"Hellboy", "Dark Phoenix" "Doctor Sleep": Five of the Biggest Box Office Franchise of Disappointments of 2019

There are quite a few box office disappointments in 2019. We're going to mainly focus on once proven franchises that fizzled in 2019. While two remain in theaters, they are already considered flops. Here's Bleeding Cools list of the most underwhelming franchise flops of 2019.

"Hellboy", "Dark Phoenix" "Doctor Sleep": Five of the Biggest Box Office Franchise of Disappointments of 2019
L-R: Lionsgate, Paramount, Fox, Lionsgate, Warner Bros.


One of the first major disappointments of 2019 was Hellboy. After two successful films by Guillermo Del Toro, director Neil Marshall and screenwriter Andrew Cosby brought a more direct adaptation of the Mike Mignola comics to the big screen. The result was an expository mess.

Not even making its own budget, the film lost $5.4 million before marketing costs at the box office. Screen Rant attributes its failure to the film being too rigid. Business Insider speculates the film's failure to Del Toro's success and association of Ron Pearlman with the character.

Stranger Things actor David Harbour was a highlight as the new Hellboy. The fact is the film never stood a chance to emerge from its predecessor's shadow.

Dark Phoenix

One can argue the deck was collectively stacked against 20th Century Fox's final X-Men film in Dark Phoenix. Following the company's purchase from Disney, the company advertised the film with little fanfare. Upon its initial release, Deadline Hollywood estimated the film lost $100-120 million following opening weekend.

Written and directed by X-Men vet Simon Kinberg, the film sought to remake the "Dark Phoenix" story from X3: The Last Stand (2006). Without Wolverine in the new class, it provided a golden opportunity for the team to "save" Jean (Sophie Turner). It probably also didn't help trailers spoiled a major death. The film kills off Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence);  an equal of Xavier (James McAvoy) and Eric (Michael Fassbender).

Doomed to Fail at Box Office

The spoiler undercut momentum for the film given Lawrence's importance to the franchise. Compared to previous iconic X-Men villains in the sentinels and Apocalypse, Kinberg wrote Vuk (Jessica Chastain) poorly. Also not going well is the likely reboot and recasting of the franchise. This is dependent on when Marvel decides to integrate them into its cinematic universe.

Rambo: Last Blood

Sylvester Stallone's fifth film of the Rambo franchise is a rinse repeat of the previous films. Like the previous three films, Rambo ruthlessly decimates all of those in his way despite being "reluctant' to use his mass murder skills.

Instead of taking his exploits to Burma as in the self-titled film in 2008, John Rambo (Stallone) lives in Arizona near the Mexican border and once again pushed too far. Making far less than its predecessor with the same budget, Rambo made $113 million while Last Blood made $87 million at the box office. Critics and audiences alike hated the film with a 27 percent approval on Rotten Tomatoes.

Poor Timing Resulted in Box Office Failure

Written by Stallone and Matthew Cirulnick and directed by Adrian Grunberg, the film touched on contemporary political climate focusing on battling drug cartels and immigration in the Trump era. Whether if it's intentioned seems inconsequential as the subjects were polarizing at the time of the release. The franchise today appears unrecognizable compared to 1982's First Blood. Even First Blood author David Morrell disowned the film "ashamed" of his name being associated with the film after talking to Newsweek.

Terminator: Dark Fate

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With Terminator: Dark Fate, the franchise returned to its R-rated roots for the first time since 2003's Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. James Cameron, who was responsible for the first two films of the franchise, was back in the creative fold writing, but not directing. That duty went to Tim Miller. Cameron co-wrote the film with Charles H. Eglee, Josh Friedman, David Goyer, Justin Rhodes, and Billy Ray.

Since the film's release on November 1, the film's made $235 million at the box office. It's expected to lose Paramount and Skydance $100-130 million, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Miller blamed the audience's disinterest in recycling IPs in THR's interview.

Miller's Radical Decision Cost Him at Box Office

The film showed a lot of promise disregarding the previous three films and bringing Linda Hamilton back as Sarah Connor with Arnold Schwarzenegger taking second billing for the first time in franchise history. The build-up and hype negated due to the fate of John Connor (Edward Furlong), killed within the opening scenes of the film.

Despite throwing out the last three films, his importance wasn't any less significant from the first two films and it looked like it far outweighed the goodwill bringing Hamilton back and its R-rating. It's not to take away the performances of Gabriel Luna, Natalya Reyes, and Mackenzie Davis, but the decision made early in the film undercut anything they did and body of work.

Terminator: Dark Fate is in theaters.

Doctor Sleep

Despite critical positive reviews and the consensus saying Doctor Sleep is the faithful hybrid successor to Stanley Kubrick's 1980 adaptation of Stephen King's The Shining and the King's original 2013 novel, the film's underperformed at the box office. Directed and written by Mike Flanagan, who also worked on the 2017 adaptation of another King work Gerald's Game, the film stars Ewan McGregor as a grown-up Danny Torrance, played by then-child actor Danny Lloyd in the Kubrick film.

Danny suffers from the same alcoholism that plagued his father Jack, played by Jack Nicholson in the 1980 film. He discovers there are others who share his psychic abilities or "shining." Clever recastings by Flanagan make the transition between Kubrick's film and his film organic. Despite King's disdain for the 1980 film, he complimented the director for blending the narrative from Kubric while faithfully preserving King's vision of the novel.

Inflexibility and Too Much Time Passed

Warner Bros released the film on November 8 and two weeks in barely surpassed the film's original budget before marketing costs. According to Deadline Hollywood, the film's expected to lose $20 million in the box office. Forbes speculates Doctor Sleep's lackluster performance is its source and artistically not being flexible for a PG-13 rating. The Shining despite its place in cinema history was over 2 hours and 20 minutes. Contemporary audiences are probably not used to Kubrick's slower pacing. The report also said McGregor was never an A-list draw in his films.

The film also stars Rebecca Ferguson, Kyleigh Curran, and Cliff Curtis.

Doctor Sleep is currently in theaters.

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About Tom Chang

I'm a follower of pop culture from gaming, comics, sci-fi, fantasy, film, and TV for over 30 years. I grew up reading magazines like Starlog, Mad, and Fangora. As a professional writer for over 10 years, Star Wars was the first sci-fi franchise I fell in love with. I'm a nerd-of-all-trades.
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