Critics don’t know what they’re talking about, right? Right! According to audiences, anyway. Time and again, moviegoers have defied critics’ reviews and turned out in droves for the stuff they want to see.
We’ve ranked the biggest box office hits that were certified rotten on Rotten Tomatoes, according to total gross. We’ve got the audience vs. the critics here. Which side are you on?
Tyler Perry’s Diary of a Mad Black Woman
One of Hollywood’s most polarizing figures is writer/director/producer/star Tyler Perry. In 2006, Perry founded his own studio. A decade later it was approaching $1-billion in revenue.
Perry’s success began with Diary of a Mad Black Woman in 2005.
Critics have not been kind to Perry. Diary scored a 16% on Rotten Tomatoes. It was a mess of a film, said the reviews.
But made on a budget of just $5.5-million, the movie was a surprise hit, making back about ten times what it cost. What followed was a slew of Tyler Perry films, including the massive Madea franchise.
Michael Bay doesn’t just direct bad movies that people want to see. He also produces them. In 2014, he partnered with Blumhouse Productions and applied their winning formula of high concept, low budget, big return.
The result was a horror movie about friends who play with a Ouija Board and suffer deadly consequences.
Made with only $5-million, Ouija grossed a formidable $103-million globally. It spawned a sequel two years later and continued to prove that you don’t need much to draw people in.
But reviews of this film were frightening as well. Scoring just 6%, they called it boring, cliché, and a blatant branding opportunity.
Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2
Kevin James has made a career of giving the fans what they want. Standup comedy. Sitcoms. Movies. They’ve all pleased the masses.
One of his most surprising successes was 2009’s goofy Paul Blart: Mall Cop. That movie raked in $183-million. So they made another one.
Sequels are rarely as good as the original. And in this case, when the original wasn’t so hot, what hope was there for the follow up?
Well, fans showed up. The movie made $107-million. But critics? Oh did they ever despise this one. It was deemed lazy and stupid on its way to a mere 5% fresh rating.
Remember 1995? It was a simpler time. The internet was in its infancy, Coolio was on top of his game, Justin Bieber was a baby.
At the movies, William Wallace was charging the battlefields and Val Kilmer was Batman. Sylvester Stallone was being awesome, too. Unless you were a critic.
Judge Dredd is not remembered as Stallone’s best work all these years later, but $113-million at the box office means consumers wanted to see Sly lay down the law.
However, a 17% Rotten Tomatoes score is pretty ugly. Todd McCarthy of Variety called the film, “A thunderous, unoriginal futuristic hardware show for teenage boys.” Oof.
A Nightmare on Elm Street
Produced by Michael Bay, the 2010 reboot of the Freddy Krueger franchise replaced Robert Englund with Jackie Earle Haley and proved that brand recognition is everything in Hollywood.
The film saw $115-million from around the world come back, which isn’t half bad. But reviews sure were.
Critics awarded the new A Nightmare on Elm Street with a 15% fresh rating. To them, it was “dramatically inert” and anti-climactic.
Unfortunately for the most fervent of Freddy fans, those box office numbers still weren’t enough to birth a new franchise. There would be no sequel to this one. Critics can sleep (and dream) peacefully.
Jingle All the Way
Home Alone. A Christmas Story. Elf. Die Hard. Families gather round their televisions every year for these yuletide classics. In 1996, Jingle All the Way threw its hat into the wreath, hoping to be counted among the greats.
Audiences responded to the tune of almost $130-million.
To the critics, this thing was as bad as a hideous Christmas sweater. Coming in with a measly 15% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, the pairing of a comic with a muscle-bound action star didn’t make for comedy gold in their eyes.
These days, Jingle All the Way remains outside the pantheon of the holiday standards.
Before Tom Cruise was putting his life on the line every time he stepped in front of the camera, his choices were occasionally quite pedestrian. Remember All the Right Moves?
If not, you may not remember Cocktail either. But at the time, it was a pretty big deal.
In the film, Cruise plays a hotshot bartender who falls in love with Elisabeth Shue’s character. Somehow, the movie made $171-million. And Tom didn’t even need to hang from the landing skids of a helicopter!
The critics called it vacant and corny. At only 5% fresh, Cocktail is Cruise’s worst reviewed film to date.
Daddy’s Home 2
2015’s Daddy’s Home was no critical success. The Mark Wahlberg/Will Ferrell-starrer resonated with audiences though, making a killing at the box office.
Unsurprisingly, a sequel followed. Daddy’s Home 2 upped the star power, throwing Mel Gibson and John Lithgow into the mix. Same result second time around.
The Christmas-themed movie made $180-million at the global box office. Star power and a familiar product will often yield results like that.
But its 21% fresh rating tells another story. Critics called it a moronic movie with nothing of value to offer. Hey, maybe the third time’ll be the charm!
Fun With Dick and Jane
In the mid-2000s, Jim Carrey’s career took a turn. He’d made hit comedies a decade prior, followed by some compelling dramatic performances.
2004’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, many believe, is the best film he’s ever done. A year later, Fun with Dick and Jane was released.
The remake stars he and Téa Leoni in the title roles. Carrey had gone back to comedy. Only, the reviews were scathing. This wasn’t the Carrey of old, they said. He was just here for the paycheck.
And he got one. The movie grossed over $200-million worldwide. A 28% positive score means nothing to Carrey fans.
London Has Fallen
Thrice has Gerard Butler taken on the role of secret service agent Mike Banning in the Has Fallen franchise. The middle film—London Has Fallen—generated the lowest score (26%) and the most biting reviews.
Some called the movie nasty. Others mentioned its thin, inane plot.
Audiences didn’t care about that sort of thing. They liked the first one (Olympus Has Fallen) so they showed up again. To the tune of $205-million. The result was a third film to complete the trilogy.
Maybe the studio should have taken the critical hint from London. Angel Has Fallen only did $94-million, likely felling this franchise for good.
The Emoji Movie
If your kids didn’t insist you take them to out to the theater to see The Emoji Movie, consider yourself fortunate. You dodged a bullet that, according to the numbers, many were struck by.
We can’t explain it, but the film grossed $217-million around our silly world.
Hopefully we can all agree with the critics in this case in the hopes of stopping any future Emoji sequels before they get going.
In spite of the voice talents of James Corden and Anna Farris, it was pointless and nonsensical to critical eyes. One even called it “the most hideous example of product placement in cinematic history.”
Nicolas Cage is a man of strange tastes. When he’s not purchasing tyrannosaurus rex skulls, he’s plotting expeditions for the Holy Grail!
He also picks some unusual movies to star in. Ghost Rider was one of them. It didn’t seem to suit Cage, nor did the hairpiece they glued to his head.
But fans ate it up. The film performed at the box office, raking in better than $228-million worldwide.
Reviewers did not feel the same way. At 26% fresh, critics were quick to lambaste the schlocky film’s bad CGI and stilted dialogue. It didn’t matter; a sequel rode in five years later.
Every time Adam Sandler a does drama or a dramedy, he seems to shock the world. Reviews come flooding in praising his performance. Consider Punch Drunk Love or The Meyerowitz Stories.
Perhaps this is so shocking because of films like Pixels.
Movie critics found it to be forgettable—a film whose target audience was unclear. Not to mention the bad performances and soulless message.
And yet, it was the consumers who had the last laugh. Despite a 16% fresh rating, tickets were sold. Many of them. The movie made nearly $245-million worldwide. When it comes to Sandler, no one cares what the “experts” have to say.
Here’s another one of those movies whose success made little sense to a lot of people. Wild Hogs starred a foursome of Tim Allen, Martin Lawrence, John Travolta and William H. Macy.
The suburban dad types in over their heads on a motorcycle trip raked in $253-million.
That’s a lot of money for a road comedy, regardless of the cast. And just because a movie makes money at the box office doesn’t mean a critic has to like it. Very few did.
At 14%, they said it was formulaic, humiliating, even offensive! Fortunately for them, Wild Hogs 2: Wilder Hogs never went into production.
What do Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, David Spade, and Kevin James have in common? They were all in a pair of movies that were critically panned. The first Grown Ups scored a whopping 10%. The second came in at only 7%. Yikes.
Critics couldn’t understand why either were made.
Audiences, however? The movies made sense to them. These films combined to make over half a billion dollars.
With that kind of an audience turn out, there’s nothing baffling about why the movies were made. In fact, the only mystery here is why a third one isn’t in the works yet.
Bad Boys II
If there exists a king of the crowd-pleasing, sour-reviewed motion picture, that man is Michael Bay. Though he churns out hit after hit, he can never seem to get the critics on his side.
One example on a long list is Bad Boys II.
The sequel to the 1995 action flick scored a lowly 22% on Rotten Tomatoes. It was called “morally off-kilter,” unpleasant, and overly violent.
As it turned out, that’s just what audiences were craving. Who can resist a Will Smith/Martin Lawrence buddy cop romp? No one, when bullets and explosions are involved. It pulled in $273-million worldwide.
Sex and the City 2
What do you do after your hit TV show goes off the air? You make a movie out of it four years later, of course! Sex and the City (the movie) did well.
For reasons unknown, $100-million was spent on its sequel. And it nearly tripled that in returns.
A worldwide gross of $288-million is no small feat, even with that kind of a budget. And once again, fans were at odds with the reviews.
The Sarah Jessica Parker-led cast was called unbearable by some critics. They found the ladies to be unlikable caricatures. The end result: a 15% score.
Highly trained guinea pigs on a mission against world domination sounds like a can’t-miss motion picture experience. Surely that’s what some sarcastically boasted prior to G-Force’s release.
Somehow, in some way, this thing made $292-million. Maybe it was folk singer Loudon Wainwright III’s presence. That guy’s huge with the youth.
Critics seemed baffled as well. They called the movie soulless, paling in comparison to the works of Pixar.
It totaled just 22% on Rotten Tomatoes. Chubby rodents operating high tech weapons, hacking into computers, and doing martial arts simply isn’t for everyone, it appears. Surprisingly, no sequel has been made… yet.
Alice Through the Looking Glass
2010’s Alice in Wonderland was a hit. Though its reviews were down the middle, audiences bought lots of tickets.
Six years later, it got a sequel. Alice Through the Looking Glass also played well with the public, grossing almost $300-million around the world. What did the critics have to say?
A critic for The New Republic called it “a movie no one asked for that never works up the energy to justify its existence.” That’s not a very nice thing to say. But most shared in his opinion.
The movie came it at 29% fresh. Probably the last journey down the rabbit hole for this franchise.
Meet the Parents combined Ben Stiller’s perpetual frustration and discomfort with Robert De Niro’s intimidating presence. The hysterically funny movie about a man looking for acceptance from his fiancée’s folks soon became a franchise.
They should have stopped at one.
84% fresh became 39% for the sequel—Meet the Fockers. And the third installment dipped even further. In Little Fockers, the couple now has twins and Stiller’s Greg Focker is still trying to impress his father-in-law (De Niro).
The 9% score for this “indifferent” movie didn’t stop fans of the trilogy. They turned out in droves, rewarding the “phoned in” picture with $310.6-million!
Everything Tom Cruise touches turns to cash. The man runs headlong (literally) into each project. He chooses his work wisely, produces them, and does all his own stunts.
Have you seen a bad Cruise movie the past decade? Actually, you have. It was called The Mummy.
Universal’s “Dark Universe” was an attempt to compete with the other studios’ franchises. When The Wolfman and Dracula Untold failed to deliver, the studio turned to Cruise.
The Mummy generated a solid $409-million around the world. But not even Cruise’s zero gravity stunt was enough to win the critics. The film scored just 16%. We can forgive him just this once.
Is there a franchise that’s lost its way more dramatically than this one? Not according to the critics. The Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgment Day will forever reside on the Mount Rushmore of sci-fi-action greats.
The third and fourth installments weren’t so good. But the fifth?
Well, no Terminator film scored as low as this one did. The effects were great, they said. It was just everything else that was lacking. The story, the stakes, the excitement.
Of course, when you’ve got four hit films preceding a fifth, there’s a good chance money will be made, no matter the quality. Terminator Genisys made an impressive $440-million.
No one shines brighter on the biggest of stages than Michael Bay. Never does he falter no matter the subject: giant space robots, asteroid destroyers, reckless cops.
In 2001, Bay tried his hand at the “day that will live in infamy.” His movie has become almost as infamous.
Pearl Harbor was deemed a melodramatic bore. It was called dumb, and “hollow-hearted.” If you’ve seen it, and you’re honest with yourself, you’ll likely agree.
The fact is, many people did see it. With $449-million at the box office—including Japan’s—the film was a huge hit. A 24% score was no deterrent to the Bay faithful.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
If there’s one thing Michael Bay knows, it’s what people want. 2014 was a good year for Bay. And a bad one. He produced three films and directed another.
Three of the four are on this list. All made a bunch of money. None were reviewed nicely.
Produced by Bay, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was a PG-13 take on the kids’ cartoons/comics/movies/video games from the ‘90s. With a box office gross of $493-million, Bay’s brand of wise-cracking, butt-kicking reptiles proved more commercial than any other.
Just not any good. Critics called it “godawful,” and the film came in at 22%.
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1
One of the great chasms of our time is the one separating fans of the Twilight Saga from its critics. Based on the popular book series, audiences responded to the five films with their money.
And the reviewers responded with their ire.
The lowest scoring of the franchise compiled an astounding $712-million around the world. Fans just couldn’t get enough of this stuff.
Breaking Dawn Part 1 was outdone only by the finale. But at 25% on Rotten Tomatoes, the film wasn’t winning critics’ hearts. They called it campy and melodramatic, with ludicrous action sequences and lacking any redeeming qualities.
Need a recipe for a successful movie? Put superheroes in it. Doesn’t matter which ones. Nor does the story, the tone, or the dialogue make any difference.
If it’s got superheroes (or supervillains), people will show up. Suicide Squad is exhibit A.
Very few found this one appealing, even with the likes of Will Smith and Margot Robbie heading the cast. Critics, that is. Coming in at 27%, they saw plot holes (when there was a plot) to accompany the carelessness of it all.
Audiences didn’t care. They like comic book movies a whole lot. And this one took in a remarkable $746.8-million around the world.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
In 2003, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, caught the world off guard. The swashbuckling adventure proved that movies based on rides can actually be good.
It also proved that Johnny Depp can reach a broad audience. His reputation of an indie darling would be no more.
Maybe he should have set sail back to the art house after his first turn as Captain Jack Sparrow. Depp would don the tricorne hat four more times. In 2017, fans proved they weren’t sick of him yet. Dead Men Tell No Tales generated $794-million.
Critics had had enough. The film scored just 29% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Superhero movies are almost always a safe bet any way you look at it. They perform at the box office and play to strong reviews. For two decades now.
Once in a blue moon, one of those things goes askew. In 2018, Venom became such an anomaly.
Despite the great Tom Hardy playing a supervillain for the second time (he was Bane in The Dark Knight Rises), movie critics balked at this one. Richard Roeper called it “tone-deaf” and “maddeningly dumb.”
The crowds didn’t care. They awarded the movie with $856-million around the world, ensuring a sequel on the horizon. Sorry, critics.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
Of all the movies on our list, this one was the most hyped. In 2016 the world was introduced to “Batfleck,” or, Ben Affleck dressing up as the Caped Crusader of Gotham. His opponent? Superman!
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice made a whopping $873-million.
If you didn’t like this movie, you’re just as flummoxed as the critics were. Its Rotten Tomatoes score is a pretty unsightly 28%. Reviews called this thing dismal and glum. It lacked depth, its acting was substandard, and its CGI repulsive.
The follow up, Justice League, was received only slightly better by critics. And again, the fans paid good money to see it.
Transformers: Age of Extinction
If there’s a more abominable giant robot movie that played to packed theaters in the last century, we haven’t found it. Michael Bay’s fourth of five Transformers flicks—a nearly three-hour slog of chaotic action—topped $1-billion at the box office.
The Chinese market had a lot to do with that.
Reviews were putrid. The movie compiled an embarrassing 18% fresh rating. Critics called its plot incoherent, its dialogue laughable, and its characters one-dimensional.
Bay pumped out one more film in this franchise three years later. He’s since delighted critics by stating it was his last. Mourning fans were too heartsick to comment.
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