Box office victory is a tricky thing to capture, whether you're a bold new idea with some heavy star power or the latest installment of a reliable franchise. Quite a few 2019 movies with big names and big budgets have received painfully disappointing thumbs downs from critics and audiences alike, and no genre seems immune. Here are 2019's biggest box office bombs.
In spite of mostly positive reviews, Missing Link missed pretty spectacularly at the box office. A yeti named Susan, voiced by Zach Galifianakis is found in the Pacific Northwest by Sir Lionel Frost, voiced by Hugh Jackman. Susan, Frost, and Frost's old romantic partner Adelina Fortnight, voiced by Zoe Saldana embark on a quest to unite Susan with other yeti in the Himalayas.
While it got thumbs-ups from critics, Missing Link didn't just do badly, it made history. According to the website Cartoon Brew, Missing Link had the lowest opening ever for a film released in more than 3,200 theaters with its opening weekend take of $5.8 million. It was also the lowest grossing release for the stop-motion animation studio Laika, whose first film, 2009's Coraline, enjoyed a worldwide gross of $75.3 million, compared to Missing Link's $16.2 million.
Laika has taken modern animation in creatively satisfying new directions in the past, but they may actually be the problem. Since Coraline, each successive new movie from the studio has performed worse than its predecessor. Keeping this in mind and paying attention to those few critics who panned Missing Link paints the picture of a studio that's lost its edge. Here's hoping they can get it back together for their next release.
In a universe where dolls are tailor-made for specific children, Uglyville is the receptacle for the ones too strange to survive the Institute of Perfection's standards. In UglyDolls, one of the toys dumped in Uglyville, named Moxy, voiced by Kelly Clarkson, leads her friends to the outside world to find out what exists beyond their town. Sounds like an okay premise, right? Anthropomorphic dolls, singing, plenty of laughs, a good message for kids that being different isn't bad. It's what makes you unique! What could go wrong?
According to the critics, very little went right. UglyDolls may say it's about celebrating difference, but critics thought it was just another helping of the same old stuff, with a boring plot that couldn't even get to the level of being interestingly bland. Another common complaint is that, while we all know movies aimed at kids work hard for the merchandise revenue, UglyDolls seemed to be doing nothing but advertising its merch, in this case a toy line that launched back in 2001. Parents seemed to pick up on all this, and as a result, UglyDolls pulled in a worldwide gross of $19.7 million, not even half its budget of $45 million.
The delightful coming-of-age comedy Booksmart, the directorial debut of actress Olivia Wilde, is exactly the kind of film that modern audiences say that they want, but that Hollywood just won't give them. It's not a superhero film, a sci-fi adventure, or an adaptation of an existing property; it's smart, funny, and is led by a pair of talented young women in Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein. Comedic heavies including Lisa Kudrow, Jason Sudeikis, and Will Forte stocked its supporting cast. It even had the seal of approval from critics who absolutely loved the movie. Audiences, however, could not have cared less.
Sure, the film opened to some stiff competition. Disney's live-action Aladdin opened in the same weekend, John Wick: Chapter 3, Parabellum dropped the weekend before, and Avengers: Endgame was still chugging along toward eventual world domination. Booksmart wasn't really aiming for the same audiences, though, going for a crowd with a preference for well-made, thoughtful, original fare over big-budget tent poles. The problem? That crowd simply failed to show up, maybe because they're content to wait for smaller, more cerebral flicks to show up on streaming services. If this describes you, take note: if you'd like Hollywood to make more films like Booksmart, you may want to see the ones they do give us in the theater.
Keep watching the video to find out more about 2019’s biggest box office bombs.
Missing Link | 0:22
UglyDolls | 1:40
Booksmart | 2:41
Shaft | 3:51
Terminator: Dark Fate | 5:04
Doctor Sleep | 6:34
Charlie's Angels | 7:40
Dark Phoenix | 8:43
The Beach Bum | 10:06