Movie ratings are often used to predict the box-office success of a film, but reviews are not always connected to how audiences feel. Sometimes movie critics absolutely destroy a film in their reviews, but audiences are undeterred by their harsh words.
In fact, many popular box-office movies were absolutely skewered by critics, yet fans still showed up at theaters in droves.
Click through to find out which movies made a ton of money in theaters despite a lack of critical acclaim.
1. ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’
Worldwide box office: $873.6 million
Released in 2016, “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” is the highest-earning film in the “Superman” franchise. Starring Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill and Amy Adams, fans packed theaters to see the movie, but critics didn’t understand the hype.
“No major blockbuster in years has been this incoherently structured, this seemingly uninterested in telling a story with clarity and purpose,” wrote The Telegraph. “It grumbles along for what feels like forever, jinking from subplot to subplot, until two shatteringly expensive-looking fights happen back to back, and the whole thing crunches to a halt.”
2. ‘Suicide Squad’
Worldwide box office: $746.8 million
A major box-office hit, “Suicide Squad” was released in 2016, and fans flocked to theaters to see it. This DC Comics film starred Will Smith, Jared Leto and Margot Robbie, and Warner Bros. sank $175 million into its production, but A-list talent and a massive budget don’t guarantee favorable movie reviews.
“The anticipated savior of a bummer summer turns out to be a grab bag of what’s been off and awful about recent comic-book epics (‘Captain America: Civil War’ excepted),” Rolling Stone wrote in its one-star review. “‘Suicide Squad’ wussies out when it should have been down with the Dirty Dozen of DC Comics.”
3. ‘Sex and the City’
Worldwide box office: $415.3 million
Starring Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis and Cynthia Nixon, “Sex and the City” drew fans in droves to see it on the silver screen. The popular film served as the top-grossing R-rated film of 2008, but critics weren’t impressed by it.
The New York Times referred to the film as “a dumpy big-screen makeover of that much-adored small-screen delight.” It also said, “There are no surprises in the movie, at least not good ones.”
4. ‘Bad Boys II’
Worldwide box office: $273.3 million
In 2003, filmmakers invested $130 million into the production of “Bad Boys II,” and audiences couldn’t get enough of it. Starring Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, the sequel to the 1995 hit “Bad Boys” was the year’s fourth-highest-grossing R-rated film, much to the chagrin of critics.
“As overblown as it is overlong, ‘Bad Boys II’ is an enervating case of more is less,” Variety wrote. “A simple cop buddy movie extended to unconscionable length in order to accommodate redundant action scenes, endless banter between stars Martin Lawrence and Will Smith and several potential endings, this production suffers from serious overkill.”
5. ‘We’re the Millers’
Worldwide box office: $270 million
Fans clambered to theaters in 2013 to see Jennifer Aniston and Jason Sudeikis star in “We’re the Millers.” Despite the comedy’s success at the box office — especially considering it had a production budget of just $37 million — critics failed to see the humor in it.
“Probably the worst movie to prominently feature an RV since ‘RV,'” Variety began, “this tiresomely vulgar outing throws together a drug dealer, a stripper, two teens, a testicle-biting tarantula, a gaggle of gun-waving Mexican stereotypes and scarcely a single laugh amid all the ensuing pot-smuggling, booty-shaking, heart-tugging shenanigans.”
The negative review certainly didn’t hurt Aniston’s worth at the box office as she continues to bring in major money from movies.
6. ‘The Village’
Worldwide box office: $256.7 million
Released in 2004, “The Village” was one of the most successful horror films of all time. Starring Sigourney Weaver and Joaquin Phoenix, the film was made with a $60 million production budget, but it managed to garner only a one-star rating from renowned film critic Roger Ebert.
“Critics were enjoined after the screening to avoid revealing the plot secrets,” Ebert wrote. “That is not because we would spoil the movie for you. It’s because if you knew them, you wouldn’t want to go.”
7. ‘Big Daddy’
Worldwide box office: $234.8 million
Released in 1999, “Big Daddy,” starring Adam Sandler, was the third-highest-grossing PG-13 movie of the year, with a production budget of just $34.2 million. However, serving as one of the top box-office movies of 1999 didn’t mean the film received rave reviews from critics.
Ebert gave the film 1 1/2 stars and didn’t hold back on his thoughts that Sandler’s character, Sonny Koufax, fell flat as a stand-in parent. The revered movie critic ended his review by writing, “‘Big Daddy’ should be reported to the child welfare office.”
Worldwide box office: $230.9 million
Starring Keanu Reeves and Rachel Weisz, “Constantine” was the fifth-highest-grossing R-rated movie of 2005. Warner Bros. spent $100 million to make the demonic drama, but it still wasn’t enough to score good movie reviews.
“There are expensive-looking FX scenes showing the damned souls writhing in hell,” wrote The Guardian. “All they needed to do was train a camera on the cinema audience.”
9. ‘The Break-Up’
Worldwide box office: $205 million
Released in 2006, “The Break-Up,” starring Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn, had theaters packed, but critics weren’t in love with this romantic comedy. Entertainment Weekly gave it a C grade.
“‘The Break-Up,’ a synthetically hostile he said/she said cartoon of a romantic comedy (it’s ‘Friends’ meets ‘The War of the Roses’), tries to present Vaughn, for the first time, as a domesticated Hollywood leading man,” the review said, “but from what we can tell he’s even more of a baby than before, pitching his testy patter to no one in the room but himself.”
10. ‘Daddy’s Home 2’
Worldwide box office: $180.6 million
This follow-up to the 2015 comedy “Daddy’s Home,” starring Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg, packed theaters in 2017. Audiences either didn’t read the movie reviews beforehand or just didn’t care — because the reviews weren’t great.
Entertainment Weekly called “Daddy’s Home 2” an “aggressively mediocre sequel” and graded it a C-plus. The publication stated that the movie “never manages to really catch you off guard and crack you up the way the best comedies should.”
Despite the poor review, Wahlberg continues to bring in big bucks with franchise movies like “Transformers: The Last Knight.”
Worldwide box office: $171.5 million
The fourth-highest-grossing R-rated movie of 1988, “Cocktail” was a major win at the box office. No doubt this had something to do with Tom Cruise, who starred in the movie, but critics weren’t swayed by his boyish charm.
Ebert rated the film two stars and ended his review with the line, “The more you think about what really happens in ‘Cocktail,’ the more you realize how empty and fabricated it really is.”
12. ‘I Know What You Did Last Summer’
Worldwide box office: $125.6 million
Released in 1997, “I Know What You Did Last Summer,” starring Jennifer Love Hewitt and Sarah Michelle Gellar, was a massive hit, but the movie ratings were pretty bad. Ebert gave the film one star, and his recap was less than flattering.
“The ads make much of the fact that ‘I Know What You Did Last Summer’ is from the creators of ‘Scream,'” Ebert wrote. “That means both scripts are by Kevin Williamson. My bet is that he hauled this one out of the bottom drawer after ‘Scream’ passed the $100 million mark.”
13. ‘Ride Along 2’
Worldwide box office: $124.6 million
The sequel to the 2014 film “Ride Along,” starring Ice Cube and Kevin Hart, was a box-office victory. Universal invested $40 million in the film, which paid for itself several times over, but it failed to score favorable movie ratings.
“It should be fun to watch Kevin Hart and Ice Cube in a comedy. Sadly, it’s a stretch to call ‘Ride Along 2’ ‘a comedy,'” Rolling Stone wrote. “It’s simply a retread of the first ‘Ride Along,’ a 2014 box-office hit, and proof positive that a bigger budget doesn’t buy bigger laughs.”
14. ‘Step Up’
Worldwide box office: $114.2 million
Released in 2006, the teen dance film “Step Up” was a smash success at the box office. The film’s stars, Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan, met and fell in love on set, making them one of the biggest power couples in Hollywood up until their split in 2018, which also makes it kind of interesting that critics didn’t buy their on-screen romance.
“Tatum and Dewan show some chemistry on the dance floor, but it dissipates during a romantic rendezvous on a pier,” wrote SFGate. “They’re laughably stiff during Nora and Tyler’s first big kiss, and a shot of the sun conveniently setting between their lips does nothing to make the moment magical.”
15. ‘Ace Ventura: Pet Detective’
Worldwide box office: $107.2 million
In 1994, Jim Carrey starred in “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective,” which turned out to be a box-office cash cow, especially considering it had a production budget of just $15 million. The movie got a lot of support from fans, but it didn’t fare well in movie reviews. Ebert gave it a one-star rating and a scathing review.
“I found the movie a long, unfunny slog through an impenetrable plot,” he wrote.
Worldwide box office: $103.9 million
The first in a franchise that now spans eight movies, “Saw” was released in 2004. Starring Cary Elwes and Danny Glover, the horror film’s $1.2 million production budget makes its box-office earnings even more enthralling, but it didn’t captivate everyone.
“It’s a fictional machine to pair sadistic horrors with merciless choices, and so the question becomes: Do we care enough about the characters to share what they have to endure?” wrote Ebert, who gave the film a two-star rating. “I didn’t.”
17. ‘She’s All That’
Worldwide box office: $103.2 million
In 1999, “She’s All That” was a box-office hit, made on a production budget of just $10 million. Geared toward a teen audience, the romantic comedy starring Freddie Prinze Jr. and Rachel Leigh Cook didn’t make critics swoon.
As Variety snidely seethed in its review, the film “makes the current ‘Varsity Blues’ look like ‘Citizen Kane’ by comparison,” and it “should quickly catapult into the vid bins, where it’ll find plenty of forgettable company.”
18. ‘Dirty Grandpa’
Worldwide box office: $94.1 million
In 2016, Robert De Niro and Zac Efron starred in “Dirty Grandpa,” which was made with a $25 million production budget. Fans showed up to see the popular actors’ on-screen grandfather-grandson dynamic, and although the flick surely helped Efron’s net worth, the movie ratings told a different story.
“When Robert De Niro receives his inevitable lifetime achievement Oscar,” wrote Variety, “don’t expect his highlight reel to include a single clip from ‘Dirty Grandpa,’ a brutally unfunny stab at ribald comedy that stands as the legendary actor’s big-screen nadir.”
Box office: $92.9 million (domestic release only)
Released in 1983, “Flashdance,” starring Jennifer Beals, was the year’s top-grossing R-rated movie and the third-highest earner of the year. Despite its popularity, critics didn’t care for the film. It earned just 1 1/2 stars from Ebert.
“‘Flashdance’ is like a movie that won a free 90-minute shopping spree in the Hollywood supermarket,” Ebert wrote. “The director (Adrian Lynn, of the much better ‘Foxes’) and his collaborators race crazily down the aisles, grabbing a piece of ‘Saturday Night Fever,’ a slice of ‘Urban Cowboy,’ a quart of ‘Marty’ and a two-pound box of ‘Archie Bunker’s Place.'”
20. ‘Old School’
Worldwide box office: $87.1 million
Released in 2003, fans flocked to theaters to see “Old School,” starring Will Ferrell, Luke Wilson and Vince Vaughn. The film’s box office results handily exceeded its production budget of $24 million. Moviegoers were clearly undeterred by the words of film critics, who didn’t share the same enthusiasm for the comedy.
Entertainment Weekly referred to the film as a “sloppy, slaphappy production” and graded it a C-plus. The publication also noted that “Kathy Bates is getting plenty of credit for her fearless flash of nudity in ‘About Schmidt,’ but there’ll be no award noms for Will Ferrell and his commitment to bare-buttocks performance in ‘Old School.'”
21. 'The Meg'
Worldwide box office: $492.5 million
Released in 2018, “The Meg,” starring Jason Statham and a prehistoric 75-foot-long shark, was advertised as a campy shark movie, trying to poke fun at itself by using Bobby Darin’s version of the song “Beyond the Sea” in its trailer. The movie was instead filled with drama and intense scenes similar to the 1970s classic “Jaws.”
The movie’s hefty budget of at least $150 million was more than returned with its box-office sales in China alone, bringing in $152.8 million. “It’s the sort of movie that people used to go to when they went to movies for the air conditioning,” a Variety review said. “The trouble is, it’s neither good enough — nor bad enough.”
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Priscilla Aguilera contributed to the reporting for this article.
All box-office earnings and rankings were gathered from Box Office Mojo and were accurate at the time of original publishing – May 05, 2018.