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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Fool contributor Tim Beyers is a member of the Motley Fool Rule Breakers stock-picking team and the Motley Fool Supernova Odyssey I mission. He owned shares of Walt Disney and Time Warner at the time of publication. Check out Tim's web home and portfolio holdings or connect with him on Google+Tumblr, or Twitter, where he goes by @milehighfool. You can also get his insights delivered directly to your RSS reader.

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