As Thanksgiving approaches, stuff yourself on this platter of the 24 biggest, most famous movie turkeys — movies audiences had anticipated, expected, and even hoped to be Fresh on the Tomatometer, only to come out Rotten as branded by the critics. (Only movies made after Rotten Tomatoes came into existence, though! Because,
Ishtar, we’re nice people.)
(2010, 20%) The Tourist
The amazingly monikered Florian Henckel Von Donnersmark made a huge debut on the world stage with Berlin Wall
thriller The Lives of Others, which scored 93% with critics. His splashy American follow-up, The
Tourist with Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie, bombed at 20%. The movie was then mocked at the Golden Globes by host Ricky Gervais after its, ahem,
prestigious and non-suspicious Best Picture nomination.
(2017, 8%) The Snowman
Tomas Alfredson, who directed beloved vampiric Let the Right One In and the Certified Fresh Tinker
Tailor Soldier Spy, was able to attract a stacked cast for Snowman (including Michael Fassbender,
Rebecca Ferguson, J.K. Simmons, and Charlotte Gainsbourg), only for its critical hopes to melt away at 8%.
Alfredson attributes the failure
to having too much money and not enough time during production, leaving whole crucial passages of the book
(2016, 17%) Assassin’s Creed
Speakin’ of the Fassbend, Michael has had seven movies come out over the last two years, all but one Rotten
( Alien: Covenant was Fresh, but didn’t seem like anybody really enjoyed it). We were hoping that
Assassin’s Creed would break the video game movie curse, especially if you consider Fassbender produced
it, the guy who did 2015’s Macbeth directed it, and Marion Cotillard was there somewhere, too. Alas,
the film spends too much time in the present and not enough action scenes in old Spain jumping
off church steeples into bales of hay.
(2016, 28%) Warcraft
2016, in fact, was the year that the video game movie curse could’ve been laid to waste. Four major
adaptations were released into theaters — couldn’t just one of them have been Fresh? Beyond Assassin’s
Creed, nobody was expecting much out of The Angry Birds Movie or Ratchet & Clank, so the
waypoint was then pinned on Warcraft. It was directed by professed superfan Duncan Jones
( Moon, Source Code), which turned out to be a detriment — too much fan service and granular
lore with a truncated runtime left mainstream audiences in the lurch.
(2016, 26%) Suicide Squad
After two dour Superman movies from Zack Snyder, comic book fans were hoping to hang their cape on
Suicide Squad for a little levity in the world of DC. Squad was the live-action debut of fan
favorite Harley Quinn, it had Will Smith, the promotional material and trailers were on point, and director
David Ayer had proven himself in other tough genres. Alas, it had the same incomprehensible plotting and muddled
character treatment that plagued the preceding DCEU efforts.
(2013, 35%) The Counselor
Ridley Scott! Directing from an original script by Cormac McCarthy! What could go wrong? How about the fact
that, despite his A-list status, every other movie Scott directs is actually Rotten? Or that McCarthy had never
written a screenplay before, and his trademark gritty pontificating does not a good script make?
(2017, 35%) Live By Night
At one point, each Ben Affleck-directed movie was ranked 94%. That’s even
more impressive than winning the big Oscar for a movie about a fake science-fiction movie (the closest that
genre will ever get to Best Picture). So Live by Night, Affleck’s gangster period piece, had all the
trappings of another success. And that’s all the more alarming when critics riddled it with a 35% score, leading
to a $10 million domestic gross.
(1999, 56%) Star Wars: Episode 1 – The
Patience measured by decades. An entire Expanded Universe created from the ashes of Alderaan by fans and
professionals alike. A couple good video game tie-ins. For Jar Jar Binks and an early death for Darth Maul? Good
thing The Matrix came out the same year.
(2015, 33%) Blackhat
Michael Mann’s made some spotty movies in his career, which would be more forgivable if he actually made more of
them! As such, Blackhat, Mann’s dunderheaded technothriller and his first movie in six years (after the
just-okay Public Enemies), remains his last statement in the film world. At least, until Enzo
Ferrari comes out, which starts production next year.
(2000, 19%) The Beach
Just two years into Rotten Tomatoes’ infancy, and four years after the groundbreaking
Trainspotting, Danny Boyle’s The Beach was a high-profile embarrassment that caused the
director and his star Leonardo DiCaprio — still in the suffocating afterglow of Titanic — to hit the
comeback trail. Boyle’s next movie would be zombie flick-revitalizer 28 Days Later, while DiCaprio
bided his time subjugating
. Oh, and Don’s Plum starting a
fruitful working relationship with Martin Scorsese.
14%) A Good Day to Die Hard
Nobody was clamoring for a new Die Hard, especially a PG-13 take 12 years after With a
Vengeance. But it came. And it was pretty good! Even with Justin Long! So when another Die Hard
reared its shiny head, audiences met it with…not excitement, exactly, but not nearly the trepidation that’s
been attached to Bruce Willis movies of recent years. But how foolish were we! It would soon be clear as the
color of night that here came another phoned-in Willis performance, a sad yippie-kai-meh to one of America’s
most vital action icons.
(2012, 51%) John Carter
“Is it just me, or do we actually know how to do this better than live-action crews do?” Finding
Nemo director Andrew Stanton humbly pondered in a New Yorker piece during production
of John Carter (née Mars). Hopes were high for these Pixar directors to make good on breaking
free of the animation “ghetto” (Brad Bird made Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol the year before),
and rival executives were anticipating they’d be taken down a notch, especially for having the gall to adapt
something as difficult and weird as Edgar Rice Burroughs’ books. John Carter‘s anemic marketing and
failure to break past the Fresh barrier led to a cosmic box office bust.
(2015, 50%) Tomorrowland
Brad Bird himself needed to prepare for a rough landing with Tomorrowland. Up to that point, every movie
he directed had been Certified Fresh, including famously troubled Ratatouille, which he took over mid-
production. The mysterious marketing campaign drummed up a lot of intrigue and interest for some classical sci-
fi, though when critics and audiences planted themselves in theaters, they got a curiously empty, curiously Objectivist trifle.
(2017, 29%) King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
H’wood has been drawing from the public domain well hardcore these past few years (think Jungle Book,
think Tarzan, think too many movies with the word Origins in the title), so what did this
movie with Charlie Hunnam as chav Arthur have going for it? Well, the director was Guy Ritchie, who was coming
off of cult pleaser Man From U.N.C.L.E. and did a bang-up job updating Sherlock Holmes. (That one time,
at least.) Did we mention Arthur as a chav? Oi! Ultimately, we’re calling this a major turkey because it
presaged for all the turkeys that would quickly follow: Summer 2017 was a tastefully apocalyptic season as
multiple Rotten blockbusters bombed in a row: Baywatch, Transformers: Is It The Fifth One?,
and Pirates: The One That Just Came Out. Naturally, when we got covered in The New
York Times, a major studio chief executive “declared flatly that his mission was to destroy the review-
(2004, 54$) Home on the Range
The year is 2004. It’s been 10 years since Walt Disney Animation’s last masterpiece, The Lion King. The
Pixar new wave had changed the industry, and traditional animation was on its way out. Home on the
Range was Disney’s attempt to match the high irreverence of 3D cartoons, which only alienated critics and
audiences. The studio produced only computer animation from there on, save for 2009’s The Princess and the
Frog, which, though Certified Fresh, would again fail to find a global audience.
52%) The Amazing Spider-Man 2
A Spidey reboot so soon after Sam Raimi’s infamous Spider-Man 3? Sony ran the risk of audiences
getting fed up being whipped around like so much wrist web around Manhattan, but that was before seeing how well
Andrew Garfield slipped into the role in the Certified Fresh Amazing Spider-Man.. Then came the sequel,
which, fittingly, had the same faults of Spider-Man 3: indifferent direction and way too many villains.
It was enough to get Sony to tie a complicated knot with Marvel, and bring the character over to the MCU.
(2011, 44%) Cowboys and Aliens
Harrison Ford back in a fedora? Daniel Craig in a major blockbuster post- Casino Royale? And if there
was a director that could bring all this together in the high concept Cowboys & Aliens, why not Jon
Faverau, the guy who turned a B-list Marvel superhero like Tony Stark into moviedom’s #1 attraction? Alas,
C&A took its concept way too seriously.
(2008, 18%) The Happening
The Village has its defenders, but Lady in the Water was a total dud. Maybe what M. Night
Shayamalan needed was a less restrictive sandbox to mess around in. The marketing for The Happening
played up that this was his first R-rated feature and kept the premise under wraps. As though Mark
Wahlberg talking to a plastic plant is a joy that needed to be hidden from the world.
(2010, 6%) The Last Airbender
Okay, maaaaybe what Shayamalan needed was to make an epic! With lots of money! Based on a beloved
television property! Just watch this to see how that
(2003, 7%) Gigli
Like a case of collective Stockholm Syndrome, America was getting used to “Bennifer,” the pagan portmanteau
denoting the holy unity of Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez. “Bennifer Spotted at Venice Farmers Market, Rejecting
Wrinkled Squash,” the headlines read. “Bennifer Snorkeling Off Point Dume,” “Bennifer Anticipates Rise of Silver
Lake Neighborhood as Hipster Enclave, Escorted Out of HOA Meeting,” and so on. So when negative chatter arose
over Gigli, a monument to Bennifer’s enduring love, that the movie was actually a complete
embarrassment, we thought, “Could it be? Truly? Gobble,
(2000, 3%) Battlefield Earth
The post- Pulp Fiction comeback of John Travolta came to an official, screeching, Dutch-angled end with
Battlefield Earth, a supremely hokey sci-fi epic adapted from Scientology mastermind L. Ron Hubbard.
(2017, 21%) The Book of Henry
After directing Jurassic World to $1.5 billion and signing on to do the ninth Star Wars movie,
Colin Trevorrow took a quick detour to make passion project The Book of Henry. It’s a
manipulative, misconceived movie involving adult predators, dead kids and brain tumors, and Naomi Watts prowling
the neighborhood with a sniper rifle. The movie choked on a 21% Tomatometer, and three months later, Trevorrow
exited from directing Star Wars.
(2016, 13%) Collateral Beauty
Another movie that informs us how to live, truly live, courtesy of characters who are afflicted with
everything. Will Smith has a dead kid, and wears a beanie. Michael Pena has handsome man cancer. Kate
Winslet is too old to have kids. Edward Norton is a cold and distant person. He’s also in this movie. The latter
three team up to oust Smith from his own company, turning to three thespians pretending to be Death, Time, and
Love. In a mawkish twist, they actually are those concepts in the flesh. Collateral Beauty is
the feel good movie from Hollywood execs numb to reality.
(2011, 39%) Cars 2
This movie ended Pixar’s unprecedented 16-year Certified Fresh streak. Kachow!