Every year, regardless of budgets and marketing expenses, there will always be a few films that fail to live up to critical and financial expectations. Sometimes a film can actually be really good (I maintain The Lone Ranger is a great piece of fun) but for one reason or another does not capture the imagination of the paying public. In 2015 the likes of Fantastic 4, Pixels, Terminator: Genisys, The Good Dinosaur and Tomorrowland were financial sink holes for their respective studios, and though we here at Snooty Usher towers don’t like to see any film fail, there is no harm in anticipating what the biggest gambles of 2016 are.
Timur Bekmambetov directs this latest adaptation of the classic story of a character once played by the great Charlton Heston. The actor playing Ben-Hur this time round is Jack Huston, who you may or may not have seen in this years flop Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Alongside him in the film are Morgan Freeman, Toby Kebbel and Rodrigo Santaro.
If there was one film that was swimming against the tide this year then it has to be this. Timur Bekmambetov’s last English language film was the dreadfully boring stinker Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, and the swords and sandals genre just has not resonated with modern audiences. Sure Clash of the Titans and Wrath of the Titans made a quick buck, but who’ll remember them in 10 years? The month of August is also a very tricky month to predict success, it may be the summer time but the closer you get to the end of the month the harder it is to pull in the crowds who’ll already be fatigued by a summer of massive releases. Lets not forget it’ll be compared to the 1959 version, which took home 11 Oscars. Do you see this doing the same?
10. Independence Day: Resurgence
I’m not going to lie, I love the first trailer that utilises Bill Pullman’s emphatic speech to unite the world in tackling the alien menace hell bent on wiping out life on earth. but will the hazy memories of a 20 year old blockbuster be enough to bring people in to watch the film?
White House demolition expert Roland Emmerich returns to the directors chair having helmed the first film, with Jeff Goldblum reprising his role as David Levinson. Not returning however is Will Smith, one of the most popular actors, musicians and personalities in recent film history. His loss to a risky sequel like this can not be underestimated, especially when he’s being replaced by a young man yet to make his mark on the box office in Liam Hemsworth. 20th Century Fox will be hoping that the nostalgia effect that worked for Jurassic World last year will be replicated here, but JW had Chris Pratt and ID:R does not.
9. Jane Got a Gun
Jane Got a Gun never started as a risk, but is a film cursed from the beginning. It suffered a never ending series of development problems with a revolving door of cast and crew. Michael Fassbender, Jude Law and Bradley Cooper have entered and departed the film prior to production, the original director Lynne Ramsay also left the project at the start of production and lead star Natalie Portman had no idea. Throw in distributor Relativity dropping the film due to bankruptcy issues, and a production that goes back as far back as 2013 then quality is always going to be up in the air. Not to mention that the gold rush around the Western genre ended a few years ago,
The film stars Natalie Portman, Joel Edgerton and Ewan McGregor and was finally directed by Gavin O’Connor (Warrior, Pride and Glory). Personally I love a Western and I’m looking forward to this, but it’s troubled production will unlikely yield positive results.
8. Alice Through the Looking Glass
How can a sequel to one of the films to be a part of the elite billionaire movie club be a risky film? Well for a start, we thought the 2010 version of Alice in Wonderland was poor, the budget of the film will likely be rather high with all of it’s CGI, not to mention the fees for the likes of Johnny Depp, Mia Wasikowska and Anne Hathaway won’t be small. Despite the returning cast, Tim Burton does not return to the directors chair, instead being replaced by Muppets Most Wanted director James Bobin. Fun Fact… Bobin also created Flight of the Conchords and was a series director on Da Ali G show.
Now Alice in Wonderland would have been partly successful due to the popularity of the story itself, but Through the Looking Glass is a different story and nowhere near as well known as it’s predecessor which could put many off. I do reckon that it’ll make a decent amount with it being a children’s fantasy film, but being 6 years after the first film it’ll struggle to reach the hefty heights previously reached. It also looks a bit rubbish.
7. Gods of Egypt
Technically me adding this to the list is a bit of a cheat because it’s already came out in the U.S. but it hasn’t came out in the UK yet, so it counts. The release of the first trailer, banners and posters were greeted with a swath of backlash and cries of whitewashing but even if we put the rather ignorant casting to one side, the CGI looks like it’ll be dated by the years end. Further to that it’s another entry in the oft poorly represented swords and sandals genre, which as mentioned earlier for Ben-Hur is a risk in and of itself.
I loathed adding this to the list but it as long as game to film adaptations fail to live up to their counterparts, any release will be met with scepticism and doubt. Personally I feel like Warcraft will be the film to break the mould, and it holds the future of game adaptations in the palm of it’s green orc hand. Universal will be hoping that releasing it in same window as Jurassic World will yield the same results, and act as the perfect tonic to the onslaught of superhero films released earlier.
The film might be based on one of the most popular games of all time, but will it resonate with the general public? With The Hobbit finished the field is wide open for a fantasy film to fill the gap.
5. The Legend of Tarzan
According to the ever reliable Wikipedia, the budget for this latest take on the classic character of Tarzan comes to around $180 million dollars. For an adaptation of a character long forgotten by modern audiences that is a pretty high price tag. The trailers look intriguing, but I can’t tell who the film is aimed at, it looks a bit grim for the younger crowd but the character might not resonate with the older crowd. The film contains an impressive cast that includes Alexander Skarsgard, Margot Robbie, Samuel L. Jackson, Christoph Waltz, and Djimon Hounsou but that isn’t always enough to guarantee success, even if it is in the hands of the man who directed the last four Harry Potter films, and the upcoming Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
4. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
Another year, another young adult novel is turned into a film, and the trailer for this one eerily comes across like an alternate dimension X-Men. Eva Green (who is simply amazing) heads a school for peculiar children which ends up becoming the home of Jacob Portman, a teenager with a troubled past who winds up being entrusted to protect the school from creatures out to destroy them.
Apart from coming across a little like the aforementioned Marvel mutants, the film is directed by Tim Burton who has struggled to maintain the fine form that made him such a big name in the 90’s. Few young adult novel adaptations have managed to be successful outside of Harry Potter and The Hunger Games, and these days you’ll found just as many buried in the desert of New Mexico as there are E.T. Atari games.
3. The Magnificent Seven
Chris Pratt + Western is a combination that makes me salivate, however lets not forget this is a remake of one most classic Westerns ever made. It’ll sure be a test of Pratt’s box office draw, but he is only part of a cast that includes Denzel Washington, Ethan Hawke, Lee Byung-Hun, Vincent D’onofrio, and Peter Sarsgaard. As much as I love Westerns, there is a big part of me that feels like this won’t be as big as it should be. It has a September release in the UK, which is the month many a film fails to succeed. I hope it works.
If there was an award for a sequel flying under the radar then it would be given to Inferno. The adventures of Robert Langdon continue in another adaptation of Dan Brown’s series of books. Tom Hanks reprises his role as Langdon, but joining him this time are rising star Felicity Jones, and the always awesome Ben Foster. Also returning is Ron Howard at the directing helm having worked on Rush and In The Heart of the Sea since Angels & Demons was released.
Speaking of Angels & Demons, that film came out seven years ago in 2009 and even that came out as the Dan Brown bubble slowly began to deflate. The book the film is adapted from received mixed reviews, and with the length of time between films it’s very likely Inferno will find a tough time at the box office.
1. Nine Lives
Why? Just Why?
So there we have it, 11 risky films due to be released this year. How many do you think will flop? How many could surprise us? And which one is this years Terminator: Genysis? For the most part we want all the films to succeed, except Nine Lives, for the sake of Kevin Spacey alone.