The Butterball Company has reported a shortage of turkeys this holiday season. Hollywood has no such paucity of supply.
Nobody sets out to make a bad movie (with the possible exception of Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, perpetrators of “The Starving Games”). The following turkey buffet is but a sampling of this year’s flock of flops, disappointments and out-and-out box office bombs that prove yet again sage Oscar-winning screenwriter William Goldman’s oft-quoted adage that when it comes to Hollywood, “Nobody knows anything.”
Some of these films got burned at the box office. Others turned a tidy profit but were lambasted by critics. And some of these so-called turkeys have their defenders. In an interview in New York magazine, producer Jerry Bruckheimer said of his ill-fated “The Lone Ranger, ““I think (it) is going to be looked back on as a brave, wonderful film.” For now, though, it is the film with the 37 (out of 100) Metacritic score and 31 percent Rotten Tomatoes rating. Still, it made $260.5 million worldwide on a production budget of $215 million. So it probably doesn’t belong on this list. But these do:
White House Down: How could this “Die-Hard” clone featuring certified stars Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx be greeted at the box office with as much enthusiasm as that for Obamacare? It didn’t help that it arrived mere months after the similar-themed “Olympus Has Fallen” and that it opened up against the zombie epic “World War Z” and the R-rated comedy, “The Heat” starring the immensely popular Sandra Bullock (just dubbed Entertainment Weekly’s Entertainer of the Year) and Melissa McCarthy.
R.I.P.D.: This action comedy, dismissed as a “Men in Black” wannabe, was dead on arrival at the box office. Domestically, it made just $33.6 million on a $130 million budget. This was not exactly a career year for star Ryan Reynolds. Not only was “R.I.P.D” ripped by critics, but so was the animated film, “Turbo,” in which he voiced the title character, a garden snail who is transformed into a supercharged racer.
Tyler Perry Presents Peeples: Also not having a good year, Tyler Perry, whose name above the title is ordinarily the closest Hollywood has to a sure thing. Not with this comedy, which he did not direct. Despite a stellar cast, including “Scandal’s” Kerry Washington and Craig Robinson, this was Perry’s lowest box-office opening to date. Perry’s “Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor” (the title along makes it turkey-worthy) probably made money, but it received some of the harshest reviews of Perry’s career.
After Earth: Financially, “After Earth” should not be considered a turkey. Worldwide, it made $243.8 million on a reported $130 million budget. But domestically, critics had a field day with this sci-fi adventure that re-teamed Will Smith and his son, Jaden. The film earned a 33 Metacritic score and an 11 percent Rotten Tomatoes rating. A chief complaint was that for much of the story, Will was relegated to the sidelines, leaving Jaden to carry the film. “After Earth” was also another career setback for director M. Night Shyamalan, once considered a wunderkind ("The Sixth Sense"), but whose name wasn’t even used in the film’s previews.
The Fifth Estate: Benedict Cumberbatch, “Star Trek: Into Darkness” scene-stealer and star of the immensely-popular BBC miniseries, “Sherlock,” found that carrying a film is anything but elementary. This Julian Assange bio-pic crashed at the box office, earning a mere $6 million worldwide on a $28 million budget.”
Bullet to the Head: This poorly marketed Sylvester Stallone actioner was totally expendable, earning less than $10 million domestically. Fellow 80s action star Arnold Schwarzenegger did not fare that much better with “The Last Stand,” which needed foreign box office to just barely recoup its production budget.
The Incredible Burt Wonderstone: This comedy starring Jim Carrey and Steve Carell as competing magicians disappeared quickly at the box office, earning both comedians among the weakest openings of their careers. And that’s some trick.
The Bling Ring: Directed by critics darling Sofia Coppola, the fact-based “The Bling Ring” is a film that would seem to be as entitled as its subjects—a gang of celeb-robbing Millennials. But it left critics cold and failed to engage audiences, earning less than $10 million at the box office.
Grown Ups 2: Considering his “Turkey Song” is a holiday staple, our list wouldn’t be complete without an Adam Sandler movie. This sequel actually did quite well at the box office, but critics were poised to carve it up. It has a mere 7 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and a 19 Metacritic score.
The Christmas Candle: The newest entry on our turkey menu, this faith-based movie was produced by Rick Santorum, who has called Hollywood the Devil’s playground. The film currently has a 20 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. And that’s being conservative.