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The Fantastic Snore! The Top 10 Box Office Blunders of 2015

Box Office Brasserie: Movie News For Movie Lovers

Every year we look at the good, the bad, and the downright butt-ugly at the box office. It just so happens that this dark and diabolical path you find yourself on at this very moment leads towards the latter…what some folks might call “the end of the line.”

And, as we moviegoers know, that’s worst place you can find yourself, especially if you didn’t buy advance tickets online.

While many in the media are already overzealously celebrating new records blazed by “The Force Awakens” and “Jurassic World,” we’ll toot a different horn, one that means you didn’t win a prize—a sad, forlorn horn.

A horn that announces you’ve done something quite remarkable, but not in a way that is good. A bad horn. A boobie-prize horn. A horn blasting loudly, but signifying nothing. A horn that goes something like this:

or possibly this…

Welcome to the bottom of the barrel : The Top 10 Box Office Blunders of 2015. Ranked in order of overall suckiness and blanketed disappointment.

#10 – Point Break (Warner Bros.): Budget ($100M) WW ($54M*)

The PG-13 Mountain Dew ad debuted with $10M in North America over Christmas, despite being in 3D and on IMAX. It’s doing a bit better overseas, but honestly, who greenlit a $100M remake of a moderately successful film from the early 90s?

This trend needs to stop, as Fox’s “Poltergeist” reboot didn’t exactly scare-up much business this summer, and either did WB’s reworking of “Vacation.”

Oh, and remember that “Footloose” remake a couple years back? Nope. Didn’t think so. Stop f’ing around with the classics!

#9 – Tomorrowland (Disney) Budget ($190M) WW ($209M)

I think we can all agree that not every ride at Disneyland deserves the movie treatment. I also think we can all agree that whenever George Clooney is in a movie his character name should just be “George Clooney.”

Anyway, I thought the ride adaptation lesson was learned after “The Haunted Mansion,” or, was that “The Country Bears”? Welp, the fact that “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise has found a bountiful booty of $3.7B worldwide is no doubt the reason the Mouse House keeps tinkering with these.

Next up is supposedly “Jungle Cruise”; however, I think “Matterhorn,” with all those Yeti running amok and their beady little red eyes,  is much more promising. Or even “Space Mountain,” as directed by Christopher Nolan.

Disney swung for the YA crowd with “Tomorrowland,” and despite having a prime Memorial Day slot, struck out, as it failed to reach $100M domestically.

#8 – In the Heart of the Sea (Warner Bros.) Budget ($100M) WW ($76M*)

Outside of Dan Brown’s novels, director Ron Howard has run into a box office roadblock of late, missing the mark on films like “Frost/Nixon,” and last year’s “Rush.” It’s not that Howard makes bad films; it just seems audiences aren’t interested in the subject matter he chooses.

And certainly, his collaboration with Chris Hemsworth isn’t exactly what Leonardo DiCaprio is to a Martin Scorsese film. In fact, Hemsworth made this list twice, also scoring a major 404 error with “Blackhat.” Hammer time!

#7 (tie) – Jem and the Holograms (Universal): Budget ($5M) WW ($2.2M)                                      

Universal and Blumhouse won’t lose a ton of money on “Jem and the Holograms,”; however, its place on this list is dedicated to the outpouring of diehard Jem fans that completely trashed and despised this “alternate” version of the much-loved animated TV series from the 80s.

Hey, if you don’t satisfy your core fan base, you’re simply doing it wrong…no matter how much time, effort, and money you spend.

To give you an idea of just how poorly this performed, it was dropped from theaters after its second weekend. That’s unheard of for a wide release that debuted in 2,400+ theaters. But really, how bad was it? So bad that grosses weren’t even reported after it sputtered out with $2.1M in North America. Everyone gets a third weekend…no matter how bad…except “Jem.”

“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” broke the record for biggest debut with $247M, and “Jem and the Holograms” broke the bottom feeder record for smallest debut for a film in over 2,000+ theaters with just $1.3M.

Guess that Misfits spin-off isn’t happening.

#7 (tie) Rock the Kasbah (Open Road): Budget ($15M) WW ($3M)

Bill Murray is something of a conundrum at the box office. He has strings of hits (“Ghostbusters,” “Groundhog Day,” “What About Bob?”) followed up by strings of misses (“Larger Than Life,” “The Man Who Knew Too Little,” “Mad Dog and Glory”). This one was disastrous, one of his worst in fact, as it opened with just $1.4M in 2,000+ theaters.

The only good thing? It opened the same weekend as “Jem,” so it made it seem not as bad. Worst 1-2 punch in the history of cinema, folks. Double bill to end all double bills.

#6 – By the Sea (Universal): Budget ($10M) WW ($2.5M)

Sure, this is a drop in the bucket as far as cost margins go, but it certainly reverberates the fact that star power means about as much as Kobe Bryant does to the Lakers’ overall record right now: diddly squat. Without the right vehicle, stars can crash and burn just like everyone else…except the coverage is much, much wider.

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are Hollywood’s most powerful couple right now, and arguably two of the most recognizable faces in the world. They’ve each accounted for massive blockbusters, and their last collaboration, “Mr. and Mrs. Smith,” hit nearly a half billion worldwide.

So pardon us, the media and audience, if we’re a bit surprised by the fact that not only did this not get a wide release, but was completely washed out from theaters in a mere four weeks.

I’m pretty sure that if Jolie and Pitt would have released their home movies they would have made more than $538k in North America.

Universal has said time and time again that this was done to stay in business with Jolie, who gave the studio a moderate hit last year with “Unbroken,” a film that cost $65M and totaled $163M globally.

But that’s why they have Focus Features, their indie shingle, and an offshoot that knows a thing or two about building an audience for smaller films. “By the Sea” and “Legend,” starring a double-shot of Tom Hardy, both suffered embarrassing grosses not because the films were awful, but because they were mismanaged theatrically.

Universal had their best year ever, and a ton of success, but as good as their top hits were—“Jurassic World,” “Furious 7,” and “Minions”—their bottom was equally awful—“Jem,” “By the Sea,” “Blackhat,” “Seventh Son” and “Legend.”

#5 – Jupiter Ascending (Warner Bros.): Budget ($176M) WW ($183M)

Outside of “The Matrix,” the Wachowski Starship has had a difficult time taking flight. At least overseas audiences appreciate the visionary duo, because North Americans simply can’t connect with them any more, as this made just $47M.

It’s not like their films are bad, just very hardcore sci-fi…and that’s not mainstream. They got extremely lucky jacking into the psyche of Americans with “The Matrix,” but haven’t come close since. No wonder there is a lot of talk about rebooting the franchise…

#4 – Strange Magic (Disney): Budget (Unknown) WW ($13M)

Then again, it might be #1. Making an animated film isn’t cheap. That we know. Why there is no trace of a budget out there…well, that’s very strange magic, indeed. Disappearing ink, perhaps.

You’re probably struggling to even remember this film, right? It’s actually from a story by George Lucas inspired by A Midsummer Night’s Dream…and yes…was produced by Lucasfilm.

I’m pretty sure when Lucas negotiated the sale of Star Wars to Disney, this was part of the deal. And boy did Disney bury this thing quickly, as I doubt you can find a single merchandising tie-in for this sucker.

“Strange Magic” holds the dubious title of being the lowest grossing animated film ever released in more than 3,000+ theaters, and debuted in late January with just $5M.

#3 – Pan (Warner Bros.): Budget ($150M) WW ($126M)

If you’re not Disney and you’re doing a fairy tale adaptation, you’re likely going to have a difficult time with that fairy tale ending. Warner Bros. found out the hard way, first moving this from summer late in the game, then dropping it in October, where it opened with just $15M, losing out to “Hotel Transylvania 2” in its third week.

Director Joe Wright (“Hanna,” “Atonement”) is as skilled as they come, but even he couldn’t find the blockbuster magic that often evades even the most talented indie auteurs. Simply a misstep for him, but a wound that will fester for quite some time for WB, who also didn’t have much success with their other adaptations, “Red Riding Hood” and “Jack the Giant Slayer.”

#2 – Fantastic Four (Fox): Budget ($120M) WW ($168M)

Fantastic Flop. Not only was this one of the worst superhero debuts of the modern era, opening with just $25M, but it petered out with just $56M domestic.  Heck, even Ben Affleck’s “Daredevil” hit $100M. And the hits keep coming when you compare them to Fox’s previous two “Fantastic Four” installments, which grossed $330M and $289M respectively.

The fallout? Fox scrubbed the sequel from their release calendar, but hasn’t yet done the deed of reverting the rights back to Marvel.

Fox will have a hit with their other Marvel properties, this summer’s “X-Men: Apocalypse” and the deliciously subversive “Deadpool,” early in 2016, so their superhero stock will remain solid. Going forward, they should stick with the edgier material that their X-Men affiliation offers, as they don’t need this property, and have certainly proven they can’t properly do it justice anymore.

#1 – Blackhat (Universal): Budget ($70M) WW ($19M)

Outside of the Mighty Thor, Chris Hemsworth has proven to be a major box office bust lately. With two films on the list this year, and “Rush” from last year, his star wattage is fading fast. Time for some box office botox.

Michael Mann is one of the great old school action directors, having proved his mettle  “Last of the Mohicans” and “Heat,” and more recently with “Collateral” and “Public Enemies.”

“Blackhat” grossed just $8M in North America…Mann hasn’t performed that trick since the 80s.

Also for your consideration:  “Child 44″ (Lionsgate), “Crimson Peak” (Universal), “Last Witch Hunter” (Lionsgate), “Aloha” (Sony), “Steve Jobs” (Universal), “The Walk” (Sony), “Mordecai” (Lionsgate), “We Are Your Friends” (WB), “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” (WB), “Victor Frankenstein” (Fox)

*still in release

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Poster Image Courtesy of 20th Century Fox; Poster Design by BLT

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Jeff Bock, NewsWhistle’s movie editor, is the senior box office analyst at Exhibitor Relations in Los Angeles, California. He can be reached at Jeff@NewsWhistle.com.