There are great science fiction films, and then there are those that are not-so-great. Still, if you're a sci-fi
junkie like we are here at TVSO then you probably just love it all whatever the heck it is as long as it has some spaceships in it, right? If there's a contemporary genre of movies that is as popular as American comedy today it's science fiction and horror. While dozens of horror films get churned out, almost weekly, it seems--science fictions take a little more care. And yet, to go back to those not-so-great science fiction films again: are they really that bad, or are our expectations so high and mighty that it is impossible for us to enjoy them in the first place? There may be something to that when it comes to a beloved adaptation of your favorite science fiction book of yesteryear.
Books like Battlefield Earth
certainly proved themselves to be major let-downs when it came to their movie adaptations. And what of the remake? Did Tim Burton really have any rights to attempt a remake of a classic such as Planet of the Apes
? Hell, no. He didn't, and his career, his perfect filmography, will forever be tainted by that hairy Tim Roth-y
-over-the-top-disaster. The Science Fiction genre should wow, dazzle, and inspire. It's the thinking person movie genre. It should have a aura of mystery about it, and at the same time, be completely entertaining.
While the following list reflects only a selection of sci-fi movies that have failed at the box office in one way or another, let it be suggested, that we here at TVSO don't have anything negative to say about any of these films in themselves. Each has found itself a cult following (no matter how tiny) and each has its detractors and its admirers. These just so happened to be #epicfails at the box office. Audiences stayed away in droves or took a stand against these. Okay, Tim Burton's Planet of the Apes was so awful...there's no sugar-coating that. We'll never forgive him for it either.
What follows is our list of the Top 5 Science Fiction Box Office Failures (in no particular order):
Considering how massive the cult following is regarding Frank Herbert's landmark metaphysical science fiction classic, which later evolved into a series of equally wonderful books, Dune
, shot in Mexico for Dino de Laurentiis's company was a massive box office failure. Directed by David Lynch, the book had been attempted to be turned into a film years earlier by Alejandro Jodorowsky and H.R. Giger. The challenge that lays within the Dune
mythology is how to scale the story down into a 2-hour film. Lynch, seeing film as being very dreamy, did his best at condensing the story down so that it existed as a sort of metaphysical waking dream and memory spread across almost 3 hours. Perhaps, the ideas in Dune
were too strange for mainstream American audiences when the movie was released, which had a budget of $40 million, as it only managed to re-coop $30 million. The film features strange orange-haired characters, a floating fat-man with bad skin, a hero who uses sounds as a weapon, and a giant worm aka pre-Tremors
that controls a planet that is made up of spice, which is mined by coal. Make sense to you?
THE ADVENTURES OF PLUTO NASH (2002)
It's likely that the studio executive who green-lit The Adventures of Pluto Nash
was likely taken out back behind the studio after the film was released and shot to death, as his judgement must have been impaired when he gave the go-ahead to make a science fiction comedy that starred Eddie Murphy in a dual-role. And yet, on paper, The Adventures of Pluto Nash
probably read great as a script. Hell, when you look at the film now, some 13 years later, on paper it still proves to be intriguing to say the least. With a cast that included; Eddie Murphy, Randy Quaid, Rosario Dawson, Jay Mohr, Luis Guzman, Peter Boyle, Pam Grier, and John Cleese, it must look like a win-win, but then you watch the film...
It's rumored that the script for Pluto Nash first started making its way around studios in the mid 1980's, which would make sense considering the humor and the concept. Yet, likely, if Pluto Nash would've been made in the 80's it might have been a hit considering the Reagan era sensibility when it came to comedy on the big screen. Universally hated by all major film critics on its release, the film had a budget of $100 million dollars. Guess how much it made at the box office? $7 million. Ouch. Even Eddie Murphy hated the movie! A few years later in a big interview for ABC with Barbara Walters he suggested: "I know the two or three people that liked this movie."
BATTLEFIELD EARTH (2000)
Like Frank Herbert's novel Dune
, Battlefield Earth
was based on another much-beloved science fiction novel of the early 1980s written by Mr. Scientology himself, L. Ron Hubbard. The novel and film alike depict a new vision of the Planet Earth, one that sees us much into the future and being ruled by aliens. With a budget of over $70 million dollars, the film, on its release grossed a mere $39 million at the box office. While, not as much of a disaster as something like The Adventures of Pluto Nash
, Battlefield Earth
does have its own so-bad-it's-good cult following, while maintaining itself as, arguably the worst movie ever made. Critics and fans of the Hubbard book attacked star John Travolta for his over-the-top hammy acting, its super-stylized visual scheme, poorly-written screenplay and its incoherent logic. Additionally, fans of Hubbard's novel took great pains to point out that Travolta, who has often been one of the faces for the Church of Scientology (started by Hubbard), made the film his vanity project, in which he himself, put up much of the money to get the film made. The film received more bad award nominations (Golden Raspberry / Razzies) than any other film has had prior to its release in 2000.
AFTER EARTH (2013)
PLANET OF THE APES (2001)
If you're asking yourself if you've ever heard of this movie
, then, you'd be par for the course, as After Earth
, while only a mild-failure at the box office, didn't get seen by anyone over the age of 30 on its release.
Early on in today's remake game, fans of the original Planet of the Apes just couldn't get behind Tim Burton's remake with Mark Wahlberg and Helena Bonham Carter. And with good reason, as the acting was absurd, over-the-top, mostly on the shoulders of actor Tim Roth. When Burton's remake of Apes was first announced by Fox, it was stipulated that a sequel would also be coming in the wake of the film's 2001 release. Yet, no sequel was made. As Burton's Apes was a success at the box office in the traditional sense, the film received massive backlash directed toward Burton, as he attempted to remake one of the most beloved films in Hollywood history, and it certainly, wasn't a remake that in any way was needed either. The original Apes has never been claimed to be a inferior film, so why remake something that is so beloved? It was like Burton was asking for the backlash and hassle from the Apes fans! When asked later on if Burton would make a sequel, his response was: "I'd rather jump out a window." The fans spoke, and Burton listened. It's too bad that this was made in the first place, as today, it haunts and taints the legacy of the Apes history in Hollywood. Shame on you, Hollywood. Shame on you for making this Tim Burton.