It is a Thanksgiving tradition to carve up Hollywood’s biggest movie turkeys of the year (thus far). Cinematic turkeys come in all shapes, sizes, and flavors. They may be out and out box office flops or perhaps they may have even made a little money but were roasted by the critics. Or maybe they were served up with a flourish of special effects and star power trimmings, but failed to live up to expectations. Or maybe they were just Battleship.
With help from Forbes magazine, the review aggregation websites Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes, and the chart-watchers at Box Office Mojo, we present you on this digital platter the freshest and most “fowl” movie turkeys of 2012:
· The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure
Any way you slice it, this forlorn family film is a turkey for all seasons; indeed, maybe for all time. It earned just $1 million on its $20 million budget.
· A Thousand Words
In comedy, timing is everything. Filmed in 2008, this Eddie Murphy vehicle was shelved until this year. Critics only had one word for it: Yeech. It received the dread 0 percent rating from Rotten Tomatoes. Nor did it connect with audiences. It earned back only half of its $40 million budget.
The take-away here for “Dredd,” as well as for “Total Recall”: Don’t remake films associated with 80s action icons Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger. “Dredd” lived up to its name, earning only $28 million on its 40 million budget.
· Rock of Ages
Tom Cruise as leather-chapped rock god? That was a mission:impossible for audiences used to seeing him in action fare. Despite a stellar ensemble and its pedigree as a Tony Award-winning Broadway jukebox musical, “Rock” sunk like a stone at the box office, earning $56 million against is $75 million budget.
· John Carter
Some, including Forbes, do not believe this epic Martian adventure should be on the list as it did manage to redeem itself somewhat overseas. But in this country, it was an epic critical and commercial flop, earning just $73 million on its $250 million budget (which does not include marketing).
· That’s My Boy
That an Adam Sandler comedy gets terrible reviews is not news. What is news is when even his fans stay home. This R-rated comedy (Sandler is more popular in PG-13 mode) grossed just $57 million against its $70 million budget.
· Dark Shadows
Turns out audiences won’t see just anything because there’s vampires in it, as Tim Burton’s horror comedy based on the cult classic soap opera (as well as “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter”) proved. It earned just under $80 million on its $150 million budget. That bites.
· The Watch
But few did despite a dream-team comedy cast of proven performers: Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn and Jonah Hill. This alien invasion comedy earned miserable reviews and just $35.3 million against a $60 million budget.
No laughing matter, this Miley Cyrus vehicle played in just 90 theatres with scant fanfare. And even less fans. One Ohio theatre reported that only 12 patrons attended the film all weekend long.
Had enough? Got room for one more? This misplayed adaptation of the board game(!) didn’t even include its signature commercial catch-phrase, “You sunk my battleship.” Not a problem; critics and audiences did that themselves. It earned $65 million against its $209 million budget.
Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.