The 50 Worst Opening Weekends of All Time, Adjusted for Inflation
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The 50 Worst Opening Weekends of All Time, Adjusted for Inflation

By Dustin Rowles | Box Office Round-Ups | October 2, 2012 | Comments ()


Over the weekend, it was largely looked over amidst the relative success of Rian Johnson's Looper and the biggest September opening of all time, Hotel Transylvania, but Won't Back Down, an anti-teachers' union propaganda film starring Viola Davis and Maggie Gyllenhaal had the second worst opening of all time for a film opening in over 2,500 theaters. Adjusted for inflation, Won't Back Down actually tops the list. It sold about 320,000 tickets, which means that each screening of the film only got about 10 audience members. So, take that, union busters.

The thing about a movie that opens on 2,500 theaters is that, with a screen count like that, it means it opens in virtually every city in America with a multiplex. Prints are not cheap, so if a studio is going to spread a movie to that many cities, it's generally also going to put a relatively big marketing push behind it. By the time a movie with that big of a roll out is released, the movie has been exposed to most people who are exposed to the mass media. At that point, statistically speaking, it's a numbers game: $10 million is probably a baseline, what you'd expect at the very minimum for a film that a roll out that large. If you don't get at least $10 million, it means that the marketing campaign is busted, that audiences don't like the talent involved, or are not interested in the subject material.

You can fairly ascribe one of those three reasons to nearly every film on this list. What's interesting to note, too, is that -- adjusting for inflation -- 17 of these films are from the last three years, which suggests that audiences need more than Jennifer Aniston or Drew Barrymore on the poster to entice them.

It's appalling, however, how many of these I've seen, although they're not all bad. 2012 releases are in bold.

1. Won't Back Down -- $2,571,300
2. The Rocker -- $2,944,400
3. Lucky You -- $3,159,600
4. Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil -- $4,088,200
5. MacGruber -- $4,115,300
6. Hoot -- $4,124,100
7. Rumor Has It -- $4,345,500
8. The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising -- $4,365,900
9. Hit and Run -- $4,470,500
10. Firehouse Dog -- $4,475,000
11. Prom -- $4,689,300
12. The Words -- $4,692,400
13. Pandorum -- $4,756,200
14. Punisher: War Zone -- $4,771,200
15. Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story -- $4,866,100
16. Joe Somebody -- $5,035,500
17. The Express -- $5,096,500
18. Raise Your Voice -- $5,195,200
19. Whiteout -- $5,284,100
20. Sorority Row -- $5,439,600
21. Jonah Hex -- $5,474,900
22. Zoom -- $5,522,700
23. What's Your Number? -- $5,553,200
24. Surviving Christmas -- $5,735,900
25. Meet Dave -- $5,866,300
26. Imagine That -- $5,916,700
27. Judy Moody and the NOT Bummer Summer -- $6,046,700
28. The Haunting of Molly Hartley -- $6,057,800
29. Extraordinary Measures -- $6,065,500
30. Repo Men -- $6,180,100
31. Hot Rod -- $6,190,700
32. Dredd -- $6,201,200
33. Gulliver's Travels -- $6,315,600
34. Josie and the Pussycats -- $6,464,800 32.0%
35. The Comebacks -- $6,475,000
36. Flight of the Phoenix -- $6,482,400
37. Disaster Movie -- $6,519,900
38. The Next Three Days -- $6,550,900
39. Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant -- $6,632,300
40. Furry Vengeance -- $6,745,300
41. My Soul to Take -- $6,850,800
42. Shorts -- $6,891,500
43. The Invasion -- $6,937,500
44. Just My Luck -- $6,969,800
45. Did You Hear About the Morgans? -- $6,973,000
46. Pride & Glory -- $6,995,000
47. Katy Perry: Part of Me -- $7,050,400
48. Mars Needs Moms -- $7,055,200
49. Wicker Park -- $7,060,800
50. Astro Boy -- $7,064,100

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • Steve

    I love dumb action movies, as well as movies that are so bad they're good. Punisher War Zone and now Dredd are 2 of my favorite comic book movies.

  • Miss Laaw-yuhr

    McGinty's Urban Freeflow gang!

  • Archie Leach

    I've never even heard of 99.99999% of the movies on that list and yet I have no doubt - NONE WHATSOEVER - that all of them are far superior to any of the crap twilight "movies" garbage.

  • csb

    Is there a relationship between these weak openings and the films' rating?

  • Grigori Yefimovich Rasputin

    The Rocker was absolutely hilarious, so were MacGruber, Walk Hard, and Hot Rod. Repo Men was an absolute mindfuck, I really enjoyed it, I mean come on Jude Law, Forest Whitaker? It was great. Flight of the Phoenix wasn't bad either.

    I'm so glad to see so many awful "kid's" movies on this list.

  • PuraPuma

    I actually laughed at lot at MacGruber. :) I'm glad I wasn't alone.

  • dannyexplosion

    Too bad about Dredd. it was titsamillion

  • Some Guy

    I've seen one movie on that list. And that movie was Dredd. And while it is upsetting to see a movie like Dredd on that list, I certainly don't mind that I've never seen, nor care to see, the rest.

  • smitty

    you said the audiences need more drew barrymore yet she's in #3 on this list...........................

  • Bert_McGurt

    They need more THAN Drew Barrymore. Like a wrinkly alien, or Lucy Liu.

  • Groundloop

    Everything needs Lucy Liu.

  • Idle Primate

    except sherlock holmes, according to popular opinion around these parts

  • Groundloop

    I haven't read any reviews, but isn't the popular opinion that Elementary is a bad idea, but we still like Lucy Liu and Jonny Lee Miller?

    It's honestly hard to keep track sometimes.

  • Idle Primate

    it was just peculiar that a popular character like sherlock was not just considered a criminally bad idea, but that it was somehow stealing from another sherlock show. frankly, I find the british show a bit tedious, and cumberbatch doesn't seem like a sherlock--maybe a bit too shiny. The opening episode of Elementary was pretty good. Not groundbreaking, but then the sherlock/watson dynamic already dominates television. But it was definitely watchable, and Watson was used as more than a foil/sounding board.

  • Bert_McGurt

    Well, these parts* have a popular opinion of Lucy Liu. So it balances out.

    *In my pants.

  • BWeaves

    No "Zyzzyx Rd" ???

  • pajiba

    I think it opened on like 3 theaters.

  • Arran

    Hit and Run getting released on that many screens was downright weird. It was cheap to actually make. I'm not sure why they were so confident about it that they released it that wide, when if it had followed the limited release/VOD strategy that's popular these days it probably would have done relatively well.

  • Jason

    I thought the Oogie Boogies and Delgo were supposed to be on this list.

  • pajiba

    Opened on less than 2500 theaters.

  • KatSings

    TheMaskedEmu and I plan to see Dredd. But otherwise? I haven't seen a single film on that list.

  • BarnabyJones

    It really is sad to see Dredd on this list. I hope they can recoup some of their investment with DVD sales/rentals. I think a fair amount of people I spoke with were "meh" about the prospect of seeing Dredd in the theater, but said they might check it out on video. Sadly, I think most would miss one of the best aspects of the movie which is its very effective and beautiful uses of the new 3D at home. I really liked the movie. I hope word of mouth keeps it making some cash through the next few weeks. Also, MACGRUBER and Dewey Cox!? NoOoooooooooooo! I loved those movies.

  • AudioSuede

    Also, aw, Hot Rod suffered from a terrible marketing campaign. That movie is my heart.

  • Snath

    Frank is awesome. I kept expecting him to say cocksucker though, even without the facial hair. I guess I'm always expecting McShane to say that. Or just really, really hoping.

  • Kip Hackman

    Yeah, I can't even watch Kung Fu Panda without expecting all sorts of filth to come spewing out of his mouth.

  • AudioSuede

    Dredd really did that poorly? Yikes. I quite enjoyed it too. Bummer.

  • MauraFoley

    Damn, Eddie Murphy's been in some stinkers.

  • Bert_McGurt

    And his movies have been bad lately too!

  • Snath

    Some of those should have had a shitty opening. Seeing the header photo and Dredd on the list fills me with a deep sadness, however. It's a pretty great movie.

    ***SPOILER*** because admin reads too fast

    Where else can you see Lena Heady die in super slow motion? And have it be one of the most beautiful scenes of a movie this year?

  • TherecanbeonlyoneAdmin

    God damn it Snath! Bold your spoiler warnings! I would like to add that there are some pretty decent movies on that list. Mind, if you reversed it for top grossing movies, I expect the ratio of good to holyfuckwhatashitsandwich would be fairly similar.

  • Snath

    There, baby.

  • Miss Laaw-yuhr

    You two are adorable.

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