Good movies are overlooked all the time. It's sad, but it happens. Perhaps the production just doesn't secure the means to play on enough screens or maybe it's the fault of the film's PR team. No matter who or what is to blame, it's a shame to see a good movie go unrewarded, but the absolute travesty is when a hunk of big studio garbage is rewarded when it fails to deliver anything of value.
Yes, we have had our fair share of impressive productions that rightfully earned hefty domestic box office hauls like 'Toy Story 3' and its $414.3 million, 'Inception' and its $312.1 million and 'How to Train Your Dragon' and its $217.6 million, but the list of the year's top earners is largely populated by films that just weren't very good. 'Alice in Wonderland' made for a fine trip to the theater, but did it really deserve to cross the $1 billion mark worldwide? And what about 'Shrek Forever After?' It might have been better than the franchise's third installment, but it certainly doesn't deserve its $238.4 domestic earnings.
There's no use in crying over the unfair distribution of cash, but when we've got both 'The Last Airbender' and 'Grown Ups' arriving on DVD and Blu-ray Tuesday, the issue is impossible to dismiss. So, in honor of two unworthy earners moving onto a stage in which they'll likely make even more money, here are the seven most undeserving moneymakers of the past three years. (As sad as it is, without a time restriction, it'd be impossible to contain this list to just seven choices.)
'The Last Airbender,' Domestic Total: $131,601,062
There's no better way to start this list than with one of the films that provoked its inception. Not only did M. Night Shyamalan let diehard fans of 'The Last Airbender' TV show down by butchering their beloved program, but he delivered an all-around awful film. This movie has absolutely no redeeming qualities; the effects are awful, it's a sad excuse for a 3D film and the editing is sloppy. Even after critics panned the film across the boards, 'The Last Airbender' still went on to earn $131.6 domestically and another $185.4 internationally.
'Grown Ups,' Domestic Total: $162,001,186
And now yet another summer hit that deserved to flop. Shame on Adam Sandler for assembling such a fantastic cast and letting their talent go to waste. Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock, Rob Schneider, David Spade, Salma Hayek, Maria Bello, Maya Rudolph and Steve Buscemi and yet not one funny joke? It seems like it'd be far more work to have this gang deliver an unfunny film. Again, a dismal 9% on the Tomatometer had no effect on moviegoers because folks flocked to the theater to catch this comedic catastrophe, which not only earned $40.5 million its opening weekend, but managed to stay in the top 10 for an addition five weeks.
'Clash of the Titans,' Domestic Total: $163,214,888
Clearly 2010 has been a rough year. Here's another entry for this year, the film that's become notorious for some of the worst 3D footage shown yet. While not as bad as 'Grown Ups' and 'The Last Airbender,' 'Clash' certainly didn't deserve a whopping $61.2 its opening weekend. The most aggravating part about this film's success is that it basically cheated moviegoers out of their money. If you paid the extra cash to catch this film in 3D, you didn't get your money's worth. If converting the film to 3D was Warner Bros' way of distracting us from the nonsensical plot, their plan worked. People were so busy picking on the shoddy use of technology, the script didn't get slammed nearly as much as it deserved.
'2012,' Domestic Total: $166,112,167
Speaking of nonsensical plots, how about Roland Emmerich's most recent disaster flick '2012?' Lucky for us the 3D craze hadn't completely consumed the industry this time last year, otherwise we likely would have had to suffer this absurdity with an additional dimension. The problem with disaster films is that people will see them no matter what. They don't even need to be packed with famous faces; if you guarantee to demolish a city, people will come. The killer with this one isn't really the $166.1 million domestic box office haul, rather the $603.6 international intake. Overall, '2012' made a massive $769.7 million for basically pasting together cartoonish depictions of widespread demolition without much of a story.
'The Twilight Saga: New Moon,' Domestic Total: $296,623,634
I'm no 'Twilight' hater, but it really is impossible to have any respect for the franchise's second installment, 'New Moon.' Perhaps merely seeing Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson on the big screen is enough for the diehard fans, but if you're just any old moviegoer looking to see a little romance, action and compelling performances, 'New Moon' is a big time failure. Just one word is necessary to describe this film – boring. However, this is a 'Twilight' film, so that means quality doesn't matter. Not only will fans turn out to give the production a big opening weekend, but they'll return again and again until, in this case, the film earns $709.8 million worldwide.
'Spider-Man 3,' Domestic Total: $336, 530, 303
In terms of quality, you can't make two fantastic films and follow them up with a dismal third. It's quite baffling that 'Spider-Man 3' managed to pull off a fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Director Sam Raimi may have delivered yet again in terms of action, but when it comes to the story and the characters we've grown to love, this film is just downright awful. For some odd reason, the worst of the series went on to be the highest earner, pulling in a massive $890.9 worldwide. What sense does that make?
'Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen,' Domestic Total: $747,766,139
There is no better way to end this list than with the worst of them all, the second 'Transformers' film. Even with 184 negative reviews (out of 230), people still ran to theaters to catch this one, making it the top 5-day grosser that opened on a Wednesday in history. Even worse? That $747.8 million domestic intake means some people not only paid to see this atrocity once, but returned for multiple viewings. To those of you who are guilty of dropping cash for multiple tickets, I ask, how'd you like the film with no sound? Were you not deafened by the first viewing?
Figures via Box Office Mojo.