Ten Star-Driven Vehicles From 2013 That the Stars Drove Straight Into Box-Office Ditches

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Ten Star-Driven Vehicles From 2013 That the Stars Drove Straight Into Box-Office Ditches

By Dustin Rowles | Box Office Round-Ups | December 9, 2013 | Comments ()


There are certain failures that you can attribute to failed spectacle (R.I.P.D., The Lone Ranger), there are others that owe their failures to bad ideas (Rush, Carrie ), and yet others to the failure of an anticipated audience to materialize (The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, Beautiful Creatures). In some cases, however, there are certain movies that hire certain actors with an expectation that those actors will drive the box-office grosses. Will Smith, for instance, is the only reason anyone saw After Earth which managed a healthy profit once international grosses were accounted for because of Smith (I can’t imagine anyone chose After Earth because of the “spectacle” of it).

But then there are those times when you bring in a cast from whom you expect a certain baseline, that you’d think audiences would show up for even if the movie was an hour and a half of line-reads from the phone book. Out of the Furnace was that movie for me: I was one of the few to see it over the weekend, and even if reviews had been abysmal, there was very little doubt that I was going to pay to watch it for Christian Bale, Woody Harrelson, Casey Affleck, Willem Dafoe, Zoe Saldana, and Forrest Whitaker. That’s a movie that screams $20 million based on the cast alone, and yet it opened with less than $6 million, which I’m sure had to do with a variety of factors that had nothing to do with Bale: A grim premise, bad marketing, lack of awareness, and opening on the weekend after Thanksgiving, which is typically dominated by holdovers.

Still, Relativity has to feel incredibly disappointed in the results, because Scott Cooper could’ve hired a bunch of nobodies and wouldn’t have fared much worse. You can’t really count on actors to open a film by themselves anymore (although, last year, Jennifer Lawrence managed to generate $31 million for House at the End of the Street, which should’ve gone straight-to-DVD), but when you put together certain ensembles, you expect better than the results of the 10 star-driven vehicles below that probably didn’t earn much more than the actors who were paid to star in them.

Gangster Squad (Ryan Gosling, Sean Penn, Emma Stone, Josh Brolin) — $46 million

The Family — (Robert DeNiro, Michelle Pfeiffer) — $36 million

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (Jim Carrey, Steve Carell) — $22 million

Delivery Man (Vince Vaughn, Chris Pratt) — $22 million

Runner Runner (Ben Affleck, Justin Timberlake) — $19 million

Broken City (Mark Wahlberg, Russell Crowe) — $16 million

The Counselor (Michael Fassbender, Cameron Diaz, Penelope Cruz, Javier Bardem) — $16 million

Out of the Furnace (Christian Bale, Casey Affleck, Woody Harrelson) — $5 million opening weekend

Stand Up Guys (Al Pacino, Alan Arkin, Christopher Walken) — $3 million

Oldboy (Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Olsen, Sharlto Copley, Samuel L. Jackson, Spike Lee) — $1.6 million

That Oldboy gross is downright atrocious (and for those who have asked, I apologize: I had planned to review the film for the site, but it never opened in my town, and it likely never will).

Meanwhile, the Quadrifecta (star, spectacle, premise, and core audience) in Catching Fire had no problem keeping the box-office grosses flowing, as Jennifer Lawrence and company added another $27 million in its third weekend, although it was Frozen that jumped into the top spot with $31 million in its second weekend. Frozen has notched $136 million in 10 days, while Catching Fire has gone over $335 million domestically, on its way to $1 billion internationally.

The big story at the box office, however, was the showing of Inside Llewyn Davis, which put up a monstrous $100,000 per screen (on four screens). The Coens’ flick should roll out nationwide in two weeks. Go see it.

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • Pajiba_Pragmatist

    Christ on Crutch, I thought we had gone over this previously Rowles - Rush was NOT a failure. It was unlikely to ever be a big movie in the US, so the fact it even got close to its $38 million dollar production cost on US receipts alone is relatively impressive.

    So far, box office mojo has it at $90 in worldwide gross. Given that it was an R rated movie about Formula 1 car racing in the 70's, that's significant.

    You seem to know about international gross when you talk about After Earth, so how about's you remember it when talking about Rush!?!

  • Sara_Tonin00

    Is JLaw responsible for the grosses of House on the Left? Or don't schlocky horror flicks make millions of dollars without "stars" in them?

  • Abby Cadabby

    Precisely! The movie (marketed on twitter as #HATES (lol!) didn't go direct to video because of Jennifer Lawrence's rising star, but it was only a success because it was released a month before Halloween and people will generally see ANY horror film in the Fall.

  • loganbowes

    1) Out of the Furnace failed for all those reasons, plus the fact that it was an awful film. It was an awful film with a great cast. The performances were great, it was shot beautifully, but it was pretty much a Jason Statham movie with an Oscar worthy cast. It also had way too much pointless exposition. And the ending was God awful.

    2) Oldboy didn't open here either and that upset me. I wasn't particularly expecting it to break new ground, but I was curious to see Lee's take on the film, and the trailer was intriguing enough that I wanted to see it regardless of me liking the original or not.

  • carrie

    i believe that some great acting and a beautiful cinematography can save a movie

  • loganbowes

    I do, too... but Out of the Furnace is not one of them. RT and Metacritic got it right on this one. Just about all the reviews say the acting is the only thing that props the movie up as worth seeing. If this had a lesser cast and a less prestigious director attached to it, it probably wouldn't even make it to theaters. It's that bad.

  • John W

    Does that make JLaw the only female to have a Billion Dollar Movie?

  • e jerry powell


    Julia Roberts might hear you.

  • laylaness

    Kate Winslet (Titanic)?

  • John W

    Ah that's right.

  • Surprised Oldboy didn't open wider. I'm sure it's an atrocious film, but Spike Lee's name plus the cast plus the affinity for the remake would have at least commanded $10m from a national audience. Why finance the remake if you're not going to try and make money? Baffling decision.

  • Abby Cadabby

    Totally agree! I would have never bothered getting upset about Oldboy being remade if I know only a handful of people were ever even going to see it. The reviews for it were pretty good too. No idea why this was handled so poorly.

  • Aaron Schulz

    has spike lee made a movie people liked in awhile though? i feel like his name evokes eyerolls now more then anything else.

  • I kind of get the same feeling with him that I get with Tarantino i.e.he made a couple of good movies, got himself talked about, and then proceeded to disappear up his own ass to the point where he's almost a parody of himself now.

  • Slippin' Joey

    No love for Django or Inglorious Basterds? A lot of Oscar consideration (a few wins) and two of his highest grossing movies. Maybe it's your head up your own ass?

  • It's possible I might be the one with my head in my ass, although given all the times I've been told that I'm hard and inflexible, probably not.

    If I'm not mistaken, the reasons those two movies got talked about the way they did is because they were seen as a return to his earlier works and/or style and involved less of him fucking around like some sort of spastic. I think Tarantino is a lot like George Lucas, in that he functions best when he's got someone to sort of ride herd on him and not let him stuff every half-baked notion that floats through his head into the film.

  • Aaron Schulz

    I really like Tarantinos movies, the problem with him though is his personality and attitude, the more famous he got the more his ridiculous personality was put on display. I want to see less him talking and more him finding ways to make horrible people in history be shot a lot.

  • The Out of the Furnace trailer focused on the Oscar wins and nominations in promoting the cast. I'm not sure if there's a copyright thing that would prevent it. But if not, I would ditch the Oscar stuff for "Christian Bale...the dude who was BATMAN. Come see this movie that isn't BATMAN but has the guy who was BATMAN in it."

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