After Earth ($61 million) — The writing was on the wall when they combined the waning box-office clout of Will Smith with the poisonous M. Night Shyamalan, and the reviews didn’t help. It felt like a big-budget excuse for Will Smith to hang out with his kid, Jaden, and moviegoers were disappointed by another predictably dumb “twist” ending.
Scary Movie 5 ($34 million) — The four Scary Movie movies have averaged over $100 million apiece at the box office, including the $90 million tally of the last sequel, in 2006. But, as A Haunted House ($33 million) demonstrated, moviegoers don’t care about horror-movie parodies anymore. Horror movies have become a parody of themselves, and when the Evil Dead remake opened on the same weekend, filmgoers decided to see the real, bloody goddamn thing.
Oblivion — ($53 million) Is it too early to say that Joseph Kosinski’s Oblivion was the death knell to Tom Cruise’s career? After the middling box-office returns from Jack Reacher, Cruise is once again on the decline, as his personal life has alienated too many moviegoers, not to mention the fact that it was difficult to see Cruise in a sci-fi action movie. It wasn’t a total loss (Oblivion did decent numbers overseas), but the world is ready to cast Cruise aside for a younger generation of leading men.
Epic ($87 million) — Kudos to Fox for attempting to put an original property into the animated marketplace, but this is what happens, especially when you substitute recognizable voice talent (Beyonce, Jason Sudeikis, Steven Tyler, Amanda Seyfried) for an actual script, even if the animation was beautifully rendered. Although the movie made nearly $100 million, it was still considered a failure for a film that cost more than twice that to make.
This Is The End ($26 million) — What happens when you piece together a HUGE ensemble of comedic talent that includes Seth Rogen, James Franco, Jason Segel, Jonah Hill, Paul Rudd, Kevin Hart, Jay Baruchel, Mindy Kaling, and more — all playing themselves — for an end-of-the-world comedy directed by Rogen and Evan Goldberg? People flock to see Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel, which opened on the same weekend, of course. The whole exercise, which was mildy amusing, felt indulgent and full of itself.
Grown Ups 2 ($52 million) — After the massive (and inexcusable) success of the first Grown Ups ($162 million), Adam Sandler finally figured out what would happen if he attempted to make his first sequel: People who saw the first would opt against the second one BECAUSE THEY’D SEEN THE FIRST ONE. Moviegoers may be dumb, but they’re not that dumb. Along with That’s My Boy, that is two box-office duds in a row for the once invincible Adam Sandler, who has to be thinking about a Wedding Singer sequel now.
Pacific Rim ($72 million) — Guillermo Del Toro’s BIG ROBOT ALIENS VS. THE WORLD ended up becoming this year’s Battleship: An oversized dumb mash-up of stupidity. We wondered why it took five years since Hellboy 2 for del Toro to finally release another film, and it turns out, he’s not that good when dealing with big budget movies. He’s more at home with smaller, darker movies in his own language.
Planes — ($122 million) — Yes, $122 million sounds like a lot, but this was a Pixar movie, and no Pixar movie has fared this badly since their first one, Bug’s Life ($162 million). Planes, a spin-off to Cars, was supposed to go straight-to-DVD, but Disney decided to push their luck with the Pixar brand by releasing it into 4,000 theaters. Sadly, they ended up damaging it even more.
Lone Ranger ($77 million) — Oh, thank God far fewer people than expected decided to indulge Johnny Depp in his now revealed experiment to see how far he could push his star power before moviegoers would balk. It cost Disney $200 million in profit, but we finally know there is a line at which most moviegoers will not stoop, and that line is Johnny Depp as a Native American in a franchise that no one wanted to see resurrected. Disney should’ve left this movie on the scrap heap where it belonged.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty ($63 million) — When a remake of a classic goes through as much trouble as The Secret Life of Walter Mitty did, including numerous director and lead changes (Jim Carrey and Steve Carell passed before it landed on Ben Stiller, who also directed), a studio that should probably take the hint. Too many millions of people will pay to see Ben Stiller abuse himself, but no one wants to see him in a remake of one of the best movies of all time.