These Are The Worst Highest Grossing Movies Of All Time
Audiences and critics don’t always agree, especially when it comes to big blockbusters that bring in tons of cash. Theoretically, movies that make more money should be better than the ones that don’t, but that’s just in theory. Of the top 200 highest grossing movies of all time worldwide, there’s over 50 that did not achieve certified fresh status on Rotten Tomatoes. Of the 55 films in question, there’s only 7 that critics scored higher than audiences. This article will list those flicks from bad to worse and break down the numbers behind these unusual anomalies…
The Lord of the Rings trilogy achieved box office success and even won Oscars, something that’s incredibly rare for big-budget fantasy films. The studio decided they wanted to try to replicate this success with the series’ predecessor, The Hobbit, a relatively short book compared to the LOTR novels. But audiences could smell the cash grab, mostly because the producers decided to stretch the minimal source material into three new movies. The worst received of the three was The Battle of the Five Armies, which brought in nearly a billion dollars and almost made it to fresh status with 59%.
Oz The Great and Powerful – 59%/$493.3 Million
Like the last entry, the motivation for this movie came from trying to capitalize on a previously released hit. As difficult as it was for filmmakers to match the quality of the LOTR trilogy, there aren’t many things harder than duplicating the critical and cultural success of one of the most beloved movies of all time. The Wizard of Oz came out in 1939 and captured the hearts and minds of everyone who saw it, fans and critics alike. This Academy Award winner spawned multiple spin-offs, but only one got the blockbuster treatment…
Oz The Great and Powerful, a prequel to the aforementioned classic, came out in 2013 and received mixed reviews from both sides of the viewership, with a 59% critics score and 56% audience score. While it certainly wasn’t panned by any means, it felt like a failure simply due to its proximity to the original, which currently sits with a 99% rating on the Tomatometer. The prequel made almost half a billion dollars, with about half coming from domestic audiences and the other half from all over the world.
Despicable Me 3 – 59%/$1,034.8 Billion
Despicable Me 3 came out last year and exploded into the top 30 highest grossing movies of all time. But like many sequels, it couldn’t garner the critical success to match the box office numbers. The first movie in the series came out in 2010 and only made half of what the third movie would go on to make seven years later. Despite the lower box office numbers, the original received high scores from audiences and critics, with an 82% and 81% respectively. Many attribute the billion dollar success of DM3 to the popularity of the minions…
A good portion of the top 200 highest grossing movies of all time are animated, and that’s not including the live action films with a lot of computer-generated characters and locations. But whether live action or animated, with or without digital effects, the most prevalent trend in this article is that sequels often make more money, but rarely achieve comparable critical success. There are 10 more animated movies on this list, can you guess which hits couldn’t make the fans and reviewers happy?
Shrek Forever After – 58%/$752.6 Million
If you guessed the Shrek series, you nailed it. While the first two movies did well with audiences and critics, the remaining movies couldn’t compete. Shrek Forever After, the fourth in the collection, made over $750 million worldwide, with the majority coming from overseas. Audiences and critics gave it mixed reviews, with 54% and 58%, so not bad. But did it perform better than its predecessor Shrek The Third? Stick around to find out…
Twister – 57%/$494.5 Million
Twister, which was released in 1996, is one of the oldest movies on this list. It introduced the world to innovative special effects and audiences flocked to theaters to witness something they’d never seen before. All of its numbers are pretty much right down the middle, with half of the box office coming from overseas, half domestic, a 57% critical score and 58% audience score. Twister definitely started a trend that will be seen over and over moving forward…
Mission: Impossible II – 57%/$546.4 Million
The Mission: Impossible series has gotten bigger and more expensive with each release. The second movie made a bit more money than the original, enough to land it in the top 200, where the first did not. It’s one of the rare entries on this list, like the aforementioned Shrek Forever After, Despicable Me 3 and Oz The Great and Powerful, that critics liked more than audiences, with 57% versus 43%. Can you guess the other three?
Minions – 56%/$1,159.4 Billion
You won’t have to wait long to find out one of the other three movies that critics liked more than audiences. Minions, a spin-off of the previously seen Despicable Me series, scored 56% from critics and 49% from audiences. Either way, it made well over a billion dollars and has become a huge part of pop culture. And it’s another one of the many movies here that got most of its box office from overseas.
Madagascar – 55%/$532.7 Million
This entry is one of the more rare in the entire article. Madagascar is the original movie in its series, but received the lowest scores and box office results. While the latter is typical, with sequels often making more money, it’s almost unheard of that they would also receive better reviews. The second and third Madagascar are both certified fresh, and higher among the all time money makers, where the original couldn’t break out of the rotten category.
Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace – 55%/$1,027 Billion
While the last movie was a bit of a surprise, this one certainly is not. The Star Wars prequels are some of the most divisive of all time, with many accusing them of tarnishing the original films’ incredible reputation. But they still made tons of money. Interestingly enough, the second two of the three prequels did better with critics and audiences, but the first scored rotten numbers from fans and critics alike.
Troy – 54%/$497.4 Million
When you combine the box office draw of Brad Pitt with a giant budget and an interesting premise, you get the financial success of 2004’s Troy, which made almost half a billion dollars worldwide. As with many of the entries in this article, the overwhelming majority of this poorly-reviewed blockbuster’s ticket sales happened outside of the United States. And audiences liked it much more than critics, with 73% over 54%.
Mamma Mia! – 54%/$609.8 Million
Mamma Mia! was a big enough hit to warrant a sequel, which will hit theaters soon, something that is pretty rare for movies that aren’t traditional big budget blockbusters. But despite the film’s financial success, making over $600 million worldwide, it couldn’t score fresh on the Tomatometer. Audiences definitely enjoyed it, with a 66% rating, but critics felt it deserved less, giving it a combined score of 54%.
The Boss Baby – 53%/$528 Million
Somehow, after receiving mixed reviews from both audiences and critics, with a 51% and 53% respectively, The Boss Baby still managed to get nominated for an Academy Award. Despite being a hit, earning over half a billion dollars worldwide, many used its inclusion in the Best Animated Film category as a reason why that part of the Oscars shouldn’t be included. For what it’s worth, it didn’t win.
The Lost World: Jurassic Park – 53%/$618.6 Million
Jurassic Park is a cinematic masterpiece, a rare film that broke box office records while receiving unanimously positive reviews from fans and critics. Although Spielberg isn’t normally known to do sequels, the need for a follow up to his hit dinosaur movie was too big to ignore. Unfortunately, even though it made over $600 million, it couldn’t possibly compete with the reception of its predecessor. Can you guess which other film in the series is on this list?
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 – 52%/$709 Million
Fans were shocked when Sony decided to reboot Spider-Man just five years after the original trilogy, which many remember not ending well. People didn’t hate The Amazing Spider-Man, but they didn’t love it either. The sequel was much more divisive than the first, but still brought it almost three quarters of a billion dollars. Sadly, despite the financial success, it didn’t lead to a third, and instead, Marvel acquired the rights.
Alice in Wonderland – 52%/$1,025.5 Billion
Like The Wizard of Oz, it makes sense that executives took their time to reboot a beloved classic like Alice in Wonderland, one of the most popular Disney animated movies ever. But finally, in 2010, they attempted a live-action remake that ended up pulling in over a billion dollar at the global box office. And the scores, 52% from critics and 55% from audiences, weren’t bad enough to keep the studio from producing a sequel.
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom – 51%/$1,075.4 Billion
While most of the Jurassic Park series couldn’t compete with the original, the movie with the worst rating of them all is this year’s Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. Even though it’s a huge hit, just like the first Jurassic World, critics and fans are similarly split with 51% and 56% respectively. It will be up to the third of the new trilogy to right the ship and stick the landing.
Maleficent – 50%/$758.5 Million
This article is full of fantasy adaptations and spin-offs gone wrong, and as we get further down the list, the financial success of these movies makes less and less sense compared to the reviews. Maleficent revolves around the villain from Sleeping Beauty, and fans flocked to theaters to the tune of over $750 million. While audiences gave it a fresh 70% rating, critics didn’t agree.
Bruce Almighty – 49%/$484.6 Million
Jim Carrey has been a box office draw throughout his entire career, but as his popularity grew with audiences, the critics, who never knew what to make of him, stayed skeptical. Bruce Almighty is one of his most financially successful movies, earning almost half a billion dollars worldwide, something that is very rare for original comedies. But the reviews were still split.
X-Men: Apocalypse – 48%/$543.9 Million
Another trend here is super hero movies, which are more popular now than ever. With so many coming out seemingly back to back, there’s bound to be a few misfires. X-Men: Apocalypse is the third movie in the most recent franchise reboot series, and the worst reviewed of the three by far. It didn’t make half as much money as the previous film, which received a 90% critics’ score.
Rio 2 – 46%/$500.1 Million
It’s only been four years since 20th Century Fox released the sequel to 2011’s Rio, which received a solid 72% and 71% from critics and audiences. But it seems, despite their financial success, the movies have faded from the public consciousness. Unfortunately, the follow up, while making around the same half a billion dollar box office amount, it got significantly lower scores from fans and reviewers.
The Day After Tomorrow – 44%/$544.3 Million
Disaster movies are usually a hit with audiences, but more for the spectacle rather than the overall quality. Critics are usually pretty harsh with this genre, but that, combined with low scores from fans, still hasn’t stopped audiences from coming out to see them when they hit theaters. The Day After Tomorrow made over half a billion dollars, but reviews were split. Can you guess the other disaster flicks on this list?
Night at the Museum – 43%/$574.5 Million
Ben Stiller has made some great films, and for that, he usually does well at the box office. But unfortunately, sometimes doing well at the box office doesn’t necessarily mean you made a great film. Night at the Museum is a rare movie on this list in that half its money came from the United States, with the other half from overseas. While fans gave it a fresh score of 67%, critics hit it with a rough 43%.
Hancock – 41%/$624.4 Million
Another bonafide box office draw is the one and only Will Smith, who, at one point, was the most consistent hit making movie star in the world. With his better blockbuster days behind him, he tried his hand at a different type of super hero flick. Hancock was a misfire with critics and fans, but it was still able to make almost three quarters of a billion dollars.
Shrek the Third – 41%/$799 Million
Earlier in the article, the final Shrek film marked the series’ first appearance on this list. Seeing as the earlier installments of big budget franchises typically get better reviews than the latter, it makes sense that Shrek the Third would get a worse score than the first two. Even the fans were split, with a 52% audience score, but the movie still made a ton of money at the box office.
2012 – 40%/$769.7 Million
You didn’t have to wait long to find out another one of the list’s disaster movies. And in this case, it was made by the same director as the last. 2012 came out five years after The Day After Tomorrow, and was able to make a lot more money. But as we get closer to the top spot, the scores get lower. And for 2012, bad reviews came from both the critics and the audience.
Meet the Fockers – 39%/$516.6 Million
Meet the Fockers, which marks Ben Stiller’s second appearance here, unfortunately couldn’t live up to the reviews of the original. Again, sequels rarely do. But it nearly doubled the box office success, and was enough to warrant a third movie, making this a fairly unusual franchise considering most of the genres, like big budget fantasy and sci-fi, represented on this list.
Cars 2 – 39%/$562.1 Million
Many people think the first Cars is the worst movie made by Pixar, a brand typically associated high quality computer animated films. Fans, both kids and parents, as well as critics usually love what the company makes, but Cars was the first time this wasn’t the case. But of course, it was a huge hit, and in 2011, Cars 2 came out. It was also a huge hit, but the reviews were pretty rough.
Armageddon – 38%/$553.7 Million
Another hit disaster movie that critics didn’t like was Armageddon. But unlike many of the films on this list, the fans did. It received a 73% from audiences, who were also responsible for its half a billion dollar box office success. While it’s the final of its genre on this list, the rest of the entries here could definitely still be considered disaster movies.
The Ice Age Series – 38%/Billions
Between now and the end of this article, some entires will contain multiple films from the same series, with the lowest rated movie deciding where it falls on the list. The first Ice Age did well with fans and critics, but the next three received such bad reviews, with each getting progressively worse, the fifth one didn’t make enough money to be included.
Angels & Demons – 37%/$485.9 Million
Angels & Demons was the follow up to The Da Vinci Code, based on the popular books. While it made almost a half a billion dollars, even the fans were split on the quality. But they still liked it much better than the critics, with a 57% compared to a brutal 37%. Read ahead to find out if first movie did better than the sequel…
The Hangover Part II – 33%/$586.8 Million
The first Hangover film was one of the biggest surprise hit comedies of all time. With this kind of success, there was no way the studio wouldn’t want to make a sequel. Part II made over $100 million more than the first, but unlike the original’s great reviews, both fans and critics weren’t happy with this obvious cash grab.
The Pirates of the Caribbean Series – 30%/Billions
The Pirates of the Caribbean series is the first of four at the end of this article where 4 out of the 5 films were huge hits that got terrible reviews. Johnny Depp was only able to do so much to keep these from getting progressively worse, going from 54% down to 30% over the course of the decade in which they were released.
Clash of the Titans – 28%/$493.2 Million
Clash of the Titans was a blockbuster hit when it came out in 2010, but it has since been forgotten. This is probably due to the fact that both fans and critics hated it, with a 28% and 39% respectively. Remember when, after the success of 300, these types of movies were super popular?
The DCEU – 27%/Billions
The second of the four series with an overwhelming majority of poorly reviewed movies is, sadly, the DCEU. The DC Extended Universe comic book movies, aside from the beloved Wonder Woman solo flick, include Man of Steel (55%), Justice League (40%), Batman v Superman (27%) and Suicide Squad (27%). Interestingly enough, unlike the critics, audiences have given them all of the fresh scores.
The Twilight Saga – 25%/Billions
The Twilight Saga, not surprisingly, is the third of the four series with 4/5 disliked movies. After the first Twilight film, which did fine with fans and critics, the others struggled everywhere but at the box office. The series has made billions, with the final entry pulling in $829 million. But unfortunately, they all received between 48% and 25% with critics, and fans barely kept their scores fresh.
The Da Vinci Code – 25%/$758.2 Million
If you guessed that The Da Vinci Code would defy the original vs sequel quality trend, you got it. Somehow, the first of the Dan Brown/Robert Langdon series, even with the help of the beloved Tom Hanks, received worse scores than the sequel. This also explains how it made more money than the follow up, because a lot of fans didn’t come back.
Fifty Shades of Grey – 25%/$571 Million
It’s sad that the first Fifty Shades film, which received a dismal 25% score from critics and a shockingly low 41% from fans, is the best received movie of the series. The reviews got worse and worse as the trilogy progressed, and so did the box office numbers, keeping the other two from appearance on this list.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – 22%/$493.3 Million
The original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles trilogy set the bar pretty high for the fans, many of whom weren’t on board for a reboot, especially considering the computer-generated heroes. It probably would’ve broken the half a billion dollar mark if it hadn’t received such a low score from critics, seen above, and fans, who gave it an almost equally divided 51%.
The Smurfs – 22%/$563.7 Million
The second to last entry on this list is definitely its biggest surprise. And not because anyone would think The Smurfs would get good reviews, but rather that they’d be this bad. It’s not as shocking that it made as much money as it did, but how could it be bad enough to get lower reviews than every other kids movie here?
The Transformers Series – 16%/Billions
It’s appropriate, although fairly anti-climactic, that the least surprising entry in this article follows its most unusual. The Transformers series has made a ton of money, with over $4 billion total, but the reviews have gone from bad to worse. While fans have been divided, critics have gone from 35% all the way down to 16%. But due to the box office success, the studio just keeps making them.