There will never be a shortage of movies. In any given year, the number of releases reaches 1,000. In a perfect world, every single one of those movies would be great and successful, but that’s just not the case. The worst case scenario is when a movie is deemed to be good but just doesn’t find success. It may be due to bad marketing or a terrible release date, but for one reason or another, the movies on this list didn’t break out in the way we hoped they would.
The types of movies included in this list are far ranging. Some of these movies are big-budget blockbusters and others are refreshing indie flicks. But the story is same for each movie: they were warmly received by critics and fans, yet did not find much success at the box office, which is a shame because these movies are fantastic. There will be the naysayer out there who disagrees with the list, but that’s okay, everyone has their own opinion. You should be warned, there are some spoilers ahead.
Here are 10 Amazing Movies That Flopped, But You Should Watch Anyway
11 Children of Men (2006)
Before Alfonso Cuaron won a Best Director Oscar for Gravity, he was a budding young talent with a few notable movies to his credit. One of those movies was Children of Men. This dystopian movie focused on the outbreak of war after infertility sets in and humans are on the brink of extinction. The unique idea is brought to life by Cuaron’s direction, Emmanuel Lubezki’s (The Revenant) masterful cinematography and a star-studded cast that includes Clive Owen, Julianne Moore, Michael Caine and Chiwetel Ejiofor.
Adapted from a P.D. James novel of the same name, Children of Men explores the deterioration of hope in a world without children. The movie was warmly received by critics and audiences, who praised the film for its agile narrative and action, but it didn’t break out. It had all the makings of a hit—fresh plot, great style and solid reviews—but it wasn’t enough. Cuaron’s movie didn’t catch on and flopped at the box office. It did receive many accolades, including two Academy Award nominations, but the movie was an afterthought at the box office.
10 Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010)
The success of comic book movies has been discussed ad nauseam. But what is not really discussed is the notable failures. Labeling Scott Pilgrim vs. the World a failure is a bit harsh, but it definitely didn’t succeed. Scott Pilgrim was adapted to the big screen by director Edgar Wright. The movie focused on Scott’s pursuit of defeating The League of Evil Exes, the six evil
ex-boyfriends exes of Ramona Flowers, the girl he has a crush on. Wright used a stylized method that connects the movie with its comic book roots.
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World was based on the original comic book written by Bryan Lee O’Malley. Upon its release, the adaptation was praised by critics and received favorable reviews. Fans of the comic were also pleased with Wright’s adaptation; unfortunately, not many of them actually showed up to watch the movie. Scott Pilgrim did little business at the box office and was, for the most part, ignored by mainstream audiences. The visionary take on a smaller comic book movie wasn’t popular at the box office and wasn’t as popular as an Iron Man movie, but it was done right. Sadly, it's one of the worst comic book movie flops ever, but it's still worth checking out.
9 Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008)
Around the mid-2000s, the loser-turned-reformed comedies rose in popularity after the surprise success of 40 Year-Old Virgin. Most were either produced or directed by Judd Apatow. Arguably the best of the bunch is one you probably didn’t hear too much about: Forgetting Sarah Marshall. The comedy starred Jason Segel, Kristen Bell, Mila Kunis and Russell Brand (in probably his best role to date). Segel’s character, Peter, is reeling from a surprise break-up with his long-time girlfriend (Sarah Marshall) so he decides to take a trip to Hawaii. Along the way he runs into a stoner surfer, portrayed by the hilarious Paul Rudd, the perverted new flame of his ex-girlfriend (Brand) along with his ex-girlfriend (Bell) vacationing, and a new love interest, Rachel (Kunis).
Forgetting Sarah Marshall is fantastic, full of heart and funny moments. Segel and Kunis' awkward tandem provides an innocent warmth. The chemistry carries the film and is the foundation of the climax. It was praised by critics, who pointed out the terrific cast and witty script's charisma. It was smaller scale movie, so it didn’t flop, but it also didn’t get the attention the reviews and quality would suggest. Even so, Segel’s performance along with the whole cast make this a movie that should be watched.
8 The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013)
When you mention Ben Stiller’s name, his directorial career isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. Surprisingly, it has spanned two decades with notable titles like Zoolander and Tropic Thunder to his credit. All that set up the adaptation of the James Thurber short story, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. The underrated comedy stars Ben Stiller, Kristen Wiig, Adam Scott, Shirley McClain and Sean Penn.
The movie didn’t receive nearly as glowing reviews as some of the other films on this list, but it was still warmly received by fans. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty saw its protagonist go an adventure of self-discovery that takes him to Greenland, Iceland and the Himalayas. Walter Mitty’s journey is fun to experience and you can’t help but root for the guy. It’s a feel-good adventure that makes you want to leave the theater and book a flight to an unknown land and travel. The movie got lost in the shuffle of the 2013 holiday season and didn’t get a lot of publicity, but it still warrants a viewing that you won't forget.
7 Looper (2012)
In 2012, Rian Johnson’s Looper hit theaters with little fanfare but an exciting premise: a ‘looper’ from the future comes to the past to prevent his younger self from killing him. Very interesting. Obviously, that’s not the entire plot, there’s much more to it, but we’ll refrain from ruining the whole story. All you need to know is that the idea is surprisingly original and fresh. The script was also penned by Johnson. Securing a cast that included Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis and Emily Blunt was also a plus, as each delivered strong performance.
Looper earned glowing reviews when it hit theaters and earned a solid intake at the box office, but it was no juggernaut. Its reputation was solidified by audiences and solid word of mouth. The original idea was praised by critics for its unique interpretation of time travel. Although very little buzz surrounded the movie, critics gave director Rian Johnson praise for his work, which earned him the director’s job for Star Wars: Episode VIII. Quite the step up.
6 Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008)
If you haven’t heard of director Guillermo Del Toro, shame on you. The visionary Mexican director, who appears twice on this list, first came up through the horror genre. His 2004 adaptation of the comic book Hellboy didn’t quite break through with mass audiences, but it was praised by critics and fans, so the studio greenlit a sequel. The first entry would have earned a spot on the list if Hellboy II: The Golden Army wasn’t so great. For the sequel, Del Toro used his expertise to create a fantastical story about a creature from Hell who becomes a sort of supernatural superhero.
Hellboy II received fantastic reviews and was praised by fans. It is considered one of the best comic book adaptations ever, yet it is often forgotten in the shadow of bigger, more appetizing Marvel movies. As it is, the movie did not flop, but it was not a huge success either. It was in between, and consequently fell through the cracks of audience’s consciousness. It shouldn’t have. This is a great movie and you should watch if you haven’t already.
5 John Wick (2014)
Do you ever wish you could get Keanu Reeves in a Matrix-style role that kicks just as much ass? Well, you already got it with John Wick. The revenge saga starring Reeves as an ex-hitman who is reeling from the loss of his wife, only to see his precious Beagle puppy brutally murdered. This is the inciting incident that kick starts the action-laden flick that is an exhilarating ride from beginning to end. It stars Reeves, Ian McShane, Willem Dafoe and John Leguizamo.
Directors Chad Stahelski and David Leitch juggled duties and critics embraced the violent movie and it’s quirky premise. In what is Keanu Reeve’s best movie since the original Matrix, the movie did not disappoint. Unless you count big financial success, then it did sort of let down. It was my no means a flop, and it managed to get John Wick: Chapter Two put into production, but didn’t reach the levels of success The Matrix achieved. For that reason, it's earned a spot on this list. And you should go watch it, you won’t regret it.
4 Hot Fuzz (2007)
If you like fast-paced, action-packed, well-written action movies, look no further than Edgar Wright’s Hot Fuzz. Wright’s second entry into the list (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) is proof that action movies don’t need to be mindless explosions and stale dialogue, but articulate and concise stories. You get plenty of explosions and gun battles, but also witty dialogue in a rich script courtesy of Wright and Simon Pegg, the film’s star. The movie centers around Sergeant Nick Angel, who is transferred out of London into a small town for making other police officers look bad. But instead of a boring, run of the mill peaceful country town, he stumbles upon a diabolical plot that involves a lot of murder. Needless to say, the entire movie is a lot of fun.
The movie stars Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Timothy Dalton with cameos by Bill Nighy, Martin Freeman and Cate Blanchett. From beginning to end, Hot Fuzz delivers on its title and then some. Although the movie was praised by critics, it didn’t find too much success at the box office. Its minor budget helped it escape bomb status, but a movie of this caliber should have been noticed more. Wright brought back most of the cast from his 2004 flick Shaun of the Dead, and the chemistry of director, writer and cast is evident from the opening scene. Do yourself a favor and watch this movie, you won’t regret it.
3 Pacific Rim (2013)
The dream of watching Godzilla-like monsters duke it out with giant robots became a reality in 2013 with Guillermo Del Toro’s Pacific Rim. The horror maestro (in his second entry on the list, Hellboy II: The Golden Army) brought all the visual spectacle to the Kaiju, monstrous aliens who enter the Earth through an interdimensional portal. To combat these monsters, humans create gigantic robots, nicknamed Jaegers. With a massive idea and a strong script, Del Toro does his magic and delivers a bonafide sci-fi epic. Anchored by an inspiring no-nonsense Marshal Stacker Pentecost, portrayed by a fantastic Idris Elba, the movie reaches new heights it probably wasn’t expected to, given its story.
Rounding out the cast is Charlie Hunnam, Rinko Kikuchi, Ron Perlman and Charlie Day. To make a movie of this scale, a big budget is needed and Del Toro got it. Pacific Rim got strong reviews and performed admirably at the box office, escaping box office bomb status given its gory budget, but it didn’t quite break out as a movie of this quality should have. It had all the makings of a hit: aliens vs. monsters premise, solid script, strong actors and a visionary director, but it didn’t connect with the mass audience and was relegated to satisfying a niche crowd. Check it out anyways, you’ll thank us later. Thankfully, it was successful enough to inspire a sequel, starring Johny Boyega.
2 Drive (2011)
As far as atmospheric neo-noir films are concerned, probably no other movie stands out more than Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive. The 2011 action thriller ignores the normal rules of the genre and descends into a character study of it nameless protagonist, played by Ryan Gosling. Even though Gosling’s character has very few lines and is stoic for most of the movie, his character arc gives the movie its backbone. Refn accomplishes this through fantastic cinematography, an understated script and the moody soundtrack.
Gosling’s performance drives the plot, but with a cast that includes Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston, Oscar Isaac, Ron Perlman, Christina Hendricks and Albert Brooks, the superb acting talent fleshes out the rest of the plot threads. Drive received glowing reviews and is lauded for its neo-noir style, but it didn’t break out at the box office. Granted, it's bland title did little to set it apart. Not every movie that is well-reviewed and praised is a hit, but given the buzz it carried from its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, it would be a lie not to say that much more was expected of the movie. Regardless, Refn, Gosling and company made a fantastic movie that deserves anyone’s attention and should warrant at least one viewing.
What did you think? Are there any other movies we left off you think deserve a spot on the list? You don't have to agree with the list, but these movies are still worth checking out. Let us know in the comments down below.
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