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Popular TV Shows That Turned Into Box Office Bombs

Hollywood is always on the lookout for new ideas. That's why so many movies are based on novels and comic books. But one of the best sources for new material comes from television. It's the perfect fodder for filmmakers — it's a visual medium, already equipped with characters and stories, easily adaptable for the big screen. And when done right, you can get a film that makes the big bucks at the box office. For proof, check out the 
Mission: Impossible franchise, or the recent 
Star Trek films. 

Of course, if you don't get it just right, you can totally screw up a classic series. Just because a show is a big deal on TV, that doesn't always translate into film. Maybe the movie disrespects the original series, or perhaps the property was beloved back in the day, but nobody cares anymore. Either way, just because it's a popular show, that doesn't automatically mean theatrical success — and to prove it, we've rounded up this look back at some popular TV shows that turned into box office bombs.

Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (1992)

When Twin Peaks first aired in 1990, it was an arthouse revolution on mainstream TV. This super creepy mystery blended soap opera drama with a surreal dreamscape from the mind of co-creator David Lynch. And for a brief window of time, it was a pop culture phenomenon: The cast showed up on the cover of Rolling Stone, the show was parodied on Saturday Night Live and Sesame Street, and TV viewers across the nation couldn't stop asking one another, "Who killed Laura Palmer?" Granted, the show eventually started losing viewers, and the series lost momentum after Lynch and co-creator Mark Frost were forced to solve Laura's murder. But when the show was canceled in 1991, remaining fans were left stunned by the cruelest cliffhanger in TV history.

So when it was announced that Lynch was making a Twin Peaks film, people were hoping for some sort of resolution. What happened to Agent Cooper? Was BOB still on the loose? And how's Annie? Unfortunately, Lynch had no intention of answering any of those questions. Instead, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me was a prequel set in Laura Palmer's final days. It intentionally avoided giving answers, and if anything, it just made the mythology more confusing. Why was David Bowie there, and what was up with the talking monkey? And how did Lara Flynn Boyle transform into Moira Kelly?

On top of that, Fire Walk With Me had a hard R rating, exploring themes that were only hinted at in the show, like rape and incest — and when the movie played at Cannes, both the film and the director were viciously booed. Audiences were even harsher than the critics: Lynch's sixth film barely earned over $4 million. It didn't even crack the top 100 highest-grossing movies of 1992, meaning it was beaten out by films like Rock-A-Doodle, Memoirs of an Invisible Man, and Pet Sematary II. Fortunately for Lynch, the movie has been reappraised in recent years, with a new wave of critics claiming it's a nightmare masterpiece. It received the Criterion treatment, and it's absolutely key to understanding Twin Peaks: The Return. And while Fire Walk With Me is still a baffling film, at least we finally know what that monkey was talking about.

Sgt. Bilko (1996)

While few know his name today, Phil Silvers was a big deal in the 1950s. From 1955 to 1959, he was the star of the CBS series The Phil Silvers Show, a military comedy about Sgt. Ernest G. Bilko (Silvers), a flim-flam artist better suited to fleecing GIs than following orders. In 1996, Steve Martin was inspired to give the series a reboot and lifted the film's new title from the main character. Sadly, despite Martin's wild and crazy charm, Sgt. Bilko couldn't con enough people to buy tickets. With a worldwide box office of $37.9 million, the film couldn't even crack the top 20 of Martin's highest-grossing films, losing out to less-than-classic movies like Father of the Bride II and The Pink Panther 2. Despite some serious comic talent in front of the camera (Dan Aykroyd, Phil Hartman, and Glenne Headly), audiences just didn't want to watch a movie that critics warned wasn't "worth the six or seven bucks to get in" the theaters.

McHale's Navy (1997)

From 1962 to 1966, millions of Americans tuned in to ABC every week to watch McHale's Navy, a low-key military comedy starring Oscar winner Ernest Borgnine (Marty, The Wild Bunch, The Dirty Dozen). The plot was pretty simple. Borgnine played the titular McHale, a shifty but lovable lieutenant who'd rather goof off than fight. Each episode found McHale and his fellow sailors (played by the likes of Tim Conway and Gavin MacLeod) cooking up wacky new schemes to get some quick cash and have a good time, all while dealing with a cranky captain (Joe Flynn) who's constantly trying to crash the party.

It's pretty bland and inoffensive stuff, similar in style to F Troop, but audiences ate it up. During the show's four-season run, there were even two movies that served as feature-length versions of the show. But around 30 years after the series ended, somebody at Universal Pictures thought it would be a good idea to reboot the series and see if they could capitalize on that 1960s nostalgia. They couldn't. Starring Tom Arnold, Bruce Campbell, and Tim Curry, McHale's Navy sank to the bottom of the box office, earning a measly $4.5 million. That's probably because — as film critic Mick LaSalle put it — the humor in this movie is "AWOL." McHale's Navy even "earned" a Razzie nomination for Worst Remake or Sequel, proving it takes more than a recognizable title to keep a comedy afloat.

Wild Wild West (1999)

Described as "James Bond on horseback," The Wild Wild West was way ahead of its time when it came to steampunk. Running from 1965 to 1969, this CBS series mixed the spy genre with the Western, giving audiences a 19th-century adventure with crazy gadgets and over-the-top supervillains. The show followed James West (Robert Conrad), a super smooth agent who worked for Ulysses S. Grant. When West wasn't chasing down bad guys, he was charming the ladies, and he was usually accompanied by his sidekick, Artemus Gordon (Ross Martin), tech expert and a man of a 1,000 disguises. There's no telling how long the series would've run if Congress hadn't put pressure on the network to tone down all the violence on TV.

So it probably seemed like a great idea to reboot the franchise in 1999. Stick Will Smith in there — still riding high from the double whammy of Independence Day and Men in Black — and it sounds like you've got the makings of a major blockbuster. Only when when Wild Wild West rode onto the silver screen, it was shot to pieces by critics and audiences alike. The movie won five Razzies, including one for Worst Picture (Robert Conrad actually showed up to accept the award), and its lame attempts at comedy caused audiences to stampede out of theaters. With a production budget of $170 million, Wild Wild West only managed to get $113 million domestically. Couple that with the international box office, and that brings it up to $222 million, which pales in comparison to some of Smith's earlier blockbusters. Even Smith admitted the movie was a mistake, and he probably regrets choosing to make this cringe-worthy comedy over a little sci-fi flick that you might've heard of called...The Matrix.

The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas (2000)

When it comes to TV theme songs, does it get any more iconic than The Flintstones? Not only did the Hanna-Barbera show have a really catchy tune, but it was popular with both kids and — for a time — adults. The show ran for six seasons, and during the first three years, it was constant climber in the Nielsen Top 30. The first season even nabbed a nomination for an Outstanding Comedy Series Emmy. It was a Stone Age version of The Honeymooners, and it quickly became a part of pop culture, with Fred Flintstone showing up on everything from cereal to vitamins.

The Flintstones even got the Hollywood treatment...twice! Released in 1994, the first film raked in a whopping $341 million worldwide against a $46 million production budget. That might've been thanks to its cast, which included John Goodman, Rick Moranis, Elizabeth Perkins, and Rosie O'Donnell. Hoping to cash that Flintstones check twice, Hollywood pumped out a prequel six years later. Unfortunately for The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas, the audience for Flintstones movies had gone extinct.

Maybe it was because the original cast had vanished, replaced with names like Mark Addy, Stephen Baldwin, Kristen Johnston, and Jane Krakowski. Or maybe it's because the pun-based humor was so bad that one critic compared it to "eating a second helping of underdone bronto burger and being kept awake by the resulting indigestion-induced Dali-esque nightmare." Whatever happened, Viva Rock Vegas earned a mere $59 million worldwide against an $83 million production budget. And as you might've noticed, there hasn't been a Flintstones film since.

Star Trek: Nemesis (2002)

With seven separate series and 13 feature films, it's safe to say the Star Trek franchise is probably the biggest in TV history. Of course, with that many movies, you're going to have a few bombs scattered here and there. Not every entry can be The Wrath of Khan, and while The Final Frontier is the worst reviewed, Star: Trek Nemesis flopped the hardest at the box office, ending the Next Generation series for good.

The film involves a bizarre scheme where the Romulans clone Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart), resulting in a bald Tom Hardy trying to blow up Earth. The film is infamous in Trekkie circles thanks to director Stuart Baird, who hadn't watched the TV series and — according to Den of Geek — was supposedly ordered to watch the previous Next Generation films. Needless to say, Nemesis didn't exactly capture that Star Trek feel. Making matters worse, the movie was chopped up, poorly promoted, and had to compete against The Two Towers and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. (It was a great time for fantasy nerds.)

What we're trying to say is that Star Trek: Nemesis was a bigger bomb than a thalaron generator. Produced for $60 million, the film only earned $43 million at home. Overseas, the totals brought the worldwide gross up to $67 million. Luckily for Paramount Pictures, the DVD sales were high, so the project wasn't a complete failure, but after audiences teleported away from the theaters, the studio pulled the plug on Picard and his crew.

Serenity (2005)

Created by Joss Whedon, Firefly was canceled after one season (and aired out of order to boot), but this space Western inspired some fierce devotion from its Browncoat fanbase. After the final episode aired in 2003, Fox released the show on DVD, and Firefly fans bought over 200,000 copies. Impressed by the series' instant cult classic status, Universal decided to get it on that intergalactic action, giving Whedon a second shot and letting the writer-director turn Firefly into a full-length feature.

Titled Serenity, this 2005 adventure tells the story of Captain Mal Reynolds (Nathan Fillion) and his ragtag band of outlaws as they protect a childlike psychic (Summer Glau) from a Zen-like assassin (Chiwetel Ejiofor). Obviously, everyone who bought the DVDs was eager to get a ticket and watch their favorite characters battle Reavers and soar like leaves on the wind. But just like the TV show, the movie couldn't connect with the mainstream, and its diehard fans couldn't save the film from its gorram fate. Even though critics thought it was one shiny film, Serenity only made off with about $38 million against a $39 million budget, but at least fans got the chance to watch Mal and his gang fly into the sunset.

The A-Team (2010)

Everybody loves it when a plan comes together, but unfortunately, that's not what happened when director Joe Carnahan adapted The A-Team. Based on the classic 1980s TV series — the one that turned Mr. T into a household name — The A-Team came armed with a $110 million production, but it was mercilessly gunned down by American audiences, earning a wimpy little $77 million. It didn't fare much better overseas, resulting in a grand total of $177 million, which isn't great for a big-budget blockbuster starring Liam Neeson and Bradley Cooper. On its opening weekend, the movie was kicked into second place by The Karate Kid remake. Perhaps it was thanks to the movie's inane action scenes or messy plot, but while The A-Team must've seemed like a guaranteed hit, we pity the fool who decided to greenlight this bomb.

CHIPS (2017)

Often, when a big Hollywood studio turns a popular TV show into a feature film, they take the basic premise and run in a completely different direction. If you do it right, you can make a killing, a la 21 Jump Street. Screw it up, and you get box office bombs like CHIPS.

Starring Dax Shepard and Michael Peña, CHIPS is based on the popular NBC show of the same name. The original series followed the day-to-day adventures of Officer Jon Baker (Larry Wilcox) and Officer Frank "Ponch" Poncherello (Erik Estrada), two motorcycle cops tasked with keeping the freeways of California safe. These guys never pulled their pistols. Instead, they helped out with minor car crashes and gave advice to citizens in need. It was an incredibly gentle show for the whole family. In other words, it's the complete opposite of the 2017 film.

Naturally, turning such a sweet show into a raunchy R-rated comedy wasn't going to pull in fans of the TV series. But the horrible script and lazy jokes — mostly relying on gay panic hysteria and the objectification of women — wasn't going to lure in the new crowd, either. Even though Shepard and Peña are pretty funny guys, they just couldn't sell the overly offensive script (which, unfortunately, was written by Shepard). The film rolled out of Hollywood with a $25 million budget but only made $26.8 million, meaning we probably shouldn't expect to see a CHIPS cinematic universe anytime soon.

Power Rangers (2017)

Sure, it's insanely cheesy, but Power Rangers is the perfect show for kids. A group of teenage superheroes? Check. Robots, dinosaurs, and monsters? We got that too. Women and people of color in leading roles? Yep. No wonder this show has enjoyed such phenomenal staying power. When you look at all the toys and comics surrounding the series, it makes a lot of sense that Hollywood would eventually give the franchise the big-budget treatment.

Directed by Dean Israelite, Power Rangers features some big names like Bryan Cranston and Elizabeth Banks, and it was backed by a $100 million production budget. On paper, it seemed like the film should've been a hit, but in reality, nobody seemed to care about these teenagers with attitude. The movie bombed domestically, earning just $85 million. And international audiences didn't help much, bringing the grand total to $142 million. Perhaps it was because filmmakers sucked all the fun away by giving it a serious Man of Steel vibe. Or maybe audiences were scared off by the abysmal reviews. Either way, when it was morphin' time, nobody showed up at the theaters.