shawshank Redemption” and “Children of Men” that could barely recover their production budgets in their theatrical runs, and some terrible films that multiplied their box office numbers every weekend without giving audiences something worth watching.

There could be several reasons for a bad film to earn huge amounts of money at the box office. It could be a film from a well-respected production company, one with a great director, or it could be the sequel of a previously well-received film.

Before jumping into the list, let me clear up one thing: my reasons for hating these movies perhaps won’t resonate with everyone, especially casual movie watchers. These movies are being judged from a hardcore moviegoer’s perspective, and we have also included critical ratings from Rotten Tomatoes so you can get an idea of how badly these movies were received by critics.


10. Cars 2 (2011)

Box office: $559 million RT Score: 39%

Cars 2 

When you attach the Pixar name to any movie, expectations spontaneously go sky high. But according to many critics and countless people, “Cars” was the worst Pixar production of its time, considering the animation milestones the company had previously created, including the “Toy Story” series, “Finding Nemo”, “A Bug’s Life”, “Monsters Inc.” and “The Incredibles”.

However, “Cars” wasn’t the worst film ever made. But with the high bar set by Pixar, it surely failed to reach greatness. “Cars” was a major disappointment as a Pixar film; not financially, but critically. For some reason, they decided to develop the sequel of their worst film, and a third installment is also in line.

Why it’s terrible: “Cars 2” was a lousy film; not because it lacked imagination or standout animation, but because the subject of the story (sentient cars that don’t resemble humans), it leads to almost no emotional attachment due to our inability to relate to them. Our psychology doesn’t allow us to empathize with something unless it has a face and anthropomorphic shape.

The biggest drawback of this film was its lack of interest with adults because of its extra childish theme, and with kids because of its dull humor. Like other Pixar movies, it was visually stunning, and the animation was quite good compared to the competition, but still it lacked the usual Pixar magic that makes their movies stand apart.

The first “Cars” film was watchable to some extent, but “Cars 2” took the boring factor to new levels. The story of “Cars 2” focuses on Tow Mater instead of Lightning McQueen. Tow Mater, as a movie character, is boring, annoying and unfunny.

Nobody knows why Pixar developed a sequel to their worst film and turned the lead character (Lighting McQueen) into a secondary character. It could’ve been a better movie, or at least a watchable movie, if the story focused on Lighting McQueen instead of Tow Mater.


9. Star Wars Episode I: Phantom Menace (1999)

Box Office: $1 billion RT Score: 56%

Jar Jar Binks - Star Wars I The Phantom Menace

“Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace” is the first installment in the Star Wars prequel trilogy. Similar to the original films, this one is also directed by legendary filmmaker George Lucas. It starts 30 years before the original “Star Wars”, and follows a Jedi master named Qui-Gon Jinn and his apprentice, who are on a mission to peacefully end a large-scale interplanetary trade dispute, and protect Queen Amidala.

Why it’s terrible: While the views on the Star Wars prequels are divided among the franchise’s fans, with some liking them and some literally hating them, somewhere this film is responsible for that hate.

It shouldn’t be hard to understand why this movie made more than a billion dollars. The “Star Wars” name is more than enough to make a movie successful, and yes, people do pay for nostalgia.

Some people may think it received hate from people who got overhyped and were eventually disappointed by the final product. But no, this film was literally horrible. It had bad characterizations, a story with a hopeless plot, a bad script, annoyingly bad acting (remember Jar Jar Binks?), and even metaphorically depicted racial stereotypes.

I won’t talk more shit about this movie, because there were also some positive aspects. This film was better than most of the entries in this list, which is why it’s not much higher.


8. Spider-Man 3 (2007)

Box Office: $890 million RT Score: 63%


“Spider-Man 3” was so terrible that it forced the entire franchise to do a full reboot. It continues after the events of “Spider-Man 2”, where Harry Osborn is still seeking vengeance for his father’s death.

A small thief named Flint Marko, who happens to be the real murderer of Peter Parker’s grandfather, has been a victim of a scientific experiment that turned him into Sandman. An extraterrestrial creature also crashes on Earth that eventually causes the creation of Venom.

Why it’s terrible: Critic scores can sometimes be extremely deceptive, especially in this case. Despite being a bad film, it received a decent rating from mainstream critics. Those who liked the movie called it the best of the franchise, and others considered it the worst of the series; I’m on the side who consider it the worst of the trilogy.

“Spider-Man 3” was kind of a mixed bag, and while it did have some good scenes and memorable moments, it also had some terrible and annoying ones. In some scenes, the CGI looked spectacular and enhanced the overall visual experience.

The first transformation scene of Flint Marko into Sandman was admittedly awesome, but there were also some moments where the CGI looked cheap, utterly unconvincing, and made the scenes look sluggish, which was evident in the chase and fight scene between Peter Parker and Harry Osborn.

Obviously, it didn’t land on this list just for its bad CGI. The movie’s biggest mistake was introducing multiple antagonists, each with their own origin stories, and because of this, it felt like multiple films crunched into a single 139-minute movie.

Overstuffing never works unless it’s done by the most mature filmmakers of the industry, who know how to do it, like Russo brothers and Joss Whedon. Countless Hollywood clichés and awkward moments made the case even worse. Somehow it became the highest grossing movie of the trilogy, but in fact, it was the messiest of all three films.


7. Meet the Fockers (2004)

Box Office: $516 million RT Score: 38%

Meet The Fockers (2004)

“Meet the Fockers” is a romantic comedy directed by Jay Roach, starring many recognizable actors like Ben Stiller and Robert De Niro. The film revolves around Greg Focker and his fiancée Pam, as they face a hard time bringing their families together.

Why it’s terrible: “Meet the Fockers” was a comedy and according to some people, it did a decent job in that department. However, it didn’t have remarkable comedic moments, and most of the jokes obviously came from toilet humor. Some people probably found it funny and some people didn’t, including me.

The characters frequently talk about body parts such as penises and breasts. Toilet humor doesn’t make everyone laugh, and there’s a large group of people who prefer sensible humor that covers a broad range of subjects, not just poop, sex, and women body parts.

It should’ve been clear by the vulgar title of the movie what it was going to offer, but surprisingly, most people enjoyed the film and it made half a billion dollars. There’s nothing wrong with that however, from a critical point of view it had an average comedy that doesn’t deserve to earn anywhere near $500 million.


6. Shrek the Third (2007)

Box Office: $799 Million RT Score: 40%

Shrek the Third (2007)

“Shrek the Third” is an animated comedy, similar to the previous entries of its franchise. It takes place several months after the marriage of Shrek and Princess Fiona. The King is about to die and is considering passing his throne to Shrek and Princess Fiona, although Shrek opposes the idea, due to him being an ogre.

Now, there’s only one heir who can potentially be the King’s  successor, known as Arthur, so Shrek, Puss in Boots and Donkey go on a journey to find him. There are several pop culture references throughout the movie that are admittedly fun to watch.

Why it’s terrible: “Shrek the Third” was a massive letdown compared to the previous two entries of the series, which were classics and have been declared masterpieces by many. “Shrek the Third” is nowhere near those films in almost every department. The jokes in this film were clearly not made for kids, with subjects of humor mildly hinting at sex and alcohol.

Some people may think that it’s too much to ask for this franchise, as there are hardly any film series that have given three great movies in a row (only the “Toy Story” series and the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy come to mind). But “Shrek the Third” was really a huge disappointment, the script was just terrible, and the jokes were totally forgettable.

It’s hard to believe that they didn’t acknowledge that fact in pre-production. However, the animation was good, definitely better than the previous films due to rapid advancements in technology, but still not wonderful as Pixar’s movies, so all and all, the visuals in this film were just decent.

The biggest drawback was an extremely disappointing finale that ended with a boring speech. It leaves its audience in a dilemma whether to hate it as it is, or love it because they love the franchise, and that’s not a good thing for a film that earned almost $800 million at the box office.



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