PS: Best 2010s Domestic Box Office Movie Dud?

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Which widely seen 2010s movie*, whose initial North American release produced relatively meager ticket sales, is your favorite domestic box office dud of the decade? *approaching 100,000+ IMDb votes, maximum $2.5m Domestic USA-Canada box office take and 6.5+ IMDb rated (as of 20 January 2018)

See the partial list of exceptional and widely seen 2010s movies with meager domestic box office results here: http://www.imdb.com/list/ls066897287/
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urbanemovies

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Posted 2 years ago

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Stephen Atwood

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Limited theatrical releases shouldn't be consider duds, especially if they have small budgets that they ended up breaking even with with what they did in fact earn from their meager box office intake (you can't use the rule of thumb to double the production budget to include marketing budget like a fully nationally released mega studio distributed picture).

Many of these are European productions and have already made enough to cover the production and marketing costs in their own home markets. Ergo... most of this list is nullified.
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urbanemovies

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I think you miss the point of the poll list, that just about every film listed is a HUGE SUCCESS, despite getting little or no help from the most important movie market in the world: North American movie ticket buyers. It is like trying to win a fight with one arm tied down, it can be done, but is much harder to accomplish and truly a feat when done.

This is simply an objective list of movies, which for a variety of reasons (sometimes on purpose) didn't sell a lot of tickets in North America, hence a weak or dud performance, domestically. Yet, all these films still ended up being widely seen and voted on by at least 100,000 IMDb voters or more. All were financial success due to their overseas box office or income from another distribution channel. Despite having big stars, talented directors and being critically acclaimed or were otherwise well-regarded; many of these films failed to crack the yearly top 250 of Box Office Mojo's top grossing domestic films.

It is an interesting, bottom looking look at the list of recent popular movie titles (bottom seventeen grossing of the top four hundred most widely seen 2010s movie titles) that are united by their poor American box office results. Some of the reasons for their lackluster US box office performance include extremely limited runs (1 week Oscar qualifying runs), no USA distributor (festival only showings) simultaneous video on demand release and streaming service co-distribution. More fundamental reason may include a NC-17 rating, the impediments of a subtitle only foreign language release, English language titles (ie Lars Von Trier) that struggled initially to find a US audience and the marketing and other challenges of an independent release. Some of these titles only found later success through television broadcast, video rentals or via internet streaming.

As for your observation;"Many of these are European productions and have already made enough to cover the production and marketing costs in their own home markets. Ergo... most of this list is nullified" A film can be a success overseas and still be a dud in North America, one thing has nothing to do with other. In 2018, the top North American film, The Last Jedi grossed over $606,021,888. The Circle which ranked #101 in 2018 at $20,497,844 was considered a borderline film in terms of success. The first film that crosses below the $2.5m threshold is LBJ, ranked #178 in 2018 with a minuscule $2,470,979 gross and is universally considered a box office dud. To put the threshold of less than $2.5 million in perspective, less than 1 out of every 1322 North Americans bought a ticket to these films. The North American theater market contains 360 million people and even to a film with a lowly $5 million budget, grossing only $2.5 million is almost always going to be disappointing.

It not feasible and unnecessary to breakdown the profitability of each film released over a decade of some likely 5,000+ domestic releases and reach a subjective judgement on whether the movie was a success. Stripping away dramatic words like "meager" and "dud", the poll simply asks which is the best movie of those that meets three requirements:100,000 IMDb votes or more (WIDELY SEEN), less than $2.5m Domestic USA-Canada box office (LOW USA TICKET SALES) and 6.5 or higher IMDb rating (HIGHLY RATED). Poll suggestion combines the contradictory elements of weak DOMESTIC box office results with  excellence in just about every other success metric.
(Edited)
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urbanemovies

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Again, I find this analysis very flawed. to paraphrase "Limited theatrical releases shouldn't be consider duds, nor should European productions or small budget films .... Ergo... most of this list is nullified."

I have detailed the reasons below, but they are titled domestic box office duds, which all of these were. To be clear, the primary reason is the unfulfilled potential of these films. The $2.5 m threshold is extremely low ,other films have exceeded that amount in a limited release of only 13 theaters. Also, many other films with the same limited release, small budget or European issues have overcome these barriers to do so much more. Think, The Intouchables (2011), The Blair Witch Project (1999), Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000),  Paranormal Activity (2007), and  My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002). I agree these issues all are obstacles to be overcome. But, if some films can overcome them, what prevents other great films from doing the same.

Also, they are duds because they didn't reach their full "domestic" potential as dedicated by their eventual popularity with North American audiences ,despite not being well seen in theaters. The analogy is similar to a popcorn kernel that doesn't pop, a firecracker that doesn't go off or ammunition shell that doesn't fire. The poll doesn't focus of the why or the reason, it focuses those who obviously underachieved their potential, therefore your points don't apply.
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urbanemovies

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Poll Header Update (Reworded Title and Question)

2010s Box Office Dud Movies That Exploded

Which of these 2010s movies*, that produced relatively meager North American ticket sales, but went on to be widely seen anyways, is your favorite of the decade?


*approaching 100,000+ IMDb votes, maximum $2.5m Domestic USA-Canada box office take and 6.5+ IMDb user rated
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leavey-2

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Jagten - The Hunt (2012)
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urbanemovies

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My personal  top four 2010s Box Office Dud Movies That Exploded in North America. I am flabbergasted they couldn't get better distribution deals (aside from Bright) for either the U.S. or Canada and didn't break $1 million in combined box office. Still, I could see Bright doing a decent box office. Meanwhile, four Chipmunk movies: Alvin and the Chipmunks (2007),Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel (2009) Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked (2011) and Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip (2015) outgrossed them $655 million to $1 million over roughly the same time period.

Predestination
1. Predestination (I) (2014)
North American Box Office Totals:
$68,372
The Hunt
2. The Hunt (2012)
North American Box Office Totals:
$610,968
Tucker and Dale vs Evil
3. Tucker and Dale vs Evil (2010)
North American Box Office Totals: $223,838
Bright
4. Bright (I) (2017)
North American Box Office Totals: Negligible Oscar Qualifying iPic Theaters Limited Box Office Run for Netflix Tentpole Streaming Title
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urbanemovies

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POLL ADMN TITLE UPDATE 2010s Exploding Domestic Box Office Movie Duds

(As 01 July 2019  only 25 movie titles were rated 6.5+ by IMDb users, have at least 90,000 IMDb votes and likely will break 100k and had a North American box office under $2.5m)

Working list

*approaching 100,000+ IMDb votes, maximum $2.5m Domestic USA-Canada box office take and 6.5+ IMDb user rated
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ElMo

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I second the remark about foreign productions, any French producer would be glad to make a few millions in the US market... besides "domestic" means basically "at home", so following your logic, this list should only about American-Canadian movies... or foreign movies that underperformed in their countries but did well outside.
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urbanemovies

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I am unclear what or who you are seconding. By saying "any French producer would be glad to make a few millions in the US market." you are contradicting Stephen Atwood flawed analysis about European productions not being interested in the North American market, since they have already have recouped their budget.

But, you are applying the wrong definition of
"domestic", you should be using the definition as an industry term. Since, this poll is about the movie business, Domestic box office refers to ticket receipts from North American movie theaters excluding Mexico. Foreign box office refers to ticket receipts everywhere else. Domestic box office theater locations  are just about 90% in the USA and 10% in Canada. Thus, the term is a misnomer, as the USA and Canada are two separate countries and can't be a combined domestic area.

The point of poll suggestion is the listed movies significantly unperformed their potential. The box office potential of all of these movies is clearly demonstrated by both their popularity and how widely they have been seen. The $2.5 million threshold is very low. Only 0.075% of combined USA/Canada population have to buy a movie ticket for these films to do $2.5 million, that's only 1 out every 1,333 residents. Despite, not meeting this low threshold and being disadvantaged by not having a viewership head start most films enjoy, all these movies went on to get 100,000 IMDb votes (on an American movie website).

All the listed films are quality films that earned the eventual viewership they achieved. Some were mismanaged by their North American distributor through a poor marketing plan and flawed distribution strategy. Others their own producers misjudged the market potential of the films and did not match them with a distributor best suited to maximizing their potential market. The last group of films were intentionally guided to not do well theatrically, but intended to be seen through other types of distribution.

There are plenty of similar films to those featured that faced the exact same challenges and went on to do 100x,10,000x or more in theatrical box office. Being a foreign film, a foreign-language film, limited release, indie film, micro or low budget, controversial, adult-themed, or even just plain bad is no excuse for not doing at least $2.5 million in domestic box office. There are plenty of examples of films that did well despite facing the same challenges that these movies faced. The King's Speech (2010), Mad Max (1979), Slumdog Millionaire (2008),  Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000), The Intouchables (2011), Life Is Beautiful (1997), The Blair Witch Project (1999) My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002),  Paranormal Activity (2007), Halloween (1978), The Passion of the Christ (2004), Sex, Lies, and Videotape (1989), Night of the Living Dead (1968) and The Gallows (2015) all were massive box office domestic successes, despite facing the same challenges as the poll listed movies.

Stephen Atwood comments don't hold water. Comments like "Limited theatrical releases shouldn't be consider duds"  when a film like My Big Fat Greek Wedding opened in 108 theaters and took 52 weeks to make $241,438,208  domestically. Likewise, The Blair Witch Project opened in only 27 theaters but expanded to 2,538 theaters within five weeks and went on to an eventual $140,539,099 domestic take. If demand exists for a movie, being in less theaters can be advantage driving up per theater averages, making more profitable per theater and more likely to be expanded. Also comments, like "Many of these are European productions and have already made enough to cover the production and marketing costs in their own home markets." are totally illogical, implying that the producers were not interested in making too much money.

This list is mix of different types of films because films that are Domestic Box Office Movie Duds, but Later Exploded Into Well-Known Films come in all shapes and sizes. But, I do agree foreign films, even English language ones seem to be the most common faction, but I don't understand why that would preclude their inclusion.
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ElMo

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I only meant American movie --> domestic market = America, French movie --> domestic market = France, it's all a matter of perspective whether you consider that a movie underperformed or not, a movie is expect to perform in its 'domestic' market first, unless I missed something about the way business is done, which might be th case. That's all I meant anyway...
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urbanemovies

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Thanks, I appreciate the clarification and get your point. The domestic meaning trap is an easy one to fall into. I would agree  it would seem logical that a foreign movie should be able to perform in its home market, before setting its sights elsewhere. But, it is not exactly a written rule either. I can think of several songs that became hits outside their home country first, so I would think the same would apply to movies.20 Movies That Hit Big Overseas But Failed in the US |

However, I really don't think it is a matter of opinion or perspective that these movies should have exceeded a $2.5 million box office in the USA and CANADA or  how truly special these movie are. I have listed the six reasons detailed below:

1) $2.5 million is a relatively meager threshold. In 2018, 194 movies released domestically exceeded that threshold alone. For instance, the  2001: A Space Odyssey (2018 re-release) did $3,236,321 in four weeks, opening in just 4 theaters and never being shown in more than 13 theaters during its short run demonstrates the possibilities..

2) Movies don't accidentally get 100,000 votes on IMDb. . As of today only 1699 feature films of the 416,511 feature film titles listed on IMDb received 100,000+ votes. In other words, these films are in a special class, as 99.6% on all movies ever released never made it to the 100,000 vote threshold. Aside from the money outlay to purchase a ticket, people consider their time a valuable commodity. Moviegoers are not going to waste either. I think both of these facts clearly demonstrate the market potential for these movies. It logical to assume that if so many people were willing to give up their time to watch these movies, at least a few of those would have spent the money to buy a ticket.

3) It is commonplace for even bad movies to post significant domestic box office.  Moviegoers repeatedly see the spawn of these horrible franchise movies, even though they don't like them (ie rate them poorly on IMDb). The Paranormal Activity franchise, Alvin and the Chipmunks franchise, and Child's Play franchise are perfect examples. Each of these franchises was able to repeat this feat, not once but five times (quite a few exceeding $100M domestically). Studio marketers have repeatedly turned bad movies into blockbusters, Best "Worst Rated" Blockbuster Movie. They even have a game plan strategy designed to maximize as much box office as possible before bad "word of mouth" gets around how truly horrible the film is.

4) Therefore, it should be relatively easy to market a great movie and have at least a modest box office showing. Even, it is only as a sleeper hit that grew steadily from a limited release. IMHO, films like Predestination (2014),The Hunt (2012), Tucker and Dale vs Evil (2010), Layer Cake (2004), Oldboy (2003), Infernal Affairs (2002), Donnie Darko (2001), and Battle Royale (2000) have sleeper hit written all over them. I could easily see The Babadook (2014)  becoming the next The Blair Witch Project, or least replicating it box office success on a small scale. Likewise, I could also see Mary and Max (2009)  domestic box office showing being completely different, if its distributor had been Miramax. It is a travesty these films didn't do better at AMERICAN and CANADIAN theaters.

5) I don't think it takes a marketing professional or movie insider to see how their release's were mismanaged and poorly executed. The Blair Witch Project with the greatest viral marketing campaign of all time and How 'My Big Fat Greek Wedding' Became a Biggest Indie Hit with a tiny marketing budget are two great examples. Their distributors turned great films into a $100 million blockbusters with little to no resources armed with nothing but a well-executed marketing plan. The whole marketing strategy of Bob and Harvey Weinstein's Miramax and later The Weinstein Company is based on maximizing the potential of great films that fit into a very limited marketing niches. If you have a great product, it should be easy to sell it, no matter what industry you are in. 

6) Exploding Domestic Box Office Movie Duds are in a class all by themselves. These fifty-eight movies from the past two decade are in the top 99.96% percentile of all movies made the past two decades making them even  more elite. The statistics bear out, that it hard for movie to make into the domestic marketplace in the first place, with even less of those going on to accrue 100,000 IMDb votes. But, it is almost unheard of to do both and not to gross at least $2.5 million at the domestic box. These anomaly movies all have a story about their unfulfilled box office potential (ie Idiocracy Release, Box office and Reception).

Statistics: Only 9% of all movies make into USA and CANADA theaters (13,000 movies made into box office out of a total 144,175 released worldwide between 2000-2019). According to IMDb, 13,319 movies it lists have domestic MPAA certification ratings (G, PG, PG-13, R and NC-17). While Box Office Mojo tracks the estimated domestic box office of 12,678 movies over the same two decades. Thirty movies from the 2000s decade 2000s Exploding Domestic Box Office Movie Duds - IMDb and twenty-six from the 2010s decade 2010s Exploding Domestic Box Office Movie Duds - IMDb for a combined total of fifty-six over twenty years.
(Edited)
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urbanemovies

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Suggested Introduction (intended to succinctly cover the poll premise)

If you are an American or Canadian and saw any of these great films: You probably didn't see these films in a movie theater, as hardly anybody did. But, you likely regard them to be good enough to be worthy of the price of admission, based on your collective IMDb ratings.

When "bad" movies go onto break a $100 million or more in domestic box office receipts regularly, it is hard to fathom how these "good" films couldn't do at least a meager $2.5 million in domestic box office receipts. Despite their poor results, every one of these movies eventually found a HUGE audience. They achieved wide spread viewership through VOD, pay TV, cable TV, broadcast TV, Blu-ray/DVD/VHS, media streaming services or another type of screening. Nonetheless, you are probably like me, scratching your head and wondering why these films didn't do better at the box office.