When it comes to Hollywood films, there are multiple measures of success. There are cinematic classics that are known hits in their time, and even those that fail at the box office, but nonetheless become cult classics. We celebrate these often, but it's not too often we celebrate and acknowledge the incredibly successful franchises that critics and sometimes audiences often agree aren't that great.
Many of these franchises exist in Hollywood, but I went ahead and highlighted some of the major and perhaps unexpected offenders audiences wouldn't immediately assume. That said, Transformers is probably the one everyone would think of first, which is why it kicks off this list of film series that get trashed, but still make money hand over fist despite that.
I think when anyone thinks of bad franchises that are insanely financially successful, Transformers is at the top of the list. With that said, I don't think we ever truly appreciate how much this franchise has been critically panned. For example, Bumblebee was the first and only time in the franchise's history that the movie was universally praised by critics and audiences alike. In fact, the only positive reception for a Transformers film on Rotten Tomatoes outside of Bumblebee is the audience score for the first movie, and everything else is rotten.
As much as the franchise has been panned, love for Transformers or giant fighting robots runs deep. This franchise is a major moneymaker, with all but one of the films resting in the top 200 highest-grossing films. Go figure, the one that didn't make that list was Bumblebee. As long as this franchise continues to print money, it's hard to imagine it ending anytime soon.
Pirates Of The Caribbean
This could be a hot take for some because the response to the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise has been split between critics and audiences. Every movie after The Curse of the Black Pearl has been more or less a flop overall for critics, while audiences, by and large, are only down on On Stranger Tides. What is the x-factor that keeps this franchise chugging along?
It's hard to say for sure, because if you wade through the sea of reviews for each movie, it seemingly comes down to everyone having a different metric of rating for an "ok" movie. The only consistent thing is that people love Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow, which is probably why so many are campaigning for him to return to the role for the reboot. Pirates of the Caribbean is far from the worst franchise on this list, but to call it great, objectively speaking, is a stretch looking at the consensus online.
The Resident Evil franchise has had six live-action movies, and every single one was tremendously panned by critics. Really, the complaint is something you can say about most zombie films, being that they're all big on action, but overall lack substance. My personal gripe is that this franchise never really felt like a true representation of the Resident Evil video game franchise, but I can let that gripe go now that a series is headed to Netflix. I'm also really excited about Resident Evil: Welcome To Raccoon City, which looks to be a movie that will finally acknowledge the game lore in a meaningful way.
Resident Evil may not be too faithful to its source material, but that hasn't stopped audiences from turning up to see the movies over the years. According to Syfy, the six movies have combined for a take of around $1.2 billion at the box office, and the movies average about $60 million to make. That's quite a profit to turn even if critics and audiences alike are continuously griping at the quality of the franchise, so I can't blame the original film series for running as long as it did.
If there were a horror movie Mount Rushmore of horror icons, Michael Myers' masked face would be on it. It's hard to argue there's a horror icon more representative of the spookiest holiday of the year, especially when the title of all their movies is Halloween. Despite its iconic status, the Halloween franchise is 2/11 in terms of positive reception from critics, and a marginally better 3/11 with audiences. Everyone agrees with the original movie and the 2018 remake sequel being gold, but only audiences are warm on the original Halloween II.
This may be why the Halloween franchise ultimately decided to retcon all previous movies after the original, with the 2018 Halloween ultimately becoming the sequel to the original movie. Even though I can't blame anyone who still has a soft spot for the original movies, because let's face it, slasher movies are held to a different standard. I'm not looking for a cohesive plot and award-winning performances, though having those is an added bonus. As long as throats are getting slashed and bones are getting crunched, that's the part that really matters and has kept the lights on in this franchise over the years.
For a franchise as prolific and well-liked as Jurassic Park, we never really seem to acknowledge this franchise has struggled with audiences and critics alike outside of its first movie. Sure, Jurassic World was well-received, but if you take that to how mixed The Lost World was received, and how Jurassic Park III and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom fared even worse, it's more than fair to say that this franchise has a better history of misses than it ever did hits.
Jurassic Park is a successful franchise, and I personally think it continues to be because everyone so desperately wants the franchise to recapture what was great about the magnificent first film. Unfortunately, even the latest advancements in CGI have still had a hard time measuring up to the practical effects and animatronics used in the original. Someday, Hollywood will get there, and I know I would love to sit through as many mediocre sequels as it takes before it finally happens.
To say Twilight was panned by critics is almost an understatement. Yet the adaptation of the popular books remained solid with its fandom, and to this day is a favorite to many. This includes a sizable chunk of the CinemaBlend staff, who will literally fight anyone who tries to slander the franchise.
They're not the only ones, though, and a large part of this franchise's staying power over the years has been thanks to its wonderful cast. Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson and even Anna Kendrick have gone on to do much bigger and better things in the time since. Plus, who doesn't like the classic story of an outcast girl who falls in love with a vampire that breaks all prior stereotypes of what was known about the species prior. This franchise will seemingly always have an audience for the foreseeable future, to the point I don't think it's crazy to assume a reboot would break records at the box office.
These are just a few of the franchises that have defied the thoughts of audiences and critics, but there are many more where that came from. Take a look at our upcoming 2021 summer movie slate, and perhaps make some predictions on what other movies could defy expectations and go much longer than expected despite rough reviews.
Mick likes good television, but also reality television. He grew up on Star Wars, DC, Marvel, and pro wrestling and loves to discuss and dissect most of it. He’s been writing online for over a decade and never dreamed he’d be in the position he is today.
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