They say that history is written by the winners, but that doesn't apply to pop-culture. Nay, in the realm of movies, music, and television it is the losers who get final say on what will stick around as a relevant reference, and what will be forgotten to the sands of Netflix streaming. Here are 10 beloved movies that totally got their ass kicked by cinematic garbage during their opening weekend in the US. The numbers are taken from BoxOfficeMojo.com while the divisive opinionating about a subjective art form is provided for free.
Pacific Rim has earned a loyal and dedicated fandom in the 2+ years since its release. Millions of dollars' worth of effects (and admittedly, hundreds of dollars worth of acting) are onscreen in one of the most creative homages to Japanese Kaiju/Sentai series like Godzilla and Power Rangers. With that much genre niche and a gluttonous CGI budget, it was indeed a risky venture... but come on, Grown Ups 2!? With a dismal 7% on Rotten Tomatoes it is mind-boggling that America looked at a giant Jaeger destroying monsters' faces with rocket punches and STILL said to themselves "Yeah but Kevin James falls off a rope swing". It's worth noting that both films lost to Despicable Me 2, but I value your intelligence too much to say something as obvious as "Did you know that people like Minions more than Guillermo Del Toro?"
SPEAKING of acclaimed Mexican directors, Alfonso Cuarón's sci-fi action thriller is a visually lush and emotionally moving film. Set in a world where the human race can no longer produce babies, the movie examines a society at the breaking point, while failing to point out that without children, movies like Night at the Museum wouldn't be dominating the box office.
Dredd 3D had a lot resting on its oversized shoulder pads. Not only did it have to redeem the character from the depths of Sylvester Stallone, they also had to justify its 3D upcharge, and by all critical measures they succeeded. Surprisingly clever, imaginatively violent and with some of the most inventive uses of the third dimension in modern movie history, it was a slam dunk. Unfortunately, the lingering taint of Rob Schneider was enough to dissuade US audiences to skip Dredd and instead see Jennifer Lawrence scream in a tank top. House at the End of the Street is currently J-Law's worst reviewed movie on RottenTomatoes, and that's including Drillbit Taylor.
Lots of people liked Disturbia, and there's nothing too wrong with that. It's a fine homage to classic Hitchcock movies for the Disney Channel generation starring Shia at his most Lebeouf-y. But the fact that it still beat Hot Fuzz, even after a harsh second week drop-off is awful. Hot Fuzz is an amazing parody of action-movie cliches with an endearing cast of characters. It's honestly my favorite of director Edgar Wright's "Coronetto Trilogy" and one of the most solid examples of how good an "action-comedy" can be, up there with classics like Ghostbusters and Rush Hour. To be fair, it probably would have helped if Rihanna had a single called "Hot Fuzz" at around the same time as well.
What can I say about The Big Lebowski that hasn't been intensely explained on a bong-stained couch in a frat house? The movie's cult status isn't unearned, it's a great example of the Coen Brothers' singular style as filmmakers and its legacy is boosted by one of the most quotable scripts of all time. But that wasn't enough to win the day in 1998. Back then people were a little different, and what they wanted was a bafflingly indirect sequel to The Fugitive starring Wesley Snipes. If you feel a sense of injustice swell in your beating millennial heart, don't despair. The Coen Brothers went on to direct critical and commercial successes like O Brother, Where Art Thou? and No Country for Old Men while the director of U.S. Marshals went on to direct... Star Trek: Nemesis. OUCH.
M. Night Shyamalan is a joke these days, a literal punchline to be used in episodes of that really bad animated Mad Magazine show on Cartoon Network (you remember the one I'm talking about? the really terrible one?). But the man who ruined Avatar: The Last Airbender WAS once one of the most promising new directors of the era. After the cultural phenomenon of The Sixth Sense, M. Night made his unique take on the superhero movie at a time when the genre was basically dead (X-Men came out a few months earlier, and was just getting the ball rolling again). Alas, Unbreakable was deemed a disappointment and it lost to the horrifying spasms of Jim Carrey in green cat makeup. The damage was done, and Shyamalan began his dark descent that we've seen continue to this day. - (Editor's Note: maybe mention that people are saying his movie about creepy grandparents "isn't that bad")
It's a shame to see James Bond actually lose the day by the skin of his teeth. More of a curiosity than an outright drubbing, the fact remains that Casino Royale, a modern classic that relaunched the Bond franchise and secured sequels for decades to come, actually lost its opening weekend to a movie about tap-dancing penguins. If we're going with "animated Elijah Wood vehicles in which birds are given an unsettling amount of facial animation" I actually prefer Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole. But hey, karma comes back to peck at Happy Feet's director George Miller because...
Is there anyone who hasn't seen Mad Max: Fury Road yet? Go! Go right now! Drop your phone/laptop and sprint at full speed towards a Best Buy and get the Blu-Ray! It's good. It's so good. The action, the characters, the stunts, the visuals, and the feel-good "warlords are bad people" moralizing all combine into a near-perfect film experience. It was the right movie at the right time. A shining beacon for filmgoers who knew that something had been lost in the greenscreen Marvel era of blockbusters, but couldn't quite explain what. The only thing missing was Rebel Wilson doing that thing where she's really confident even though she's overweight. You get it? The fat person has confidence! That's not how that's supposed to work!
Perhaps I'm showing my aging nerd dude-ness by putting two Edgar Wright movies on this list of societally "wronged" movies, but I'm just going to say it and hope enough people agree with me. Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World was an incredible adaptation of the graphic novels and is packed with visual humor in basically every frame. The cast is near-perfect, and it has the best Thomas Jane cameo in cinema history. I understand what The Expendables represented, a HGH-fueled chance to reclaim the unbridled excess of the 80s, but in the end it was a lazy cash grab for everyone involved. All I'm saying is Scott Pilgrim was a labor of love and The Expendables was a labor of senior citizen meat photography.
It takes a while for some movies to find their audience, especially if they're ahead of their time and buck the trends around them. The top comedies in 1999 were Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me and Big Daddy (both had superstar SNL alumni hamming it up alongside a tiny person, go figure) while Office Space, with its more relateable characters, more subtle humor, and sharp critical eye didn't quite fit in. It was also heavily marketed on the heels of Mike Judge's success with Beavis and Butt-head, even though the movie is a gigantic departure in tone and subject matter. The end result being that the 12-year-olds who didn't want to see a movie about waitstaff and office drones couldn't appreciate the movie until they were in their 20s and working those exact jobs. Seriously though, look at the laundry list of crap that beat this, it's astounding. Did you know 8mm was Joel Schumacher's first movie after Batman and Robin? Embarrassing.