Hollywood can be a fickle place. This is true for a variety of reasons including success or the lack thereof at the box office. In recent years several movies have piled up substantial box office numbers. Presently, there are 5 movies playing at the theater each totaling $300 million or more domestically at the box office. A feat never accomplished prior in box office history. Certainly, many box office smashes are well made and deserve every dollar audiences spend. But success at the box office doesn’t always equate to greatness. On the flip side there are well made movies released every year which go unnoticed and largely ignored by movie patrons. Why is that? There is no all encompassing answer. I think the causes are different for each film. In this week’s edition of The Five I will attempt to explain why 5 excellent movies didn’t catch on at the box office. Hopefully, in the process I will steer you to discover some great films that you’ve never considered watching.
1. The A-Team (2010) PG-13
Why the Movie Flopped – The A-Team was largely overlooked by movie goers due to an avalanche of remakes, reboots, and TV shows brought to the big screen around the same time. Tragically, this movie was lost in the shuffle.
Why You Should Watch – The A-Team boasted a superb cast filled with A-List talent. Liam Neeson and Bradley Cooper truly became the iconic characters, Hannibal and Face. Not to be out done lesser knowns, Quinton Jackson and Sharlto Copley, also perfectly captured the beloved characters of B.A. and Murdock. This was the movie that every remake should strive to be! Smart, fun, funny, witty, excellent dialog, exciting, good action, well written, great music, etc. The film featured arguably the best character introductions of all-time during the first 15-20 minutes of the film! The A-Team remained faithful to everything that made the TV show a classic while at the same time successfully adapted the franchise to the big screen in the 21st century. Run, don’t walk, to your nearest rental store or to your preferred digital movie service and watch this movie!
Watch If You Like – The Rock, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol
2. Battleship (2012) PG-13
Why the Movie Flopped – The concept to take the simple children’s game, Battleship, and turn it into a full fledged movie sounded ridiculous. C-12. Oooo… exciting. The lack of any big name star power also hurt the movie’s appeal. Further, critics destroyed this movie like few others in recent years. Bashing the movie became a matter of professional pride otherwise critics were afraid they wouldn’t be taken seriously. Finally, the bloated budget became of source of negative press.
Why You Should Watch – Battleship was chock-full of action and humor from beginning to end. The movie used the first handful of scenes to set the tone for entire film. That tone was surprisingly funny with plenty of humor. Even with a focus on humor Battleship was able to take itself seriously without being too serious. The movie was big, bold, and flashy in the way a summer blockbuster should be. Battleship was a good popcorn flick in every way. While the budget was indeed large 100% of it showed up on the screen with plenty of FX and visual spectacle. Perhaps, Battleship was simply too much fun for critics?
Watch If You Like – Armageddon, Independence Day, Transformers
3. Stranger Than Fiction (2006) PG-13
Why the Movie Flopped – Stranger Than Fiction was not a mass appeal film. As such a lot of people never gave it a chance. Even more damaging was the casting of Will Ferrell as the lead. Stranger Than Fiction was about as far from the typical Ferrell role/film as possible. Fans of Ferrell’s comedy were almost certain to dislike or never watch Stranger Than Fiction.
Why You Should Watch – Will Ferrell stepped out of his comedic comfort zone and surprised with a strong dramatic performance. Stranger Than Fiction could have, maybe even should have, been a spring board to dramatic acting similar to the path of Jim Carey’s career from comedy to drama. The role was just quirky enough to make use of Ferrell’s comedic talent even though the humor in the film was nothing like a typical Ferrell comedy. The concept of the movie was extremely creative and original. In the culture of Hollywood which was moving away from originality Stranger Than Fiction shined even brighter. Stranger Than Fiction was an intelligent film that explored themes such as free will vs determinism wrapped in a clever, entertaining, dramatic, witty presentation.
Watch If You Like – The Truman Show
Watch if You DON’T Like – Anchorman, Talladega Nights
4. The Woman in Black (2012) PG-13
Why the Movie Flopped – The Woman in Black was Daniel Radcliffe’s first film after his tour starring in the world famous Harry Potter films. By comparison his role in The Woman in Black appeared boring and mundane. Also, audiences were not ready to accept Radcliffe as an adult or as the lead in a horror movie. The renowned role of Harry Potter and all the preconceptions which accompanied it proved difficult for Radcliffe to shed after that franchise concluded. The studio didn’t help when the movie was dumped in the typical dead time of the year for the theater (post winter holiday but pre-summer).
Why You Should Watch – With a focus on mood, atmosphere, and suspense the Woman in Black elicited chills not from gore, but through tone. The Woman in Black was one of the creepier movies released in recent years! But the film was much more than just atmosphere. The Woman in Black pulled the audience in with a mysterious story that was well written and executed. The characters were interesting and the plot developed them well.
Watch if You Like – The Sixth Sense, The Others
5. Daredevil (2003) PG-13
Why the Movie Flopped – For questionable reasons Ben Affleck was Hollywood’s public enemy No. 1 at the time of Daredevil’s release. Casting him in any major role was a risk. Also, Daredevil was ahead of it’s time in tone and style for the comic book film genre. Though currently dominating the box office the comic book film genre was still a fledgling in its infancy when Daredevil was released. As such the masses were ready to embrace only the most popular and recognizable characters such as Spider-Man, Batman, Superman, X-Men, etc. Daredevil while not an unknown didn’t have the same appeal.
Why You Should Watch – Daredevil was dark before being dark was popular in the comic book film industry. Despite some over the top action the film maintains a gritty, realistic tone. The movie succeeded in being stylish without being ridiculous. For this reason the film was polarizing. The top notch cast which included Ben Affleck, Jennifer Garner, Colin Farrell, and Michael Clarke Duncan all turned in solid performances.
Watch if You Like – Batman Begins