Ever since the Green Goblin told me that "people love to see a hero fail" back in 2002's Spider-man, I've avoided feeling surprised that a movie has flopped.
There are tons of movies that flop, of course, and the ones on this list are certainly "perceived" as flops, even though they actually managed to double their production budgets, which is the rubric for knowing if a movie actually made a profit. Some of these films were wildly successful (monetarily), but we hated them anyway because train wrecks are just too fun to watch.
Anyway, the news right now is that [Edge of Tomorrow](movie:267902) (which came out this weekend) is poised to be a box office disaster, even though it's actually doing fairly well so far thanks to overseas ticket prices. Though the film only pulled in $29 million domestically on opening weekend, global ticket sales have pushed that number all the way up to $140 million and counting, which is only $30 million away from matching the production budget.
So I thought it would be a fun exercise to go through some of Hollywood's biggest flops that weren't actually flops.
Keep in mind that it's incredibly difficult to know for sure whether or not a movie made a profit. As I said earlier, the easiest rule to go by is to double the production budget in order to account for things like marketing and how much the studios have to share with different theaters. The numbers are wonky because these costs differ depending on the movie, so here we are.
#1 Snow White and the Huntsman
Also known as "Charlize Theron - The Movie." This 2012 film by Universal was widely panned for trying to replicate what we got instantly sick of back in 2010 with Disney's Alice in Wonderland: modernizing a classic tale with needless action and fanfiction-esque plot tweaks. Also: Kristen Stewart.
Still, the movie managed to bring in a pretty decent crowd. It made $400 million worldwide, more than doubling its $170 million budget. That's not a huge profit, of course, but it certainly justified 2013's Jack The Giant Slayer, which actually did end up being a flop.
#2 Transformers: Dark of the Moon
I can't tell you how many people actually think the last Transformers was a flop, even though it broke $1 billion worldwide and was one of the biggest films of 2011. Naturally, many people in the U.S. love to make fun of Michael Bay's directing and Shia LaBeouf in general, but that didn't stop the film from being a massive success because...well, massive explosions.
#3 Shrek Forever After
Most people are surprised that a third Shrek movie even exists, but that didn't stop Dreamworks from milking the franchise to its fullest back in 2010. Marketed as the "Final Chapter" of the Shrek series, this fourth film wasn't met with much enthusiasm from both critics and moviegoers, but it was still a pretty big hit.
The animated movie managed to rake in $752 million worldwide off of its modest $165 million budget. You can probably credit some of that success to 3D ticket sales being at their peak (thanks to Avatar).
Some of you may not even remember this 1991 "flop" helmed by Spielberg as a modern retelling of the Peter Pan story (as an adult). Despite being hated by many critics, the film starring both Robin Williams and Dustin Hoffman was a huge success financially, making $301 million off of a $70 million budget.
#5 Superman Returns
Remember when Bryan Singer tried to make a Superman movie? Yeah, that totally happened, and Warner Bros. ended up having to reboot the whole thing seven years later with Man of Steel.
But Superman Returns wasn't that much of a financial disaster. It managed to make some money with a $391 million box office off of a $270 million budget, which may have been enough to break even. Still, that's far more money than many of us thought it would make.
#6 Planet of the Apes (2001)
Even its leading actor (Mark Wahlberg) claimed this 2001 remake "flopped,"but Planet of the Apes had an impressive box office nonetheless. It made $362 million after costing a reported $100 million, which is a pretty sizable profit.
The reviews were quite harsh for the film, but part of what fueled its overall success was the groundbreaking work done through both visual effects and makeup, which made it to the Academy Awards.
#7 The Last Airbender
Part of my soul died when I went to see this massacre--er--I mean movie helmed by the one and (thankfully) only M. Night. Shyamalan. A butchery of the source material, which is one of the greatest animated series of all time, The Last Airbender proved to be one of the worst films of 2010.
And yet the fan base for the animated show still came out for the film, and thanks to 3D ticket prices, the movie produced a $320 million box office after costing $150 million to make. Seriously though, they could have just given that $150 million to charity or something.
#8 The Tourist
One of the more forgettable films of this list, The Tourist garnered an abysmal 20% on Rotten Tomatoes back in 2010, despite having two A-list actors (Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie) along for the ride.
But looking like the most processed movie on the planet didn't stop The Tourist from seizing $270 million off of a $100 million budget (which pretty much covered actors' salaries, I'd imagine).
#9 Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters
No, it's not just a movie that was made for Netflix; Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters was Paramount's answer to Universal and Disney's "modern fairy tale" strategy we talked about earlier. Naturally, the film grabbed a 15% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Regardless, H&A made a ton of money: $225 million box office after costing only $50 million.
#10 X-Men: The Last Stand
It's hard to believe that until recently, "X3" was the biggest X-Men movie ever, bringing in $459 million back in 2006. Granted, it's not that impressive considering the movie cost over $200 million to make, but it's still surprising to see such a hated film be this successful.
Of course, the most recent X-Men film, "Days of Future Past," has already shattered that record with a $600 million box office so far.
Am I missing a good example? Throw it at us in the comments!
Source: Box Office Mojo