The 3 Worst Movies of 2013

Benedict Cumberbatch and Daniel Bruhl star in The Fifth Estate. Credit: DreamWorks Studios.

Singling out any creative project as among the "worst" can be a dicey affair. Tastes vary, after all.

So when I went seeking the worst movies of 2013, I didn't just ask friends for their opinions. (They had plenty.) I also sought data. Below are the three worst-performing films that appeared in at least 1,000 U.S. theaters, according to data supplied by Box Office Mojo:

Movie
Worldwide Gross
Production Budget
Rotten Tomatoes Rating
Studio Distributor

The Fifth Estate

$8.55 million

$28 million

38%

Buena Vista

Paranoia

$13.8 million

$35 million

4%

Relativity Media

Battle of the Year

$14.2 million

$20 million

4%

Sony/Screen Gems

Sources: Box Office Mojo, Rotten Tomatoes.

What about the year's big-budget bombs? They're here, and they're as ugly as you'd expect:

Movie
Worldwide Gross
Production Budget
Rotten Tomatoes Rating
Studio Distributor

R.I.P.D.

$78.3 million

$130 million

13%

Universal

Jack the Giant Slayer

$197.7 million

$195 million

52%

Warner Bros./New Line

The Lone Ranger

$260.5 million

$215 million

31%

Buena Vista

Sources: Box Office Mojo, Rotten Tomatoes.

Notice the correlation between a poor box office and lousy reviews. You may not like critics, but they hold uncommon sway over Hollywood's fortunes. Here, Walt Disney's (NYSE: DIS  ) Buena Vista studios looks like a loser with bombs at both the low and high ends of the 2013 movie slate. Perhaps it would be if Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World, and, most recently, Frozen, weren't such big winners at the box office this year.

Sony's (NYSE: SNE  ) Screen Gems took a hit on Battle of the Year, and it wasn't the studio's only loser. The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones earned just $80.1 million worldwide on a $60 million budget, well short of break-even once you factor in marketing, prints, and advertising costs.

R.I.P.D. didn't even get that far, needing what I'd estimate to be at least $180 million more at the box office to break even for Universal and parent Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA  ) . Fortunately, it was a good year for Universal otherwise: $1.4 billion in U.S. grosses through Dec. 1 thanks to Despicable Me 2 and Fast & Furious 6, among others.

Kick 'em off the lot!
So which movies were the worst of the worst? I'd say:

3. The Fifth Estate for failing to cash in on one of the industry's more bankable actors, Benedict Cumberbatch.

2. R.I.P.D. for failing to wow moviegoers who'd proven hungry for even mediocre comic book adaptations.

1. Paranoia for turning critics and audiences away despite a cast that included Harrison Ford and Gary Oldman.

Now it's your turn to weigh in. What are your picks for the worst movies of 2013? Leave a comment in the box below to let us know what you think.

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Read/Post Comments (16) | Recommend This Article (9)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On December 08, 2013, at 9:25 AM, sarabeara615 wrote:

    The only reason the "Lone Ranger" bombed was because the critics and media attacked it even before it released. I saw the movie when it came out and thought it was absolutely great.

    Stop attacking something if you haven't even seen it.

  • Report this Comment On December 08, 2013, at 11:36 AM, sogole wrote:

    Holloywood is being attacted for being to political.

  • Report this Comment On December 08, 2013, at 11:39 AM, Historywonk wrote:

    If any of the self congratulatory studio heads or hot young things with a disregard for history took one afternoon of reflection and education, they would see a simple fact: When most of the citizens here and abroad are suffering and fearful, they want films that have happy endings, adventure, and warm reinforcement that takes them away from their lives. In the depression and during the second world war studio heads saw this clearly and profited much from it. Making films that apply to narrow demographics, or rehash negative points of view and stories will only cost them cash.

  • Report this Comment On December 08, 2013, at 11:48 AM, donicus wrote:

    @ sarabeara615 Maybe you thought it was great because you have a thing for Johnny Depp? My wife several friends and I all saw it too. It stunk on ice.

  • Report this Comment On December 08, 2013, at 12:10 PM, Barry7910 wrote:

    A huge portion of these so called "Bad Movies" are not terrible at all. It's they are shot down before their release dates by the "Joke for Movie Critics" and "Rotten Tomatoes" is the biggest joke of all because they convince society "What's good and what is bad" When the critics do not have a clue on whats good or bad.

  • Report this Comment On December 08, 2013, at 12:32 PM, JCWilkerson wrote:

    How is Benedict Cumberbatch one of the industry's more bankable stars? He's thoroughly untested when it comes to holding up a movie on name recognition. Prior to The Fifth Estate, his biggest box office role was Star Trek Into Darkness, which underperformed compared to the previous film in the franchise, and the box office could be said to have been generated by the franchise name. All of the films he's appeared in have been ensemble pieces that didn't have to rest on any one actor for box office. His biggest role is in Sherlock, which might have a passionate following, but it's still limited in its following by being a BBC show.

  • Report this Comment On December 08, 2013, at 1:12 PM, blackjac5000 wrote:

    Since JACK and LONE RANGER made some profit, they weren't bombs but rather marginal successes. And I stand by RIPD even though it tanked, for I needed a paycheck at the time and I got to work with The Dude and a supermodel...even if it was at a distance.

  • Report this Comment On December 08, 2013, at 1:16 PM, TMFMileHigh wrote:

    @blackjac5000,

    >>Since JACK and LONE RANGER made some profit, they weren't bombs but rather marginal successes.

    They were not. The rough calculation for breakeven is double the production budget, and neither film came close.

    >>And I stand by RIPD even though it tanked, for I needed a paycheck at the time and I got to work with The Dude and a supermodel...even if it was at a distance.

    So you worked on the film? Wow. Tell us more.

    Thanks for writing and Foolish best,

    Tim

    --

    TMFMileHigh in CAPS and on the boards

    @milehighfool on Twitter

    http://about.me/timbeyers

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  • Report this Comment On December 08, 2013, at 1:32 PM, Mega wrote:

    "one of the industry's more bankable actors, Benedict Cumberbatch."

    You're joking right?

  • Report this Comment On December 08, 2013, at 3:58 PM, TMFMileHigh wrote:

    @JCWilkerson and @Mega,

    Fair enough. Cumberbatch isn't Bale or Damon or any of the other big names, but his star is undoubtedly rising -- his performance was, after all, singled out as one of the best reasons to see Star Trek Into Darkness.

    Perhaps I should have said "one of Hollywood's most bankable newcomers"?

    Foolish best,

    Tim

    --

    TMFMileHigh in CAPS and on the boards

    @milehighfool on Twitter

    http://about.me/timbeyers

    http://timbeyers.me

  • Report this Comment On December 08, 2013, at 4:55 PM, sailingsam wrote:

    Lone Ranger and The Fifth Estate are good movies!

  • Report this Comment On December 08, 2013, at 5:10 PM, IndianRick wrote:

    I havent paid any attention to movie critic opinions for years.Iwent to a criticilly aclaimed movie years ago, and walked out and got my money back it sucked.I go to the movies for entertainment,not for life lessons or relationship advice If I have a good time then Im happy with the moviebut I really liked The Lone Ranger but I think the name should of been Tonto!

  • Report this Comment On December 09, 2013, at 11:08 AM, jazz wrote:

    i really liked "the lone ranger" as well...and i'm looking forward to "fifth estate"...alot of times 'bombs' just go by box-office and have nothing to do with the quality of the film...in turn, some big box-office winners are the worst junk in the world...like "man of steel"...

  • Report this Comment On December 10, 2013, at 5:31 AM, jdedwards05 wrote:

    I'd nominate "Pain and Gain" as the worst movie of 2013. This movie was so bad I went to the box office to see if I could get my money back. The longer I watched this movie the more bizarre it got. I thought it would be a good movie because Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne Johnson were in it. I've liked their work in the past so I figured it should be a good flick. Oye was i wrong. I have since passed over subsequent flicks by both. When i saw this flick there were only two people in the theatre at 6:30pm on a Wednsday night. The other patron told me he also thought the premse was q

  • Report this Comment On December 10, 2013, at 5:38 AM, jdedwards05 wrote:

    Continued - The other patron told me he also thought the premise was very bizarre. I go to at least 5 movies per month, so this had to be particularly terrible for me to want to walk out and then want my money back.

  • Report this Comment On December 11, 2013, at 1:24 PM, asdfjkl wrote:

    Studios don't necessarily care about gross vs. budget as they make money on the DVDs and merchandise. This is why it is fully acceptable for a studio to make a marginal amount on a big budget movie.

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