2013 Movies: The 10 Riskiest Box Office Bets (Revisited)

Published 8 months ago by This is a list post.

Man of Steel Superman In January of 2013, we chose 10 films we thought would be the Riskiest Box Office Bets of the year - i.e., films we thought would have the hardest time finding success, either financially or critically. Now it's time to take a look back and see just how accurate - or off the mark - we were. To determine if the reward was worth the studio's risk we'll take into account a couple factors: Listed Budget Compared to domestic and international box office returns, as well as Rotten Tomatoes/IMDb/Screen Rant ratings. Each film will receive a "Worth It" or "Not Worth It" risk assessment and then we can discuss (or argue) in the comments about how right or wrong we were.

Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters - WORTH IT

Hansel and Gretel Witch Hunters Budget: $50 Million Domestic: $58M - Foreign: $170M - Worldwide: $226M Ratings: IMDb: 6.1 - RT: 54% - SR: 2 Stars Everything about Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters should have been  a failure - a January release, over-stylized hyper-violence, making a fairy tale more "adult" - but oddly enough, it turned out to be a lot of fun to watch. The movie isn't without its flaws - which explains its average review scores - and it barely managed to clear its production budget domestically. But if it weren't for the saving grace of the foreign box office, there most likely wouldn't be a sequel in the works.

Movie 43 - WORTH IT

Movie 43 Budget: $6 Million Domestic: $9M - Foreign: $21M - Worldwide: $30M Ratings: IMDb: 4.4 -  RT: 25% - SR: 2 Stars  Movie 43 was the occasionally funny, raunchy-for-the-sake-of-being-raunchy, early season comedy we all pretty much thought it would be. If this film would have released in the Spring or Summer, it's not likely it would have made its budget back - which proves how invaluable release dates can be to a film's financial success. Still, even with lackluster reviews, it managed to somehow rake in a box office five times its production budget - so it isn't a complete failure.

Oz: The Great and Powerful - WORTH IT

Oz The Great and Powerful Budget: $215 Million Domestic: $235M - Foreign: $258M - Worldwide: $493M Ratings: IMDb: 6.4 - RT: 59% - SR: 3.5 Stars Disney spent over $200 million dollars making a movie that only managed to squeak out $20 million profit domestically (a flop by Disney's standards), along with lackluster reviews. We enjoyed the film a bit more than most, but even with a talented director like Sam Raimi at the helm and the latest CGI effects, the cast and story just couldn't get over the rainbow with most viewers. Thank the 3D upcharge and impressive international box office receipts for this film's salvation.

G.I. Joe: Retaliation - WORTH IT

GI Joe Retaliation - Cobra Commander and Storm Shawdow Budget: $130 Million Domestic: $123M - Foreign: $253M - Worldwide: $376M Ratings: IMDB: 5.8 - RT: 50% - SR: 2 Stars While the first film was a guilty pleasure to watch in 2009, the sequel suffered from bad dialog, flat characters and over-the-top action - even for a movie based on a comic book. Regardless of what critics thought, though, the worldwide appeal of G.I. Joe was enough to more than double the studio's investment and green light a third installment.

The Hangover III - WORTH IT

The Hangover III Budget: $103 Million Domestic: $112M - Foreign: $239M - Worldwide: $351M Ratings: IMDb: 5.9 - RT: 45% - SR: 3 Stars The Hangover's impromptu (and unnecessary) trilogy mercifully came to an end this summer, but not before more than tripling its production budget - with help from the international box office, of course. The box office reflected how audiences quickly grew tired of the Wolf Pack and their outlandish antics - $254 million from Part II compared to $112 million from Part III. If they tried to make Part IV it would most likely fail at the box office.

Man of Steel - WORTH IT

Man of Steel Budget: $225 Million Domestic: $291M - Foreign: $372M - Worldwide: $663M Ratings: IMDb: 7.4 - RT: 77% - SR: 4 Stars Man of Steel may be the only true "Worth It" film on our list. It received generally high marks from audiences and critics alike, easily recouped its giant budget without help from the international market and was even proclaimed to be the Best Superhero Film of the Year by some. It's not a perfect film by ANY means - I could go on at length - but generally speaking, it's the best Superman installment audiences have seen since Superman II in 1980.

World War Z - WORTH IT

World War Z Budget: $190 Million Domestic: $202M - Foreign: $338M - Worldwide: $540M Ratings: IMDb: 7.1 - RT: 73% - SR: 3 Stars Even though much of Max Brooks' apocalyptic horror novel was changed for the movie adaptation of World War Z, the movie still turned out to be solid performer with both critics and at the box office. Even though the entire third act went through extensive reshoots, WWZ was entertaining to watch - thanks in part to the solid performances of Brad Pitt and relative newcomer Daniella Kertesz as Segen.

The Lone Ranger - NOT WORTH IT

The Lone Ranger Budget: $215 Million Domestic: $89M - Foreign: $171M - Worldwide: $260M Ratings: IMDb: 6.6 - RT: 56% - SR: 2 Stars Disney learned three very important lessons from The Lone Ranger: 1) Just because a movie has Johnny Depp in some outrageous makeup doesn't mean a film will be successful. 2) Modern audiences don't care much about 60-year-old TV shows. 3) No Western action/comedy movie should ever cost $200+ Million.

Pacific Rim - WORTH IT

Pacific Rim Budget: $190 Million Domestic: $102M - Foreign: $306M - Worldwide: $408M Ratings: IMDb: 7.1 - RT: 78% - SR: 3 Stars For months, we were super-hyped to see the giant robot carnage the Pacific Rim trailers promised us - and for the most part, director Guillermo del Toro delivered that, and more, in spades. It's bewildering that domestic audiences didn't warm up to the action flick, but international audiences loved it, and that's the only reason the studio's investment was ultimately "worth it".

Oldboy - NOT WORTH IT

Oldboy Budget: $30 Million Domestic: $2M - Foreign: $2M - Worldwide: $4M Ratings: IMDb: 4.9 - RT: 44% - SR: 3 Stars Most fans of acclaimed Korean director Chan-wook Park's Oldboy knew that a Spike Lee/Hollywood remake wasn't going to be very successful. However, no one knew that it would be THIS unsuccessful. It appears that American audiences just weren't interested in seeing this remake in theaters. It's possible the film does better in DVD sales, but to rank behind films like Top Gun 3D and The Wizard of Oz 3D is embarrassing, to say the least.

2013: The 10 Riskiest Box Office Bets (Revisited)

World War Z Helicopter Out of the 10 films we focused on, only one failed to at least meet its production budget, so almost all of them could be called successful on some level. But if not for the international market, four films would have failed financially, while three others would profit less than $10 million. Such is the power of the modern international audience - a lesson we won't forget in 2014. You can read our original predictions HERE and then make your own decisions about which movies flopped and which movies didn't. Follow me on Twitter - @MoviePaul.
TAGS: gi joe 2, hansel and gretel witch hunters, man of steel, movie 43, oldboy, Oz: The Great and Powerful, pacific rim, the hangover 3, the lone ranger, world war z

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  1. Some of the films you claim as worth the investment aren’t necessarily as profitable as you state in the article. You have posted the production budget of all the movies on the list but seemingly forget to figure in the marketing budget. As far as I understand it (and maybe I really don’t), for a film to be profitable, one takes the production budget and times it by two (the market budget usually matching the production budget).

    Oldboy being a possible exception to that rule as the distribution companies really didn’t have a large marketing campaign for the film and deservedly so. It still is the worst movie I seen all year and it made sense for the studio system to not bother giving it a fair chance to succeed.

    • Stephan- the budgets they show, depending on the company, does factor in the marketing. That is one reason budgets were so high on some of these films. They only time I read in which the cost of film and marketing were unsure was with Green Lantern.

  2. Actually, Man of Steel didn’t score well with the critics at all.

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  4. I think that “Pacific Rim” made its ROI back on the DVD/BR sales. I worked part time at a supermarket, and when “Pacific Rim” came out of DVD/BR, the store had to keep ordering more of them for like the next months. That movie was the best selling DVD/BR we had at that store for at least three months.

  5. Disagree. Stuperman was not worth it. First that almost black latex costume and then a script that borrowed heavily from the animated series. Also disagree with Lone Ranger. It was worth it. I went to see both films and would have agreed with you before seeing them. Have to disagree after seeing them.

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  7. Superman was a dud. Showing the man of steel as a neurotic wannabe, and killing of Mr Kent in a “modern disaster”. Then having superman go underground as a hero?

    Pacific Rim didn’t go far enough. It was a poor story. Lots of EFFECTs, with no lasting results.

    Tonto, er um the Lone Ranger was a waste. Tonto was never the HERO of the series. Bill Cosby said it best on one of his routines, No don’t go into town Tonto, your just going to get beat up. Tonto was drawn as a sidekick, and it was a terrible choice for Johnny Depp, not because he doesn’t play the part well, but It needed to be someone else like Johnny Knoxville, or Sean William Scott.

    World War Z? Fail, The cast was never in real danger. Zombie movies must be just that. The guess for which of the main cast survives, while the rest go crazy or get beat. It was probably successful for all the extras and make up artists who got paid.

    GI ROCK, When does the DUKE ever die in the comic book series? Another story line changed because the bigger star needed top billing, and promotion for his current story line in the WWE. Too bad after returning to the squared circle, He seriously injured himself. It was a good moive, but Killing off the primary character is as bad as the Star Wars Book series killing of Chewbacca because the characters in a fictional story need to be REAL?

    OZ and Hansel and Gretel added imagination to their story line. Making it an interesting adaptation to a prequel and then an after effect of the original story. Creative and imaginative.

    Did not see 43, so cannot speak to this one.

  8. Wow, the power of hindsight.

  9. I was completely UNAWARE that the Oldboy remake had come to theatres. WHEN was this? I thought it was still in production. There was absolutely ZERO promotion on this thing. WOW.

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