Bad movies, they're the things we love to hate. Yet the most truly reviled movies have to be more than just bad, they have to be bad AND profitable. That's the secret to a truly villainous film, success.
I think it has a lot to do with the psychology of geeks and anyone else who deftly avoided childhood popularity. When we see a big-budget blockbuster like The Avengers and it's well-made we celebrate. The successful thing was good and we liked it, therefore the world makes sense. It's when a Michael Bay thrives despite our moral values of "effort", "originality", and "being rewarded based on the quality of one's work" that the resentment becomes personal. Our concept of a fair universe is thrown for a loop and we're forced to question everything from existential morality to the intelligence of our fellow humans.
Obsessed with this phenomenon, I have created a definitive ranking for the most egregious films, using a unique new metric we created called GOLDEN TURD POINTS:
The higher the Golden Turd score, the more money earned seemingly out of SPITE. Each turd represents approximately how many millions of dollars it earned for every point of aggregated critical praise.
Are you surprised that The Phantom Menace is the ONLY "rotten" entry in the Star Wars franchise? For some reason critics of the day enjoyed Attack of the Clones a bit more and I can't explain why. Obviously no amount of critical indifference would discourage the millions of rabid Star Wars fans eager for an entry to call their own, so this cultural touchstone for disappointment only JUST breaches the top ten on this list.
There's something about being "The Third" that always fails to deliver. Whether you're Superman or The Godfather there's simply nowhere else to go for a character after you've established them and then upped the stakes. After the smash success of Shrek 2 (critically praised and STILL the highest domestic-grossing animated film of all-time) expectations were high but the reliance on topical humor (a bad idea if you're an animated film that takes years to produce) didn't do the movie any favors. Luckily most children don't read Peter Travers columns and their disappointment would only be felt after a record-breaking opening weekend take. Turns out nobody likes watching a Scottish onion-ogre suffer through a mid-life crisis with his pregnant wife.
The peak of the 90s blockbuster hype machine, 1998's Godzilla movie had tie-ins with both Taco Bell, Puff Daddy, AND an action figure line that was less profitable than a social media startup. The film itself is notoriously plodding (that wasn't a joke) and all its best moments are just blatantly ripped from Jurassic Park. Though it successfully used marketing to fill the theaters it became a cautionary tale to a generation of budding genre nerds DO NOT BELIEVE THE HYPE.