Most Hollywood players take a few blows from time to time. After all, not every movie is destined to be a hit or a critical darling. Despite good intentions, some movies just turn out terrible. Still, film is a collaborative medium and the quality of the movie usually doesn’t fall on the shoulders of one individual alone… usually. There are some exceptions to this rule, a handful of films that were so poorly received that they effectively stalled the careers of one or more individuals involved. Hollywood is a land rife with comeback stories, but don’t expect to find many on this list– here are 15 disastrous movies that wound up killing entire careers.
Gigli was both a box office bomb and a publicist’s nightmare. The film coasted on the tabloid romance of stars Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck—or Bennifer, as they’d be dubbed—so it should have at least gotten some attention for the couple’s chemistry. It did, but not in a good way. The film, originally intended as a black comedy, was slowly molded by the studio who made into a romantic comedy about a thug (Affleck) who falls for a tough lesbian (Lopez). Somewhere in the story of their romance is a mentally handicapped man they have kidnapped, a mobster trying to get out of jail (Al Pacino), and a detective who delivers a monologue about pie (Christopher Walken). The actors all survived the film, but director Martin Brest (who previously helmed hits like Beverly Hills Cop) has never worked in features again.
Most Hollywood players take a few blows from time to time. After all, not every movie is destined to be a hit or a critical darling. Despite good intentions, some movies just turn out terrible. Still, film is a collaborative medium and the quality of the movie usually doesn't fall on the shoulders of one individual alone... usually. There are some exceptions to this rule, a handful of films that were so poorly received that they effectively stalled the careers of one or more individuals involved. Hollywood is a land rife with comeback stories, but don't expect to find many on this list-- here are 15 disastrous movies that wound up killing entire careers.
Gigli was both a box office bomb and a publicist’s nightmare. The film coasted on the tabloid romance of stars Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck—or Bennifer, as they’d be dubbed—so it should have at least gotten some attention for the couple's chemistry. It did, but not in a good way. The film, originally intended as a black comedy, was slowly molded by the studio who made into a romantic comedy about a thug (Affleck) who falls for a tough lesbian (Lopez). Somewhere in the story of their romance is a mentally handicapped man they have kidnapped, a mobster trying to get out of jail (Al Pacino), and a detective who delivers a monologue about pie (Christopher Walken). The actors all survived the film, but director Martin Brest (who previously helmed hits like Beverly Hills Cop) has never worked in features again.
Cuba Gooding Jr’s career has been on the direct-to-video skids for years now. Looking back, he has no one to blame but himself. Well, actually, he can also blame Boat Trip. The 2002 comedy co-starred Horatio Sanz and chronicled the plight of two buddies attempting to restart their love life with a singles' cruise. Of course, things don't go as planned and they're placed on a homosexual-themed boat ride instead. What follows from there is a sustained, 94 minute gay joke as a Gooding and Sanz’s characters pretend to be homosexual to win favor with two female cruise employees. The film did not make its money back, Gooding was ripped apart by critics, and Sanz hasn’t headlined a film since.
The 1970s were a great time for film—thanks to the medium’s dying battle with television, filmmakers were given liberal control by mainstream studios to push the boundaries of the format (and hopefully get butts in seats). The era brought us such classics as The Godfather, Dog Day Afternoon and The Deer Hunter. Sadly, all renaissances have to come to an end, and this period ended with Heaven’s Gate. Director Michael Cimino (of the aforementioned Deer Hunter) was given full control over his “anti-western” tale of feuding between immigrants and land barons. While that sounds like a quaint enough premise for a drama, Cimino’s dedication to authenticity and stubborn inflexibility caused the budget to balloon to $44 million (the equivalent of $122 million in modern currency). The film made less than $4 million subsequently and was panned as a pretentious, if well designed melodrama by critics. In recent years, the film has been re-assessed as an innovative classic, though one that still represented the biggest bomb in history. Cimino’s career continued on a much smaller scale for a few years before he bowed out of the industry in 1996.
I Know Who Killed Me
Photo: Darnnell Walker/WENN.com
Eager to break her teen icon status, Lindsay Lohan starred in I Know Who Killed Me in 2007. The psychological thriller cast Lohan in dual roles as a pair of twins (one a mild-mannered pianist, the other a troubled stripper), both of whom are being hunted by a serial killer. The film was stylish, but not particularly coherent. What would have traditionally been written off as a bad horror film was in turn flayed by critics eager to jump on the Lohan hate train (which had begun roaring out of the tabloid station thanks to her rising legal/substance abuse problem). I Know Who Killed Me swept the Razzies later that year, as seen in the ceremony pic above (Lohan was not on hand to accept her award for “Worst Onscreen Duo”). The actress has not starred in a theatrical feature since the film tanked.
Photo: Nikki Nelson/WENN.com
Superman Returns wasn’t the worst movie in the world, just one that was far too hyped and far too antiquated. Bryan Singer’s reboot of the character had all the pomp and grandeur of the original Richard Donner film but with none of the action. The finished movie was a thoughtful, if ultimately boring and bland superhero film. Warner Bros has been quick to disavow the film (another reboot, Man of Steel, is waiting in the wings this summer), though it was Brandon Routh whose career hurt the most from the film’s failure. While Routh’s performance was well-received, he’s forever been associated with a boring, pretentious take on the character. Superman Returns put his career on the map by the film, but he hasn’t been taken seriously as a leading man by Hollywood since.
Waterworld was supposed to be Kevin Costner’s next Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. Instead, it turned into the 90s equivalent of Heaven’s Gate. The film can be best described as Mad Max on the high seas, with Costner fighting steam punk pirates to help an innocent community. The film was a fun, if conventional Hollywood actioner, though one that was blighted by reports of Costner’s raging ego. The film ran over budget, over schedule, and was the subject of constant rewrites dictated by Costner (who reportedly butt heads with the film’s director, Kevin Reynolds). By the time the film was released, Waterworld's budget had skyrocketed close to $200 million. It was a big flop for Universal Studios and put an end to Costner’s status as golden boy.
Not many careers survived Swept Away. The film was a remake of a 1974 Italian film of the same name, though one spearheaded by Madonna and then-husband Guy Ritchie. Ritchie’s previous films, Snatch and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, were huge critical and commercial successes. Fans had high hopes for the romantic comedy, but alas, the film turned out horribly. Gone was the stylish direction, witty dialogue, and irreverent black humor that put Ritchie on the map. In its wake was an aging popstar still trying to cling to her status as a sex symbol through a forced, desert island bound romance with Italian star Adriano Giannini. The film was panned across the board and while Ritchie would reinvent himself with the Sherlock Holmes franchise, Madonna’s movie career has not recovered since.
Demi Moore’s shot at sex-symbol status drove Striptease. The 1996 satire--about an FBI accountant (Moore) turned stripper who gets involved in a child custody battle and corrupt politics—had two major problems. First, the film was supposed to be a hot vehicle for Moore, but wound up being more trashy and weird than sen-sual. Secondly, the film’s satire was undermined by a studio’s request for a more frothy comedy. This turned what was supposed to be a dark satire into a sleazy sex comedy. Even worse, Moore roped her daughter (Rumer Willis) into co-starring in the film. Striptease marked the beginning of Moore’s declining period in Hollywood, though films like 2011’s Margin Call have marked a return to a more serious approach to acting for the one-time starlet.
Striptease’s failures were overshadowed by Showgirls the previous year. The much-touted, first-ever NC-17 film was expected to be a mega-hit for director Paul Verhoeven and screenwriter Joe Eszterhaus (the gentleman above). What was released instead was a misogynist epic rife with bad acting, dialogue, and just about every other problem you could imagine. The film’s failure killed star Elizabeth Berkely’s future as a leading woman, though it also prevented Hollywood from further subjecting audiences to Joe Eszterhaus movies (admittedly we couldn’t take much more after Jade and Sliver). The film has since become a cult classic for all the wrong reasons.
League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (or LXG) was Sean Connery’s last movie, and for good reason. The action film should have been a big hit—adapted from Alan Moore’ comic, the LXG's plot mashed up literary characters like Alan Quartermain, Dr. Jekyll and Mina Harker into a turn-of-the-century superhero team. How does that not hit? Among other problems, the film missed the deep characterization of Moore’s book which, if you’re making a meta film about literature, is sort of the point. Sean Connery chewed scenery as Quartermain while bad special effects and an incoherent plot blazed on around him. The film was a box office bomb, causing the Scottish actor to remove himself from Hollywood and ensuring the film’s director, Stephen Norrington, would never direct a mainstream film again.
Director John McTiernan was recently prosecuted for wire-tapping a producer’s house. With jail time ahead, we don’t expect him to make a triumphant return to Hollywood anytime soon. Then again anyone who has seen Rollerball could’ve made that call back in 2001. The film remade the famous 1970s James Caan vehicle, but in the process cut all the aspects that made the property memorable. Gone was the subversive humor, the stark violence and the poignant ideas. McTiernan instead crammed the film with nu-metal music (does anyone actually remember P.O.D.?), extreme sports and good looking (yet incredibly boring) actors. The film was panned across the board, bombed and was only noteworthy for a nude scene with Rebecca Romjin that the MPAA allowed despite the film's PG-13 rating.
Cop Out is the film that effectively turned Kevin Smith away from Hollywood and Hollywood away from Kevin Smith. What started out as a by-the-numbers buddy cop film was overshadowed by reports of conflict between Bruce Willis and Kevin Smith, not to mention lofty expectations from Smith fans that went unmet. The film would not have been panned so harshly had it not been for a collaboration that saw a bored Willis sleepwalk through Smith’s stilted direction. The director later lashed out further at Willis’ camp, who in turn accused him of abusing drugs while filming (an accusation Smith flat-out denied). This didn’t stop critics and fans from roasting them both. A year after Cop Out’s release, Smith made the indie Red State, auctioned it off to himself in front of a crowd at Sundance and cut his ties with Hollywood for good (and, based on insider reactions, the feeling was decidedly mutual).
Town & Country
If Waterworld was Costner’s Heaven’s Gate, Town & Country was Warren Beatty’s equivalent. What should have been a traditional rom-com began shooting in 1998 but was not released until 2001. The reason for the delay was Beatty himself, who demanded a number of changes to the script as well as a ridiculous amount of takes while shooting. In the end, co-stars like Garry Schandling and Diane Keaton had to depart the film for other commitments, thus stalling the reshoots. This forced the studio to repay the actors their full salaries and inflated the budget to $90 million. The film grossed a mere $10 million and was smeared by critics. Beatty hasn’t made a film since.
The Love Guru
The Love Guru was Mike Myers’ Austin Powers follow-up and a huge commercial disaster. The film featured Myers as an Hindu guru (um...) whose unconventional tactics are employed to restore the love-life of a well-endowed hockey player (Justin Timberlake). No, we aren’t making that up. Even worse, Myers roped Jessica Alba and bunch of other talents into the film based of the goodwill accrued by previous projects. The film tanked, was accused of xenophobia by Hindus and was torn apart by critics. The film has been called Myer's career killer, though if he can put together another Austin Powers or Wayne’s World, he may get back on track (both are in the pipeline).
Batman and Robin
Batman and Robin killed the career of director Joel Schumacher. Not instantly, mind you, but more like a bullet moving in slow motion. The filmmaker, whose previous 1995 film Batman Forever was a huge hit, opted to turn up the camp factor for the third sequel in the series. Though he seemed to be aiming for the sly comedy of the 1960s TV series, the film came out more along the lines of a homoerotic action figure commercial. Stars George Clooney, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Uma Thurman all saw their careers take a blow after the film was released. Even worse, mainstream work dried up for both Chris O’Donnell and Alicia Silverstone in the wake of the bad press and box office disappointment. However, it was Schumacher whose film was most blighted. Though he had a few hits that follow (Phone Booth and Phantom of the Opera in particular), his achievements have long been overshadowed by his status as the man who ruined Batman. Schumacher saw his film, Trespass, go straight-to-video last year and still suffers from the ire of spurned fan boys. Hell hath no fury like a comic book reader scorned, Mr. Schumacher...