Right now, the American economy is relatively healthy. More accurately, it’s consistently growing. Of course, these statements are a little general; economic stability varies from industry-to-industry. For example, it’s a great time to be in the appliances/electronics business.
On the other hand, Hollywood is experiencing a downturn.
That’s not to say the film/TV business is on the verge of collapse or anything. It *is* to say, however, that box office returns are down. Not just a little either; enough that studio executives are reportedly alarmed.
Compared to this point in 2016, box office revenue is down 10%. No matter the scale of the business/industry, that’s a noticeable decline.
There have been some success stories in 2017–both “Beauty and the Beast” and “The Fate of the Furious” crossed $1 billion at the global box office–but overall the year has been a disappointment. And even though there is still plenty of time to catch up to last year’s results, it’s important to point out that May is typically one of the most lucrative months on Hollywood’s schedule, and the month has already passed.
The most recent example of disappointment comes in the form of “Baywatch.” On the surface, this movie had a lot going for it. It stars Dwayne Johnson, who has been one of the biggest box office draws in recent memory.
It also has source material that was a proven winner. “Baywatch,” of course,” is inspired by the hit 90s show of the same name. So what went wrong? You can say that the reviews were terrible–they are–but that hasn’t stopped other movies from amassing solid box office returns (hello, “Fifty Shades Darker”).
Maybe it’s a competition factor. It opened up against the fifth “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie, which ended up hauling in a global total of $324 million. Or maybe it’s just suffering for the same reasons the rest of Hollywood’s products are suffering. Despite “Pirates’” impressive haul, this was the worst Memorial Day weekend for the domestic box office in 18 years.
It’s hard to pinpoint the exact reasons as to why “Baywatch” bombed. However, “Baywatch” isn’t as much of an aberration as you may expect. Film history is rich with movies based on famous TV shows that ended up bombing at the box office. Here are some examples.
In the 1960s, “McHale’s Navy” was a hit sitcom about a Naval crew who pursue their own hijinks. While it was popular at its time, very few retroactively regard it as a touchstone of its time. The 1997 movie, starring Tom Arnold and Tim Curry, is dissimilar from its source material. It’s not retroactively considered a touchstone of its time *and* it wasn’t at all popular when it was released. Want proof? First off, you probably don’t remember this even existed. Second, the budget for the movie was $42 million; it grossed $4.5 million at the box office. That’s 11% of the budget. And if you think *that* percentage is bad, the Rotten Tomatoes score is 3%. Can’t believe they never made a sequel.
As already established, “Baywatch” wasn’t the first TV-inspired movie to bomb at the box office. In fact, it wasn’t even the first TV-inspired movie to bomb at the box office in 2017. Based on the hit action show, the movie attempted to play up the more comedic elements of the show (the movie was directed by comedian Dax Shephard). Despite charming turns from the main stars, the movie couldn’t cash in its chips at the box office, barely eclipsing its modest $25 million budget.
The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle
Did you even know there was a cinematic adaptation of this classic cartoon series? Probably not. It was released back in 2000, and it received a dismal response, both critically and financially ($35 million gross against a $76 million budget). Even better question: did you know that Robert De Niro played a central character in the movie? “Raging Bull.” “The Godfather Part II.” “The Untouchables.” “The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle.” You’re not wrong for thinking one of those doesn’t belong.
“The Honeymooners” is undeniably one of the most influential TV shows ever created. That influence, however, is mostly rooted in the fact that it was one of the first TV shows. The show only ran for one season, and that was back in 1955-1956. If you asked a group of 100 random people, I’d frankly be shocked if more than 20 of them were even aware of the show, let alone ever saw an episode. Perhaps that’s why the film adaptation in 2005 couldn’t muster up any excitement or revenue. With a $25 million budget, “The Honeymooners” barely hit half of that figure ($13 million). It probably didn’t help that the movie wasn’t any good either (the Rotten Tomatoes score is 14%).
Land of the Lost
In 2009, Will Ferrell seemed unstoppable. Although really, it’s 2017 and he *still* feels unstoppable. But even his biggest fans could barely be convinced to show up for his adaptation of the classic children’s show. “Lost” isn’t just another box office failure; it’s actually one of the most expensive flops ever produced. The film managed to gross only $68 million. That would be a respectable number for many movies, but not for one with a $100 million budget. Having such a bomb on his resume has hardly done much to hamper Ferrell’s career–and as a Ferrell fan, I appreciate that–but even the biggest stars can’t save movies when the general public simply isn’t interested. Or when you’re competing against “The Hangover,” which “Lost” opened against.
Some of the entries on this list seem like predictable failures in hindsight. This one, however, was more puzzling. Based on the 1980’s smash hit show, the 2006 adaptation starred Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx. It was also helmed by the acclaimed action director Michael Mann (“Heat,” “Collateral”). And unlike the majority of other entries on this list, the movie garnered relatively decent reviews. All of that said, the movie only earned $63 million against its $135 million budget. While it’s worth noting that the film has developed something of a cult following in the last few years, that doesn’t negate the fact that it was a spectacular financial failure at the time of release.