Do box office numbers, by any means, indicate the quality of a film? Never, in my opinion. However, greater box office collection certainly means that the film appeals to a large section of audiences but it is, in no way, a benchmark of quality. Great films like ‘Magnolia’ and ‘Fight Club’ were box office failures while atrocious cinematic disasters like ‘Suicide Squad’ and ‘Transformers’ were huge box office hits. But so often it also happens that a massively successful film turns out to be the most unpopular film among both audiences and critics. Let’s take a look at the list of 15 such films that are huge big box office hits yet couldn’t quite manage to strike a chord among the critics or the audiences.
15. World War Z (2013)
I fail to see anything even remotely special about ‘World War Z’. It’s utterly disappointing, especially considering its scope because so much of it is just a badly plotted conventional apocalyptic action thriller. Critics and audiences weren’t impressed with the spectacle it created and many people even found the CGI extremely dated and badly used. But the film was a huge box office hit at the box office and earned around $5.7 million on the opening day and managed to gross over $540 million worldwide.
14. Transformers (2007)
I don’t think people who genuinely like ‘Transformers’ could ever admit it due to fear of being ridiculed by fellow cinephiles. But in all honesty though, Michael Bay certainly seemed to have some sort of a vision with this film and his robots managed to entertain millions of kids and teenagers. The film, despite many negative reviews from critics, managed to make $709.7 million at the box office and is Bay’s fourth highest grossing film to date. The film is still pretty much fun if you manage to keep logic at the door and enjoy for what it tries to do but critics and serious movie goers weren’t generous enough for any kind of praise.
13. Avatar (2009)
The fuss ‘Avatar’ created remains almost unmatched. James Cameron almost shattered every box office record with his earlier venture, ‘Titanic’ and it seemed almost impossible to top that one. And unsurprisingly, the hype for ‘Avatar’ was ridiculously blown out of proportion and it did become the highest grossing film of all time. But I wouldn’t be lying when I say that not a single cinephile I’ve met has had anything good to say about this film. The film lacked substance and the flashy nature of it failed to impress even the least cynical movie buffs as the story was way too naive and shallow to be taken any seriously.
12. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)
The fourth installment in Steven Spielberg’s iconic Indiana Jones franchise might just be the least popular flick among its most ardent fans. Fans came up with the now famous term “nuking the fridge” which is used to refer to the scene where Jones survives a nuclear explosion by hiding in a fridge. Even critics were divided in their opinions with most people criticising the repetitive nature of the story. However, the film went on to become a massive commercial success, managing to gross around $786.6 million against a budget of $185 million.
11. Star Wars Prequel Trilogy
‘Star Wars’ is probably the most universally loved movie franchise of all time. The original film gave birth to culture and there’s no denying that Lucas made a significant impact on mainstream filmmaking with the first three films of the original trilogy. However, staunch fans of the series vehemently dislike the prequel trilogy that was released between 1999 and 2005. A lot of the reason here could be attributed to the films’ poor writing and extremely tedious storylines that were just bloated messes. But the brand image of the franchise largely helped the films in the prequel trilogy on a commercial level as the films were massive hits at the box office.
10. The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997)
Steven Spielberg altered the landscape of blockbuster filmmaking with his iconic adventure drama ‘Jurassic Park’ back in 1993. And four years later, the expectations were pretty high for the sequel but it wasn’t anywhere near as popular as its original was among fans and viewers. The visuals were unanimously praised but the film lacked a strong storyline and the overall experience wasn’t as thrilling as its original. But the popularity of its original and the hype surrounding it ensured that the film made more than $600 million at the box office against a budget of $73 million.
9. Suicide Squad (2016)
‘Suicide Squad’ is probably the worst American film of this decade. The script is downright laughable (which is still defended by some as “it was meant to be”), the editing is juvenile and the entire film does nothing more than a bad joke. The expectations for the film were deadly high as most people were dying to see Jared Leto donning the role of the Joker, immortalised by Heath ledger almost a decade before in ‘The Dark Knight. However, despite the general hate from audiences, the film went on to break numerous box office records and was the tenth highest grossing film of its year.
8. Spider Man 3 (2007)
I quite enjoyed the first two Spider Man movies as a kid but I happened to watch the third one a lot later in my life and the cynic that had grown in me never really allowed me to enjoy the film. The film felt extremely dry and uninteresting and critics took issues with the film’s messed up plot-lines and apparent lack of humour. But the film was highly successful and managed to gross a whooping $890.9 million against a budget of $258 million.
7. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011)
The original ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ has to be one of the most popular films ever made but its sequels didn’t receive the kind of love and acclaim it was expected to. But perhaps by the fourth instalment, people could no longer take Captain Jack Sparrow and his silly adventures anymore. Critics mostly took issue with the lack of strong content and how the series’ inherent silliness was now getting exposed and that it was just all too predictable throughout. However, the film was a huge commercial hit and today stands as the 23rd highest grossing movie of all time.
6. Alice in Wonderland (2010)
Time Burton’s visually extravagant fantasy adventure flick is probably the dullest of its genre. It’s a shame because the film is visually breathtaking but it hardly breaks any new grounds in terms of the content and storytelling and the film is basically a recycling of the same old ideas that have been in existence in Hollywood since many, many years. However, extensive promotional activities helped them film commercially and it went on to become the second highest grossing film of 2010 and as of today stands as the 24th highest grossing film of all time.
5. Planet of the Apes (2001)
Time Burton’s epic sci-fi travesty probably has one of the most stupid film endings I’ve ever seen. By the end of the film we are only left as startled as Mark Wahlberg in the film not because we are terrified by General Thade’s shocking entry but rather astonished at the ludicrousness of everything that happened in the last 10-15 minutes. The film as a whole never really held up to the 1968 version on which it was based and critics criticised the narrative and various plot-elements that weakened the film. However, some strong marketing techniques helped the film go on to become a massive commercial success. It managed to gross $362.2 million against a budget of $100 million and was the ninth highest grossing film of the year 2001.
4. Grown Ups (2010)
So we have an Adam Sandler entry on the list. I am not too sure what the makers of ‘Grown Ups’ were thinking of the film because this is just as outrageously bad and cringeworthy a film can get and it’s no wonder why it remains one of the most ridiculed movies among critics and viewers. What the film does in the name of comedy is possibly the worst you could ever imagine as a cinephile and I honestly wonder if some people could even take it as a guilty pleasure because the performances must be the most cringeworthy I’ve ever seen. However, the film was a massive, massive box office success smashing around $271.4 million worldwide. In fact, Sandler was so happy with the film’s success that he gifted Maserati sports cars for his o-actors.
3. Meet the Fockers (2004)
Oh, the stuff Robert De Niro has been doing lately! ‘Meet the Fockers’ is the kind of film that makes you question your own existence and the purpose and meaning of life. Honestly, the first thing that comes into your mind after watching this abomination of a film is to kill yourself. Critics thrashed the tasteless humour of the film and the blatant silliness of the whole story. Moreover, it was painful for most people to watch greats like Robert De Niro and Dustin Hoffman make a mockery of themselves. But the film went against expectations and managed to gross a stunning $516 million against a budget of just $80 million.
2. Pearl Harbour (2001)
Michael Bay’s highly ambitious romantic period drama was expectedly trashed by critics upon its release with many criticising the writing and acting while appreciating the film for its technicalities. The fundamental issue with the film was how shallow its characters appeared to be and also the film was ridiculously stretched out by an hour or so. The romance lacked any kind of complexity or depth and this hampered the film from fully realising its own ambitions. However like most Michael Bay films, it was a big box office success and grossed around $449.2 million against a budget of $140 million.
1. Twilight (2008)
Of course, the ‘Twilight’ hate is universal. It is just romance at its cheesiest and most melodramatic with a storyline that caters to teenage fantasies. Apart from how beautiful it looks, nothing about the film received any kind of major praise from critics and audiences. But the film highly benefited from teenagers and staunch fans of the novel as it became a massive phenomenon worldwide and despite receiving mixed to negative reviews, it managed to gross $ 393.6 million against a budget of $37 million.