Whenever a movie studio drops a major film release, there’s always the hope that it could be a big hit or even spawn a franchise of its own.
20th Century Studios
However, the film business is a gamble, and many films struggle to make their budget back while others fall into obscurity without putting up much of a fight. With that said, I’ve assembled 24 notable studio releases that were dead on arrival and remain mostly forgotten today!
1. Max Payne
Mark Wahlberg stars in this toothless and nonsensical video game adaptation that replaced many of the iconic elements of the source material with…CGI valkyries???
Where to Watch: HBO Max. 20th Century Fox Film Corp. / Courtesy Everett Collection
2. The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising
The Seeker hoped to become the next Harry Potter-esque YA franchise but sadly lacked the magic needed to compel audiences to check out this big-budget blunder.
Where to Watch: Video-on-Demand. Rights Managed / MARC PLATT PRODUCTIONS / Ronald Grant Archive / Mary Evans / Courtesy Everett Collection
3. Deliver Us From Evil
Even the “based on true events” label couldn’t save
Sinister director Scott Derrickson’s misguided and miscast (Joel McHale as a knife-fighting detective?) horror-procedural hybrid.
Where to Watch: Video-on-Demand Screen Gems / Courtesy Everett Collection
4. Land of the Lost
Will Ferrell was seemingly bomb-proof until his attempt to reboot Sid and Marty Krofft’s adventure property for a new generation cratered upon release.
Where to Watch: Peacock. Universal / Courtesy Everett Collection
5. City of Ember
Monster House filmmaker Gil Kenan hoped to foster Walden Media’s next major franchise but even names like producer Tom Hanks and star Bill Murray failed to muster up enough enthusiasm to set the box office aflame.
Where to Watch: Starz Universal / Courtesy Everett Collection
6. The Losers
Before Idris Elba, Chris Evans, and Zoe Saldana entered the Marvel Cinematic Universe, they lent their respective talents to this DC comics shoot-’em-up that couldn’t blow away enough audiences to warrant future installments.
Where to Watch: HBO Max Warner Bros / Courtesy Everett Collection
7. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
After rising to fame with his role on the original version of
The Office, Martin Freeman was courted by Hollywood to headline this long-awaited adaptation of the beloved British novel that sadly didn’t quite translate to stateside audiences.
Where to Watch: The Roku Channel, Amazon Prime, and Hulu Touchstone Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection
One of Netflix’s first major acquisitions from a rival studio, this big-budget soldiers vs. spirits war flick was forgotten almost as fast as it arrived on the streamer.
Where to Watch: Netflix Netflix / Courtesy Everett Collection
9. The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer, and Alicia Vikander were the newest stars in Hollywood at the time but their collective ambition and the stylish direction from Guy Ritchie couldn’t keep this inspired spy flick afloat.
Where to Watch: Tubi Warner Bros / Courtesy Everett Collection
The success Kate Beckinsale found in the
Underworld franchise wasn’t replicated by this poorly marketed and critically panned snowbound thriller.
Where to Watch: Video-on-Demand Warner Bros / Courtesy Everett Collection
Arguably the nail in the coffin for Brendan Fraser as a leading man, New Line Cinema’s disastrous adaptation of Cornelia Funke’s 2003 novel couldn’t find their storybook ending.
Where to Watch: Video-on-Demand New Line Cinema / Courtesy Everett Collection
12. Sucker Punch
Zack Snyder’s polarizing action-fantasy has been dubbed as both an unsung masterpiece and a fetishitic fiasco, but one thing it can’t be called is a box office success.
Where to Watch: Netflix Warner Bros / Courtesy Everett Collection
13. A Wrinkle in Time
Ava DuVernay and Walt Disney Pictures assembled an all-star cast to bring Madeleine L’Engle’s formative novel to life, but the film barely had a pulse upon its underwhelming debut.
Where to Watch: Disney+ Atsushi Nishijima / Walt Disney Co./ Courtesy Everett Collection
14. Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant
Ladies, gentlemen, and children of all ages stayed far away from this quirky, John C. Reilly-starring adaptation of Darren Shen’s popular book series.
Where to Watch: Video-on-Demand Universal / Prod.DB / Alamy
15. The Adventures of Tintin
With Steven Spielberg behind the camera, Peter Jackson in the producer’s chair (and slated to direct the sequel), and a script penned by Edgar Wright, Joe Cornish and Steven Moffat, international audiences embraced this globetrotting motion-capture adventure, but its unsatisfactory domestic box office has prevented Tintin from riding high once more.
Where to Watch: HBO Max Paramount Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection
16. The Giver
Lois Lowry’s dystopian novel has been a staple in middle school classrooms around America, but mandatory reading doesn’t translate to must-see filmmaking, even if you have Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep, and Taylor Swift in your cast.
Where to Watch: Netflix Weinstein Company / Courtesy Everett Collection
17. The A-Team
Joe Carnahan was tasked to bring modern, in-your-face A-Team to the 21st Century, but a lame duck script and general indifference to the 30+-year-old property caused the film to barely make a blip on our cultural radar.
Where to Watch: Hulu 20th Century Fox Film Corp. / Courtesy Everett Collection
Johnny Depp’s star status came into question after leading this sci-fi film about A.I. scientists who race to complete a project that could help their dying colleague preserve his consciousness forever spectacularly stumbled at the box office.
Where to Watch: Hulu Warner Bros / Courtesy Everett Collection
19. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
Luc Besson hoped
Valerian would become another Fifth Element-level hit with its dazzling visual effects and fresh-faced cast, but all of its ambition ultimately fell upon half-filled theaters.
Where to Watch: Video-on-Demand STX Entertainment / Courtesy Everett Collection
20. Mortal Engines
This Peter Jackson-produced sci-fi movie asked the question: will people race to see a film about traveling, predatory cities? Sadly, the answer was “no.”
Where to Watch: Peacock and Hulu Universal Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection
21. Alex Cross
This high-profile film was positioned to reintroduce James Patterson’s fan-favorite character to a new generation, but it turned out that audiences couldn’t quite accept the longtime Madea as a machismo-sweating action hero.
Where to Watch: HBO Max Summit Entertainment / Courtesy Everett Collection
22. The Dilemma
Believe it or not, Ron Howard’s $70 million comedy about infidelity, starring Kevin James, Vince Vaughn, and Winona Ryder, mystified audiences with its existence in 2011 as much as it does today.
Where to Watch: Peacock Universal / Courtesy Everett Collection
23. In the Heart of the Sea
Ron Howard’s seafaring action-adventure film about a doomed whaling ship starring Chris Hemsworth and Tom Holland, unfortunately, sank to the bottom of the box office upon its release in 2015.
Where to Watch: Hulu Warner Bros / Courtesy Everett Collection
24. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
In one of the biggest blunders in casting history, Jake Gyllenhaal was erroneously recruited to star in this charmless video game adaptation that not only destroyed this potential franchise but even served as a mark against the game series as well.
Where to Watch: Disney+ Walt Disney Co. / Courtesy Everett Collection