Not every film that flounders financially deserves to. Sure, this may not apply to Battlefield Earth or Catwoman, which disappointed audiences and critics alike. However, films such as Blade Runner and The Shawshank Redemption both earned very little at the box office, but are now viewed universally as classics by fans.
This means that this decade may very well contain films that are destined to follow similar paths to greatness. Not every film is going to be a success right away; sometimes it takes a few years for a film to rise up to its fame.
This article intends to discover which films fit that bill, and why they even flopped in the first place. This decade has had its fair share of downright awful flops, but there are gems among the dirt. Many of these films flopped due to scheduling, others flopped due to poor marketing, and more flopped due to them revolving around a concept that was hard to sell. Many were simply misunderstood. Needless to say, some of them deserve a second shot.
Here are the 15 Recent Box Office Flops That NEED A Second Chance.
15 THE NICE GUYS
The star power of The Notebook’s Ryan Gosling and Gladiator’s Russel Crowe couldn’t protect The Nice Guys from last year’s onslaught of massive summer blockbusters. Sandwiched in between Captain America: Civil War and X-Men: Apocalypse, a film such as The Nice Guys never really stood a chance, and thus it only managed to gross $36 million domestically off of a hefty $50 million budget.
This is a shame, because The Nice Guys may just be 2016’s best comedy. Shane Black directs a laugh-out-loud look at the crime-ridden turn of the '80s, seen through the eyes of the great double act of Crowe and Gosling.
What sets The Nice Guys apart from other 2016 comedies isn’t just that it’s actually funny, but that it contains a strong emotional core concerning emptiness and loss, amid a flurry of gunfire and Gosling’s comical whimpering. Sadly, most moviegoers decided to save their money for the franchise juggernauts during the summer, proving that maybe The Nice Guys really do finish last.
Dredd has become something of a cult hit following its failure at the 2012 box office, pulling in a worldwide gross of only $35.6 million from its $50 million budget. It's not difficult to see why: Dredd’s failings didn’t come about as a result of poor reviews, but of poor marketing.
Not many people knew Dredd was in theaters and, when it was eventually noticed, it's trailer didn’t exactly sell the film. However, the movie is now gradually reaching cult classic status, and deservedly so.
Pete Travis employs a simple premise to explore the vast array of characters on screen, as they battle their way up a tower. Simply put, Dredd is just cool: it never acknowledges how ridiculous the premise is, but instead takes advantage of what the plot offers through superb cinematography, slow motion, and character design.
It managed to sell 750,000 DVD copies in its first week in North America, so, luckily, the film is getting its due in home release.
Scorsese’s passion project was never going to be an easy sell. Silence follows two Jesuit priests sent to Japan to spread their faith and rescue their captured mentor, who’s believed to have renounced and reformed as a Japanese Buddhist.
At first fans believed Silence to be a tough, steely slog of a film, musings on faith and morality interspersed among arduous stretches of vicious torture scenes. The reason why it managed to gross $16.1 million from its $46.5 million production budget is that audiences felt it was just too difficult to watch.
If you do watch it, however, you’ll be met with a stirring and intellectually stimulating odyssey, bolstered by captivating performances from Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver. There’s a lot to admire from a technical standpoint: mist rolling across the screen and a biblical reflection in a watering hole make for some fantastic imagery. Scorsese’s experience and mastery truly do show in the film’s editing and shot composition.
Silence may require your patience, but it’s a rewarding watch-- a richly detailed insight on the concept of devotion.
12 PETE'S DRAGON
Pete’s Dragon fell by the wayside due to how swamped 2016 was with big-money blockbusters. It also fell victim to a lack of audience-- the current generation didn’t grow up with the original, while the generation before had long since outgrown it.
Pete’s Dragon is arguably better than any of the other big blockbusters that came out that year. Adored by fans and critics alike (at least, those who saw it), it tells the timeless story of a boy and his dragon.
What sets Pete’s Dragon apart from the mindless noise of recent franchise flicks is simply how mature and nuanced it is. David Lowery displays a confidence in his direction, creating piles of charm and heart to establish a genuinely fulfilling tale of youth and imagination. That it managed to scrape only $143 million when films like Warcraft, Now You See Me 2, and Alice Through The Looking Glass made more than double is frankly preposterous, and exactly why Pete’s Dragon deserves a second chance.
11 THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E.
Guy Ritchie’s latest, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword may not be doing too well, but it’s something that he should be used to by now; after all, his prior effort, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., was hardly a hit. In fact, it managed a meagre $45.4 million in domestic gross off of a substantial $75 million budget.
With 2015’s infatuation with the spy genre, the film had to compete with Kingsman: The Secret Service, Spy, Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation and Spectre. Something had to give, and U.N.C.L.E. was less marketable and seemingly more redundant than any of the other films. But this could not be further from the truth.
Ritchie’s specific sense of style-- all glitz, glamour, and restive editing-- lends itself perfectly to the funky '60s era, placing itself in the role of the camp espionage thriller that the modern Bond left behind. It's furious and fun, held together by a collection of wonderful set pieces, such as its car chase opening and startlingly dark torture scene.
10 INHERENT VICE
Save for Boogie Nights and There Will Be Blood, Paul Thomas Anderson has never found much success at the box office. His films are consistent critical darlings, that are loved by cinephiles and ignored by a large portion of the public.
Yet Inherent Vice proved his most divisive, even from a critical standpoint. Grossing $8 million from a $20 million budget, most audiences couldn’t get past the plotless narrative and the incongruence of it all. They chalked it down as "Incoherent Vice," and moved on.
However, this is a film that demands a rewatch. Once you know what you’re getting into-- a murky study of fading ideologies viewed through the perspective of a perpetually high doctor-- there’s a lot to love. Its plotlessness is integral to the mood the film aims to evoke: a sense of aimlessness as the '60s-- and with it, its hippie culture-- draws to a close. It’s a deft mixture of poignancy and hilarity, backed up by an incredible performance from Joaquin Phoenix.
9 SUCKER PUNCH
Zack Snyder isn’t a figure to shy away from grand ideas and ambitious concepts, so a film like Sucker Punch was right up his alley. It follows Baby Doll as she’s wrongly locked up in an insane asylum, imagining for herself a way to escape (via tasks including battling Samurai robots and Nazi zombies) while in preparation for a lobotomy.
If that sounds ridiculous to you, that’s because it is, and many people just couldn’t get past the premise. It mustered a measly $36.3 million at the domestic box office from an $82 million budget. The film has many, many dissenters-- critics wrote it off for being exploitative or incomprehensible babble.
Yet if you peel away the layers, you'll spot a nuanced and cinematically interesting study on escapism and freedom. Sure, we’re aware that Sucker Punch has its problems: its action gets a little repetitive, and the plot doesn’t quite hold together, but the film more than makes up for that with stunning visuals, a fierce, bleak undertone, and a surprisingly deep narrative.
While seemingly aimed at children, Hugo's premise of visualizing the foundations of cinema was hard for a young audience to grasp. In truth, Hugo is a film for adults, seen through the eyes of Hugo Cabret as he traverses a train station and discovers the history of cinema.
A main reason for Hugo’s financial failings was that its marketing didn’t exactly convey what the film was actually about. It grossed $185 million from a budget of $180 million, which, when accompanied by the cost of marketing, has to signal Hugo as a box office flop.
This is a shame, because the film is something special. It’s a magical, masterfully composed tale of discovery and remembering the past, able to vividly capture childlike wonder and imagination. It’s a movie-fan’s ecstasy, visualized through a stunning array of cinematic techniques that are thematically appropriate in displaying the progress of cinema.There’s nothing quite as wonderful and joyous as Hugo, which is why it needs a second chance.
7 THE GOOD DINOSAUR
The year 2015 was the first in which Pixar decided to release two of its films rather than the usual one. Unfortunately, that was a detriment to The Good Dinosaur, a film overshadowed by Pixar’s admittedly superior Inside Out. Accompanied by some lackluster marketing and sky-high expectations, it was inevitable that The Good Dinosaur would mark Pixar’s first ever financial flop.
But there’s no shame in not being quite as good as Inside Out. Because in truth, The Good Dinosaur is still fantastic: a film that presupposes that dinosaurs lived among humans, and then takes that concept in an unexpected and heartfelt direction.
If the film were to be given a rewatch, free from the expectations that Inside Out built up, then many more of its qualities would be revealed. Its story is emotional, without ever being cloying. The dynamic between Arlo and Spot (the dinosaur and boy respectively) is well developed, leading to a weighty climax. From a technical standpoint, The Good Dinosaur is one of Pixar’s best; the rendered landscapes is almost photo-realistic.
6 WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE
Most people who went into Spike Jonze’s Where the Wild Things Are were hardly prepared for what followed. Expecting a fun romp aimed at children, what they got was a bleak and emotionally hefty insight into the process of growing up.
It’s a film that interprets Maurice Sendak’s beloved picture book in a very adult way, concerned with the psyche of Max’s young mind, rather than depicting the book at face value. As such, it was always going to be a hard sell, and accompanied with a sizeable $100 million budget, its flop at the box office was almost a foregone conclusion.
Where the Wild Things Are deserves a second chance in order to appreciate the intricacies of its subtext, and how its portrayal of a child’s imagination is rich with bittersweet emotion. It takes a rewatch to understand what Spike Jonze was trying to do with this adaptation: it’s not a film for children, but rather, a film about children.
5 CLOUD ATLAS
The Wachowskis have a whole array of underrated box office flops in their filmography. Speed Racer and Jupiter Ascending certainly fit the bill, but Cloud Atlas may just be their finest film this century.
Cloud Atlas is a sprawling voyage across different points in time, placing Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, and Ben Whishaw among others in six different genres among six time periods, conveying thematic connections through clever editing. It’s a massive, ambitious, thoroughly risky film, stretching at 164 minutes, and, with a budget of $102 million, it’s easy to see why it didn’t make its money back. It’s hard to explain what Cloud Atlas is about through marketing, because it’s about everything.
Thankfully, it’s developing a cult following, which makes sense-- if there’s one thing the Wachowskis are good at, it’s crafting cult classics. There’s something heady and important about Cloud Atlas, tying together themes of love, loss, universality on an operatic scale. There’s absolutely nothing like it in cinema, and there may very well be nothing like it again.
4 POPSTAR: NEVER STOP NEVER STOPPING
In its fairness, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping was released during a difficult time for smaller budget films: it was released as (yet another) 2016 summer flick. However, this wasn’t the only reason why it only made only $9.5 million from its $20 million budget. It carved for itself a very niche audience, aimed at fans of the musical comedy group The Lonely Island. Contrary to some belief, it was one of the year’s best comedies.
Popstar details the rise and inevitable fall of Andy Samberg’s Conner4Real, depicting a satirical riff on celebrity culture and egotism in sharp and hilarious fashion. Yet, in the face of dick jokes and Seal getting attacked by a pack of wolves, it crafts an emotionally rewarding and satisfying tale of friendship, finding an impressive balance between the crude, the cutting, and the charming.
Tomorrowland isn’t just a good film; it’s a great film. As a victim of false advertising, Tomorrowland had viewers going into 2015’s Disney fantasy expecting the titular city to be realized with terrific imagination on screen. When the city was instead portrayed in a derelict state, you can imagine why moviegoers turned their noses up at the screen, leading to poor reviews and a subsequent poor box office showing.
Most people missed that this is the whole point of the film. The Tomorrowland that Britt Robertson’s Casey discovers through her pin is a symbol of the potential humanity has for greatness, while the Tomorrowland in ruins is a symbol for our current line of thinking, and specifically, lack of proactivity.
Tomorrowland still captures the excitement and wonder that its city lacks through some terrifically enjoyable set pieces, and the motivation to move forward, but the film takes a layered approach and imparts its message of world unity by directly depicting the consequences of our actions.
2 MR. NOBODY
Jared Leto hit blockbuster-level fame with Suicide Squad, but he’s also appeared in several smaller films.. This includes Mr. Nobody, though it’s certainly not small in scale. It is Belgium’s most expensive film to date, and one of the biggest flops in movie history, making $22,000 back from its $47 million budget. The reason why is simple. Did you hear about Mr. Nobody in 2013?
This is disappointing because Mr. Nobody really deserves attention. Leto’s Nemo looks back on his life, acting as an unreliable narrator by retelling memories that contradict each other. It sounds simple, but it’s an extraordinarily ambitious, lifetime-spanning piece of work, with a collection of grand ideas portrayed with even grander visual nous. Not many other films come close to providing the same amount of depth as Mr. Nobody.
1 STEVE JOBS
When it comes to box office success, director Danny Boyle and writer Aaron Sorkin usually get the... job done. Yet trailing off of 2013’s Jobs and with a topic that’s even less exciting than The Social Network’s premise of Facebook, Steve Jobs only made $34 million from its $30 million budget.
Its critical success is warranted, however. Steve Jobs is an intelligent understudy of the titular figure: a flawed, brilliant man, fit for Aaron Sorkin’s typically grandiose, quippy dialogue. Boyle is more restrained than usual in his director’s chair, allowing Sorkin’s script to fully flesh out the rich details of Jobs’ life-- both his successes and his shortcomings. Michael Fassbender’s performance is reliably impressive, and, aided with the talent of Kate Winslet and Seth Rogen, Steve Jobs deserves a second chance to make its mark.
Which box office flop do you think deserves attention? Let us know in the comments!