Friday Debate: why do bad movies make bank at the box office?

2 min read
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I last wrote about this topic back in 2014, but thanks to the latest box office figures for South Africa, I think it’s time we took another look at why terrible movies seem to do so well at the box office.

Let’s be perfectly honest. Transformers 5 was a dreadful film. The franchise is tired, the movie itself is an incomprehensible mess, and yet it raked in the cash on its opening weekend. Critics absolutely hated it, audiences weren’t particularly positive, but still, it made bank.

The same thing happened with Tom Cruise’s latest action vehicle, The Mummy. Despite everything telling audiences NO, audiences still said YES! The list goes on. Pirates of The Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge. 50 Shades Darker. It just keeps happening.

So, movie going audience, those of you out there that are the ones responsible for those numbers. You’re voting with your wallets and I want to know why. Is it the sunk-cost fallacy of “you have to see this because you’ve watched all of them so far” – which doesn’t work for non-franchise movies. Or, is it a case of “I have to judge a movie for myself, even if everyone I know says it’s bad”? Maybe you’re thinking “I just hope it’s so bad it’s good”.

Read  We pick our best and worst movies of 2017

You know it’s going to be bad, every critic has told you that it’s bad, maybe even your friends that saw it before you told you not to waste your time. But you went and spent your hard-earned cash. Maybe you regretted it, maybe you didn’t. Let me hear about it!

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Critical Hit as an organisation.

Last Updated: June 30, 2017

Tracy Benson

All about movies, board games, cider, sci-fi, fantasy and geek culture.

  • Gareth Lagesse (eXCheez)

    Same reason generic music is popular: it’s designed for sales and popularity.

  • Bad movies make bank the same reason CoD is a top seller every year or Trump is president or Justin Bieber makes bank. There are more stupid people in the world than there are smart people. Just remember a guy gets a sex change and wins an award over a girl who gets shot in the face for standing up for education .

  • Movies are occasions, and occasions are things we do just because we can. Nobody NEEDS to go to the beach, or to a restaurant, or to a concert for example. But we do it because it’s an experience, even if the sand gets everywhere or the food gives you an upset stomach or the music quality is terrible and you end up deaf for a week.

    Similarly, movies like Transformers sell out because they are occasions. Events. Extravaganzas. They blast your senses with mindless action and special effects and you come out of the cinema sounding like a teenager again, but that’s the point of them. Nobody goes into those movies expecting transcendental intellectual experiences but like with F&F, they go in hoping for a wild (but dumb) ride that they can forget about afterwards. Like the funfair but with fewer failed attempts at wooing your high school crush (I have a bad history with funfairs).

    Cinemas are designed to be outgoing experiences. You can always watch a really great, smart movie at home. Nobody needs to watch La La Land in cinema to appreciate its art. But a massive-budget special-effects blockbuster release in IMAX? 99% of people won’t think any further than that.

  • Alien Emperor Trevor

    Because there’s no accounting for taste.

    • MonsterCheddar

      Oh, so you know?

      • Alien Emperor Trevor

        I know everything.

  • Original Heretic

    Because people are stupid.

    • MonsterCheddar

      Sometimes people just want to make up their own minds?

      And you actually have to watch a movie to decide its good or bad? 😛

      • Original Heretic

        That’s even more stupid.
        “Um, I heard this movie was really bad. None of the reviews have been good. But I want to decide for myself, nobody is going to make up my mind for me! So let me buy these expensive movie tickets and, hey, let’s add in some totally overpriced snacks.”
        Two hours later…
        “Ah, that movie was shit! I feel like I’ve been ripped off!”

        • MonsterCheddar

          That’s a matter of opinion. A lot of people don’t read reviews.

          • Admiral Chief

            I’m of the opinion that you don’t read reviews either

          • MonsterCheddar

            No, I don’t. Like I said, I will make my own mind up. If something looks interesting, I will go watch it. Tastes differ.

          • Admiral Chief

            Yes, you get different tastes of cheese. Personally, cheddar is the inferior one

          • MonsterCheddar

            Your face is inferior.

            I’m a Monster Cheddar….Not a normal peasant Cheddar.

          • Admiral Chief

            Yet you play on a normal peasantstation?

          • MonsterCheddar

            #Triggered

          • Admiral Chief

            Hahaha, gotcha. Triggered cheese always tastes better

            xD

          • Original Heretic
          • Hammersteyn

            Leave cheddar provolone!

          • Original Heretic

            You’re just proving my point more and more.

          • MonsterCheddar

            Different strokes. Movies are a hobby of mine, so I tend to go watch a lot of them without giving a crap what so and so said about it.

          • Original Heretic

            Let me guess: you also pre-order most of your games.

          • MonsterCheddar

            SOmetimes. XD.

          • MonsterCheddar

            LOL

          • Hammersteyn

            A lot of people can’t read, but they like to see pretty moving pictures.

          • Alien Emperor Trevor
          • Hammersteyn

            lol

      • Hammersteyn

        So if enough critics (people whose jobs are watching movies) say it’s bad they must be wrong?

        • MonsterCheddar

          No..That’s not my point. My point is that I will like to make up my own mind, instead of someone else doing it for me.
          If I have watched all the movies of a franchise and the last one is deemed kak by reviewers, I’m not not going to go watch just because they shot it down.

          • Hammersteyn

            Well, in the case of Transformers, I made up my mind they’re all kak, even though critics seemed to like the first one.

          • MonsterCheddar

            There I can actually agree with you.

          • Matthew Holliday

            The first one was flashy, and bluray and explosions?
            And that was awesome

            but when 2 3 4 5 6 are still only flashy, bluray and explosions? Basically a remake of the first movie with more hats, and are trying to convince you theyr actually good movies, yeah, meh.

        • MonsterCheddar

          Besides, if you believe the CH lot, you won’t watch anything.

          • Hammersteyn

            I’ll watch it on DSTV eventually, one drunken lazy Sunday afternoon.

          • MonsterCheddar

            XD

          • Original Heretic

            Yeah, THAT’S how you watch a poorly reviewed movie. Don’t waste money on it!

        • Matthew Holliday

          Critics are people.
          they have opinons that we’re allowed to disagree with and are as likely as anyone to be biased about this that or the other.
          Their reviews are not infallible.
          So long as people remember that when making a decision, then thats chilled.

  • Hammersteyn

    Because the Earth is filled with morons who thinks it’s a good idea to make a Youtube video where one person fires a Desert Eagle at a book held by another person while 30 people are in attendance and no one thinks that maybe, just maybe, this is the worst idea ever and then people are surprised when it goes tits up.

  • The same reason why people think a $500 console can do true 4K. “lack of intelligence”

    • MonsterCheddar

      Will you ever let that go????

      • Hammersteyn

        He never 4Kets

        • MonsterCheddar

          XD

        • MonsterCheddar

          And I keep reminding him.

      • Admiral Chief

        LET IT GO
        LET IT GOOOOO

        • Chuckles von Clausewitz III

          • HvR

            Wrong version

          • Chuckles von Clausewitz III

            LMAO!!!

      • It’s this years NMS. A nice little box filled with lies and a ribbon on top.

        • Admiral Chief

          Might I suggest you bookmark/screenshot some of your statements for when it comes out. I have a sneaky idea that you might be correct

          • I don’t think it might. I know it is.

          • Admiral Chief

            Screenshot away then!

          • I think I go on about this so much, it is etched in peoples memories xD

          • Admiral Chief

            Same as Don’t support DRM, the Witcher 3 is coming?

          • Never followed through to the end

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            That’s what she said.

          • No one ever cares what “he” said.

          • Hammersteyn

            He was cool

          • Admiral Chief

            And Otto isn’t?
            Oh wait, nm, I see what you did there… 😛

          • lol…wot?

          • Admiral Chief

            You’ve been…..Hammerstruck

          • R1ker

            xD

            Carefull – what if Ryanza come back

    • MonsterCheddar
  • Gerhard

    I agree with Caveshen. I go to the movies to be entertained and these movies do it well enough. A flimsy story to tie all the action together does not mean it is not enjoyable to watch. I do however think that a bad experience at the movies (Prometheus!!!) does influence my choices. Still havn’t seen Alien: Covenant.

  • MonsterCheddar

    Uhmm…People still need to go watch them to decide they are kak. So they need to pay for the tickets.

    Then you get assholes like me, that don’t give a flying monkey’s about what reviewers have to say. I like to make my own mind up.

  • Magoo

    Actually that’s a bad question. How do you know that a movie is bad until you’ve seen it?

    Don’t you dare tell us to trust the media!

    Edit: Also, I like to go to the cinema to get away. At least once a month I pitch up without a movie in mind and just pick the one that’s least likely to disappoint.

    • MonsterCheddar
      • Now this movie was KAK

        • BakedBagel

          Im triggered.

          take that back my dude.

        • MonsterCheddar

          Your face is kak.

    • Hammersteyn

      I’ve seen the previous Transformers(on TV mind), the fifth is more of the same so yeah, it’s trash.

      • MonsterCheddar

        Did you go watch it?

        • Hammersteyn

          It’s Transformers…

          • It’s like Ice Age. I am starting to forget which one comes after which.

          • Admiral Chief

            Where’s the baby?

          • More like where the heck is the 3rd movie?

          • MonsterCheddar

            HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!!!!!!!!!!! SEE!!!!!!!!!!!?????

            Proven my point.

          • Hammersteyn

            What point? Look it’s simple, I’ll see it eventually out of sheer luck when it comes to TV and I’m channel hopping because I’m bored and make up my own mind, but they’re not gonna do anything different, it’s still gonna be the CGI heavy, American flag waving, explosion ridden, product placing infomercial like the previous ones. These movies are designed to make people buy Chevrolets and Iphones. The story, acting, writing, etc. comes in second.

          • Admiral Chief

            ^^^^^^^^my brother has spoken the truth here^^^^^^^^^^^^^

          • MonsterCheddar

            I took it that you went and watched it. Sorry.

          • Hammersteyn

            I will if you go and see My little Pony 😛

          • He can duo it with me

    • Chuckles von Clausewitz III

      Listen to this Mr Magoo. He is infinitely wise, with his fingers on the pulse of common sense.

  • Admiral Chief

    Same reason why CoD makes money

  • Can we all also just take a moment and agree Power Rangers is the best movie of 2017…

    • Admiral Chief

      Nope, Logan was

      • Hammersteyn

        Nope, Wonder Woman

        • Admiral Chief

          Dayum son, you might be correct. Close tie between those two
          I need you to UNLIKE the like you gave Otto, Power Ranges se moer

          • Hammersteyn

            XD

          • MonsterCheddar

            XD

        • MonsterCheddar

          I almost read Boner Woman.

          MMMMMMMMMM…..Gal Gadot….

        • Chuckles von Clausewitz III

          Wonder Woman was a cool movie, but I think Logan was definitely better. Personally, I think Guardians of the Galaxy II was the best movie of 2017. It had everything, great jokes, great music, great CGI, a great story, and soul.

      • HvR

        Logan was not that great in IMHO, good but not great. Very good action and dramatic scenes connected with mediocre and bit incomprehensible story

        Might be the average looking one between the fugly ones effect.

      • Ir0nseraph

        I can get behind this as I haven’t watched wonder woman and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 yet, so my vote might change .

    • Magoo

      Kong was my favourite this year. (Yes really) But Power Rangers is a close second!

      • Admiral Chief

        WHAT? I watched that this week, and it was really not that great, mediocre at best

        • Hammersteyn

          I liked the ending with John C Riley, poor guy.

        • And here we have the fundamentals about movie reviews. We all have our own genre to get our fix 😛

        • Magoo

          Yeah, apparently. I thought it was really fresh and well put together. Admittedly I would have enjoyed it far less without Samuel.

          • Admiral Chief

            Yeah, that was just stupid tbh. I felt like I wasted my time on that movie.

          • Magoo

            And now you’re wasting more time hating it. 😛

      • MonsterCheddar

        Kong was good.

    • MonsterCheddar

      No. I’m with Edmiril. Logan was.

      But…..I have still to watch Wonder Woman which I think will be better.

        • MonsterCheddar

          Oh……NO…FOR FUCK SAKE….

          Kill me now.

          • Hammersteyn

            But you haven’t seen it yet, how do you know it’s bad?

          • MonsterCheddar

            NO NO NO NO NO!!!!

            Anything MLP needs to die in fire!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        • Alien Emperor Trevor

          Too 3D and Disney-fied. Movement is all off as well. According to a well placed source.

          • Sounds like a reviewer I can trust!

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            Not really, he has terrible opinions on Logan & Deadpool.

          • I am getting all hot and bothered for this mysterious person already!

        • Chuckles von Clausewitz III

          Isn’t @PieterKruger a brony?

    • Matthew Holliday

      Power Rangers started off fairly strong, but ugh, it gets to an hour in and I was just waiting for “the power of friendship” to make an appearance.

  • HvR

    Movie reviewers here gets some of the blame.

    If you are going to spread false rumours manufactured by political groups aimed to sink movies and base movie reviews on arbitrary social “science” tests and let political views influence your reviews people who do not share (which will always be the majority) your beliefs your opinion will not be valued and ignored.

    • Also. Trevor has not watched Breaking Bad or Game of Thrones, he can not be trusted!

      • HvR

        Last movie Trevor watched was the premier of Charlie Chaplin’s The Dictator

      • Alien Emperor Trevor

        tee hee

        • Don’t tee hee me. You have to make right for the wrong you have done! And it’s weekend! *whips*!

    • R1ker

      I still remember reading a review of phantom menace saying how terrible racist that movie was. Because – gungans

  • Matthew Holliday

    Any publicity is good publicity.
    Sofar you guys have written, what? 3? 4 articles about the new transformers movie?
    And besides, the public in general are superficial, so long as there are enough explosions? its going to make bank.
    It doesnt have to be good, it just has to be enjoyable. And that is situational.

    • R1ker

      I am still trying to figure out why i liked the original Rambo so much when i was a kid. Watch it again recently and damn that is a stupid movie now.

      • Matthew Holliday

        Same as I liked anything with Jean-Claude Van Damme when I was a lightie.
        Biceps and bullets and explosions?

  • Yondaime

    The amount of people who think the movies are bad is less than the amount of people who have kids or simply don’t care. Kids wana see the new Transformers movie, simply put they don’t give a flying fcuk about the myriad of reviews that say it’s bad. This can be applied to other bad movies as well. The mere fact that a person wants to see what “all the fuss is about” means they’re going to pay to see the movie and thus adding to the bank.

    • HvR

      Jip taking kids to the movies does limit your options a lot, especially since the South African ratings board slap a 13 on movies that are rated PG in all the other countries

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