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There’s no accounting for taste. It’s an old phrase that really just means that often what’s considered good in the world of art can be a topic of serious disagreement. When it comes to film, nobody ever agrees all the time. While most critics, or movie fans, might feel one way or another about a film, there will always be a few who have an opposing view.
However, sometimes the general consensus among critics finds itself directly at odds with moviegoers. Movie fans vote with their dollars which means that movies which critics believe are bad can still be hugely successful. Here are the 10 biggest examples. For the purposes of this ranking, only films deemed Rotten (59% or lower aggregate rating) on RottenTomatoes.com were considered "bad." Box office numbers are based on unadjusted domestic box office sales according to BoxOfficeMojo.com. If you happen to love one of the following films, it's totally cool.
10. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s EndDomestic Box Office: $309,420, 425
Of all the things for Disney to base a movie on, nobody was quite sure what to expect when they chose one of their theme park rides. However, the first film, Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl was generally considered to be pretty good. By the time the first trilogy had ended, however, it had obviously run out of gas. While the movie did over $300 million in business, none of that money came from critics. The fourth film in the series didn't make this list for a reason.
9. TransformersDomestic Box Office:$319,246,193
It’s almost hard to believe now, but there was a time when Michael Bay hadn’t made any Transformers movies. Generation X, who grew up watching the cartoon and playing with the toys, couldn’t wait to see the giant robots on the big screen, and no critic was going to tell them not to. At 57% rotten Transformers very nearly doesn’t make this list, however, this is a franchise that critics have never loved. There have only been gradations of dislike.
8. Shrek the ThirdDomestic Box Office: $322,719,944
Shrek 2 is the highest grossing part of the franchise, but it’s not here because most critics thought it was pretty good. We’d say they should have quit while they were ahead, but if they had, Dreamworks Animation wouldn’t have made an additional $320 million. It was generally agreed that this installment went a little too heavy on the pop culture jokes while sacrificing the story. After two solid outings, lots of people went to see Shrek The Third thinking it was a good bet. Unfortunately, sometimes you lose the good bets.
7. Alice in WonderlandDomestic Box Office: $334,191,110
Is there any wonder that Disney is about to release a sequel to Alice in Wonderland? While nearly everyone complimented the film’s amazing visuals, many felt that the visual style was the only thing that Alice in Wonderland had going at all. The story was a bit of a mess. The title made it out to be an adaptation of the book, which it wasn't. Even Lewis Carroll's drug induced hallucination had structure. This one had Alice, in armor, fighting a dragon. Hopefully the sequel will have worked to fix this issue.
6. MinionsDomestic Box Office: $336,045,770
Minions is another film that just barely squeaks in under the Rotten Tomatoes cap as many critics found it a delightful diversion. In the final analysis, however, many felt that while the Minions from Dispicable Me made for entertaining sidekicks, as lead characters they got a little old a little fast. Many fans apparently agreed, as this is one of the few films that actually has a lower rating among fans than it does among critics. Lots of people went to see it, most were disappointed.
5. Transformers: Dark of the MoonDomestic Box Office: $352,390,543
While critics weren’t too rough on the original Transformers, their fuse became significantly shorter for the sequels. Transformers: Dark of the Moon was the third film in the franchise, but at 35% it actually has the second highest Tomatorating of the series. It’s difficult to say what critics liked better about this installment, other than it maybe was less terrible than the previous film. You can probably guess where this is going.
4. The Passion of the ChristDomestic Box Office: $370,782,930
Here’s where we start getting the angry email. Mel Gibson’s magnum opus about the crucifixion of Jesus Christ was viewed by some critics as a powerful and moving film. Most, however, felt that the extreme level of violence in the film was the only thing that really resonated, making the movie more like a snuff film than a religious awakening. The words "torture porn" have been used. It's one thing to try and accurately show the violent nature of your subject matter, but if nobody wants to sit through it you have a problem.
3. Transformers: Revenge of the FallenDomestic Box Office: $402,111,870
From number four to number three we make a big jump in box office totals, and a huge drop in critical review scores. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen has the dubious honor of having the lowest Tomatorating on this list by a landslide. Fans went in droves, hoping for even more of what they got in the first film. Critics tended to believe that they got more of the first film. In fact, they tended to think they got too much of all it. It’s too long, it’s too loud, and it’s just too much. Fun fact: if you speed up all scenes of Megan Fox running in slow motion to normal speed, you save 20 minutes of run time.
2. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s ChestDomestic Box Office: $423,315,812
The first Pirates of the Caribbean movie was surprisingly good. We assume this is what drove so many people into theaters to see the sequel. The general consensus among critics, however, was that Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest was a prime example of what happens when you throw a bunch of money at a sequel for the box office’s sake and don’t have much of a story. The charm of the original film is missing, replaced with a convoluted attempt to turn a great standalone film into a trilogy. We assume a few fans felt the same way since the Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End ended up significantly down this list. Lots of people still made the trip, but not nearly as many.
1. Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom MenaceDomestic Box Office: $474,533,677
If there was ever a movie that fans were going to flock to see, regardless of what anybody said, it’s this one. Movie fans bought tickets to a Brad Pitt drama, just to see the trailer for Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. We assume most people bought their tickets well in advance and were already planning to attend before any reviews were ever written. Today, the film is viewed as being much more terrible than this rating would imply, whether people were being generous at the time, or more harsh today, the general consensus still wasn’t kind, but that didn’t stop the movie from grossing nearly a half billion dollars.