The 10 Biggest Flops of Summer

The Hollywood Reporter recently ran a feature on “Summer Box Office’s 10 Biggest Flops of 2011,”  (not to be confused with The Biggest Flops of 2011 So Far from a few weeks ago) and even though summer isn’t even over yet, I know these “lists of things with numbers next to them” soothe the internet beast. Just don’t expect me stop wearing these white shoes before Labor Day Weekend, you jackals.

I’m proud to say that in our Fantasy Summer Box Office Contest, Brendan and I predicted at least two of these (not that you needed to be Nostradamus to know The Change-Up or Green Lantern were going to tank). Sorry, Ryan Reynolds. If it’s any consolation, you still look like you’d smell nice.

1. Cowboys & Aliens
Directed by Jon Favreau and featuring James Bond star Daniel Craig, the $163 million-budgeted movie mixed two genres: Westerns and alien pics. Unfortunately, audiences didn’t embrace the result. From Universal and DreamWorks, Cowboys & Aliens has cumed [bwahahaha! it’s hilarious because I’m 12! -Ed] only $129 million to date, including $93.5 million domestically and $35.5 million overseas (where it still has some territories yet to open).

2. Larry Crowne
Directed by and starring Tom Hanks (opposite Julia Roberts), Larry Crowne was intended to please adult audiences put off by summer popcorn fare. But the Universal film, fully financed by Vendome Films, topped out at $52.4 million worldwide, including only $35.6 million domestically.

3. Green Lantern
The Ryan Reynolds superhero pic cost a pricey $200 million to produce, yet has only earned $206.1 million worldwide. In North America, the Warner Bros. film topped out at $116 million, while it’s cumed $90.1 million to date at the international box office. Like Cowboys, it hasn’t fully rolled out overseas.

4. Priest
The Paul Bettany action pic, based on the Korean graphic novel, was the most expensive movie ever produced by Sony’s Screen Gems, sporting a price tag north of $60 million. It’s only earned $76.6 million worldwide, including $29.1 million in North America, and $47.4 million offshore.

5. The Change-Up
The Jason Bateman-Ryan Reynolds pic has earned only $34.5 million to date domestically, ending a dazzling winning streak for R-rated comedies. Universal hasn’t yet begun rolling out the movie in major foreign territories.

6. Conan the Barbarian
The reboot cost north of $70 million to make but is off to a poor start, grossing only $16.6 million domestically in its first 10 days, and $5.5 million in its initial foreign run. The film was fully financed by NuImage/Millennium, and is being distributed by Lionsgate.

7. Judy Moody and the NOT Bummer Summer
The family film failed to parlay the success of the best-selling kids’ book series into big box office grosses. The $20 million film, financed independently and distributed by Relativity, grossed $15 million.

8. Fright Night
The vampire pic isn’t proving to have much bite, earning $14.3 million in its first 10 days (the movie was released Aug. 19). The Colin Farrell-Anton Yelchin starrer won’t necessarily be a big financial hit, since it cost $30 million to make, but DreamWorks and Disney had higher hopes.

9. Glee: The 3D Concert Movie
Considering how avid Gleek fans are, Fox Television was taken aback at the film’s poor showing at the box office. Opening on Aug. 12, the concert pic has grossed $14.6 million worldwide, including $11.7 million in North America.

10. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan
Despite the specialty film’s pedigree — it’s based on Lisa See’s best-selling book and was produced by Wendi Murdoch (wife of Rupert Murdoch) and Florence Sloan (wife of former MGM chairman and chief executive Harry Sloan) — it has failed to woo audiences, grossing only $1.3 million in its limited domestic run. The film, in Mandarin and English, has fared better in China, where it’s earned north of $5 million.

To further analyze these 10, I’ve broken them into three categories:

DUH: Conan the Barbarian, The Change-Up, Priest, Green Lantern, Larry Crowne
Is there anyone alive who saw the first few trailers and spots for Green Lantern and didn’t think it looked like a bomb? It’s just a second-tier superhero. I still don’t know what the hell a Green Lantern does, and I saw it. With the Change-Up, all you needed to know was “big-budget body swap comedy,” and both Priest and Conan looked like direct-to-DVD SyFy Channel movies. Blockbuster budget with bargain-bin talent is never a good combo (incidentally, BoxOfficeMojo is still reporting Conan‘s budget at $90 million). Priest and Conan were like Ed Hardy shirts bedazzled with actual diamonds. Larry Crowne… well, Larry Crowne was co-written by Nia Vardalos.

The Who with the What Now? Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Judy Moody and the NOT Bummer Summer
I’m less surprised that no one went to see these than I am to discover that they were movies.

Pleasant Surprises: Cowboys and Aliens, Glee 3D
Cowboys and Aliens was far from the worst movie of the summer, and it’s sad not to see Transformers on this list, but it’s nice to know that a hotly-anticipated movie that seemed like a slam dunk can still fail from a business standpoint solely on the basis of not being very good. Glee 3D‘s pleasant surprise was that even fans of a show practically dedicated to pandering are still capable of recognizing pandering, so long as it’s blatant enough.