Box office receipts are not always the best gauge of how good a movie is. Some terrible movies have hit number one at the box office. This isn’t a list meant to take shots at wildly popular movies that are also divisive, like Titanic. This list is for some of the movies that are genuinely surprising that they reached the top of the mountain for at least one week. 

Dustin Hoffman and Warren Beatty in Ishtar

(Image credit: Columbia Pictures)

Ishtar (1987)

While it shouldn’t be surprising that a movie starring Warren Beatty and Dustin Hoffman would hit number one, especially in the mid-’80s, Ishtar was almost universally panned before it was released. It is one of those movies that has become a punchline for jokes about box office bombs. It lost a ton of money, but it started out ok, opening at the top of the box office for the week. It fell off a cliff from there,  

Brooke Shields in Blue Lagoon

(Image credit: MGM)

The Blue Lagoon (1980)

Critics have a lot to say about The Blue Lagoon, and very little of it is positive. On the surface, it sounds like an interest premise: two kids stranded on a deserted island. Unfortunately, the movie just turns into a campy, and somewhat uncomfortable love story between teenagers. It made a ton of money, and made Brooke Shields a star, but it’s only gotten more creepy as the years have rolled on. 

Robin Williams in Jack

(Image credit: Buena Vista Pictures)

Jack (1996)

The late Robin Williams is still beloved by his fans, and he made some amazing movies, but he didn’t always make the best decisions. Jack is a great example of this. It’s kind of the same premise as Tom Hanks’ classic Big, but with a twist, as Williams’ character is born with a condition that makes him age quickly. It’s kind of just an excuse for Williams to do what he usually did best, which is to play a wild, unpredictable character. It doesn’t work though. Still, it was #1 in 1996 for a week. 

George Clooney as Batman in Batman & Robin

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Batman & Robin (1997)

There isn’t much more we can add to the conversation of 1997’s Batman & Robin. Even star George Clooney trashed it and so did the movie’s writer. It’s not surprising that it would hit #1, given that it’s a Batman movie, but it was still a box-office disappointment overall

Michael Winslow and Steve Guttenberg in Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol (1987)

The original Police Academy was a wild, surprising success, but by the time they made the fourth installment of the series, Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol, it was already running on fumes. There were still enough fans of the franchise to push it to number one, but still ended up disappointing at the box office and marked the end of an era for the series, as it’s the last to star Steve Guttenberg. 

John Travolta in Staying Alive

(Image credit: Staying Alive)

Staying Alive (1983)

1977’s Saturday Night Fever made John Travolta a superstar. Its 1983 sequel, Staying Alive almost killed his career completely. Even though it made a ton of money, the movie has a 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and it would take a decade for Travolta’s career to completely recover. 

Pierce Brosnan fixes Madonna's corset in Die Another Day.

(Image credit: Danjaq, LLC and MGM)

Die Another Day (2002)

Die Another Day marked the end of the Pierce Brosnan era of the James Bond Series, and while it made a boatload of money, it’s often ranked near or at the bottom of lists ranking the best Bond films. It’s a campy mess, but unlike the Roger Moore era, it wasn’t supposed to be. It’s got way too many product placements and terrible CGI to ever be a great Bond movie or even a good movie. 

Jamie Dornan in Fifty Shades as Christian Grey.

(Image credit: Universal)

Fifty Shades Freed (2018)

The Fifty Shade book series was wildly popular, and the movies made a lot of money too, but that doesn’t mean the books or the movies are good. There is an appeal, but the movies, especially the third and final installment, Fifty Shades Freed, are objectively silly. 

Madeleine Stowe, Mary Stuart Masterson, Andie MacDowell and Drew Barrymore in Bad Girls

(Image credit: 20th Century Fox)

Bad Girls (1994)

With stars like Drew Barrymore, Andie MacDowell, Madeleine Stowe, and Mary Stuart Masterson, plus a unique pro-feminist twist on a western, Bad Girls had enough hype behind it to open at #1 at the box office. Unfortunately, it pretty much stinks, despite all the talent involved and it ended up losing money. 

The U-571 cast

(Image credit: Universal)

U-571 (2000)

The Matthew McConaughey vehicle, U-571, was a big budget release that was anticipated to be a hit. It’s also one of the most wildly inaccurate historical films of all time and while it received somewhat positive reviews, the portrayal of the Americans being the first to capture an Enigma Machine in World War II is so false, that it deserves to be on this list. 

Steven Seagal in Out for Justice

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Out for Justice (1991)

In the early ’90s Steven Seagal was on top of the world. He had a run of successful movies including Out for Justice in 1991, which hit number one at the box office in April. That doesn’t mean it’s his best movie (that would be Under Siege) but it is one of highest grossing films. 

The Porky's Cast

(Image credit: 20th Century Fox)

Porky’s (1981)

If you want to talk about movies that haven’t aged well, the conversation starts with 1980’s Porky’s. It wasn’t well-received by critics at the time, and it only looks worse today, still, it won an astonishing eight weeks at the box office

Ryan Reynolds in Green Lantern

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Green Lantern (2011)

Ryan Reynolds has never been shy about trashing 2001’s Green Lantern, which almost scared him off superhero movies forever. Of course, it was successful at first, winning its opening weekend, before losing money overall. 

Kevin James peeking out with caution from a corner in Paul Blart: Mall Cop.

(Image credit: Sony Pictures Entertainment)

Paul Blart: Mall Cop (2009)

Sometimes you just have to look at a movie’s success and say. “huh.” Paul Blart: Mall Cop is one of those movies. The premise sounds stupid, and the movie is too. Still, the Kevin James-led film made oodles of money and led to a successful sequel as well, so the joke’s on us. 

A scene from The Musketeer

(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

The Musketeer (2001)

2001’s The Musketeer has some great action sequences and kung fu-inspired fight scenes. It’s everything else about the movie that stinks. Sometimes action scenes aren’t enough to save a whole picture. Despite opening at #1, it still managed to lose money. 

Amanda Seyfried and Channing Tatum in Dear John.

(Image credit: Sony Pictures Releasing/Lionsgate)

Dear John (2010)

Dear John has one huge feather in its cap. It is the movie that knocked Avatar out of the top spot after seven weeks at #1 in late 2009 and early 2010. The Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried romance managed to make over $100 million at the box office, but holds a 28% “fresh” rating at Rotten Tomatoes. 

Robert De Niro and Ben Stiller in Little Fockers

(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

Little Fockers (2010)

Little Fockers is a prime example of beating a dead horse. Meet The Parents still holds up as a charming rom-com, and even the sequel, Meet The Fockers, has its moments. The third movie, Little Fockers, looks and feels like a pure cash grab by all those involved. It worked, but the movie is still charmless. 

Amy the Gorilla drinks a martini during her flight in Congo.

(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

Congo (1995)

Author Michael Crichton was a hot commodity in Hollywood in the ’90s on the heels of Jurassic Park and ER. Producers were snapping up the rights to his novels, including his 1980 novel Congo. The movie was released in the summer of 1995 and enjoyed some success, opening at #1, before getting knocked off its perch by Batman Forever. Congo remains one of the worst adaptations of a Crichton book. 

Nick Nolte in Three Fugitives

(Image credit: Buena Vista Pictures)

Three Fugitives (1989)

Nick Nolte and Martin Short teamed up for a very misguided comedy called Three Fugitives in 1989, and despite almost universally bad reviews, the movie still managed to make money in its first couple of weeks of release, before it all caught up to them. 

A scene from Happy Birthday to Me

(Image credit: Columbia Pictures)

Happy Birthday to Me (1981)

When Happy Birthday to Me was released in 1981, it was attempting to ride the wave of slasher films like Friday The 13th and Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It doesn’t really work on any level and it just feels like a ripoff. Still, it managed to succeed at the box office, despite its limitations as a movie. 

Jeremy Irons in The Time Machine

(Image credit: Paramount)

The Time Machine (2002)

2002’s The Time Machine made over $100 million and opened at number one, despite being universally panned by critics. It boasts a great cast, including Jeremy Irons and Guy Pearce, and it was even nominated for Oscar (Best Makeup), but those things don’t save it. It’s a mess. 

Eddie Murphy in Nutty Professor II: The Klumps

(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

Nutty Professor II: The Klumps (2000)

Nutty Professor II: The Klumps was the follow-up to the wildly successful Nutty Professor starring Eddie Murphy in most of the roles. While the first one has some great moments and is actually pretty funny, the second, despite its monster box office receipts, has none of the magic of the first one. 

boy and man wearing native american head dresses

(Image credit: Disney)

Man of the House (1995)

Chevy Chase owned the 1980s. The former SNL cast member seemingly could do no wrong and had a string of huge hits that are still beloved today. The ’90s were less kind to Chase, however, and it was because of phoned-in performances in movies like 1995’s Man of the House. It’s just a bad movie with zero laughs. It still managed to open at #1 somehow. 

Sean Connery and Wesley Snipes in Rising Sun

(Image credit: 20th Century Fox)

Rising Sun (1993)

When it was released in 1993, Rising Sun, based a novel by Michael Crichton, faced protests and denouncements from Asian-American groups for its portrayal of Japanese characters and it looks even worse today. The movie made a lot of money, but even beyond the offensiveness, it’s just not a movie that has aged well. 

Bruce Willis in Striking Distance

(Image credit: Columbia Pictures)

Striking Distance (1993)

Bruce Willis starred in some of the best action movies of the ’80s and ’90s. Striking Distance was not one of them. Willis seems to be going through the motions on this one and he doesn’t carry it like he did so many others of this era. It opened at #1 and made a decent amount of money, but it’s not one of Willis’ best movies by a long shot. 

Jim Varney in The Beverly Hillbillies

(Image credit: 20th Century Fox)

The Beverly Hillbillies (1993)

Hollywood has a habit of rebooting Baby Boomer TV shows for a Gen X market, and The Beverly Hillbillies starring Jim Varney as Jed Clampett is a perfect example of just how wrong this can go. Released in 1993, the movie opened at #1 and was completely panned by critics. Audiences still made sure the movie made money, but why anyone liked it is a mystery to us. 

Martin Lawrence in Big Momma's House 2

(Image credit: 20th Century Fox)

Big Momma’s House 2 (2006)

Somewhat inexplicitly, all three movies in the Big Momma trilogy have made money. The first one makes some sense, as it does have a some charm, but mostly, all three are unfunny and tasteless. Big Momma’s House 2 isn’t the worst of the bunch, but it does hold a dismal 5% rating at Rotten Tomatoes and its easy to see why.

William H. Macy in Wild Hogs

(Image credit: Buena Vista Pictures)

Wild Hogs (2007)

In his review of Wild Hogs, Variety writer Dennis Harvey summed it up perfectly, writing, “[the] uninspired script and broad slapstick yuks won’t earn this any plaudits, but slick, safe package should do OK with North American mall [audiences].” It’s not a bad movie, with some really bad jokes, but it still opened at #1 in North America. It’s mostly forgotten these days, for good reason. 

Keanu Reeves in The Day The Earth Stood Still

(Image credit: 20th Century Fox)

The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008)

The Day the Earth Stood Still will never stand out as one of Keanu Reeves’ finest moments. The film is a misguided attempt to remake the classic 1951 sci-fi flick of the same name and it just misses in almost every way. It made a ton of money, but it hasn’t aged well, and even at the time, the reviews were poor. 

Tom Hanks in Angels & Demons

(Image credit: Sony Pictures)

Angels & Demons (2009)

Author Dan Brown’s Angels & Demons felt like a rush job, hoping to cash in on the insane popularity of The Da Vinci Code. Like the book, the movie also falls well short of it’s prequel. Tom Hanks does what he can in his second turn as Robert Langdon, but, despite making a lot of money, the movie just doesn’t hold up. 

Mel Gibson and Goldie Hawn in Bird on a Wire

(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

Bird on a Wire (1990)

it’s not hard to understand why audiences at the time loved Bird on a Wire. Mel Gibson and Goldie Hawn were two of the most charming actors of the era and they have decent chemistry in the movie. That’s all the movie has though and today, a few decades later, it’s almost unwatchable. It’s tedious and annoying, to say the least. It still may a bundle of money. 

A scene from Think Like a Man Too

(Image credit: Sony Pictures)

Think Like a Man Too (2014)

Sometimes sequels are a really bad idea. Think Like a Man was a bit of a surprise hit, mostly due to the fantastic cast it put together and it’s one of Kevin Hart’s best movies. It was a big enough hit to warrant financing a second movie. As a result. it feels like it was only made to make money and for no other reasons. It’s charmless. It made money, to be sure, but stick with the first one.

Box office gold doesn’t always equal greatness, as all of these movies clearly show. 

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