Movies that scored big at the box office despite terrible Rotten Tomatoes scores

Hollywood has placed increasing blame for its box office flops on the power of Rotten Tomatoes, saying that the review aggregator's influence, especially with young people, is preventing films from finding an audience. While it's hard to deny Rotten Tomatoes' increasing cultural ubiquity, plenty of films make money regardless of their scores on the platform. Here are some movies that scored big at the box office despite terrible Rotten Tomatoes scores.

The Transformers sequels

It's no secret that critics have never been fans of the Transformers franchise. The first film kicked things off on an okay note, falling at 57 percent on the Tomatometer, but since then, the films have fallen into some very rotten territory— all while building on the first movie's worldwide box office haul.

First sequel Revenge of the Fallen was trashed by critics, who called it noisy, unmemorable, and too long for its own good. This amounted to a 19 percent Rotten Tomatoes score, but fans didn't seem to care—they still awarded it with a $108.9 million opening weekend and an $836.3 million worldwide gross, including $402.1 million domestic.

The next two films followed a similar pattern: 2011's Dark of the Moon earned a 35 percent on Rotten Tomatoes but opened to $97.9 million on its way to a $1.1 billion worldwide haul, including $352.4 million domestic, and Age of Extinction fell to a measly 18 percent but raked in $1.1 billion worldwide, including $245.4 million domestic.

The franchise's domestic totals started to show some cracks with 2017's The Dark Knight, which earned a series-low 15 percent on Rotten Tomatoes—reflected in its dismal opening, with the film pulling in just $68.4 million. Although its domestic total only came to $130.2 million, the movie still pulled in a total of $604.9 million worldwide.

Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice

Wonder Woman broke the DCEU's critical curse by earning one of the best ratings ever for a superhero film on Rotten Tomatoes, but before that, the budding cinematic universe was plagued by some pretty rotten ratings, including a disappointing 27 percent for 2016's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. However, as it turns out, people will still head to theaters to see Batman and Superman duke it out regardless of what critics have to say about it.

In fact, Dawn of Justice was able to bring in $166 million in its opening weekend. While it experienced a 69.1 percent drop in its second week, the film still went on to earn $330.4 million domestic as part of a worldwide total of $873.3 million. Considering this is good for 50th on the list of all-time at the domestic box office totals, Warner Bros. can't have been too upset about the bad reviews.

National Treasure: Book of Secrets

Oscar winner Nicolas Cage has seen his share of ups and downs as an actor—and as far as critics are concerned, the National Treasure franchise belongs among the low points. But while critics panned the 2007 sequel Book of Secrets, it still went on to become Cage's highest-grossing film of all time, with a $219.9 million domestic haul ahead of a $457.3 million worldwide total. 

The second film was a slight drop from the first on Rotten Tomatoes, earning a 35 percent compared to the first movie's 44 percent. However, like many sequels, the movie did well at the box office due to name recognition and an established fanbase. While it's not quite a Freemason treasure level of success, this franchise clearly doesn't need critics' love to bring in the gold.

The Alvin and the Chipmunks franchise

If there's any movie that's critic-proof, it's one marketed to younger viewers. Kids are much more likely to push their parents to see something based off their gut reaction from watching trailers or seeing posters, and while parents may be more into reading up on what they could be getting into, their little ones can be awfully convincing. 

The Alvin and the Chipmunks franchise is proof. While all the movies in the franchise have been trashed by critics (the first film sits at a 27 percent; the second, The Squeakuel, at 21 percent; the third, Chipwrecked, at 12 percent; and the fourth, The Road Chip, at 16 percent), they remain some of the most financially successful kids' films of all time.

The 2007 franchise launcher ranks as the 155th highest-grossing domestic movie of all time and the 47th highest-grossing PG-rated film. That film, which earned $217.3 million domestic and $361.3 million worldwide, was eclipsed by its sequel, which brought in a $219.6 million domestic haul and $443.1 million worldwide.

The critical failures, as well as franchise fatigue, may have started to weigh on the kids' series later on, with Chipwrecked and The Road Chip both failing to find the same level of appeal at the box office. Still, with a $342.7 million total for Chipwrecked and $234.8 million for The Road Chip, neither film is something to sing sad songs about.

The Twilight saga

If kids' movies are tops on the list of critic-proof movies, then adaptations of YA bestsellers can't rank more than a few spots lower. This was certainly the case for the Twilight franchise: the five films that make up the series all performed poorly with critics, with the first movie earning a 48 percent, Eclipse 49 percent, and another 49 percent for the franchise capper Breaking Dawn— Part 2. While those numbers are pretty rotten, the other two installments fared even worse: 28 percent for New Moon, and 24 percent for Breaking Dawn— Part 1.

While the entire franchise was a winner at the box office, it's surprising to see how the two worst-reviewed movies fared when compared against the rest of the series. New Moon, despite its terrible reviews, holds the biggest opening for the series at $142.8 million and the second-biggest domestic box office total at $296.6 million, behind just Eclipse's $300.5 million.

Breaking Dawn— Part 1, meanwhile, was no slouch either, with a $138.1 million opening weekend and a $281.3 million haul helping to push the franchise over $1 billion domestic before the final film was even released. With totals like these, who needs positive reviews?

Suicide Squad

Suicide Squad followed a fairly similar trajectory to its DCEU counterpart Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. While fans eagerly anticipated the film for months, their expectations may have been tempered slightly when reviews came out, with the film earning a dismal 25 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. However, it didn't matter much in terms of the movie's box office total. 

Suicide Squad currently holds the title for the best August opening of all time, pulling in $133.7 million in its first weekend. Again like Batman v. Superman, though, it was plagued by a sharp drop in its second week, falling 67.4 percent. Still, the movie went on to gross an impressive $325.1 million domestic and an additional $420.5 million worldwide, making it 16th on the list of all-time top-grossing superhero films. Add on an Oscar win for makeup, and Suicide Squad clearly proves that it's good to be bad.

The Fifty Shades of Grey franchise

The Fifty Shades of Grey novels have been the subjects of quite a lot of controversy, and the movies are no different. The first film adaptation was knocked by critics for having a lack of chemistry between the main couple and for sticking with some of the books' most awkward and cringe-worthy dialogue, resulting in some not-so-sexy Rotten Tomatoes scores. The first movie earned a 25 percent—and the second, Fifty Shades Darker, fared even worse at 10 percent.

However, those scores weren't enough to keep hardcore fans from heading out to theaters. Both movies opened on a Valentine's Day weekend—smart scheduling, with the first film bringing in $93 million over its debut frame and the second pulling in $46.6 million. 

While the first film saw a much bigger opening, it experienced a pretty dismal drop, falling 73.9 percent in its second week. Both, however, went on to amass impressive domestic totals, with the first film earning $166.2 million and the second earning $114.4 million; worldwide, the first movie sits at $571 million and the second at $378.8 million. With those hauls in its corner, 2018's franchise-ending Fifty Shades Freed should be able to push the franchise past $1 billion no matter what the critics have to say.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are a favorite with children, so it makes sense that anytime they come to the big screen, they're able to do big business. This was the case for the Megan Fox-starring 2014 reboot of the series, which, despite dismal reviews, was hugely popular at the box office. 

The film hit a 22 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, but young audiences turned out in droves to see it, leading to a $65.6 million opening weekend and a $191.2 million total domestic gross. Worldwide, the movie's $493.3 million total is good to make it Nickelodeon's top-grossing film of all time—and to put it in the top 200 all-time earners.

The sequel, 2016's Out of the Shadows, fared slightly better with critics but slightly worse at the box office. The movie hit a 37 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, but it was only able to parlay that into a $35.3 million opening weekend and an $82 million domestic total. Viewers may not have been in the mood for another trip into the sewers, but whenever the next inevitable reboot happens, we're betting on solid box office returns regardless of the Tomatometer.

Clash of the Titans

Greek epics have had some epic journeys at the box office, with some achieving glory and others falling from grace. 2010's Clash of the Titans remake fell into the former category, even though critics weren't lining up to sing its praises.

The film reaped a 28 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, but audiences didn't seem to care, with the movie topping the box office for its first two weekends and going on to earn $163.2 million domestic and an additional $330 million worldwide. The movie holds the title for the fourth best Easter opening of all time—something that surely pleases the box office gods.

Bad reviews caught up to the franchise with the movie's sequel, Wrath of the Titans, which earned just $83.7 million domestic and an additional $221.6 million worldwide (along with a 26 percent Rotten Tomatoes score). Warner Bros. has since chosen not to move forward with a planned third film in the franchise after the sequel's disappointing performance.

Meet the Fockers and Little Fockers

Critics loved Meet the Parents, but they weren't happy with either of its sequels. While 2004's Meet the Fockers received negative reviews, earning a 39 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, 2010's Little Fockers was thoroughly panned, falling to a miserable nine percent.

Fans didn't listen: Little Fockers steady with the rest of the franchise, pulling in $148.4 million domestic on its way to a $310.7 million worldwide total. This is about on par with the first film, which earned $166.2 million domestic and $330.4 million worldwide. While that film didn't have the name recognition, it did have the benefit of much, much better reviews, earning an 84 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.

The real success story of the franchise, though, is Meet the Fockers, which took its not-so-great reviews and earned the biggest box office total of the franchise, opening to a healthy $46.1 million and going on to bring in $279.3 million domestic and an additional $237.4 million worldwide. After the receipts were all counted, it was the top-grossing live-action comedy sequel of all time, as well as the fourth highest-grossing film of 2004.