by Adam Riske
Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987)
RoboCop and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (re-release) in their second weekends and the debut of the Mark Harmon comedy Summer School in third place. The Quest for Peace finished its run with only $15.7M at the box office, which is pathetic and makes me want to take a bath. This gross proved without a doubt that Mark Harmon’s smile is a more formidable foe than Nuclear Man. America made the right call.
The Rocketeer (1991)
The Shadow (1994)
Tank Girl (1995)
Pulp Fiction. Tank Girl did open ahead of fellow debut Born to be Wild (do you think they’ll play the song?), about a teenager and an ape going on a road trip, so I guess Lori Petty has that to hang her hat on. I wonder how Tank Girl did in Racine? She was traded there, you know.
Judge Dredd (1995)
Apollo 13, the second weekend of Pocahontas, the third weekend of Batman Forever (KIDMAN! SEAL! KILMER LIPS!), and the debut of Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, finishing with only $34.7M and scuttling the blockbuster career (he went onto TV) of the awesomely-named director Danny Cannon, which are words that sound like a command on Dredd’s gun.
Barb Wire (1996)
The Craft (#1), The Great White Hype (#5), Last Dance (#6), and The Pallbearer (#9). Goop.
Air Force One, but declined steadily and topped out at $54.9M due to poor word of mouth. I remember when Spawn came out on video there was an R-rated version and I thought more edge was going to somehow fix the movie. When I rented it, my dad asked, “I thought you said you didn’t like this?” and I had to defend Spawn. That’s a weird place to be. Even now I would totally re-watch Spawn and I have no idea why.
Spider-Man the summer before, Hulk was expected to be another pre-MCU Marvel hit. It had the pedigree: Ang Lee coming off Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, rising star Eric Bana, newly minted Oscar winner Jennifer Connelly, Josh “we failed him and now he’s in faith movies” Lucas... Hulk opened at #1 with a mighty $62.1M, but then finished with only $132.2M as its final gross. Do you know how fucking bad your movie must be to have a multiplier under 2x? It’s no surprise since this movie pleases no one except Nick Nolte’s enablers. I saw it opening night with a full audience and by an hour in I swear I saw people getting palm readings, doing their taxes, reading The Bible...just doing anything to avoid making eye contact with this bore. I’m having PTSD writing this right now remembering how bad Hulk was. OMG, it was so bad. So, so bad.
What superhero movies did you think would be huge but weren’t?