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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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”.
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.
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.
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