How on earth did people not see Dredd 3D this past weekend? It's an R-rated action film without too much to think about, which got relatively positive reviews and a decent rating from audiences. Did the stink of the '90s adaptation of Judge Dredd trump any nostalgia people had for a violent '80s throwback that's reminiscent of Troma crossed with Paul Verhoeven? Did the price of 3D keep potential moviegoers away considering there wasn't much promise of its necessity? Was going with a recycled Daredevil poster a bad idea? Did it hurt that there were no huge stars, and the protagonist has an obscured face the whole time? Are Americans just not into the Judge Dredd character, since he hails from a British comic that maybe only appeals over here when the lawman of the future clashes with Batman or Xenomorphs (aka Aliens)?
There are probably multiple reasons for Dredd's disappointing box office take of only $6.3 million -- which, just to make it sound worse, is less than the whale-trapped-in-ice movie and the panned Edgar Allen Poe period thriller and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (yes, grandma's movie did better than your awesome genre pic). Like so many other well-reviewed genre bombs, it's likely to find its cult audience down the road, much like The Raid: Redemption, a remarkably similar Indonesian martial arts movie that we hoped had done better following its festival success. And Attack the Block, which is also sort of related in that its action is primarily set in the projects.
Lately it seems to be the genre movie flops that are most surprising, especially if they had strong buzz either from festival-goers who saw the whole thing or from Comic-Con attendees who saw only a tease of very promising footage. Examples of the latter include fellow comic book adaptations Watchmen, From Hell and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World as well as a film with a loyal following, Serenity, and a movie based on a hugely successful literary series, Eragon. But to me, the most shocking box office disappointment of this sort -- not a financial disaster but still obviously a distinct failure -- is Superman Returns. It really wasn't any worse than a huge amount of movies that do well and follow through with sequels. I guess it was just there's an expectation of perfection?
Other movies I'm surprised didn't do better, regardless of whether they deserved it or not, include Battleship, Blade Runner, Reign of Fire and The Iron Giant.
What movie was surprisingly unsuccessful at the box office? To kick things off, here are some responses received so far via Twitter:
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