Movies So Bad They Were Pulled From Theaters

Sometimes a movie performs so poorly and becomes
so poisoned by terrible word-of-mouth that studios or distributors will pull it out of
theaters abruptly to end the embarrassment. Check out this round-up of box office disasters,
because you probably didn’t see them in theaters. Hollywood makes so many movies out of familiar
properties because name recognition equals free marketing. It’s much easier to get filmgoers on board
with something they already know than to sell them on a new concept. That’s how G.I. Joe and Transformers became successful movie
franchises. Ironically, though, another fondly remembered
cartoon show and toy line from the ’80s became one of the biggest film flops of all time. Jem and the Holograms, a live-action, modernized
version of the property about an all-female rock band, opened in October 2015 in more
than 2,400 theaters. But the filmmakers didn’t stay true to the
source material, thus alienating the only people who’d actually want to go see it. The result was an abysmal rating on Rotten
Tomatoes and an opening weekend of just $1.37 million. In week two, revenues dropped to a mere $388,000. And that’s when Universal pulled it out of
theaters completely and pretended it never even existed. “We were just talking about you.” “Yeah, we know. We heard everything.” Inspired by the interactive audiences of The
Rocky Horror Picture Show, screenwriter Kenn Viselman conceived of a film where kids were
encouraged to yell out their thoughts to the characters on screen. The result was The Oogieloves in the BIG Balloon
Adventure, which was mostly a generic kids movie with some brightly colored characters
named Goobie, Zoozie, and Toofie. Plus, there were special appearances from
stars kids love, like Cloris Leachman and Toni Braxton. Parents had little interest in paying for
their kids to a yell at a screen for 90 minutes when they could do that at home for free. During its first weekend, The Oogieloves earned
just $448,131 at over 2,000 theaters. Accounting for multiple showings at each location,
that works out to an average of about two people per screening. It somehow did even worse in its next two
weekends before the marketing visionaries at Kenn Viselman Presents mercifully removed
it. “Ooh ooh ooh ooh Oogielove! Oooogielove!” “What fun little Oogieloves you are!” In June 2015, a movie with the generic and
bland title of United Passions hit theaters. It’s a mawkish story of the rise and greatness
of FIFA, the universally reviled worldwide governing body of soccer. It’s so extremely pro-FIFA that it’s no surprise
the organization provided most of the film’s $22 million budget. It’s a bad movie on its own merits, but it
also fell victim to extremely bad timing. Its release came just days after the arrests
and indictments of more than a dozen FIFA executives on corruption charges and the resignation
of FIFA president Sepp Blatter. The director publicly regretted having made
the film and even called it “propaganda.” United Passions played to 10 theaters in the
United States, where it earned a grand total of $918. It then dispassionately dis-unified with theaters
after just one week. The Nightmare Before Christmas isn’t the first
film to combine scary Halloween scares with the trappings of the Most Wonderful Time of
the Year. In November 1984, Tristar Productions released
Silent Night, Deadly Night, a slasher movie in the traditional ’80s style. But the villain wasn’t a guy in a hockey mask
or a knife-outfitted glove. Instead, he was a crazed man named Billy who
killed people with an axe while dressed as Santa Claus. More than 200 picketers assembled at two theaters
in Brooklyn, bearing signs that read “Santa’s Not a Hitman” and “Deck the Halls with Holly,
Not Bodies.” That outcry prompted Tristar to cancel a big
TV advertising push, and some theaters refused to book the movie at all. What would’ve been a much bigger release wound
up a moderate one, as Silent Night, Deadly Night ultimately played in about 400 theaters
nationwide. The outrage killed the film’s prospects like
Santa killed his prey, and it was pulled from theaters after two weeks. “Bingo!” Released in August 1981, Honky Tonk Freeway
is a pleasant enough ensemble comedy that seems tailor-made to run on a low-wattage
local TV station on a Sunday afternoon. It’s about a small Florida tourist trap of
a town called Ticlaw that’s home to a small zoo and a water-skiing elephant. The mayor bribes a state official to ensure
that a new freeway will include an off-ramp to Ticlaw, thus vastly improving the town’s
fortunes. The off-ramp doesn’t get built, so the residents
come together to paint the whole town pink as a publicity stunt. All of that non-action is intercut with the
stories of various individuals about to wind up in Ticlaw, including bank robbers, hitchhikers,
a family, and some nuns. Directed by Academy Award-winner John Schlesinger,
this whole affair somehow cost $24 million, six million more The Empire Strikes Back. The total box office haul of Honky Tonk Freeway
was just over $2 million. It was gone from theaters without a trace
within a few weeks. In the 2000s, Uwe Boll carved a niche in the
film industry as the go-to guy to turn video games into movies. Even when he lucked into working with great
actors, the results remained unimpressive. Efforts like BloodRayne and Alone in the Dark
contributed heavily to the universally-acknowledged notion that video game movies are always terrible. But the one that rises above, or sinks below,
the rest is Postal. This 2007 flick took the kill-’em-all action
of the Postal games and added a plot in which the guy who played Farkus in A Christmas Story
is the title Postal Dude. The film includes dozens of gruesome deaths,
Boll playing himself getting shot in the groin, and a supposedly comic scene lampooning the
events of 9/11, not shown here. While that all seems like the plot of a direct-to-video
movie, or possibly a fever induced nightmare, Postal somehow got itself a wide theatrical
release, scheduled for May 2008. But just before its release, nearly all of
the distributors that had lined up pulled out. Rather than open on 1,500 screens, it opened
on four. That’s right, Postal was so bad that it got
pulled out of theaters before it even arrived. Had Gigli not starred two of the biggest celebrities
of the era, who were in a high-profile romance at the time, it would’ve been just a weird
and forgettable movie, not a legendary flop. Ben Affleck plays a stereotypical gangster
goon with an unpronounceable name assigned to kidnap the Baywatch-obsessed, developmentally-disabled
brother of a federal prosecutor. Things go awry, so the bosses send in a more
capable operative, Ricki, played by Jennifer Lopez. Then the two fall in love, even though Ricki
is gay and Gigli is a raging misogynist. That plot, and the off-screen “Bennifer” antics,
led to an unofficial competition among critics over who could say the meanest things in their
reviews. The Wall Street Journal called it, “The worst movie, all right, the worst allegedly
major movie, of our admittedly young century.” Somehow, Gigli cost $54 million to make, but
it unsurprisingly bombed, bringing in just $6 million. After three weeks in theaters, it moved to
its final resting place in the grocery store DVD bargain bins. Madonna is certainly one of the greatest and
most influential pop stars of all time, but that goodwill has very little to do with her
forays into acting. She’s basically the Meryl Streep of the Razzie
Awards. The “Oscars of bad movies” have dishonored
Madonna a remarkable 16 times for stinkers like Shanghai Surprise, Body of Evidence,
and Swept Away. That last one seemed like it might be a little
better than the usual Madonna movie, as it was written and directed by Guy Ritchie. He’s the acclaimed filmmaker behind Lock,
Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels who also happened to be Madonna’s husband at the time. That didn’t seem to do much good, however. The desert island rom-com suffered a critical
drubbing and took home four Razzies. Audiences didn’t like it either. It played in American theaters for three weekends
to a total of less than $600,000 before the distributor swept it away. In the late 2000s, a science-fiction allegory
about respecting nature and the dangers of colonialism hit theaters. It utilized cutting-edge CGI and animation
technology to render lifelike but exotic humanoid creatures. But we’re not actually talking about Avatar,
which pulled in a record $2.7 billion at the worldwide box office and played to packed
movie theaters for months on end. Nope, this is the story of Delgo, a movie
at the other end of the box office spectrum. With the protagonists fleeing their resource-ravaged
homeland for another, this 2008 animated feature bore a similar look and premise to Avatar,
but it had far from the same success. Made by the small Fathom Studios, development
began in 1999, when CGI animation was still something of a novelty. By the time of its release in 2008, Delgo’s
style was old hat, and not particularly well-executed. Plus, its lead voice actors, Freddie Prinze,
Jr. and Jennifer Love Hewitt, had lost their A-list status. While Avatar broke just about every box office
record, Delgo broke one, too: it earned $511,000 at 2,160 theaters during its first weekend,
bad enough to make it the worst wide release opening weekend ever at the time. It doesn’t rank among the worst second weekends
of all time, though, because Freestyle Releasing yanked Delgo out of theaters just seven days
after release.


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