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Audience Alienating Premise / Film

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Some films are able to attract multiple demographics. These films, on the other hand, tend to attract a very small demographic.


  • Almost every movie set during the Iraq War has been a box office bomb, including The Kingdom, Green Zone, and In the Valley of Elah. The war itself is so politically charged (the most controversial case since The Vietnam War) that any depiction of it risks alienating large chunks of the audience based on its perceived politics and it's too current to work as escapism. An alternative explanation is that the problem is with films perceived as critical of the military, or as depicting typical soldiers as victims and/or war criminals. The one successful Iraq War movie, American Sniper, focused on a specific, real life soldier and thus was distant enough of those pitfalls. Act of Valor managed to make money, and that started life as a Navy SEAL recruitment film (and the jingoistic tone was hated by critics but certainly worked for the viewers). Zero Dark Thirty, by the same team of The Hurt Locker, also recouped its budget given it dealt with the hunt everyone wanted to be solved. (Zero Dark Thirty, along with Lone Survivor, also shows how Afghanistan is less contentious for audiences than Iraq and thus easier to sell).


  • Sony Pictures is infamous for producing and releasing films with off-putting premises that are quite often critically reviled on release, generate controversy pre-release and bomb as a result of said controversy, especially after 2014:
    • While Happy Madison Productions' films tend to attract audiences, they've also made a few that appeal to no one:
      • Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star promised viewers the story of a masturbating Manchild with a tiny penis attempting to become a porn star. It turned out the audience of people interested in seeing a buck-toothed man in a sweater vest repeatedly pleasure himself was very small indeed, and the film made less than a third of its budget back, on top of being critically savaged.
      • That's My Boy is about the survivor of statutory rape at the hands of a middle school teacher and parental abuse at the hands of his father. Decades later, he's an unemployed alcoholic, and he hasn't spoken to his now-adult son of said rape in years. It's a comedy starring Adam Sandler. Critics, and much of the potential audience, found the setup far too serious to be funny, and it never recouped its budget.
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    • Ghostbusters (2016) became infamous for this. The fact that it was a Continuity Reboot with an all-female cast who unceremoniously replaced the originals rather than a continuation of the first two films did not sit well with the Ghostbusters fanbase, which wasn't helped by the fact that a planned Ghostbusters 3 was reportedly cancelled in favour of greenlighting this movie or that die-hard fans had been on-again-off-again taunted with the prospect of a proper third sequel for thirty years. The fact that it came out during a very contentious election year, as well as the underwhelming trailers and all the bad publicity caused by all the flame wars over the film's direction and cast resulted in casual moviegoers being turned off from seeing the movie as well, leading to it bombing at the box office despite a mixed to positive critical reception. It's rather telling that a major selling-point of Ghostbusters: Afterlife is that it's a direct, if distant, sequel to Ghostbusters II that goes out of its way to ignore this version.
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    • Charlie's Angels (2019) was a more feminist (and more race-diverse) reboot of the original 1970s series. But it didn't pan out: The original (male) fans were alienated by the desexualization and more Anvilicious and feminist tone of the characters, while the women and the young female audience Sony was trying to market to also ignored the film as they still viewed it as "the Jiggle Show from the Seventies", and being too dusty a property to woo the 18-24 crowd (some of whom wouldn't have been born when the Diaz/Barrymore/Liu films were released!). The result was a major Box Office Bomb.

Individual Movies

  • 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi combines a highly volatile subject matter with a divisive filmmaker whose previous attempt at a war film was not well-received, during an election year. Add that it was released alongside Ride Along 2 while facing stiff holdovers, and it became a box office bomb.
  • The straight-to-DVD 2015 romantic comedy, Accidental Love, used to be David O. Russell's failed project Nailed which is about a waitress (played by Jessica Biel) who got a nail stuck in her head and then, went to appeal a congressman (played by Jake Gyllenhaal) to pass the health care bill. This was even made when O. Russell was still notorious for his troublesome on-set behavior at that time and anyone who had seen the film noticed that it looked very outdated - especially because a health care bill did pass in the years between filming and release. Now we know why O. Russell disowned it and used the Alan Smithee approach.
  • Alegría, the dramatic film inspired by the Cirque du Soleil show, is a fable that entwines the story of a street mime and a circus singer falling in Love at First Sight with that of unwanted children being forced to tend and sell flowers for a cruel taskmaster. Aside from the obvious (namely, Everyone Hates Mimes), it's too dark and mature thematically for children — the story kicks off with the mime and his child friend both literally wanting to die, a supporting character is a lovelorn old alcoholic, etc. But how many teens or adults want to watch a movie about whimsical circus people helping each other to realize that they have A World Half Full? The film only made it to theaters in Canada and a few European countries.
  • American Ultra is a prime case of this. The plot is about a stoner who is trained by the CIA, but somehow doesn't know that they were trained by the CIA and the CIA now want the stoner dead... and that is a premise that nobody would know who to market towards. The supposed stoner comedy was a major flop and critical mess. Screenplay writer Max Landis stated in an interview with RedLetterMedia that the movie was marketed as a stoner comedy when it was never meant to be, and that audiences were not willing to give it a chance as a result.
  • Amos & Andrew is a film about a black man who moves to a predominantly white island into a summer home who ends up getting mistaken for a criminal and nearly gets killed by police. And it's Played for Laughs, with much of the humor being sitcomesque. Critics dismissed the film as racist tripe and it bombed in theatres.
  • Assholes (directed by actor and model Peter Vack) combines the mumblecore genre with extreme gross-out comedy and Body Horror with detailed close-ups of herpes sores, our main female protagonist defecating a demon, Incest Subtext, vomit and poop. The entire plot revolves around our main characters getting addicted to poppers and the toxic relationship that results from that (Played for Laughs, in this case). The title and trailer also outright advertise the fact that there are no truly likeable characters. The combination of genres (mumblecore, gross-out comedy and Sadist Show) is unlikely to appeal to anyone. David Ehrlich once said that the film played out "like a microbudget cross between Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom and The Squid and the Whale,". Despite receiving an award at SXSW, it has 4.3 on IMDB at time of writing and is featured on the Letterboxd list "The Most Controversial Films on Letterboxd" (which aggregates all the films on letterboxd with the most variance in ratings) which cements the film's polarizing reception.
  • The Assignment (2016): Many people generally disliked the idea of a man undergoing involuntary sex reassignment being played for horror/comedy (and very unrealistically), with some transgender rights groups advocating boycotting the film, although the director insists it really wasn't meant to be transphobic at all. Because of this, despite having a budget of only three million dollars, the film was still a massive Box Office Bomb.
  • Battleship is one of the most infamous cases of this. Both Universal and Hasbro were expecting huge numbers for the film after the latter's success with the Transformers franchise. But while that series was based on a toyline that had decades of lore, Battleship was based on a board game with no plot, which sounded like an absurd idea to most people. They tried to spice it up by adding some sci-fi elements to the story, but that only made it look like every other blockbuster movie at the time. Ultimately, it ended up flopping (in the U.S., at least), and any plans for a sequel were sunk.
  • Baywatch (2017) attempted to repeat the Deconstructive Parody route that worked for 21 Jump Street to please those who weren't fans of the TV show. And then came trailers showcasing that the cheeky self-references were annoying, and also that the film was loaded with Vulgar Humor. This certainly drove away potential Baywatch viewers and made it tank in the domestic box office (while faring somewhat better internationally).
  • The Beaver is about a mentally-ill man who is able to communicate with a discarded beaver puppet. The concept itself is a hard sell, but the film stars Mel Gibson in the lead role and tries to portray him in a sympathetic context... at the time where Gibson had made headlines for controversial tirades against his ex-wife as well as his infamous DUI arrest. The film flopped and was met with a mixed reception among critics.
  • Bombshell was an outright flop during awards season despite generally positive reviews, especially for the performances. The big problem was that it was a classic "film for no one": the movie is about Fox News (alienating liberal-leaning audiences who have disdain for the openly and heavily conservative network) regarding sexual misconduct at Fox News (alienating conservative-leaning audiences who place Fox News on a media pedestal), and any attempt to make the movie a "fun" look at corrupt executives a la The Wolf of Wall Street and The Big Short (the trailers heavily used Billie Eilish's "Bad Guy") didn't catch on.
  • The Book of Henry features an abused girl that no one believes so because the abusive parent, a police commissioner, has connections, so the kid next door — Henry — decides to create a plan to save her... by killing her father! The jarring tone shifts (a glurgey first half, then Henry dies, and once his mother discovers the eponymous book with the plan, she goes on with it) make it even worse.
  • Boxing Helena: A surgeon becomes obsessed with a woman, and amputates both of her arms and both of her legs so as to keep her in a box. Reportedly, the picture cost roughly $2 million to make in a decade when most Hollywood features cost about $50 million, and still managed to lose money. Quite notably, Kim Basinger broke her contract and refused to do the film after reading the script, which made a huge dent in her career for years, yet it's still generally agreed this was the right decision and she would have fared even worse if she'd been in it.
  • Black Christmas (2019) was the second remake of the acclaimed (and Trope Maker for the Slasher Movie) original film... except with an incredibly unsubtle message about toxic masculinity and rape culture that the director bizarrely went out of the way to promote, even outright saying that she had put "message before plot". Fans of the original film were dismayed by it not being a faithful adaptation, and general audiences were left with nobody worth rooting and/or caring for. Predictably, it was met with savage reviews and underperformed at the box office, with the ill-fated 2006 remake being perceived as So Bad, It Was Better.
  • The film Caligula is extremely notorious in part because of this. It tried to be simultaneously a dramatic historical epic and a low-brow sexploitation film, and failed at both. The drama was too ludicrous for the mainstream, and even if it wasn't, they would have still been turned away by the depraved sexual acts. Meanwhile, the porno crowd didn't find the drama appealing, and the exploitation stuff wasn't titillating enough for them.
  • The Call of the Wild (2020) was a film adaptation of the Jack London novel of the same name...except as a live-action/animation hybrid with Buck becoming a CGI dog and the story retooled for a PG audience. Adults who were interested in an adaptation didn't care for all of the changes and thought the CGI was distracting and unnecessary, while families were turned off because a film based on an old, dark, and violent book (despite its presence in many grade-school libraries) didn't sound very kid-friendly, so it became a huge commercial flop (being released right as the COVID-19 Pandemic was starting to hit the film industry didn't help).
  • Cats is the adaptation of a popular yet divisive stage show, already pushing away those who don't like musicals or the original productions — which to make matters worse, has a structure that works better on a stage, a succession of dance numbers scored to an "I Am" Song with barely a plot in-between. And then comes a trailer showing the characters are anthropomorphic cats with overly-human features right out of the Uncanny Valley, which are oddly sexualized even though the movie is PG-rated, and the alienation was complete. Add opening on Christmas weekend opposite Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, as well as other family-friendly fare such as Jumanji: The Next Level and Frozen II, and Cats went straight to the litterbox as a critical and commercial flop.
  • The 1930s movie Child Bride, which was seemingly about the horrors of child marriage, but leaned more towards... exploitation. As the subject matter was too disturbing for nearly all audiences, it was quickly forgotten and buried. Infamously, it was passed up by Mystery Science Theater 3000 because of this.
  • Cloud Atlas is nearly three hours long and has six simultaneous plots with widely different tones (Period Drama, character-based drama, techno-thriller, farcical comedy, sci-fi action, Science Fantasy) and only thematic connections. To make it worse, to ensure the cast could have roles in all the stories, there is Yellowface, which made many Asian-Americans want to boycott. No wonder it didn't perform well in theaters, but good home video numbers mean it may become a Cult Classic.
  • Clue, when in theaters, ran with the gimmick of Multiple Endings where a moviegoer would be treated to one of three different endings. This alienated the audience because they didn't want to go multiple times just to see all the endings (if possible), and the film performed poorly at the box office as a result. It says a lot that when the film was released on cable and video, and with all three endings combined together to make one (with two fake and one real), it performed far better and is still viewed as a Cult Classic today.
  • Reading through contemporary reviews of The Dark Crystal shows that few people could fathom the concept that a film made with puppets, and helmed by perhaps the most beloved children's entertainer of his time Jim Henson, could possibly be for anyone over age 10, resulting in it being castigated for being far too dark and scary for kids. And of course, this is exactly what Henson was going for, as he'd always hated being pigeonholed as only doing work for children and wanted to branch out to adult-oriented material. His follow-up film Labyrinth was clearly an attempt to strike more of a balance, with more kid-friendly characters and the lead hero and villain played by human actors, but it still was too much of a stretch for critics and audiences of the time, sending him into a Creator Breakdown he never had time to quite recover from before his death a few years later. Luckily, both films have since become seriously reevaluated and are now beloved Cult Classics.
  • A key reason, though not the only one, the Jerry Lewis film The Day the Clown Cried will never be released. A movie about a German clown (Lewis) who entertains doomed children at a concentration camp isn't going to fly over well. With anyone. Lewis himself kept his own copy locked up and refused to mention it when asked. He donated it to the Library of Congress some time prior to his death, on the stipulation it would not be screened until 2024.
  • With a title like "Dear White People", you know a movie is going to be controversial. Racism is a pretty touchy topic and the heavily politicized feel turned off many viewers, especially white viewers. Word of God insists the film isn't meant to be taken seriously and is more about personal identity, but the title and trailer doesn't really give that impression to the casual white viewer.
  • Dick, a comedy set in the 1970s about two teenage girls who develop a crush on Richard Nixon and end up becoming major figures in the Watergate scandal. Teens weren't interested in a comedy based around 1970s nostalgia while adults weren't interested in the revisionist history concept (the film also depicts Woodward and Bernstein as a pair of morons) so the film died a quick death at the box office, plus the Historical In-Joke that the girls were the Watergate informant "Deep Throat" turned the movie into an Unintentional Period Piece a few years later when W. Mark Felt admitted he was the true identity of "Deep Throat". However, it has become a Cult Classic over the years.
  • Dragonslayer was a deconstructive fantasy about, well, a dragon slayer, loaded with darker themes akin to something this side of the A Song of Ice and Fire series, co-produced by Disney and Paramount. And it was rated PG. Families and children avoided it because of the very dark themes despite its PG rating, including blood, murder, scary dragons, arguments over religion, partial nudity, as well as the blatant misogyny of women being sacrificed to dragons (showing the viewers the messy results). Those pining for darker and edgier fantasy avoided it as well because... they saw it as a "PG-rated film by Disney". It flopped at the box office and was largely forgotten by both studios as a result. Though years later, some viewers liked it after getting past the premise, making the film a bit of a Cult Classic nowadays.
  • The documentary Earthlings already touches on a pretty heated subject regarding dietary habits, but between its clear appeal to emotion and equating modern society with that of the Nazis for using animals for food (something the human species has done since the dawn of its existence), it's really easy to see why this movie would be off-putting, if not downright offensive, to most people.
  • Exit to Eden was a 1994 romantic comedy film starring Dana Delany and directed by Garry Marshall, and featuring Dan Aykroyd and Rosie O'Donnell in a major comic relief subplot. Sounds like a pretty safe bet—unless you know that it was based on a kinky BDSM romance novel written by Anne Rice, and Delany's character is a Dominatrix. General audiences (who might otherwise have enjoyed the comedy and romance) were largely turned off by the film's frank portrayal of sadomasochistic relationships, while kinksters (who might otherwise have enjoyed the BDSM) found it too silly to be erotic. The result was an infamous Box Office Bomb, which is still frequently cited as one of the worst films of the 1990s.
  • Fantastic Four (2015) was a dark and serious reimagining of a whimsical and light-hearted superhero team, full of Body Horror and largely devoid of action. Naturally, this scared off fans of both the source material and superhero movies. Fans of the classic Fantastic Four disliked the grounded premise that excised the more fantastical and bizarre elements of the comics. People who enjoyed the gritty Ultimate Fantastic Four, which the film was supposedly based on, were unhappy that the film would not be a faithful adaptation. To top it all off, several fans wanted it to fail, in the hopes that Fox would sell or give the rights to the team back to Marvel Studios for inclusion in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (which would eventually happen in 2019 when Disney completed its acquisition of Fox and most of its assets, including the Fantastic Four film rights). Any wonder why it was a commercial flop?
  • The Benedict Cumberbatch film The Fifth Estate was a thriller about hacker/activist Julian Assange, who is still considered a controversial figure by many Americans. Add to it that the Misaimed Marketing made it look like the movie was trying to rewrite history and turn Assange into some sort of kick-ass action hero, and it's no wonder it turned out to be a Box Office Bomb. It didn't help that the film was based on a book written by a former associate of Assange who has since become one of his most hated rivals. That assured that even those who vehemently support Assange would refuse to go see it, on the assumption that the film would make him look bad.
  • Flash of Genius was a Docudrama about Robert Kearns, his invention of the intermittent windshield wiper, and his lawsuit against the Ford Motor Company. Problem was, the subject matter was very mundane and the real-life event isn't well-known to most people. Unsurprisingly, it failed to attract most moviegoers and didn't even make a quarter of its budget back. As Bomb Report describes it:
    "Windshield wipers + no star power = flop."
  • Freddy Got Fingered, which starred absurdist comedian Tom Green, was almost universally denounced, disparaged, and ridiculed. Although mainstream TV ads for the movie looked harmless enough, the film itself followed the misadventures of an apparently mentally handicapped man who made it his life's mission to be as bizarre and offensive as possible (licking an open wound, wearing a bloody deer carcass as clothing, etc.). Roger Ebert at least paid this movie the compliment of reminding him of the classic surrealist film Un Chien Andalou - but then, moviegoers in 1929 hated that, too.
    Kyle Kallgren: This cannot be Dada! It's too normal to be Dada! It's too shit to be anything else!
  • Funny Games (either version) presents itself as a Gorn film that deconstructs the genre and makes the viewer question why they watch gorn films to start with. The problem here is that gorn fans don't appreciate being told they're sick bastards by the films they're watching (and it isn't explicit enough for gore fans to get a thrill out of anyway), and non-fans aren't going to watch it in the first place. This was freely acknowledged by director Michael Haneke, who once observed: "If you walked out of the film, you didn't need to see it."
  • Fun Size is a movie produced by Nickelodeon's theatrical film company that looks like it's aiming for the tween girl demographic like Nick's many kidcoms (it starred Victoria Justice, hot off the success of Victorious), yet it's rated PG-13. The movie's too crude for young kids (the trailers alone highlight this), and the find-the-missing-little-brother plot is too childish for the tweens.
  • Errol Morris's debut documentary embodies this trope — Gates of Heaven is about a family-run pet cemetery faced with closure and the challenge of finding new resting places for its inhabitants. It's a sweet, gentle film, but it's not surprising to learn that Werner Herzog's infamous shoe-eating venture was the result of a bet he lost with Morris over whether it could get released at all!
  • This was one of the reasons cited for the box office failure of Ghost in the Shell (2017). While the 90s anime movie has Cult Classic status in the United States, there's still a large number of people who had never heard of the franchise. This proved problematic with the marketing, which seemed to be trying to appeal to hardcore fans instead of casual moviegoers, who of course tend to outnumber anime fans. Also complicating things was the fact that a lot of the themes and imagery used in the trailer had already been covered in The Matrix, which caused many potential viewers to think the movie looked like a tired rehash (in fact, the Wachowskis admitted that GITS was a major inspiration for them). Another issue is that despite the film being marketed to them, many hardcore fans of the original films and series avoided it since the filmmakers took too many creative liberties with the license and arguably completely missed the point of the animated film it was based on. Then there was the infamous controversy over having Scarlett Johansson play the Major, AKA Motoko Kusanagi, which dominated the entire conversation about the movie and made many nerds antsy about supporting it. As one writer put it:
    "A lot of journalists – especially fan bloggers – who would normally breathlessly cover this kind of movie approached it with a lot of caution. No one wants to seem socially ignorant, so a whole lot of sites that generally provide free PR offered far less support. As a result, the movie got way less play online, and when Johansson did get interviewed, she often had to defend her casting."
  • New Line Cinema attempted to follow up their spectacular success with The Lord of the Rings by adapting another famous fantasy novel series, and settled on His Dark Materials. Unfortunately, the series had become Overshadowed by Controversy as its author Philip Pullman had openly stated that his goal was to provide an atheist answer to the Christian-based fantasy series The Chronicles of Narnia, in which the heroes' ultimate goal is to "kill God." This subtext had remained under the surface enough in the first two books to not cause much trouble, but exploded in the third and became a favorite target of the Catholic Church. New Line's response was to tone down these elements as much as possible, changing the villainous organization the Magisterium from a clear parallel of the church to a more generic Evil Empire. This ended up pleasing no one: the people who were complaining in the first place were not the sort to back down over a slight story change, and the fans of the series were outraged at such a capitulation and wondered why the studio had bothered getting the rights to such a controversial series if they weren't prepared to go all the way with it. The first (and to this day, the only) film, The Golden Compass was released to middling reviews and mediocre box office (the latter in North America, anyway), and the future films were scrapped. Its domestic failure also caused Warner Bros. to absorb New Line and did a number on rising star Dakota Blue Richards' career as well.
  • Hanzo the Razor is a trilogy of films about a samurai detective/metsuke solving various corruptions in Edo Japan. The series mixes this relatively interesting premise with blaxploitation-inspired music and editing, but the problem is that Hanzo himself is a Designated Hero who is just as repugnant as the murderers and thieves he encounters along the way, due to raping women to get the information he needs. The worst part, they enjoy it by the end usually.
  • The Happytime Murders suffered from this big time. A hard-R involving Muppet-like puppets didn't appeal to many people (Meet the Feebles suffered from this same problem), on top of Melissa McCarthy's declining star power and the fact that the Jim Henson Company, who co-produced the film, has had several not-very-well-received projects come out within the decadenote . The film's main selling point was the novelty of R-rated puppets — except that coming long after Avenue Q, Greg the Bunny, Team America: World Police, and the aforementioned Meet the Feebles, the novelty was gone. It naturally was met with weak reviews and floundered in the box office against Crazy Rich Asians.
  • 2019's The Haunting of Sharon Tate could only qualify as this. What would have been an otherwise generic and forgettable horror film made the incredibly tasteless decision to attach the tragic murders of Sharon Tate and her friends in order to draw in a wider audience. In addition to the largely offensive account of her final days which portrays Tate's real-life friends and fellow victims as freeloaders and nuisances (even at one point, fellow victim Jay Sebring refers to them as "housemates from Hell"), Sharon herself (played by Hilary Duff of all people in a Razzie-winning performance) is portrayed as increasingly crazy partially due to her pregnancy. Unlike Quentin Tarantino's Oscar-winning account that also featured a fictionalized portrayal of the actress, Sharon's family disowned the film and critics and fans alike agreed wholeheartedly, even citing it as the worst film of the year with it currently holding an 8% rating on Metacritic.
  • Hercules (2014) takes place after Hercules's twelve labors and is built around demythification of the Hercules story. Unfortunately most mainstream audiences don't actually know the Hercules story. Sure, people could tell you he had superhuman strength and some might even mention monsters and labors, but only a classical myth nut would be able to name all of them. This might be why the marketing team went out of their way to obscure the film's actual premise.
  • Hugo was rife with things to alienate audiences despite the name of Martin Scorsese attached. A director mostly known for R-rated fare doing a family film? Which in turn is a Period Piece with no big names (at most, Sacha Baron Cohen and Ben Kingsley in secondary roles), opening the same weekend as The Muppets? No wonder that in spite of all the positive reviews, even becoming a major award contender, Hugo barely recouped its huge budget at the box office.
  • The French Christmas movie I Believe in Santa Claus from 1984. The film's plot revolves about a boy and girl who run away to the North Pole to convince Santa and a ditzy fairy to find the boy's missing parents. Where are these parents? They're somewhere in Africa where they are the hostages of a warlord. And early in the film said boy is at the mercy of a vicious school janitor who literally abuses the kid, even going so far as to lock him in a broom closet, without any repercussions. All of these aspects made this movie a hard sell.
  • Inchon was a movie about a major battle in the Korean War. It was also a propaganda vehicle for the Unification Church, directly funded by founder Sun Myung Moon. Given that the Church is widely seen as a cult today, and was even less popular then, it was immediately viewed with suspicion, and it took years to find a willing distributor. (along with not being very good in spite of the big names and budget, resulting in a critical and commercial disaster never released on home video) It did, however, provide the world with Laurence Olivier's famous Money, Dear Boy quote, and an acclaimed soundtrack album.
  • Disney faced a similar problem to the below-mentioned The Princess Bride with its adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs' John Carter of Mars series: the title of the first book, A Princess of Mars, was seen as being too alienating for the young male audience who would be the natural target for an adaptation of the classic pulp action storynote . They instead titled the film John Carter, which ended up being equally unappealing as despite the massive influence of the series, Carter himself hasn't gained the kind of name recognition (especially compared to Burroughs' other major hero Tarzan) for his name alone to get many people interested. The result was that a film various people had been trying to get off the ground for almost a century bombed hard and created a Stillborn Franchise.
  • Just Visiting is an Americanized 2001 time-travel comedy based off the French Les Visiteurs series. But the American side didn't care as it was based off the French series almost no one knew about, while the French were alienated by the many differences between this film and the parent series. It was a Box Office Bomb all the way around and was turned into an Un-Reboot after Les Visiteurs: Bastille Day ignored the events of this film.
  • A Karate Christmas Miracle (starring Eric Roberts) is not what you'd expect from its title. On the surface, it tells the story of a boy who believes that if he earns a black belt in Karate, Santa might bring his long-missing father home for Christmas. Sounds heartwarming, right? Until you learn that the father disappeared during a mass shooting at a movie theater, and is last seen being threatened by a clown with a gun. So, essentially, the Aurora tragedy! Taking into account the possible poor taste of the subject matter, the fact is that the film doesn't know if it wants to be a heartwarming Christmas fable or a dark commentary on gun control. Consider that the film's writer, Kenneth del Vecchio (who also plays the father) has made politically-charged movies in the past, owing to him being a law student. It's as if the filmmakers wanted to make a straight social-commentary movie but the financiers decided to shoehorn Christmas into it because they thought it would sell better.
  • The Killing of John Lennon is pretty much Exactly What It Says on the Tin - a film about how some asshole set out to kill John Lennon. Technique-wise, it's not a bad film, and contrary to what some critics claim, it doesn't make Lennon's assassin look any more sympathetic — if anything, he looks worse, because the film portrays him as a bigot, a bully, and a shitty husband. But considering that many fans of Lennon want the assassin to fade into obscurity and actively try not to even mention the assassin by name, why would they want to watch a film about him?
  • Lawn Dogs: A 10-year-old girl and a 21-year-old man become close friends. It's rated R. Their relationship is mostly platonic, but there are strong hints that the girl has feelings for the man. Not many people want to watch a movie about this, though those that did often considered the film to be excellent.
  • The 1981 epic Lion of the Desert, starring Anthony Quinn. It is a powerful anti-colonialist film, but it is set in a conflict not many know about (1920s Libya), with a hero not very famous outside of his country and enemies that aren't often seen as "scary" enough in cinema. The death blow comes with the fact that it was commissioned and financed by Muammar Gaddafi, making potential viewers avoid the film for considering it propaganda. Too bad, because according to most critics it is actually good.
  • Man on the Moon: For all the spilled ink about Andy Kaufman, most people who weren't already in showbiz only remembered him as a Funny Foreigner on a well-done but short-lived ABC sitcom. The film drew only mixed critical reviews, and broke a long streak of hits for Jim Carrey.
  • Milk Money: A lighthearted comedy about three young boys trying to see a prostitute naked. Then it gets even crazier when the prostitute is introduced to the father of one of the boys as a potential love interest. The premise was too raunchy for kids and too tame for adults (it's rated PG-13), and bombed at the box office as a result.
  • Mom and Dad: While there hasn't really been an outcry about the film, it still hasn't been watched by most people. When a film is about parents wanting to murder their children, and the film is relentless, gory and filled with Black Comedy to boot, you can kind of understand why the premise alone gets this reaction.
  • Mommie Dearest. Roger Ebert summed it up pretty well; it’s two hours of a screeching caricature of Joan Crawford beating the shit out of her daughter. Who wants to watch that? Interestingly, the film actually did very well despite the alienating premise... but only because everyone heard how So Bad, It's Good it supposedly was and watched the movie to laugh at it, causing the studio to try and save face by altering the movie’s marketing to make it look like an intentional comedy.
  • Mortal Engines never stood a chance in finding an audience given its premise and execution. It is based on a niche Young Adult Literature series whose premise of "cities on wheels" seems too ludicrous for mainstream audiences. The cast also lacked popular actors besides Hugo Weaving and Stephen Lang, making it difficult to excite its fanbase and attract non-fans. The premise and casting badly hurt the marketing, which had to rely more on the promise of spectacle and Peter Jackson's involvement (even though he was only credited as a writer and producer, and not the director). And this isn't even getting into the controversial Adaptational Attractiveness of the facially-disfigured female lead...
  • Even for a director who built his career on artsy Surreal Horror, Darren Aronofsky's mother! is pretty out there. A nameless husband and wife find their remote house descended upon by an increasing parade of aggressively quirky characters, all while everyone but the wife as our viewpoint character refuses to acknowledge that there's a single thing remotely out of the ordinary about any of it. Then the last half hour finally gives up any pretense of logical sense and becomes a nonstop parade of nightmarish violence and...more stuff best not elaborated on. Your response to it is highly dependent on when or even if you realize — and appreciate — how the whole thing is a microcosm of the Bible, in an extension of the rather unique view of religion shown in his previous film Noah. And then there's the fact that Aronofsky and his star Jennifer Lawrence started dating during production, which creates a quite creepy Reality Subtext to everything. It was a rare Box Office Bomb for the director and got an F on Moviescore (reviews were divisive), and the best way to view how it came about is him thinking "I've gotten all the prestige I'm ever going to get, so now it's time to go completely nuts and see just how far I can go before someone stops me."
  • Music would've been a tough sell even if it didn't face a laundry list of controversies before its release. The plot revolves around a recovering alcoholic taking care of her Inspirationally Disadvantaged autistic sister, which to people that didn't find any of the film's surrounding details offensive, merely sounded like outdated Oscar Bait. It was only either sent straight-to-VOD or given a limited release outside of the director's native Australia (though that was also due to being released in the middle of the COVID-19 Pandemic), and even there it flopped.
  • This is key to why Newsies bombed in 1992: A drama about a 1899 newsboys' strike — and it's a musical! Disney had seen so much success with animated musicals at the turn of the decade that they saw potential in this live-action one; Jeffrey Katzenberg compared it to Oliver! But there hadn't been a blockbuster, live-action movie musical since 1978's Grease that didn't clearly take place in a fantastical context (i.e., the Muppet films). To some viewers, a dramatic, realistic musical ended up coming off as unrelatable, especially when lighter fare like Beethoven and FernGully: The Last Rainforest was on offer that particular spring. Moreover, they were likely turned off by the cast lacking in (then-)name performersnote  (if, again, they weren't turned off by the fact that it was a musical), and for some, its setting didn't have obvious appeal. There is a happy ending here — while it was a Box Office Bomb, it did well in the video aftermarket and became a Cult Classic, to the point that it received a successful Screen-to-Stage Adaptation in 2011.
  • Night of the Lepus: Even if Giant Killer Bunny Rabbits can be scary, it's telling that the trailers go out of their way to not show any of them, raising the question: if you believe your monsters aren't scary, why would you still make a movie about them? What makes this even more inexplicable was that the film was based on a novel which treated "killer bunny rabbits" as intentionally silly, but this film portrays it completely straight. It was so panned it became one of those "legendary bad movies" because of this.
  • Nine Lives (2016) was a film revolving around the idea of a guy switching bodies with a cat and learning how to be a good father as a result. The "human inhabits body of animal" shtick had been done to death several times in the 90s and early 2000s (most notably with Fluke). As a result, people weren't inclined to see the film despite (or possibly because of) Kevin Spacey starring in it and being directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, and it consequently failed to make back its budget, on top of being deemed a cinematic hairball by critics. To top it off, this was about a year before Spacey's fall from grace, making this movie even harder to enjoy.
  • North is supposedly an uplifting tale about a boy who travels around the world to find better parents. Unfortunately, this was cancelled out with a parade of blatant racist stereotypes; furthermore, while it's a kids' movie with adult jokes here and there, the "child-friendly" scenes are too childish for adults while the "adult jokes" are too raunchy for kids. In short, no member of the target audience is pleased. It's now best known for inspiring Roger Ebert's famous "hated, hated, hated this movie" rant.
  • The Nutcracker in 3D is a lavish, big-budget adaptation of a timeless ballet... with minimal dancing and really dumb lyrics affixed to the classic score. That alone might have made it a tricky sell, but then there's the shoddy special effects, the Uncanny Valley-riddled designs for the Nutcracker and other characters, the fact that the main antagonist is A Nazi by Any Other Name, and the narmtastic dialogue. Like North before it, it's too scary for kids and too unsophisticated for adults.
  • The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure: As many reviewers have pointed out, the very concept of a theatrical film that encourages small children to make as much noise as possible in a movie theatre is not going to appeal to many parents. Your own children dancing around to a movie at home is one thing; dancing around in the crowded aisles of a theatre with dozens of other children is quite another. Though, considering the box office numbers, 'dozens' turned out to be wild optimism.
  • Osmosis Jones is a live-action\animated hybrid, already setting off the Animation Age Ghetto. Worse, the parts with actors are heavy on gross-out moments, and the cartoon parts full of Parental Bonus and Family-Unfriendly Violence that certainly aimed more at grown-ups. Add the studio underpromoting what was already a hard sell, and it flopped on theaters - though it still originated a spin-off series and later became a Cult Classic.
  • Paint Your Wagon: It's a western starring Clint Eastwood and Lee Marvin. But it's also a musical in which they share a bride! There are very few that would enjoy all of these elements together, and the film would become a laughing stock as a result. No wonder Homer and Bart were shocked when they watched a parodic version of it in The Simpsons episode "All Singing, All Dancing".
  • The makers of Philadelphia deliberately countered this problem by hiring A-list actor Tom Hanks to play the lead out of fears that the 1993 audience would be turned off by the premise, which is about a gay man who has HIV.
  • The Mexican movie Pink (2016) was created by the Christian director Paco del Toro to "warn of the grave error of allowing homosexual couples to adopt children." The first trailer made it clear that the film was a parade of homophobic stereotypes and Unfortunate Implications, causing great controversy between liberals and conservatives in Mexican society. And when the movie was released, it was a total box office failure: people who disagree with his position would not want to see a movie about why they are wrong, while people who do agree with him generally wouldn't like a movie that can be summarized as "two hours of gays behaving in the most gay way possible". It was so alienating and controversial that one of Mexico's two major theater chains outright refused to screen it. It also didn't help that during a TV debate with Del Toro and the director of Mexico City's anti-discrimination council, the latter outright debunked the messages of the film. Note that a year after its release, Netflix added the movie to their service, only to be faced with massive complaints over the movie's premise, leading them to take it down after only a few days.
  • Pinocchio (2002). After Roberto Benigni's Oscar wins for Life Is Beautiful, he chose to use his new clout to create a long-time dream project: a faithful adaption of Carlo Collodi's The Adventures of Pinocchio, which he would write and direct. Unfortunately, he also made the decision to star as Pinocchio, with the minimal special effects doing nothing to disguise that the famous child puppet was 50 and balding, resulting in mixed reviews but a profit in Benigni's native Italy. Then came the American dub. Realizing this was going to be a hard sell to Americans, Miramax proceeded to completely half-ass the dubbing, giving the voice role of Pinocchio to Breckin Meyer, age 28 and most famous for voicing a teenagernote . Between the poorly synched dubbing and a middle-aged Pinocchio with the voice that clearly came from someone much younger, the American version achieved a rare 0% on Rotten Tomatoes.
  • Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping is a parody of musician documentaries like (as the title implies) Justin Bieber: Never Say Never. However, the genre it was satirizing hasn't seen a big hit since the aforementioned film,note  making the subject matter unrelevent among general audiences. This likely explains why the film did poorly enough to be pulled out of theaters after only three weeks.
  • The Postman: It was difficult for the marketing to explain the movie's very Boring, but Practical premise: a man rebuilding America After the End by... delivering the mail? While this actually makes a lot of sense, it takes many long moments to comprehend the idea, thus rendering it almost unmarketable. It was a massive Box Office Bomb, grossing less than $20 million on an $80 million budget.
  • The title of The Princess Bride used to be this for guys. It sounds very much like a girly romance story, so many young boys — like the one in the movie — thought it to be a "kissing book", so to speak, and were put off by it. At this point, the movie's reputation is enough that most people look past the title.
  • Radio Flyer was a Box Office Bomb for one main reason, the totally ridiculous and off-putting premise. Basically two kids have a stepfather who is abusive to one of them, but the kids cover it up because their mother loves him. So instead of telling the authorities about the abuse, the abused kid decides to build a machine and fly away. Needless to say, the problematic message (about how it's better to run away from your problems than actually confront them or even tell someone about them) did NOT sit well with most people, especially the critics that savaged the film, arguing that it sent the wrong message to kids who are actually in an abusive situation. The movie appealed to almost no one, as the subject matter was too depressing for kids, and it was too laughable and unrealistic for adults.
  • Red Sonja flopped for various reasons. There were early scenes of misogynistic torture and slaughter of potential action girls — either massacred or thrown in a pit to die and become forgotten, to the point where only the protagonist Sonja and the antagonist Queen Gedren were the only women for the rest of the film. This disappointed anyone looking for a Feminist Fantasy, if not outright offending them. Fans of Arnold Schwarzenegger were disappointed to see him in a supporting role, reduced to killing mooks in only a handful of scenesnote . Throw in a mishmash of fantasy elements that appeal to no one when mixed together — a Kid Hero and his bumbling sidekick; a giant mechanical lizard; a topless woman that exists for no real reason; and the result was a massive box-office flop, killing off sword-and-sorcery for at least a decade. Arnold Schwarzenegger would later call it his Old Shame. (Oh, and Sonja never wears her iconic Chainmail Bikini, instead donning generic fantasy action-girl attire.)
  • Ride with the Devil portrays an African-American fighting on the side of Southern guerrillas in the Kansas border skirmishes of the Civil War. Although the character had a historically factual precedent, the idea of a black soldier fighting for the Confederacy, an institution widely associated with white supremacy, was so repugnant that the film was delayed, promotional materials were destroyed, and the release was severely limited (in the actual Confederacy most of the black soldiers were slaves forced into service by their masters though, so it's not as if they were all willing anyway). Even in the film, the character possibly only goes with them because he feels grateful for George freeing him, and suffers from constant racism by the white fighters. This ultimately resulted in the aforementioned extremely limited release of only 60 theaters and it subsequently tanking at the box office.
  • Rollerball (2002): The 1975 version was a brutal, R-rated sci-fi dystopia/action film with a message against the glorification of violence, and is considered a classic. The 2002 remake, though, went through a truly epic Troubled Productionnote . A well-received script focusing on the social commentary was heavily rewritten, abandoning the sci-fi setting and the commentary in exchange for attempting a Bloodier and Gorier modern sports film. Afterwards, much of the violence, gore, and nudity was reshot, edited out, and digitally censored to earn a PG-13 rating. The result was a remake hated by fans of the original, and an exploitation film too tame for exploitation fans. Reviews were savage, and the film bombed.
  • Save the Tiger is a low key and highly depressing character study of a failing businessman who descends into alcoholism as he considers torching his store in an insurance scam, while everyone around him is helpless to stop his decline. Jack Lemmon strongly believed in the film but knew full well it had extremely limited commercial prospects and so took a significant pay cut to get it made, which paid off with an Oscar win in one of the most ridiculously stacked group of acting nominations in the awards' history.
  • Scott Pilgrim vs. The World failed to find an audience due to combining too many niches together: comic books, indie rock, and video games from the '80s. Its audience would have to be a particular breed of geek that appreciates all three. Michael Cera also was not a big enough draw on his own and was in the midst of a Hype Backlash from audiences feeling he played the same character too often, something the Scott Pilgrim marketing did little to dispel (keeping the most Cera-esque bits but leaving out Scott's more jerkass-ery personality). Throw in some weak marketing (the main poster for the film was just Scott rocking his guitar, with a vague tagline of "An epic of epic epicness", leaving the uninitiated with zero clue about the movie) and an overreaching budget ($60m for a film with a narrow niche helmed by a filmmaker with a devoted but small American following) and the movie was dead on arrival, despite very good reviews from critics and audiences who did seek it out. The movie did better on home video, though.
  • A Serbian Film. A down-on-his-luck porn star is promised a large amount of money to appear in a high-concept "art film". The movie turns out to be a snuff film, and he is forced to participate in a series of increasingly shocking, violent, and horrific sex acts, capped off with newborn porn!
  • Sex Lives of the Potato Men, an obscure British film devoted to the sexual exploits of a group of potato delivery men. This would have been bad enough, but the main characters were made to look as grotesque as possible. A raunchy comedy about hideous people having sex? No thank you. It should come as little surprise that this film actually provoked public debate over whether the British film industry was in severe decline. It didn't help that one million pounds of funding from the film came from the UK's National Lottery - needless to say, this was not the kind of "good cause" most normal people would expect lottery funding to be awarded to.
  • Shakes the Clown didn't do too well in theaters, even though most people would say it isn't that bad. But it just couldn't find its niche. On one hand, it's about birthday party clowns who never take off their makeup even when not working, so despite its R-rated raunchy humor, the premise was too ridiculous for adults. On the other hand, the clowns drink heavily, sleep around (sometimes contracting venereal diseases), snort cocaine, and commit numerous acts of violence, including hate crimes against mimes - so it was too dark for kids. The result was a film that wasn't very funny and worth seeing only for novelty value (i.e., "the Citizen Kane of alcoholic clown films").
  • Songbird, produced by Michael Bay, takes place in an dystopian future where the COVID-19 Pandemic has worsened to the point where infectees are sent to concentration camps to quarantine, revolving around a contraband courier saving his girlfriend from being sent to one of the camps. Given that the film was released when the virus was ongoing, viewers were turned off by the premise, while viewers interested in a film about the pandemic objected to the romantic subplot and felt the pandemic wasn't handled well, resulting in the film getting critically panned.
  • Speed 2: Cruise Control was set in a cruise ship, a slow-sailing vehicle and thus something that already misses the point of the title (unlike the first movie, set on bus that had to keep itself fast). Add that Keanu Reeves refused to return, and whoever liked the first would think the movie was unnecessary, let alone worth watching.
  • Star Trek V: The Final Frontier: The Enterprise crew meeting God (or what seemed to be), to such a degree that Gene Roddenberry himself had tried to talk to William Shatner in the hopes of convincing him not to go through with it. It hadn't helped that, due to the success of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, Paramount executives also wanted slapstick humor in it - despite Voyage Home's comedy being Fish out of Water, with barely any slapstick in sight. Unsurprisingly, when the film was slammed by critics, Roddenberry straight-up disowned it, calling it "apocryphal, at best" (while he didn't particularly like the Trek films from Star Trek II onward, he really didn't like this one).
  • Roland Emmerich's Stonewall is a 2015 film about the Stonewall riots that kicked off the modern LGBT rights movement, told through the eyes of fictional teenager Danny Winters, a Straight Gay White Male Lead from rural Indiana who bused to New York City after being kicked out of his home. Danny was created to make the story more relatable to straight white audiences, which pleased absolutely no one. Most in the LGBT community felt this was whitewashing the actual history and that it should have been about the real leaders of the riots: black trans woman Marsha P. Johnson, Hispanic trans woman Sylvia Rivera, and/or Hispanic lesbian Stormé DeLarverie (of these three, only Johnson appears in the movie but her role is minor). As for straight people, the ones with enough interest in LGBT culture to even watch the movie were well aware of the criticisms, and many were also offended by the assumption that they would only care about a generic, white Midwestern boy and not the people that were actually there. Add in a 10% rating from Rotten Tomatoes, and you're left with one of the biggest flops of the decade.
  • The Strange Thing About the Johnsons is about a young man who rapes his father for years on end, until the latter kills himself. It's drawn controversy, not only because of the subject matter, but also because the entire cast is African-American. Some people say this adds to the story while others accuse the director of racism.
  • The Stunt Man was hated by the studio execs, who declared it to be completely unmarketable: a Black Comedy about a criminal who hides out as a stuntman on a film shoot, only to discover that the director is a lunatic who goes to quite disturbing lengths in the name of Enforced Method Acting. It took two years to find a distributor, and Peter O'Toole famously quipped years later: "The film wasn't released, it escaped!"
  • One of the main reasons Sucker Punch was such a divisive movie is that depending on who you ask, it's either a Deconstruction of fanservice-laden narratives in movies, video games, and anime, or a glorification of it that gleefully indulges in mindless violence and Fanservice. To make matters worse, there's an element of Clueless Aesop to the whole thing, as director Zack Snyder happily utilizes those tropes in his previous (and later) works. The Indecisive Parody aspect came back to bite it in the ass; most mainstream audiences (especially women) were turned off because of how sexist it looked, while most nerds avoided it because it was allegedly a Take That! aimed at them. As a result, it was a complete flop, barely recouping its budget.
  • The Swimmer is another one whose release was delayed for years because no one had any idea how to market it. It's a highly faithful adaptation of a John Cheever short story about a man with vague but obvious mental problems who spontaneously decides to "swim home" through his neighbors' pools, with their reactions gradually revealing what a mess his once fantastic life has become in a vicious attack on the idea of the American dream. One can easily imagine the eventual distributor was counting largely on the Mr. Fanservice factor to get butts in seats, with Burt Lancaster spending the whole movie in swimming trunks and often dripping wet.
  • Swiss Army Man is a movie about a man stranded on an island who discovers Daniel Radcliffe washing up on shore as a farting, talking corpse he nicknames Manny. This premise already drew ire from moviegoers who disliked Black Comedy and Vulgar Humor, and Daniel Radcliffe's star power was not enough to salvage what appeared to be a bizarre absurdist comedy.
  • Terminator: Dark Fate put off audiences with its focus on new characters the fanbase didn't care for, continuing the trend of being a Happy Ending Override for Terminator 2: Judgment Day that made prior sequels reviled, and fans correctly predicting that John Connor would be killed off before leaks and early release confirmed it. Thus in spite of the best reviews since the third movie, Dark Fate was a financial flop.
  • ¡Three Amigos! flopped despite having popular actors (Chevy Chase, Steve Martin, and Martin Short) and directed by a respectable director (John Landis) as it has a ridiculous mishmash of concepts that don't quite fit together. It is a comedy, yet has its very serious moments (for example, El Guapo burning down Santo Poco and presumably killing many of its inhabitants), and its comedy ranges from rather grounded The Three Stooges style hijinks to farcical fantasy absurdity (the "Blue Shadows" segment, as well as the Singing Bush and the Invisible Swordsman) to the point where audiences have no clue what is what. (It did gain a bit of cult status years later, however.)
  • Tideland is about a 10-year-old girl who spends several weeks in an abandoned house with her father's bloating corpse. To pass the time, she has increasingly bizarre daydreams about her Barbie heads and befriends a mentally handicapped man, with whom she practices kissing. The DVD automatically plays an introduction by director Terry Gilliam, who admits that the viewer might very well hate the film.
  • Towelhead can certainly qualify. It’s a coming-of-age story about a 13-year-old Lebanese-American girl who's stated to be well developed for her age (justifying the Dawson Casting along with legal reasons) coming to terms with her sexuality as she lives with her unsupportive father in Texas after being kicked out of her mother’s house during the early nineties and is raped by her neighbor and beaten by her father because of it. Plus, it’s called Towelhead. Can you just tell that this got only a limited release?
  • Trash Humpers: Grainy, camcorder footage of a trio of crazed elderly people that kill people, mutilate baby dolls, and copulate with garbage. Director Harmony Korine claims to have invoked this with the opening scene, dropping the pretensions of other art films so that anyone prone to walking out early would do so and the rest knew exactly what they're in for. Basically, all of Korine's work can be deemed as this (except, perhaps, Spring Breakers).
  • There's a reason United Passions is one of the biggest Box Office Bombs in cinematic history, grossing all of $900 in its opening weekend.note  Regardless of outside influences, an "inspirational drama" about the wealthy sports executives who started the FIFA World Cup instead of the athletes was always going to have a hard time attracting viewers. But when this movie hit theaters the week after the 2015 FIFA corruption scandal, well...
  • Welcome to Marwen floundered for failing to be both a feel-good Oscar Bait and crowd-pleasing action movie. Trying to make a feel-good story out of Marwencol (in which a man is beaten for crossdressing to the point of being mentally-impaired afterward, with the man eventually creating a fictional town as a way of healing from the trauma) is a difficult task in and of itself. Using photorealistic CGI for the dolls of that town is something that can produce off-putting results, as the film's director can attest to with reception to some of his other movies dealing with performance capture. Adding to that are the inclusion CGI-heavy action scenes reminiscent of Sucker Punch on top of that is a good way of appealing to absolutely nobody. A lack of critical support for the movie (aside from a few performances) and subsequent awards buzz effectively doomed the movie to be a flop.
  • Wes Craven's New Nightmare was a self-aware supernatural slasher deconstruction that pre-dated Scream (1996) by two years, and was released during a time when the horror genre was considered dead. It proved to be a little too ahead of its time, and had difficulty making money at the box office. The film did get good reviews though, but even today, while Scream enjoys a reputation as a landmark horror film, New Nightmare has to settle for a smaller cult following. Wes Craven even directed both films. He's also attributed the success of the latter for focusing on horror fans rather than horror filmmakers.
  • What Men Want being a Gender Flip of What Women Want is already risky for both the uneven results of such an approach and how the movie was already divisive. But it tries to add in positivity with a message of feminist empowerment (a complete reversal of the original film where Nick's behavior was thoroughly unlikeable and framed as such) and also leaning into male stereotypes hard, and the movie flopped.
  • White Dog is Very Loosely Based on a True Story about attempts to undo a German Shepherd's conditioning to fatally attack black people by his racist owner. The fact that we see the dog kill two black people and go after more, and in the end inexplicably seem to reverse his training to now attack white people and need to be killed raised serious concerns that the wrong message could be taken, and it was buried by the studio.
  • This was the main reason that Spike Jonze's film adaptation of Where the Wild Things Are turned out to be an Acclaimed Flop, barely breaking even at the box office. Understandably, not everyone was wowed by the premise "The director of Adaptation and Being John Malkovich tries to turn a beloved children's book into a depressing, darkly humorous fable about growing up...for adults." Lots of parents didn't want to take their children to see it, thinking that it was too adult; lots of teenagers and adults just didn't want to see it, thinking that it was for children.


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