We’ve been having the “Does criticism matter?” debate for decades now — and it’s kicked into high gear in the past few years, with cash-strapped publications cutting their staff critics. So there is something especially gratifying about Reuters and The Hollywood Reporter’s midyear list of 2011’s biggest box-office flops, which we discovered via FilmDrunk. For the most part, it’s a strong statement that crass movies — unnecessary sequels and remakes, kid- and teen-pandering crap, and exploitative action flicks with no substance — aren’t working. If critics are so unimportant, then why did nearly even movie in the top ten also happen to get mercilessly panned? The list, with details and our commentary, is after the jump.
1. Mars Needs Moms Hopefully, this massive bomb — which cost $150 million or more and only took in $39 million at the global box office — will halt the onslaught of Robert Zemeckis-produced motion-capture travesties. Seriously, guys, remember Beowulf?
2. Your Highness Even though we found it mildly enjoyable, we’ll admit that Your Highness was an incredibly crass project: get a bunch of high-credibility hipster actors (and Danny McBride) together to make a raunchy stoner comedy set in medieval times. The sad thing is, it could have been a Pineapple Express-level classic if it were actually clever. For some reason, the movie cost $50 million to produce and made less than half that at the box office. We do feel compelled to point out that Your Highness might do better than your average flop in DVD sales, for obvious reasons…
3. Arthur We’ll watch Helen Mirren in almost anything, yet we were never once tempted to see Arthur in the theater. Just because Russell Brand is a fine comedian and accomplished dandy doesn’t mean he has any business reprising a role Dudley Moore so perfectly embodied. Arthur earned $45.7 million globally, barely clearing its $40 million budget.
4. Prom You can imagine the pitch: “It’s like High School Musical, but the whole thing is about the prom!” From a marketing perspective, it should have been a sure thing. As it turned out, the Disney production is the lowest grossing studio movie of the year so far, earning $10.1 million — which still puts it ahead of its paltry, $8 million budget. Worst of all, it kind of ruined Aimee Teegarden for us. Julie Taylor, you’re better than B-grade teen dreck!
5. Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer We would argue that the title alone killed this one — gee whiz, a “not bummer summer”? Sounds like a blast! — which cost $20 million and has only made $13.4 million so far. Or, you know, maybe it was simply that, by all accounts, it’s absolutely terrible.
6. Green Lantern Another critically lambasted film, Green Lantern managed to disappoint despite opening as the #1 movie in the country. Reuters explains that, although the movie cost $200 million to make and will likely earn $50-60 million more than that at the box office, it would have to earn a whopping half-billion dollars to be considered a success.
7. Priest Between Green Lantern’s failure and Priest’s, perhaps the seemingly endless vogue for comic-book movies has reached its limit. A cast including Paul Bettany and Maggie Q couldn’t save this Korean graphic-novel adaptation, which critics hated. Although it bombed domestically, where it earned $29.1 million of its $60 million budget, it made up ground internationally, taking in $46 million more.
8. Sucker Punch This actually gives us some faith in humanity: the terrible Zack Snyder can write and direct a stupid movie about hot, crazy-girl warriors and our fellow citizens are smart enough to avoid it, despite the scantily clad ladies wielding giant guns. Sucker Punch edged out its $82 million budget by less than eight million worldwide. Good job, world!
9. Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil Who signed off on this ridiculous (not to mention ridiculously titled) sequel, which earned less than half of its $30 million production budget and merited an abysmal 12 percent on the Tomatometer?
10. The Beaver This is the film that had America’s sweetheart, Mel Gibson, communicating through a beaver puppet. Even Jodie Foster’s direction (and some decent reviews) couldn’t save this one; it cost $20 million and made less than a single mil at the box office.