What a year, right? For starters, 2011 was an insane year for sports. The Chicago Cubs finally won the World Series, appropriately beating out the Red Sox. The Cleveland Cavaliers took out Lebron James and the Miami Heat in the playoffs (only to lose to Boston in the conference finals), and the Packers took down the Jets in the Super Bowl. Insane. In television, no one watched Oprah Winfrey’s new network, “Community” was sadly cancelled at the end of season two to make way for Larry the Cable Guy’s new television series (which is dominating its time slot) and Charlie Sheen finally snapped and killed someone (RIP nameless prostitute). All was not lost, however. AMC’s second season of “The Walking Dead” became the highest-rated cable show to date, and over on HBO, “Game of Thrones” was huge. The quick jump to the 1980s, however, kind of spoiled “Mad Men” — Christina Hendricks at age 50 didn’t have quite the same appeal, although the aging process didn’t damage her bosom in the least.
In film, the Year of the Comic-Book movie came in with a huge bang but left with a mewling whimper, as superhero fatigue finally set in. In the end, these were the biggest box-office failures of the year relative to expectations and budget.
The Adjustment Bureau ($34 million): The Matty Damon/Emily Blunt sci-fi thriller got pushed back against its will into 2011, and the reason for that delay quickly became apparent. Take True Grit out of the equation — which was really a Coen Brothers movie carried by Jeff Bridges — and Damon has had a string of $30 million grossing failures. In 2011, he added The Adjustment Bureau to that pile. Worse, The Adjustment Bureau, unlike most of Damon’s previous efforts, actually didn’t deserve any more than this.
Rise of the Apes ($70 million): Having already been burned by Mark Wahlberg’s Planet of the Apes remake, fewer people were willing to give James Franco’s Planet of the Apes prequel a shot. The movie blogs went apeshit for the movie, but the buzz peaked and then died before its Thanksgiving release, resulting in a meager $70 million gross.
Captain America: The First Avenger ($104 million): Thor, the first Marvel superhero movie of the summer, opened huge, but audiences were left unsatisfied. Burned out by the comic-book movies by the time Captain America opened, audiences were tepid on this, and even more tepid on Chris Evans, demonstrating that Marvel’s overly thrifty approach with talent and directors would finally backfire. We are talking about Joe Johnston here, director of consecutive failures in Hidalgo and The Wolfman, and the director who killed the Jurassic Park franchise. With Captain America, he put a pretty good dent in the Marvel franchise, too.
Conan the Barbarian ($62 million): Along with superhero fatigue, there was also a massive backlash against remakes in 2011. Finally. Conan the Barbarian didn’t come along until mid-August, and by that time, we were sick to death of them. It didn’t help that reviews for Conan were execrable, and the movie disappeared into the ether of every other movie featuring poor Ron Perlman, who just can’t catch a break.
Real Steel ($68 million): Hugh Jackman and a futuristic movie about boxing robots? The trailers looked ridiculous. Shawn Levy should stick to musicals, and Hugh Jackman should find a better agent. And as for Evangeline Lilly? The “Lost” curse continues (remember Hurley’s short-lived television series? Yeah. I forgot about it already, too).
The Three Musketeers ($55 million): A couple of years ago, there were two Three Musketeers movies in the works. One was going to be directed by Doug Liman, and the other by hacky video-game director, Paul W.S. Anderson. Guess who came out of the gate first? And guess who dropped his project? And so, we were treated to a Three Musketeers truly befitting the talents of Orlando Bloom. That is to say, Chris O’Donnel’s version is now considered a masterpiece. And this one is considered forgotten.
Footloose ($23 million): You didn’t actually expect anyone to watch this, did you? They should just feel lucky that it made $1 million more than the Fame remake.