Without a doubt, Hollywood has managed to endure throughout major changes in technology and consumption trends. Hollywood has taken us from silent films to color features, all the way to to today, when changing demographics are demanding movies become more inclusive in terms of stories and cast members. But sometimes, even Hollywood can fall flat. If you’re wondering which movies consistently miss the mark, we’ve rounded up a few of the most negatively reviewed movies in recent decades.
“The Great Gatsby”
If you’re picturing the Leonardo DiCaprio version of “The Great Gatsby,” just know that the 2013 release isn’t the only one based on the best-seller from F. Scott Fitzgerald. The first movie was a silent flick released in 1926 shortly after the book was published. And that was followed by a “talking picture” in 1949, then another in 1974 before the most recent splashy version that most millennials know today. But with all those remakes, this movie continues to fall a little short of expectations for those who’ve read the novel. So what gives?
It seems that runaway creative license is probably to blame as directors attempt to compete with a book that reads like a vivid, detailed flashback. While the 1926 silent picture is almost impossible to find, if you can catch the trailer, it tends to be the most authentic. The 1949 version was panned by even the Fitzgeralds — especially since the movie was switched from 1922 to 1928, many characters completely changed from the book, and it featured heavy influence from that era’s gangster genre. While most critics agree that the 1974 version was faithful, it was also plodding and a struggle to complete. And then there’s the 2013 version that many people felt was a study in sensory overload.
You might wonder how one could butcher a comic book movie. For the most part, these movies tend to be summer blockbusters in which the plot can be a little thin as long as the action scenes are intense and the casting is solid. Well, that question is easily answered if you look at the "Fantastic Four" franchise. Compared to the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and its "Infinity Series" movies centered on the “Avengers” and their massive cast of characters, you’ll note that the Fantastic Four were omitted from that 21-movie run.
While the comic book series continues to be a fan favorite for Marvel, the movies paled in comparison. To be fair, the first "Fantastic Four" movies — “Fantastic Four" and its sequel "Rise of the Silver Surfer” — came out years ahead of the first “Iron Man” movie that launched the "Infinity Series." But in 2015, Marvel attempted to reboot the storyline. Again we ask, what went wrong? This time, casting and poor synergies are to blame. The 2005 and 2007 movies had an A-list cast for the quartet... but no chemistry between them. And with the 2015 reboot, critics blamed a massive deviation from the standard Marvel aesthetic.
Considering that “The Nutcracker” is a holiday classic, it would seem that this immersive tale would be an easy home run for Hollywood. The most recent iteration of Tchaikovsky’s famed ballet hit the big screen this past year, just ahead of the holiday season — and it flopped. But like many of the other movies that made this list, the 2018 version wasn’t the first crash and burn for the piece on the big screen. So, why can’t filmmakers tell this Christmas classic properly?
Just like with “The Great Gatsby,” let’s chalk this one up to creative license gone awry. In total there have been six attempts to bring “The Nutcracker" to the big screen since the 1980s. And in each one, the movie performed either modestly or flopped. Most critics agree that attempting to “re-imagine” the story beyond its original plot tends to be the biggest hurdle. Plus, timing is everything. The most recent version, “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms,” was released almost head to head with the massively successful, Academy Award-winning Freddie Mercury biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody” — and it lost.
“Jem and the Holograms”
Unlike the other movies that made our list, “Jem and the Holograms” has been attempted only once. Considering that the movie was yanked from theaters two weeks after its debut, we hope they don’t try to revive it unless they’re faithful to the original works. If you’re not an 80s baby, “Jem and the Holograms” was a popular cartoon that centered on a daughter (Jerrica Benton) who inherits her father’s record label while also trying to manage her orphanage. In the cartoon version, Jerrica discovers a secret machine her father built, called Synergy, who turns Jerrica and her friends into the pop group Jem and the Holograms just before they perform.
The cartoon is a cult classic and can even be watched on Netflix. But when Universal Pictures decided to turn it into a movie, they opted to skip most of the original storyline in a bid to make a new-fangled tween-friendly piece. “Jem and the Holograms” performed so poorly that it totaled only $1.3 million in ticket sales before it was pulled, making it the third-worst performing movie in modern Hollywood history. Millennials and Gen-Xers felt betrayed and robbed of their childhood while Gen-Z and younger had no interest in this film.
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