By: Chris Hodges, editor-in-chief
A sequel to a previous top five? Sure, why not–the topic is movies, after all. Anyway, here are five more games that failed at the box office but still had video game tie-ins. All box office figures are adjusted for inflation and are courtesy of Box Office Mojo.
#5 – Ballistic: Ecks vs Sever (2002)
The movie: Adjusted financial loss – $74 million
With a title that awkward, Ballistic: Ecks vs Sever just has to be based on an anime series or something, right? Nope…it was a completely original action movie dreamed up just for Hollywood and directed by someone who was credited as “Kaos.” What could go wrong? Well, just ask every single critic, as the movie has the distinction of getting a big fat zero on Rotten Tomatoes. And while several movies on this list and the other would go on to soften some of the domestic box office blow–even turning a profit–when they went worldwide, even Ballistic’s total global tally was less than a third of its production budget.
The games: Ecks Vs Sever (Game Boy Advance); Ballistic: Ecks Vs Sever (Game Boy Advance)
When you find out that the game based on Ballistic was made exclusively for the Game Boy Advance, and that it is a first-person shooter for the largely 2D platform, you wouldn’t be blamed for assuming the absolute worst. Well, not only was the game not terrible, it was actually quite good, receiving both strong reviews and sales. The game actually sold well enough to warrant a sequel, which was also surprisingly good. The example of the two solid Ecks vs Sever games just makes every single example of a terrible game based on a legitimately good film that much more infuriating and unacceptable.
#4 – Catwoman (2004)
The movie: Adjusted financial loss – $76 million
After playing Storm in the first two highly successful X-Men films, Halle Berry was poised to see if she could take her success as a comic book movie heroine into another universe as Catwoman. The problem was, she had also just won an Oscar for the movie Monster’s Ball, and the “Oscar curse” won out over her comic film resume and Catwoman was a huge critical and commercial disappointment. Luckily, she was able to bounce back in the third X-Men film, not as well-liked critically as the first two but the most profitable of the trio.
The game: Catwoman (multiplatform)
Given the resurgence in popularity of comic book properties spurred on by the X-Men and Spider-Man movies, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that Catwoman be successful enough to warrant having a tie-in game. But this was also in the pre-Batman: Arkham Asylum days when the phrase “comic book game” didn’t inspire much confidence, and especially not games based on anything involving the Batman universe (though there are very little references to that connection in the film or the game). Catwoman fared about as well as most comic book games of the time, being a poorly-made, generic beat-em-up that didn’t do much more for its source material than the movie did. Fortunately, Catwoman has more than redeemed herself in video game form with great turns in Arkham City and MK vs DC Universe, among others.
#3 – Driven (2001)
The movie: Adjusted financial loss – $84 million
Between his time as one of the biggest action stars in the world and his recent late-career resurgence (which eventually garnered him his first Oscar nod for acting), Sylvester Stallone was mostly going through the motions in the 90’s and early 00’s, cranking out one cookie-cutter action film after another. One such movie was Driven, a movie based in the relatively niche world of Champ Car racing. It was called one of the worst car movies ever made, and even Stallone himself has admitted to regretting making the movie. Driven also derailed the slight return to respectability of director Renny Harlin, who after the disastrous Cutthroat Island (see this list’s counterpart for more on that) had finally made several well-received movies and was starting to recover from that flop before Driven undid all of that progress. He’s since made nothing but direct-to-video movies and unprofitable Hollywood films.
The game: Driven (multiplatform)
2001 was an era of gaming when racing games were an extremely viable genre, and gamers couldn’t get enough of them. So it wasn’t hard to imagine why a company would take any excuse it could get in order to release another one and try to catch some of that windfall. But 2001 was also the year of The Fast and the Furious, and car-tuner, street-racer culture was all the rage and that’s what people wanted their racing games to be (remember how Need for Speed completely transformed into that for about five installments?). So even if Driven had been a decent game–and it wasn’t, not remotely–even a well-made “Champ Car” game wasn’t likely to get noticed by gamers of the time.
#2 – Speed Racer (2008)
The movie: Adjusted financial loss – $87 million
Despite diminishing respect for the franchise as each sequel was released, The Matrix was still a monster series and hopes were sky high for whatever movie the Wachowskis directed next. When that movie was revealed to be a live action version of the classic anime series Speed Racer, people weren’t quite sure what to make of it. And that skepticism held through to the movie’s theatrical run, where the movie fell far short of its budget (and earned only a quarter of what even the lowest-grossing Matrix film did). Critical reception was equally cold, though the film has since gone on to be viewed as cult classic.
The game: Speed Racer: The Videogame (multiplatform)
The visual style of the Speed Racer movie already evoked a video game, so half the work was already done in turning it into one. And futuristic-style racing had already been an established game genre, so the Speed Racer game had an existing niche to settle nicely into. The game wasn’t extraordinary, and definitely fell short of its contemporaries in the genre like F-Zero and WipEout, but it was a passable racing game based on a passable film. And one could easily make the argument that it was a better video game than any that were based on The Matrix, woah-worthy as that fact may be.
#1 – Green Lantern (2011)
The movie: Adjusted financial loss – $90 million
With Ryan Reynolds killing it as Deadpool, it’s safe to say that he’s atoned for also starring in one of the weakest comic book films of the decade. As seems to be a trend with DC Comics movie adaptations, Green Lantern‘s journey to the big screen had spent 14 years in various forms of development hell before the version that was finally released in 2011, and unfortunately, it fared as well critically as other more recent examples of this has. However, without huge names like Superman and Batman to bolster a tepid critical reception, Green Lantern also faltered at the box office, not even being among the top 20 highest-grossing comic book movies of the current decade.
The game: Green Lantern: Rise of the Manhunters (multiplatform)
The video game tie-in was much the same as most comic book movie games of the time, a rushed, unpolished, and unremarkable action game that was destined to be in bargain bins by the time the movie came home to DVD. In fact, also like most comic book movie games of the time, it didn’t really deserve to be much more than a free bonus that came with the DVD–or maybe the movie didn’t deserve to be much more than a free bonus with the game. Or maybe neither deserved to be a thing, period.