At the end of December, Santa Claus is not the only one who's making his list to find out who's been naughty and nice. Scores of critics from all over the country have been chiming in with their picks for the best movies of the year, as awards season starts to heat up. In less than two weeks, the Golden Globes will be handed out, and just a few days after that, The Academy Awards nominations will be announced. Before all of the attention is bestowed on the best of the best, we thought it would a good time to go in another direction altogether, to present the worst of the worst.
Now, keep in mind, these aren't our personal picks for the worst movies of the year. This is simply a compilation of the 17 movies that hit theaters sometime in 2015, in wide release, that had the worst RottenTomatoes.com ratings. Why just movies in wide release, you may be asking? Don't tiny indies get dumped on by critics too, you may implore? Of course they do. However, we've narrowed the field to major studio wide releases simply because these movies are reviewed by a greater number of critics across the country, thus giving a more accurate projection at what may be considered the "worst of the worst." But, there's another reason for this rule as well.
By "limiting" the field to wide releases, it also means there's a greater chance that YOU have seen these movies, therefore allowing you to chime in more comprehensively on whether you agree or disagree with the critics. But don't worry, we're not judging you. Maybe you were dragged to Aloha (19% on Rotten Tomatoes) by your Cameron Crowe-loving significant other. Or perhaps you thought that Jupiter Ascending (26% on RT) would be the Wachowski's return to form. By the way, neither of those aforementioned movies made the cut.
Despite indies like The Loft (11%), Kill Me Three Times (9%) and The Cobbler (9%) failing to impress the nation's critics, they didn't make the cut, because we're presuming that you probably didn't see these movies anyway. The Loft took in just over $6 million domestically, Kill Me Three Times earned just under $25,000 (not a typo...) and there wasn't even box office data released for The Cobbler. So, we figured there isn't much cause to showcase critically-panned movies that a vast majority of the movie-going public didn't even see to begin with.
Sure, it may seem mean-spirited to showcase a collection of movies that were widely panned, but consider this a public service. Maybe you didn't get around to seeing the Vacation reboot (27%) or Terminator Genisys (25%) or Jem and the Holograms (19%) when they arrived in theaters this year, and you'd like to know what the critics thought before spending your hard earned money on the Blu-ray or a VOD rental. We certainly can't blame you. There were 688 movies that were released in theaters this year, according to Box Office Mojo, and countless others that eschewed a theatrical engagement for a VOD or straight to video release. How can one be expected to delve through this dearth of content? By presenting the worst-reviewed movies of the year, we only see it as helping you to thin the cinematic herd, so to speak. By the way, none of those aforementioned movies are on our list either.
The 17 movies listed below were widely promoted and released in thousands of theaters across the country, but they failed to make a dent with critics and moviegoers alike. They also range from low-brow comedies to action-packed tentpoles and, of course, reboots and sequels. In fact, seven of these 17 picks are reboots and/or sequels. Oddly enough, seven of the top 10 grossing movies this year were also sequels and reboots, which just goes to show how trying to maintain or extend a franchise is a gamble that can both pay off big, or send you to the proverbial poor house.
As far as our list is concerned, none of these movies, sequels, reboots or otherwise, made over $100 million during their domestic theatrical release at the box office. While there certainly may be numerous fans of the movies listed below, they may also be few and far between. Much like a traditional "top 10" list, we're presenting these worst-reviewed movies in descending order, with the "best" of this lot first, and the "worst" last. So, without further ado, we present the worst-reviewed movies of 2015.
17Pixels - 17% on Rotten Tomatoes
Pixels isn't exactly a sequel or a reboot, so to speak, but it isn't an "original" movie either. The concept was adapted from the 2010 short film of the same name by French filmmaker Patrick Jean, which showed New York City becoming completely engulfed in 8-bit video game pixels. While the basic concept of our world becoming pixelated is essentially the same, the stakes are raised considerably, with an alien race sending massive versions of iconic video game characters to earth, after they misinterpret video feeds of classic arcade games as a declaration of war against them. Adam Sandler stars as a former video game champion, who is called upon by his childhood friend, now the President of the United States (Kevin James) to stop this unconventional attack, along with two other old-school gamers (Peter Dinklage and Josh Gad). The movie only earned $78 million domestically, from an $88 million budget, but it fared much better overseas, with a $243.9 million worldwide haul, so don't be surprised if a follow-up is announced sometime in the near future. It also won't be a surprise if the critics pan the sequel like they did the original.
16The Last Witch Hunter - 16% on Rotten Tomatoes
Vin Diesel has the unique distinction of starring in one of this year's biggest box office hits, Furious 7 ($1.5 billion worldwide, $190 million budget) and one of its biggest flops, The Last Witch Hunter ($108 million worldwide, $90 million budget). The actor revealed months before the release that Lionsgate was already developing The Last Witch Hunter 2, but given its disappointing financial and critical reception, I wouldn't place any bets on this sequel getting made. The action star portrayed the title character, Kaulder, an immortal witch hunter who teams up with his mortal enemy, a "good" witch (Rose Leslie) and a priest (Elijah Wood) to take down the resurrected Queen Witch, which he killed centuries ago. It's box office failure could be attributed to poor scheduling, slotted in a busy weekend with three other new releases, but that certainly can't be responsible for the critical drubbing it received.
15The Gunman - 16% on Rotten Tomatoes
Sean Penn hasn't exactly had the best stretch of his career after taking home his second Oscar for his performance in the 2008 drama Milk. Since then, he's starred in a few critical hits like Fair Game, The Tree of Life and This Must Be the Place, none of which made any sort of dent at the box office. Over the past two years, he's turned his attention to major studio movies like Gangster Squad, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and this year's The Gunman, but those haven't been received much better by fans and critics alike. In The Gunman, the actor stars as a CIA assassin, who, years after one of his successful missions in the Congo, finds himself as a target. Despite a stellar supporting cast including Idris Elba, Javier Bardem, Ray Winstone and Mark Rylance, The Gunman faded into relative obscurity soon after its release, taking in just $10 million from a $40 million budget.
14Sinister 2 - 14% on Rotten Tomatoes
The Bughuul came back to terrorize audiences this summer in Sinister 2, but this time around, the critics weren't exactly thrilled with the results. The first Sinister, which starred Ethan Hawke as a writer whose family is haunted by a malevolent spirit, fared well with critics, earning a 62% rating on RT. Scott Derrickson handed over the directing reigns to Ciaran Foy for the sequel, although he did co-write the screenplay with his original co-writer C. Robert Cargill. Audiences didn't quite flock to this follow-up, though, earning $27.7 million from a $10 million budget, with a story centering on a new family dealing with the Bughuul. James Ransone returned as Deputy So-And-So, with Shannyn Sossamon, Robert Daniel Sloan, Dartanian Sloan, Lea Coco, Tate Ellington and John Beasley rounding out the new cast. It seems likely that the Bughuul has haunted his last victim, after fans and critics alike didn't respond to this follow-up.
13The Lazarus Effect - 14% on Rotten Tomatoes
The Lazarus Effect may be one of the few small silver linings for Relativity Media during its tumultuous year that resulted in the company filing for bankruptcy. The low-budget thriller made just $25 million domestic and $64.1 million worldwide, but it was produced on a miniscule $3.3 million budget. As solid as those numbers are, this thriller still wasn't embraced by the nation's critics. The story centers on a group of researchers led by Frank (Mark Duplass) and his fiancé Zoe (Olivia Wilde) who've achieved the unimaginable - bringing the dead back to life. Following a trial with a deceased animal, the team attempts another experiment, where Zoe is horrifically killed, and eventually becomes their first human test subject, although the results aren't quite what they expected. Sarah Bolger, Evan Peters and Donald Glover round out the talented supporting cast. While the financial results were quite solid, the critical reception was quite the opposite.
12Hot Tub Time Machine 2 - 14% on Rotten Tomatoes
Much like Sinister 2, Hot Tub Time Machine 2 suffered a significant decrease in both its box office take and critical reception from its predecessor. Hot Tub Time Machine earned $50.2 million domestic and $64 million worldwide, from a $36 million budget, but its sequel took in just $12.3 million domestic and $13.08 million worldwide, from a $14 million budget. To make matters worse, Paramount even dropped $4.5 million on a Super Bowl TV spot. Most of the movie's eclectic cast is back for the follow-up (Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson and Clark Duke), but John Cusack bowed out this time around. To take his place, Adam Scott came aboard to play John Cusack's son in the future. Not even a slew of new supporting cast members like Gillian Jacobs, Thomas Lennon and Kumail Nanjiani could lure fans back to theaters for this comedy, which will surely mark the end of this franchise started out with plenty of potential.
11Seventh Son - 12% on Rotten Tomatoes
February release dates used to indicate an unspoken lack of faith in a movie, a "dumping ground," if you will, for studios to unload the movies they weren't quite sure of. That has changed in recent years, with blockbusters like The Lego Movie, Kingsman: The Secret Service and Fifty Shades of Grey all opening in this month. But, they all can't be winners though, and Seventh Son represented one of the few failures for Universal in their record breaking year at the box office. The story centers on Master Gregory (Jeff Bridges) is a knight who had imprisoned the malevolently powerful witch, Mother Malkin (Julianne Moore), centuries ago. But now she has escaped and is seeking vengeance. Summoning her followers of every incarnation, Mother Malkin is preparing to unleash her terrible wrath on an unsuspecting world. Master Gregory has only until the next full moon to do what usually takes years: train his new apprentice, Tom Ward (Ben Barnes) to fight a dark magic unlike any other. Man's only hope lies in the seventh son of a seventh son. This adventure earned a paltry $17 million domestic and $114 million worldwide from a $95 million budget, proving that not all fantasy tales are huge hits.
10Mortdecai - 12% on Rotten Tomatoes
Mortdecai is easily one of the biggest bombs of the year from both a financial and critical standpoint, despite an all-star cast that includes Johnny Depp, Olivia Munn, Ewan McGregor, Gwyneth Paltrow, Paul Bettany and Jeff Goldblum. The comedy earned a horrendous $7.6 million domestically and $47.2 million worldwide, from a $60 million budget, and this is on top of a dreadful RT rating. Ouch. The story centers on debonair art dealer and part time rogue Charlie Mortdecai (Johnny Depp), who must juggle some angry Russians, the British Mi5, his impossibly leggy wife and an international terrorist, while traversing the globe armed only with his good looks and special charm in a race to recover a stolen painting rumored to contain the code to a lost bank account filled with Nazi gold. The movie's failure even lead Johnny Depp to fire all of his agents, a tried and true sign of any movie's failure.
9Unfinished Business - 11% on Rotten Tomatoes
Much like Johnny Depp, Vince Vaughn hasn't had a bona fide hit in quite some time. His last movie to earn over $100 million domestically was the 2009 comedy Couples Retreat, and his last critical hit was the 2005 classic Wedding Crashers. Unfortunately for the actor, his latest romp, Unfinished Business, didn't break his dry spell, taking in just $10.2 million domestic and $14.4 million worldwide, from a $35 million budget. The actor portrays a hard-working small business owner and his two associates (Tom Wilkinson, Dave Franco), who travel to Europe to close the most important deal of their lives. But what began as a routine business trip goes off the rails in every imaginable - and unimaginable - way, including unplanned stops at a massive sex fetish event and a global economic summit. Sienna Miller, June Diane Raphael, Nick Frost and James Marsden round out an impressive supporting cast for this failed comedy.
8The Boy Next Door - 10% on Rotten Tomatoes
Despite being a critical bomb, The Boy Next Door is yet another movie on our list that managed to pull off somewhat decent numbers, largely because it was produced on the cheap. The $35.4 million domestic gross and $54 million worldwide take certainly aren't anything to write home about, but since it was only produced for $4 million, it can be considered a modest hit, at least by financial standards. The critics, on the other hand, weren't terribly fond of this thriller, starring Jennifer Lopez as Claire Peterson, a recently-separated high school teacher. When a handsome, charming teenager named Noah (Ryan Guzman) moves in next door, Claire encourages his friendship and engages in a little bit of harmless flirtation. Although Noah spends much of the time hanging out with Claire's son, the teen's attraction to her is palpable. One night, Claire gives in to temptation and lets Noah seduce her, but when she tries to end the relationship, he turns violent. Despite its low-budget success, I wouldn't be holding out hope for Universal to revisit The Boy Next Door with a follow-up anytime soon.
7Fantastic Four - 10% on Rotten Tomatoes
When you think of the movies that failed in 2015, the first one that comes to mind for most fans is Fantastic Four. For a big-budget movie with a prime early-August release date, this superhero adventure with a cast of hot young actors (Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, Kate Mara and Jamie Bell), managed to underwhelm fans and critics at every turn. The film took in just $56.1 million worldwide and $167.9 million overall, from a $120 million budget. When coupled with the horrid RT score, and the controversy surrounding director Josh Trank's reportedly unprofessional behavior (which may or may not have got him fired from the Third Star Wars Spin-Off Movie), Fantastic Four is a movie that 20th Century Fox may want to forget in its entirety. A rumor even surfaced last month that the studio has canceled their already-planned sequel, which surely isn't surprising given all of the unfortunate circumstances surrounding this movie.
6Taken 3 - 10% on Rotten Tomatoes
The Taken franchise was never exactly embraced by critics, but the surprise success of the original 2009 classic lead to two sequels that failed to impress. Neither of the three movies have scored "Fresh" ratings on Rotten Tomatoes, but Taken 3 is by far the worst in the franchise, even though it continues to pull in big numbers at the box office... at least overseas. Taken 3 had the worst domestic box office take in the trilogy, with $89.2 million, but it still flourished overseas with $237.2 million for a worldwide tally of $326.4 million. Liam Neeson returns as ex-covert operative Bryan Mills, whose reconciliation with his ex-wife is tragically cut short when she is brutally murdered. Consumed with rage, and framed for the crime, he goes on the run to evade the relentless pursuit of the CIA, FBI and the police. For one last time, Mills must use his "particular set of skills," to track down the real killers, exact his unique brand of justice, and protect the only thing that matters to him now - his daughter. Taken 3 is just another example of how some movies are "critic-proof."
5Hitman: Agent 47 - 9% on Rotten Tomatoes
Video game movies have never been big hits, critically or financially, but that all may change soon with a spate of high-profile adaptations like Warcraft and Assassin's Creed arriving next year. Before the video game adaptation revolution happens, movies like Hitman: Agent 47 still can't manage to find an audience, in its second try. 2007's Hitman, starring Timothy Olyphant, earned a dismal 14% RT rating and $99.9 million worldwide, from an unspecified budget. Hitman: Agent 47 didn't fare much better, with a 9% RT rating, $22.4 million domestic gross and $82.3 million worldwide. Rupert Friend portrays the ruthless title character this time around, who is the culmination of decades of research, and forty-six earlier Agent clones, endowing him with unprecedented strength, speed, stamina and intelligence. His latest mission is to take down an agency that threatens to expose Agent 47's past. Debuting in a busy mid-August weekend, this action-thriller was essentially dead on arrival.
4Point Break - 8% on Rotten Tomatoes
We know Point Break just opened, and it may seem too early to consider this remake a failure on any level, but with the front-loaded nature of tentpoles like this, most are ready to write it off as a box office and critical bomb. Luke Bracey and Edgar Ramirez star as FBI Johnny Utah and the enigmatic Bodhi, roles originally portrayed by Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze in director Kathryn Bigelow's 1991 classic. This new version centers on a cunning team of thrill seeking elite athletes, led by the charismatic Bodhi, who are are suspected of carrying out a string of staggering crimes that kill innocent people and send the world's economy into a tailspin. Deep undercover, and with his life in imminent danger, Utah strives to prove they are the callous architects of these inconceivable crimes. Point Break did have plenty of competition over the Christmas holiday (none of which managed to hold a candle to Star Wars: The Force Awakens), but perhaps the critical and financial failure of Point Break will make studios think twice before delving into their library of 80s and 90s hits.
3Rock the Kasbah - 8% on Rotten Tomatoes
It's never a good sign when a movie that opens in more than 2,000 theaters across the country can't even crack the top 10 in its opening weekend. That's exactly what happened with Open Road Films' Rock the Kasbah, which boasts an A-list cast with Bill Murray, Bruce Willis, Kate Hudson, Zooey Deschanel and Danny McBride. The film was yanked out of theaters after just five weeks, earning a dreadful $3.02 million. The story, inspired by real life events, centers on a has-been rock manager from Van Nuys, California who stumbles upon a once-in-a-lifetime voice in a remote Afghan cave. Dumped and stranded in war-torn Kabul by his last remaining client (Zooey Deschanel), this rock manager discovers Salima Khan (Leem Lubany), a Pashtun teenager with a beautiful voice and the courageous dream of becoming the first woman to compete on national television in Afghanistan's version of American Idol. Richie partners with a savvy hooker, a pair of hard-partying war profiteers and a hair-trigger mercenary and, braving dangerous cultural prejudices, manages his new protégée into becoming the "Afghan Star." It seems that star power isn't all that it's cracked up to be, especially when a movie with this many stars can't even make $5 million at the box office.
2Hot Pursuit - 7% on Rotten Tomatoes
While counter-programming a movie against, or near, a gigantic blockbuster can work at times, it didn't pan out so well for Hot Pursuit. Opening one week after the summer blockbuster Avengers: Age of Ultron, Hot Pursuit couldn't find its footing with critics and fans alike, earning just $34.5 million domestically and $51.4 million worldwide from a $35 million budget. Reese Witherspoon and Sofía Vergara star as the unlikely duo of an uptight and by-the-book cop and the sexy and outgoing widow of a drug boss as they race through Texas pursued by crooked cops and murderous gunmen. The supporting cast includes Matthew Del Negro, Michael Mosley, Robert Kazinsky and Richard T. Jones. Despite its star power, the critics didn't take too kindly to this outrageous comedy, but, hey, there is a silver lining. At least it wasn't the worst-reviewed wide release of 2015! For that "distinguished" honor, we present a comedy sequel that probably should have never happened.
1Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 - 5% on Rotten Tomatoes
No one was expecting 2009's Paul Blart: Mall Cop to become an early hit, taking in $146.3 million domestic and $183.2 million worldwide from just a $26 million budget. With numbers like that, most were expecting Kevin James and his Segway-riding, mustached mall cop to return to the big screen, despite the original comedy's 33% rating on RT. Six years later, the sequel finally arrived, but fans didn't exactly come out in droves for the follow-up, and the critics hated it even more than the first outing, with $71 million domestic and $107.5 million worldwide from a $30 million budget. This time around, Paul Blart and his daughter (Raini Rodriguez) head to Las Vegas for a security guard convention, when he stumbles upon an intricate heist. While the original movie's success certainly warranted a sequel, much more than, perhaps, others that arrived in theaters this year, but that doesn't mean a follow-up is necessarily a good idea.
That about wraps it up for for our list of the worst-reviewed movies of 2015, according to the nation's critics at Rotten Tomatoes. Now it's your turn. What are YOUR picks for the worst movies of the year? Are there any clunkers that didn't make our list that you think should have gotten worse reviews than they did? Chime in with your thoughts below, or you can find me on Twitter @GallagherMW. One can only hope that the movies of 2016 will be received better by critics far and near.