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These Movies Just Didn’t Live Up to the Hype

Building anticipation is an important part of making movies successful. But what happens when a movie doesn't live up to all that hype?
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The hype surrounding a film can be incredibly important to a film’s success. After all, these big blockbusters wouldn’t pull in millions at the box office if no one knew about them. And as people get excited and talk about their anticipation, they help to spread the word about the upcoming film.

Of course, it can be a slippery slope if a movie isn’t as great as fans expected. There have been times when a movie was really hyped up, only to come up short. And whew, audiences can turn pretty quick when they are disappointed! All that letdown can rapidly pull an okay movie down to terrible territory in the eyes of audiences.

Clearly, they don’t have to be bad movies to fall into this category. Even relatively good movies can get a bad rap if they were really built up but ultimately didn’t deliver. Cue the low Rotten Tomatoes audience scores! Below are some of the most anticipated and hyped movies that fell flat. How many of these films disappointed you after they didn’t live up to expectations?

Man of Steel

2013’s Man of Steel promised to reboot the Superman franchise after the lackluster Superman Returns entry in 2006. This time, Henry Cavill stepped into the role under the direction of Zack Snyder.

Don’t get me wrong – I love Henry Cavill. And even though he’s not actually American, I think he’s definitely got the all-American Clark Kent/Superman role on lock. It’s just that the movie itself didn’t really live up to all the hype. Perhaps people were just too excited, and it cast a shadow on the whole thing. The movie is great visually. Unfortunately, though, everything else about the movie was mostly underwhelming, just rehashing the same ol’ Superman story we already knew.

Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice

While we’re talking about Superman, we should also mention 2016’s Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice. Cavill came back to reprise his role for this one, and Ben Affleck was cast as a “war-weary” Batman.

After the disappointing Man of Steel, I think fans had high hopes for Dawn of Justice. Unfortunately, it did worse than Man of Steel. It set box office records upon release but hit a historic drop in its second weekend and never recovered. While loaded with spectacular visuals, the movie was more than lacking when it came to story, pacing, tone, and characterization.

A Wrinkle in Time

I grew up reading (and re-reading) Madeleine L’Engle’s Time Quintet novels, including A Wrinkle in Time. You can imagine how excited I was when the 2018 film adaptation was announced. It was being done by Disney and starring the likes of Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, and Mindy Kaling. 

While many of the movies on this list weren’t all that bad – they just didn’t quite live up to expectations – this one came in pretty low. It turned out to be one of the biggest box-office bombs of all time. A Wrinkle in Time reportedly lost more than $130 million. I would imagine that other viewers were just as disappointed as I was to see that they missed so many important parts of the book.

I think it’s worth noting that it’s probably pretty hard to make a film adaptation of such a beloved book – something that many have read and probably have their own idea of how it might look. And really, A Wrinkle in Time probably isn’t the easiest story to make a live-action adaptation from. Perhaps animation would have been a better way to go.

J. Edgar

Legendary award-winning actor Leonardo DiCaprio in a period film? Seems like a shoo-in for a good film, right? Not only that, but the film was directed, produced, and scored by Clint Eastwood. J. Edgar and DiCaprio’s performance in it were expected to pick up an Oscar nomination or two.

The biopic chronicling the career of FBI director J. Edgar Hoover didn’t fare as well as expected. While DiCaprio delivered a compelling performance, the rest of the film was lackluster. Critics knocked the confusing narrative, mundane storytelling, and even the makeup and lighting.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

There was so much hype around Indiana Jones’ return to the big screen. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, the fourth installment in the series, was released nearly 20 years after the previous Indiana Jones film. How could fans not be excited to see Indy again?!

The issue here is that they really had a chance to reboot the franchise and bring Indiana Jones to a new generation, and instead, we got this. Suddenly, it was science fiction (aliens!) instead of history, Shia LaBeouf was there, and there was a lot of criticism concerning dialogue and pacing. Oh, and the film was highly scrutinized for historical inaccuracy surrounding its depiction of Incan Peruvian culture.

Wild Wild West

It’s downright laughable now, but there was a time when people were hyped about Wild Wild West. Will Smith was the most in-demand actor in Hollywood and was wildly successful at the box office. He had just raked in millions with Independence Day and Men In Black. The rest of the cast was pretty notable, too, including the likes of Kevin Kline, Salma Hayek, Bai Ling, and Kenneth Branagh. It’s also worth noting that steampunk aesthetics were on the rise by this time, so that probably also played into the excitement.

All that hype leading up to its release really highlighted just how bad this movie was. It was a bizarre collection of elements that never should have been put together. More time and money were spent on special effects than on, say, the script. Look, an ex-Confederate scientist has a giant mechanical CGI octopus in the mid-1800s Wild West. It just… doesn’t work.

Of course, Wild Wild West went down in history as a big ol’ flop. It was one of the most expensive films ever made at the time of its release and definitely did not make that money back at the box office.

Related: 7 Best Fourth of July Blockbusters, and 5 of the Worst

Suicide Squad

The disappointment heard ‘round the world! With a stacked ensemble cast, cool visuals, and a pack of favorite DC supervillains getting their moment to shine, this was a film that comic fans were waiting for. We had the likes of Margot Robbie, Will Smith, Jared Leto, and more starring as imprisoned supervillains embarking on dangerous missions. It was destined to be a hit.

Until it wasn’t. I mean, it managed to win an Oscar for Best Makeup and Hairstyling, but that’s kind of where the praise ended. Suicide Squad suffered from poorly written characters, a muddled plot, and choppy direction. Indecisive producers, a rushed schedule, extensive reshoots, and a last-minute change in direction ruined it.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Set sixty years before the main event of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Hobbit trilogy serves as a prequel. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is the first of the three, so you can imagine the hype around it. This was the first on-screen return to Middle-earth in almost ten years. 

Had the LOTR trilogy not set the stakes so high, perhaps The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey wouldn’t have been a letdown. Audiences were expecting a lot, especially with Peter Jackson and the original cast returning. Unfortunately, the movie was about three hours of not much happening. On top of that, a really high frame rate and use of 3D made the movie so hyper-real that it looked fake.

Pearl Harbor

Just a few years after the massive success of James Cameron’s Titanic, Pearl Harbor was slated to be the next epic romance set amid a historic disaster. Directed by Michael Bay and starring the likes of Ben Affleck, Kate Beckinsdale, Josh Hartnett, and Cuba Gooding Jr., it was going to be a powerful film.

Of course, we all know now that this movie definitely didn’t deliver what was promised. It was ripped to shreds by both critics and audiences alike for terrible dialogue, zero chemistry between the stars, long runtime, and a plethora of historical inaccuracies. It felt like Bay only cared about action sequences and explosions (which is probably true).

Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

If there was a single movie that didn’t live up to the hype, it’s definitely Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. Star Wars fans were foaming at the mouth. This was the first time a new Star Wars film was hitting the big screen in more than fifteen years. It was understood that the prequel trilogy would be like nothing we had seen before – bigger and better, thanks to new technologies finally making George Lucas’ visions a possibility.

We can point at tons of reasons why The Phantom Menace was a colossal letdown. There were problems with pacing, with no sense of urgency, tension, or excitement. Many felt like Lucas relied too heavily on CGI, which resulted in a lack of human elements for audiences to connect to. Or maybe, Jar Jar Binks ruined the whole thing.

In reality, all of that together culminated in a film that just didn’t feel like the original trilogy. And after waiting 16 years for another Star Wars movie, fans just didn’t think this one lived up to the massive hype.