We try not to make a habit of cheering failure (really, honestly, promise, we don’t), but we couldn’t help getting a little warm and runny inside when Battleship laid a big egg at the beginning of the summer, since the movie beat is filled with tales of great movies that no one sees, and terrible turkeys that make a fortune. But occasionally, people just don’t go see a barking dog of a picture, and that can be good for all of us — not just because time isn’t wasted and incompetence isn’t rewarded, but because Hollywood is a town that takes its cues from what does well, so when a bad idea fails, more are less likely to follow. So today, in honor of Battleship’s DVD/Blu-ray release tomorrow, we’ll take a look at a dozen big-time bombs, and what the movie industry did or didn’t learn from them.
TOTAL COST: $319 million
GROSS*: $65 million
LESSON: Sure, there have been stranger sources for feature films, but still: who thinks it’s a good idea to start turning board games into movies? The desperate suits at the studios, that’s who, who are so obsessed with the notion of pre-selling movies based on familiar “brands” that, basically, as long as a movie is based on something you’ve heard of, they’ll throw money at it. In the case of Battleship, a game centered (when you get right down to it) on putting pegs into a board, the filmmakers were clearly challenged for cinematic elements, so they adopted a classic Hollywood solution: steal from somewhere else. In this case, the final Battleship film ended up an alien invasion tale with a suspicious resemblance to the Transformers movies.
LEARNED? Poor Taylor Kitsch (who also had the misfortune of starring in the spring’s other big money-loser, John Carter) probably won’t get too many more leading roles, but in terms of the lesson that should’ve been learned, i.e., don’t turn board games into movies — well, we’ll have to get back to you on that after the Adam Sandler Candyland movie comes out.
*all grosses domestic, and yes, fine, it made a ridiculous amount of money overseas, where they like watching shit blow up real good even more than we do.