It’s not hard for a bad movie to open on top of the weekend box office chart — a combination of heavy marketing, recognizable stars, and a simple concept pretty much assures it. Every month, for example, a new bad horror movies comes and goes. Remember The Messengers, Darkness Falls or Urban Legends: Final Cut? They were all the #1 movie in America at one point.
Romantic comedies work the same way: Forces of Nature, Monster-in-Law, and Failure to Launch all topped the box office in their day. And then there’s the awful kids’ movies that lazy parents pay for: Scooby Doo…Pokemon…The Pacifier…and the list goes on.
The thing about all these movies is that they’re passively bad. Everybody already knew they would suck, and they’re quickly forgotten. Sometimes, however, a movie opens at #1 that is really bad. Offensively bad. Beg-for-your-money-back, sign-of-the-impending-apocalypse bad. Here are the 10 Worst Movies to Open at #1.
10. Die Another Day
Release Date: November 22, 2002
Opening Weekend Box Office: $47,072,040
Here’s an idea of how bad this movie was: it was the highest-grossing James Bond film ever, and instead of following it up with a fast-tracked sequel, they ended up rebooting the whole franchise and recasting the main character.
So what sunk the film? Things didn’t exactly start well: in the beginning of the movie, Bond gets captured for seven months (what? Why couldn’t he escape after fifteen minutes like in every other movie?), and we see scenes from his captivity to the tune of a horribly synthesized theme song by Madonna.
Then we’re introduced to the bad guy, a North Korean who undergoes reconstructive surgery to become a prissy-looking Englishman. Really. And then there was the infamous invisible car. Sure, there was Halle Berry in a swimsuit, but when you can see Halle Berry naked outright in a bunch of other movies, who cares?
9. Pearl Harbor
Release Date: May 25, 2001
Opening Weekend Box Office: $59,078,912
And old-fashioned love story set against the attack on Pearl Harbor? Sadly, this wasn’t another From Here to Eternity. Instead, it was nominated for six Razzies, failed to break the $200 million mark following its big opening, and basically ruined Ben Affleck and Josh Hartnett’s legitimacy for years to come. It was even one of Cuba Gooding Jr.’s lesser movies, which is saying something.
8. The Village
Release Date: July 30, 2004
Opening Weekend Box Office: $50,746,142
To be totally honest, we’re including The Village on here simply because we hate all things M. Night Shymalan(a-ding-dong). But since you can’t really dog on Sixth Sense too much, and since Signs at least had aliens in it, we’ll leave that one be, as well. The Village, however, is by far Shymalan’s most contrived piece of crap ever to hit the big screen. The plot, the premise, the hook and the ending – none of it made a lick of sense if given any thought whatsoever. And to really add to its eternal suckitude, the whole thing was stolen from a kid’s book, Running Out of Time, which revolves around a village whose inhabitants believe it’s the 1800s, when it’s actually 1996. WEAK!
Release Date: February 9, 2007
Opening Weekend Box Office: $34,195,434
In early 2008, Eddie Murphy was riding high: he was in the blockbuster musical Dreamgirls and was the frontrunner to win the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for it.
But then a little movie called Norbit came out, starring Eddie Murphy in three roles. And to give you an idea of just how offensively bad the movie was, Murphy playing a man named “Mr. Wong” is not the low point. No, the low point would be the movie’s sadistic villain, Rasputia, a three-hundred-pound woman, also played by Murphy.
The Oscar went to Alan Arkin.
6. Batman and Robin
Release Date: June 20, 1997
Opening Weekend Box Office: $42,872,605
Or, the movie that destroyed the Batman franchise. When you think about it positively, Batman Begins and The Dark Knight only ever happened thanks to the complete and utter creative failure of Batman and Robin. But what a complete and utter creative failure it was. It made it to #1 thanks to the success of the cheesy-but-entertaining Batman Forever, and ended up grossing about $60 million less. Nipples on the Batsuit? Weird gratuitous shots of Batman and Robin’s butts? Random ice-skating scenes? Batgirl? I mean, they didn’t even get Uma Thurman as Poison Ivy right.
5. Epic Movie (or Meet the Spartans, same difference…)
Release Date: January 26, 2007
Opening Weekend Box Office: $18,612,544
In a low-key kind of way, these movies really are some of the worst movies of all time. They’re easy to ignore, which helps, but have you actually seen them? It’s kind of terrifying how shockingly unfunny they are. They spoof scenes from recent movies without coming up with any kind of funny angle on them. They introduce pop culture references not to make a joke, but to simply mention pop culture references. Both movies (along with Date Movie and Disaster Movie) are brainchilds of the writing/directing duo Jason Friedburg and Aaron Seltzer, and you really kind of have to wonder what goes on in their heads and what their conversations are like. On second thought, don’t.
4. Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace
Release Date: May 19, 1999
Opening Weekend Box Office: $64,820,970
What can I say about this one that hasn’t already been said? Jar Jar Binks. Those two embarrassing Asian stereotypes. The kid they cast to play young Anakin. George Lucas’s utter disregard for characters and story in favor of special effects that look cartoonish and have not aged well. The fact that for too many children, this is the first Star Wars movie they’ve seen. Sometimes at night I cry about it a little.
3. Madea Goes to Jail
Release Date: February 20, 2009
Opening Weekend Box Office: $41,030,947
Or, “The Films of Tyler Perry.” Diary of a Mad Black Woman, Madea’s Family Reunion, Why Did I Get Married, Meet the Browns, and this past weekend’s I Can Do Bad All By Myself also all made it to #1, but Madea Goes to Jail gets the shout-out for the most painful, Ernest-recalling title. Perry writes and directs his films exclusively for an African American middle-aged female audience, a demographic so underserved by Hollywood that they’ll take whatever Perry gives them — even something filled to the brim with stereotypes and painfully unfunny grandmothers played by the director in drag.
Critics don’t have a clue how to deal with him; Roger Ebert gave Diary of a Mad Black Woman one star, saying “I’ve been reviewing movies for a long time, and I can’t think of one that more dramatically shoots itself in the foot.” And even actors are getting tired of the onslaught. Viola Davis, an Oscar nominee for Doubt who appeared in Madea Goes to Jail, told Entertainment Weekly: “People feel the images [in his movies] are very stereotypical, and black people are frustrated because they feel we should be more evolved. But there are very few black images in Hollywood, so black people are going to his movies. That’s the dichotomy.”
2. Paul Blart: Mall Cop
Release Date: January 16, 2009
Opening Weekend Box Office: $31,832,636
What was bizarre about this movie wasn’t that it opened at #1. It’s that it stayed at #1. And then kept doing well for weeks after that.
So what was so good that kept audiences coming and coming to the tune of $146 million? Kevin James doing a pratfall. Over…and over…and over again. Oh, and the gay guy from Wedding Crashers playing an over-the-top bad guy. And those were the redeeming parts (if you could call them that…). The acting sucked, the writing sucked, the story sucked. And whoever it is who helped pump millions of dollars into this piece of sh!t should be ashamed of themselves. (We know you’re out there…)
1. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
Release Date: June 24, 2009
Opening Weekend Box Office: $108,966,307
When Revenge of the Fallen opened this summer and subsequently made zillions of dollars, a minor internet war took place between critics (“This is the worst, most headache-inducing thing we’ve ever seen”) and fans (“We just want to see giant robots fighting, not ever movie has to be an Oscar movie LOL PWNED”). I’m about to say something really pompous: I submit that those of you who think you liked it, didn’t actually like it. How is that possible? Well, think back to it. What do you remember? Anything? Did you think it was fun? Do you want to see it again? Be honest.
I saw this movie on my birthday, which just added insult to injury. The hard truth is, Revenge of the Fallen is the worst movie Michael Bay has ever made (and he made Pearl Harbor), and is a loud, nonsensical, abhorrently sexist, blatantly racist vehicle for his worst indulgences: lots of explosions; CGI overkill; incomprehensible action sequences; and vapid barely-dressed female characters played by bad actresses. It’s the worst movie to open at #1.
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