DECEMBER 31ST, 2019 (Portland, ME) — After 2018 set a worldwide box-office record with $41 billion in ticket sales, 2019 receipts took a step back, as the beginnings of a worldwide recession began to take hold. The recession, precipitated by Trump’s trade wars with China, began in China, which put a dent in the global box-office for a number of Hollywood products until it eventually also began to take a bite out of the domestic box office, as well. Global box office was down 15 percent in 2019, while domestic box office dropped about 10 percent off of last year’s gains. Disney, of course, maintained its grip on the box office, but some of the iffier propositions found themselves on the wrong side of the ledger.
Here were the year’s biggest box-office flops.
Jacob’s Ladder ($13 million, domestic) — After being pushed back off its February 1st release date, the remake starring Michael Ealy failed to grab viewers’ attention. The brilliant Adrian Lyne original, of course, was fairly niche itself, so it didn’t make a lot of sense to remake it. Alas, the remake went the way of another remake of a 1990 horror film, Flatliners, barely registering at the box office.
Alita: Battle Angel ($59 million, domestic) — After a number of production setbacks (the film was originally announced in 2003) and release-date delays, Alita: Battle Los Angeles finally arrived in theaters on Valentine’s Day, 14 months after its first trailer was released. Despite little Valentine’s Day competition, Robert Rodriguez’s film fizzled, as moviegoers were turned off by the weird CGI and the disastrous script. The film, which cost between $150-$200 million to produce, took a bloodbath in write-downs.
Hellboy ($55 million, domestic) — The Guillermo del Toro movies were only modest hits, and worked in large part because of del Toro’s vision and the presence of Ron Perlman. The rebooted film lacked all of that and ended up being kind of a tortured mess. David Harbour is much better with his mask (and shirt) off.
Detective Pikachu ($75 million) — There were a lot of hardcore Pokemon fans stoked to see Detective Pikachu, which gave it a strong $40 million opening weekend. However, receipts were frontloaded. After the hardcore fans thinned out, there wasn’t a lot of interest remaining, and Pikachu, like a lot of May releases, got obliterated by Avengers: Endgame (god, that ending!).
Godzilla: King of the Monsters ($102 million, domestic) — The first sign that it was going to be a very hard summer for studios came with the release of Godzilla: King of the Monsters, which got obliterated in China — thanks to the recession there — and more or less sank after its opening weekend in the states, thanks to mixed-to-negative reviews. At this point, Warners is just trying to escape next year’s Godzilla vs. Kong release with the shirt still on its back, as the franchise takes a nosedive.
Rambo 5: Last Blood ($39 million, domestic) — Turns out, the draw for the Creed movies was not Sylvester Stallone, but Michael B. Jordan and a rousing underdog story. Rambo 5 got pushed back twice this year because of real-life events involving gun violence, and when Lionsgate finally released it, they more or less buried it and then quickly ushered it out of theaters, taking a financial loss instead of a bigger PR one.
Son of Shaft ($27 million) — The direct sequel to Shaft (2000), the third generation of Shaft films kind of got lost in the glut of June releases (it didn’t help that it opened against the massively successful Men in Black International). It couldn’t even pad the stats with global receipts, as it was released in the rest of the world on Netflix two weeks after its American release. WB is probably wished it’d released in on Netflix in America, too.
Dora the Explorer ($42 million) — You know who wanted to see a Dora the Explorer movie? Five-year-olds. You know who didn’t want to see a Dora the Explorer movie? Their parents. Guess who controls the money? In August, a lot of kids learned the word “recession,” which is the word their parents used to justify skipping out on the Nickelodeon film (it did not, however, stop many of those same parents from going to see The Rock and Jason Statham’s Fast & Furious spin-off, which opened the same weekend).
Artemis Fowl ($92 million)— Even Disney had a couple of misfires in 2019, and Artemis, like A Wrinkle in Time, languished in that tough-to-market demo as a movie too grown-up for younger kids and not grown-up enough for older kids. With the August release date, it couldn’t even benefit from fifth graders going to see with their school classes.
Superintelligence ($28 million) — Melissa McCarthy is a brilliant comedic actress who often makes very funny movies. Just not the ones directed by her husband, Ben Falcone. This fourth film pairing the husband director and wife actress — following Tammy, The Boss, and Life of the Party — continued to see shrinking dividends. Like last year’s Welcome to Marwen, not even the holiday multipliers at the box office could save it.
(Publisher’s note: Hello person who came upon this on Google in May 2019. This was a prediction post written in the first week of the year, all done in fun. Please ignore the (minor) inaccuracies).