How quickly we forget.
None of us can be right all of the time – the following movies all had critics and audiences alike awaiting their release with that smug feeling of satisfaction that comes with knowing something’s about to fail miserably… only to be completely taken by surprise.
We’ve gathered together nine of our favourite films that – once upon a time – we expected to hate.
1. Iron Man (2008)
Robert Downey Jr was considered such a box-office risk that director Jon Favreau had to fight for the right to cast him, with Marvel turning down the suggestion multiple times. But Favreau stuck to his repulsor beams, and made movie history.
“Everybody knew he was talented… Certainly by studying the Iron Man role and developing that script I realised that the character seemed to line up with Robert in all the good and bad ways. And the story of Iron Man was really the story of Robert’s career,” Favreau said.
Iron Man is currently the only connecting element of all Marvel’s most successful films so, yeah, good work Fav.
2. 21 Jump Street (2012)
21 Jump Street should have been awful. A big-screen adaptation of an ’80s television show that was so lame even Johnny Depp was embarrassed he was ever in it, starring a hunk best known for displaying zero wit in movies such as GI Joe: Rise of Cobra and the Step Up franchise, rebooted as a buddy-cop comedy starring the kid from Superbad… On paper, it doesn’t look great.
But Jump Street transcended its origins, revealing Tatum as a screen comedian with perfect timing. It ended up being so successful that not only did it lead directly to a sequel, Sony spent a surprisingly long period of time thinking that mixing the Jump Street franchise with Men in Black was a good idea. Then again, given the evidence on this list, maybe it is!
3. The Lego Movie (2014)
Haha, who wants to see a film about Lego? A film about a bunch of colourful bricks that’s obviously just a fancy toy advert? How could that possibly work?
Pretty well, actually – with directors Chris Miller and Phil Lord somehow sneaking a critique of capitalism into what should have been the most capitalist movie ever made.
Funny, moving and as visually astonishing as any movie released in 2014. Basically, it’s awesome.
4. American Psycho (2000)
So, it’s no wonder most people assumed Mary Harron’s movie would either be a brutal video nasty or a series of boring lists monologued direct to camera.
The project seemed so doomed, people tried to warn Christian Bale away from it. “When I offered [Bale] the part, he said he had all these messages on his answering machine telling him this was career suicide. And that just made him more excited,” Harron said in 2000. “That’s sort of how I reacted, too.”
Not that the studio were especially keen on Bale. “They would’ve taken almost anybody over Christian,” Harron said.
Thankfully, Bale and Harron combined to create one of the smartest takes on a book ever made,which was as much a deconstructive companion piece to the original as it was a straight adaptation.
5. Annabelle: Creation (2017)
Hated by critics and audiences alike, Conjuring spin-off / killer doll movie Annabelleis one of the worst horror movies of the decade. So, you’d forgive us for not being entirely excited about a prequel to that particular prequel.
That is, until we saw the first Annabelle: Creation trailer, which gave us a bit of hope – hope that wasn’t extinguished when we saw the finished film. Miraculously, Creation is creepy, scary, and even occasionally moving, with an ending so good, it somehow manages to make the first film better.
6. Ouija: Origin Of Evil (2016)
Of course, Annabelle: Creation wasn’t the first horror prequel to completely transcend the movie that came before it – and Origin of Evil‘s brilliance was even more unexpected.
With 2014’s Ouija landing at just 6% on Rotten Tomatoes, 2016’s prequel-sequel is ranked at an amazing 82%. And the critical response, while totally unexpected, is entirely justified. Origin of Evil is a super smart pastiche of ’70s horror flicks, centred around some of the best child performances this side of ET.
7. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
Fury Road was beset with so many problems that everyone basically assumed it was cursed. Slated to start shooting in Namibia in 2003, it was delayed to 2009 because of a pretty major location issue – war destabilised the area. Production was moved to New South Wales, before moving back to Namibia, and it finally got going in 2012.
Add in the rumours that leads Charlize Theron and Tom Hardy hated each other, and some pretty intense weather issues, and Fury Road looked like – a-har-har-har – a car crash waiting to happen.
Only it went on to be a massive critical and commercial success, even achieving a Best Picture nomination, an accolade that was previously unheard of for a violent action flick of this nature, leading director George Miller to proclaim, ‘Oh, what a day! What a lovely day!’ (probably).
8. Titanic (1997)
Speaking of films with a terrible shooting period that went on to be celebrated by the Oscars (doing just a little bit better than Fury Road in terms of actual awards), James Cameron’s Titanic seemed as grand a folly as the boat itself when it was first announced.
With a massive budget that just kept increasing thanks to the production problems you’d associate with a film involving several scenes in water (think Waterworld, but even more so), Titanic turned into the most expensive movie ever made by the time it finished shooting.
With a budget that big, a flop seemed inevitable. Everyone knew it would be a flop. Everyone knew it would literally have to be the biggest film of all time just to break even.
And guess what? It was.
The film’s mixture of special effects, epic scale and the simple love story at its heart struck a chord with audiences, and it went on to gross over a billion dollars on its initial release, with a 3D re-release moving the final box office takings up to two billion.
In fact, it was the highest-grossing movie of all time until James Cameron beat his own record with Avatar in 2009. Oh, and Titanic tied with Ben Hur for the most Oscars won by a single film (11). Not bad!
9. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017)
The last time Dwayne Johnson went into the jungle for a special effects-filled sequel, it was for Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, a movie so bad that everyone seems to have forgotten it exists.
Add that precedent to the fact that pretty much no-one wanted to see a sequel to Robin Williams’ perfect original movie, let alone one that rebooted the premise to make Jumanji a video-game instead of a board-game (has there ever been a good video-game movie?), and this one had stinker written all over it.
That is, until the combined charisma of The Rock, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan and Jack Black turned it into one of the biggest sleeper hits of last year, bagging over $930 million dollars to become the fifth-highest-grossing film of 2017. The Rock will be hoping he can repeat the same trick when Rampage hits cinemas in April (which also doesn’t sound great, to be honest).