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Predicting The Biggest Box Office Bombs Of 2021

Making box office predictions is about as tough as predicting the weather or the results of political elections. Sure, you can make educated guesses, but it still never goes down exactly the way you predicted. Nowadays, that's especially true, considering 2020 was the worst year in box office history, with surefire big hits either being postponed to 2021 (like Fast & Furious 9) or retreating to streamers (such as Mulan and Wonder Woman 1984). 

In other words, we can't say for a positive fact what might bomb in 2021, especially since WarnerMedia threw a giant rock into the pond when it announced day-and-date releases for many of its biggest 2021 movies, with titles like The Matrix 4, Dune, The Suicide Squad, and Godzilla vs. Kong all headed for theaters and HBO Max. Where does that leave the movie theater business? Shoulder shrug. If other studios follow WB's lead, it's a whole new ballgame. 

So, this list comes with lots of asterisks, as some of these movies might wind up on streamers. Still, based on the lack of buzz and past performance of comparable titles, we feel confident in saying that you probably won't be watching these movies on the big screen or at home. We don't want these movies to fail, but even in normal moviegoing times, we don't see them doing well. Check out our picks and see if you agree. Here are our predictions for the biggest box office bombs of 2021!

This long-delayed sci-fi flick has been Chaos

Has a movie's title ever been more hilariously accurate than Chaos Walking? The movie has been in development since 2011, long before its stars, Daisy Ridley and Tom Holland, were even a thing. Even after it finally made it out of development hell, poor test screenings forced multiple rewrites and reshoots, making us hope novelist Patrick Ness (who wrote the book series it's based on) got a nice advance. 

Based on Ness' The Knife of Never Letting Go, the first book in his Chaos Walking trilogy, the story finds a mysterious alien girl, Viola (Ridley), crash landing on a planet without women, where men are affected by "the Noise," an affliction that causes them to constantly hear each other's thoughts. It's then that Todd (Holland) must unlock his own inner power to protect Viola from the evil mayor, played by Mads Mikkelsen. 

We feel like we've seen this before, which is never a good sign, and the film's troubled, ten-year production history doesn't help matters. Daisy Ridley and Tom Holland had strong lead roles in the two most popular franchises ever, Star Wars and the Marvel Cinematic Universe, respectively. But as they try to navigate their careers, they've walked into Chaos. Don't expect moviegoers to follow them.

This Marvel vampire flick is going to suck

Morbius is being compared to 2018's Venom, a movie based on another Spider-Man spinoff character, with this film taking place in the same universe. We disagree for several reasons. For one, back in the day, Venom's popularity rivaled even the world's most famous wall-crawler. Seriously, if you were to go back in time to the 1990s, you'd immediately notice the lack of cell phones and the abundance of grown men wearing Venom T-shirts. What Joker is to Batman, Venom is to Spider-Man (come at us, Green Goblin fanboys). Conversely, even casual Spider-Man fans probably don't remember the vampire's connection to the Spidey series. 

Secondly, Venom starred Tom Hardy, whose fanboy bona fides were well-established following his memorable turn as Bane in The Dark Knight Rises and as Max Rockatansky in Mad Max: Fury Road. Meanwhile, Morbius star Jared Leto still wears the stain of playing the worst Joker ever in Suicide Squad. So, despite Venom's horrible 30% critics' score, moviegoers dug it, with an 81% audience score and $853 million worldwide. Morbius won't hit those numbers. Not even close. In fact, we expect Morbius' worldwide gross to be near Venom's domestic gross (around $213 million). Even if Morbius gets good reviews (we doubt it), this vampire supervillain's box office is going to suck.

Boss Baby 2's box office will stink worse than dirty diapers

Sometimes you can just see a Hollywood pitch session in your mind. 

Producer: "Okay, so it's a movie about a billion-dollar corporation, but the boss ... is a baby!" 

Studio exec: "You son of a gun, I'm in." 

Yeah, it sounds horrible, and indeed, Boss Baby was, earning a 53% critics' score and even worse 51% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. Still, the premise — with Alec Baldwin playing the baby tycoon — was enough to get audiences interested in spring 2017, earning Boss Baby $175 million domestically and $527 million worldwide. Those are shockingly good numbers, and they're highly profitable on a $125 million budget. 

So why are we predicting that its sequel, The Boss Baby: Family Business, will bomb when it opens over four years later in September 2021? Look at that audience Tomatometer score again –- 51%. Sure, lots of people went to go see it, but none of them really liked it. The novelty of Alec Baldwin voicing a CEO baby has worn off, and all that's left is another 90 minutes of dumb doo-doo jokes. Also, four years have passed, meaning the tykes who might've liked the first one have grown up, even if the filmmakers haven't. The Boss Baby: Family Business' box office will stink worse than a dirty diaper.

Ron's Gone Wrong won't be strong at the box office

Disney is the strongest brand in animation, with the possible exception of Pixar, which Disney bought anyway for $7.4 billion in 2006. Speaking of purchasing studios, Disney also bought 20th Century Fox, now renamed 20th Century Studios, for a significantly larger sum of $71.3 billion in 2019. With that purchase, Disney acquired a much less ... how do we put this ... impressive animation studio. Now, Disney has to figure out what to do with one of the animated films that Fox produced before the purchase, Ron's Gone Wrong

In the film, a pre-teen boy gets the world's most popular toy, a walking, talking robot named Ron. However, his robot is defective, and now the boy has to teach Ron how to be a real friend in a social media- and algorithm-driven world. Sounds promising ... if it were made by Disney or Pixar. But we're less confident with Fox. Sounds like Disney agrees, as they bumped it from November 2020 to February 2021, following the Fox purchase in 2019, and then again to April 2021. If Ron Goes Wrong keeps its current theatrical spot, we expect its box office to, well, go wrong, though we could also see it winding up on Disney+.

Infinite's chances are limited

Make no mistake, there aren't many butts-in-seats movie stars left, but Mark Wahlberg probably makes the list. Barely. That's not a slam on Marky Mark, just a sign of the times, as concepts and characters sell tickets these days, not movie stars. Still, Wahlberg's movies have earned more than $3 billion domestically and $6.4 billion worldwide, for an average of $69 million (nice) across 51 films. However, those numbers are significantly juiced by the Transformers franchise, where Wahlberg got top billing, but Optimus Prime was the star. 

His last hit in an action role was Spenser Confidential, but that debuted on Netflix, not in theaters. Meanwhile, one of his recent bombs, Mile 22, tanked in theaters, but it landed in Netflix's Top 10 in November. So where does that leave his latest, Infinite? If it keeps its current theatrical release date on Memorial Day weekend opposite Disney's Emma Stone-starring Cruella, it's toast. Sure, you'd think Infinite could be an effective action counter-programmer for the family film, except that Fast & Furious 9 opens one weekend earlier and will likely still be action fan's first choice. However, if Infinite moves to Netflix, we could see it thriving, especially if it opens in spring, the same timeframe as Chris Hemsworth's highly successful Extraction in 2020.

Samaritan's box office prospects aren't good

We love us some Sly Stallone, but there's no denying that since the 1990s, his box office has been pretty spotty outside his safety blanket of the Rocky/Creed, Rambo, and Expendables franchises. But as the saying goes, old action stars don't die, they just keep blowing up even more stuff. Okay, there's no such thing as that saying, but you get the idea. Hoping to pull a Clint Eastwood and keep making action movies well into his AARP years (rather than pull a Clint Eastwood and just focus on directing), Stallone's next feature, currently slated for June 4, 2021, is Samaritan

In the film, a young boy discovers a superhero who went missing 20 years ago is still very much alive and well. Intriguing premise, which might've played as effective counter-programming had the film kept its pre-pandemic fall 2020 release. Alas, the summer movie season is likely to swallow it. We're also skeptical about the tone, which is set to be a dark thriller, not a tongue-in-cheek superhero saga, as Stallone seems to prefer edgelord over funny, despite his comedic talents. Who's the audience for this? Stallone's older fanbase is unlikely to show up for another dark, gritty superhero movie (see the DCEU), while younger moviegoers aren't showing up to watch an old dude kick ass, especially if he doesn't crack sardonic jokes while he does it. While this Samaritan may be good, we don't expect it to break even.

The Tomorrow War is toast

Last year, we predicted The Tomorrow War would fail when it was set to open on Christmas Day in 2020, and our incredulity has only grown since then, given it's currently been moved to the much less-friendly summer weekend of July 23, 2021. While the film stars Chris Pratt — about as reliable a movie star not named Dwayne Johnson or Leonardo DiCaprio as there is — it's also a concept-heavy, sci-fi film, which is always a risky bet. For every one Inception, there are ten Tenets, and for every Avatar, there are 20 Jupiter Ascendings

The setup sounds promising. Humans are losing a war in the future, so they go back in time to recruit great soldiers from the past. Sounds similar to Tom Cruise's Edge of Tomorrow, which scratched and clawed its way to $100 million domestically on a meek $28 million opening, but even with $367 million worldwide, it barely made back its mammoth $178 million budget. The Tomorrow War will be facing a similar hurdle in a market that's changed dramatically since 2014. Had The Tomorrow War opened during the holidays (in a normal year), the high daily grosses may have carried it to profitability. In the sink-or-swim, opening-weekend obsessed summer? Even Chris Pratt will have problems pulling that off. However, none of this might matter if the film moves to VOD, and according to a January 2021 Deadline article, there's a real possibility of that happening.

Snakes Eyes is the G.I. Joe prequel that nobody asked for

Even making a prequel to a popular movie franchise is a risky proposition (see Solo: A Star Wars Story). But to a mediocre one? Is Hollywood that desperate? Don't bother answering; it's obviously "yes!" Enter Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins, currently scheduled for October 2021, one full year after its original October 2020 planned release date. Yes, because the moviegoing world was just demanding to discover how G.I. Joe's villain got started. If moviegoers aren't showing for Han Solo's origin, Snake Eyes doesn't stand a chance. 

Another popular toy line and cartoon that made the leap to the big screen (a la Transformers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), the G.I. Joe franchise is a mixed bag at the box office. G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra opened strong with $54 million in 2009, but with a $175 million price tag, its $150 million domestic and $300 million worldwide made it a bomb. Paramount spent $140 million on its 2013 sequel, G.I. Joe: Retaliation, and while it made a fair amount less domestically ($122 million), it made much more worldwide ($375 million), generating a tidy profit on a modest budget. However, nearly a decade has passed since that profitable but forgettable film, which also benefited by plastering Dwayne Johnson's mug (during his "franchise Viagra" phase) all over its marketing. A Rock-less, eight-years-later prequel? G.I. Joe would be better off rebooting.

Will Ben Affleck sink or swim with Deep Water?

Moviegoers still want to watch grown-up movies, just not in theaters and not starring Ben Affleck. Affleck's box office career has been spotty, but following his big-time comeback in 2012's Argo, for which he won an Oscar for Best Picture, and 2014's Gone Girl, it seemed like he'd finally won back all of his Good Will Hunting credibility that he'd lost during his Bennifer/Gigli years. And then he decided to play Batman. Sure, he did a good job, and the DCEU movies are technically his biggest grossers, but they're also pretty underwhelming, and they killed his "serious actor" credibility again. 

While The Accountant did well in 2016, both Live by Night in 2016 and The Way Back in pre-lockdown March 2020 bombed hard, earning less than $40 million worldwide combined. Ouch. Which brings us to Deep Water. Scheduled for a November 2021 release, we're getting shades of Gone Girl, with Affleck again playing the sleazy husband in a movie based on a popular novel. With Knives Out's breakout star Ana de Armas co-starring, the stars are aligned for Deep Water to do well, so we may be wrong in predicting its failure. Still, Affleck is bringing in a lot of baggage, so we could see it bombing too. Call it a wash. But if Deep Water succeeds, Affleck needs to take a cue from late-1980s Michael Douglas and stop trying to play the good guy and embrace his inner sleaze.

We don't feel good about Free Guy's chances

It's hard to believe, but before Deadpool's record-breaking run in 2016, Ryan Reynolds was kinda box office poison. His career included big hits playing in supporting roles to mega-stars Sandra Bullock (The Change-Up) and Denzel Washington (Safe House), a string of so-so star vehicles (too many to mention), and a few mega bombs, (Green Lantern and R.I.P.D.). His latest, Free Guy, seems poised to belong to the latter category, which will no doubt leave box office analysts wondering if Reynolds can carry a movie without either Deadpool or another star (a la The Hitman's Bodyguard with Samuel L. Jackson). 

Disney may be wondering the same thing, as they removed Free Guy (a holdover in production before the Fox purchase in fall 2019) from the release calendar. Then the studio set the date for July 3, 2020, but it was then pushed back to December 11 ... before it was moved yet again to May 21, 2021. Could this be due to the pandemic? Possibly. But we're wondering if maybe the Mouse House think it has a turkey on its hands and isn't sure what to do with it. Well, at least Ryan Reynolds has Deadpool 3 to look forward to.

The King's Man will be a royal failure

The Kingsman franchise has been a profitable blockbuster series despite not being based on a mainstream property (it's from a niche comic book by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons). Kingsman: The Secret Service earned $128 million domestically and $404 million worldwide on a $94 million budget, while Kingsman: The Golden Circle earned less domestically ($100 million) but a little more worldwide ($408 million), with a slightly higher $104 million budget. A downward trend is never good, though we've seen worse drop-offs. The bigger cause for concern is that the next film, The King's Man, isn't even a sequel reuniting the original cast (y'know, the one audiences paid to see twice before) but a period prequel set decades before the previous films. 

The premise is promising, with history's worst tyrants and criminal masterminds plotting a war to wipe out millions, unless one man and his protégé can stop them. That man is played by Ralph Fiennes, a fine actor but hardly a butts-in-seats action movie star. Instead, he works better as Harry Potter's nemesis or James Bond's boss. The King's Man has also been delayed multiple times, first from November 2019 to February 2020 (following Disney's 20th Century Fox merger) and then from September 2020 to February 2021 (due to the pandemic) ... and then again to March. Lots of movies have been delayed post-pandemic, but The King's Man was delayed before, a bad sign. If it keeps its present position, we expect The King's Man to crash-land. However, there are also rumors it might go to streaming, so it will be interesting to see what happens to this action flick.