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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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  • jann1k

    Every. Single. Transformersfilm.

    • Alexandro Sifuentes Díaz

      Every. Single. Michael Bay film.

      • As much as I loathe Michael Bay, Bad Boys and The Rock were at least watchable films. Everything else is pure and utter shit.

        • jann1k

          Agreed. Both are perfectly good guilty pleasures/90s popcorn flicks.

      • Robert Crawford

        I thought 13 Hours was pretty good.

    • Jasper Shriekin’ Knightley.

      We’ve got china and Brazil to thank for the next ones.

  • Franco Gonzalez

    The Phantom Menace terrible? What?

    • Blake MacLean

      Yes. It is!

  • In defense of Spider-Man 3 where even though it was bloated and overlong, at least it had some funny bits. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was actually much worse. Devoid of humor, took itself way too seriously, was even more bloated than Spider-Man 3, and killed off a prominent character for no fucking reason.

    • Klaus Dannick

      I agree about part 2. I believe that it would have been a better film if it lost about 20 minutes out of the center. But, hey, critics and fans both declared it the best installment of the franchise.

      • If that film is the best of the 2 films, then it was a waste of time. The Amazing Spider-Man was OK but its sequel is just horrific.

        • Rudi

          TASM2 is the best superhero movie of all time, from my point of view. It’s sich a shame the trilogy wasn’t completed.

          • John W. Thackery

            You have bad taste in film.

          • If you really think it’s the best superhero film ever made. Obviously, you haven’t seen Superman, Batman, or The Dark Knight. There’s a reason Sony gave up after the 2nd film because it wasn’t because it didn’t do as well financially. A lot of people hated it because it was bloated, it had too many villains, a lot of unsatisfying answers, and all sorts of bullshit. It didn’t work. Plus, Andrew Garfield and the director of the film have both disowned it.

  • Charles222

    Oh, come on.

    50%-75ish% is “average”: Not especially good, but not “absolutely horrible film that no-one likes under any circumstances”.

    That belongs to stuff that clocks in at 13% (I don’t think I’ve seen lower on RT) and goes to stuff that barely breaks 40%. There’s a gigantic gulf between 18% (Transformers 4) and 63% (Spider-man 3). If (for example) someone improved their grades by 44%, people would be fucking ecstatic. Ditto with a company improving it’s stock value that much, or well…anything that involves nearly doubling it’s perceived value.

    For another: Terrible movies that make boatloads of cash are fundamental to films being made at all. You don’t get great movies without a few billion-dollar explosion fests and that’s simply a fact. Studios don’t bankroll films that have limited audience appeal without feeling financially sound.

  • Ozhan

    we had so much expectations about phantom menace and it turned out a disappointing movie, that’s true. but it wasn’t even close to being “terrible”.

  • Rudi

    I really liked Fifty Shades Of Grey a lot, and I’m saying this as a man.

  • Vincent


  • Alexander

    The fourth Pirates of the Caribbean

  • thomash

    This is a perfect list!

  • Mad Butcher

    No «Spectre»? It was THE worst movie I’ve ever seen.

    • Ted Wolf

      worse than Quantum of Solace?

      • Carlos Salazar

        Much worse…

  • Ted Wolf

    I might add Dirty Dancing, Grease, Porky’s, Friday the 13th and A Time To Kill

  • Patrick Hill

    The problem is that today’s audience has changed, a lot. Look at the Fast & Furious series. Hey, they’re fun movies no doubt, but to have become such a super-franchise is telling of the direction, and if that’s what today’s audience ask for….. It’s also why home theater is so popular, the only way for cinephiles to have access to the best out there, thank you Criterion 🙂

  • Mac C.

    Of course you would place a film with a female protagonist at the top of your list. Movies with large production budgets and female leads are very rare and that is the film you single out? Not a Transformers movie? Not some shitty comic book? How about a Hangover sequel?

    You even manage to place TWO films with female protagonists at the top!

    It’s so easy. Coming up with a list like this will always draw the ire of the guys reading it as there are SO many horrible guy-fantasy films to choose from. But placing a “chick flick” at the top is something all the guys can agree on and allows you to keep your man-card.

    Yeah, I know, not a popular opinion. Just like calling a guy a racist (even when they make a racist remark), calling one a sexist is almost as bad and the wolves start to cry out.

    Too many idiots fancy themselves film critics nowadays. Your derision for the ladies is evident.

    • Veronica Clarke

      Those films are crappy.

  • yair s

    star wars episode 1 was a GREAT movie. people just expected a copy of
    the original trilogy. episode 1-3 tells the story of how things
    started. the politicis in the star wars universe were part of it. it
    might be boring, but its an essential part of the plot.

  • Thank you for sharing your opinion and reasoning… Can’t agree 100%, Interesting your reasoning.

  • Rob Williams

    My granddaughter loves ‘Cars 2’! O.K., she’s only 4 but she loves Francesco Bernoulli.

  • Brain and Nerve

    Err… Cars is a brilliant film with a great script. You say that humans can’t identify with car-shaped characters as if that’s a fact, rather than your personal experience. My son loves Cars and Cars 2 and watches them over and over again. Because they’re kids films.