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The 9 Leading Members of Hollywood's Failing Upwards Club

By Dustin Rowles | Lists | April 28, 2016 |

By Dustin Rowles | Lists | April 28, 2016 |

Chris Hemsworth — We love this guy! He’s great as Thor! And yet, take the man’s Mjolnir away, and he’s basically box-office poison: Red Dawn ($44 million on a $65 million budget); Rush ($26 million on a $90 million budget); Blackhat ($19 million worldwide on a $70 million budge); In the Heart of the Sea ($92 million worldwide on a $100 million budget); and this weekend’s huge disappointment, The Huntsman:Winter’s War. Take away Thor and basically, Hemsworth has lost more money for studios that Taylor Kitsch. Still, he’s rewarded with a scene-stealing role in Ghostbusters, and while he looks hilarious in it, most actors would never have been given that opportunity after so many failures.


Max Landis — The prince of the School of Failing Upwards, Max Landis has one modest box-office hit (Chronicle) and three flops in a row, American Ultra, Victor Frankenstein and Mr. Right. Nevertheless, he was just paid $3 million for a screenplay for Bright, which is essentially End of Watch with orcs, and after several studios competed over it, MGM paid a huge sum for the screenplay for the submarine movie Deeper, with Bradley Cooper attached.


Zack SnyderDawn of the Dead was unquestionably great, which earned Snyder the right to direct 300, which made a lot of money, which earned him the right to make Watchmen, which failed. Fine. Give him a second chance, right? How about four! Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole , Sucker Punch, Man of Steel and Batman vs. Superman, all either critically derided and/or box-office disappointments. Next up: The two-part Justice League movies.


Neill BlomkampDistrict 9 was amazing! No doubt, and he earned the right to make Elysium, which was mediocre. No matter! Hollywood gave him another chance with Chappie, which sucked. So, let’s reward him by letting him take over the Alien franchise, right? OK!


Gerard Butler — Excluding voice-work on the How to Train Your Dragon movies, Butler hasn’t had a $100 million movie in America since 300, but he has had a long string of flops, including but not limited to Gamer, Chasing Mavericks, Playing for Keeps and Gods of Egypt. Three years ago he made Olympus Has Fallen, which barely eked out a profit. His reward? A sequel, London Has Fallen!


Len WisemanThe Underworld director managed to turn tidy profits on the modestly budgeted Underworld movies, which earned him the right to direct Live Free or Die Hard , which sucked and should have ended the Die Hard franchise. It didn’t. Wiseman went on to make Total Recall, which was a massive box-office failure, and he’s following that up with … another Die Hard movie.


The Terminator Franchise — The domestic box-office for the Terminator series, so far (adjusted for inflation): The Terminator: $97 million; Terminator 2: Judgement Day: $417 million; Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines: $213 million ; Terminator Salvation: $144 million; Terminator: Genisys: $93 million. So, the franchise has got to be dead now, right?

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Vince Vaughn — I don’t think Vaughn’s box-office history needs to be recounted, except to say that he’s made 7 flops in a row and hasn’t made a good movie since, arguably, 2006’s The Break-Up. Stick a nail in that guy’s career, right? Of course not! After a hugely disappointing season of True Detective, Vince Vaughn will be starring opposite Forrest Whitaker in a fictionalized movie about Desmond Tutu from two-time Oscar-nominated director Roland Joffe and Hacksaw Ridge with Andrew Garfield and Sam Worthington, directed by a guy that apparently can’t fail in life hard enough to get run out of the business, Mel Gibson.



Russell Crowe — Great actor, but here’s the last several movies he tried to carry: Robin Hood (disappointment), The Next Three Days (bomb), The Man with the Iron Fists (dud), Broken City (bomb), Winter’s Tale (bomb), Noah (domestic disappointment), and The Water Divener (money loser). Surely, studios wouldn’t risk a lot money on Crowe anytime soon. Wait, what’s that? He’s co-starring in this summer’s The Nice Guys with Ryan Gosling? Oh. And he’s signed on as the lead in the historical epic, In Sand and Blood? Makes sense.

(Hat Tip: Princess Vespa)