Movies that missed – Sometimes a movie seems to have everything -- a great cast, solid director, even some early buzz. But when it's finally released, it falls short -- either at the box office or with critics, and often with both. Take 2013's "The Lone Ranger," with Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer. It attempted to revive an old hero and instead found catcalls and relatively poor returns. At this point, don't expect a franchise.
Movies that missed – The just-released "The Fifth Estate" had a rising star -- Benedict Cumberbatch -- a good director and a topical plot, but it hasn't paid off with audiences or many critics.
Movies that missed – "The Bonfire of the Vanities" (1990), starring Tom Hanks and directed by Brian DePalma, is testament to how the best-laid plans can go awry. Tom Wolfe's sprawling novel would seem to have the makings of a great movie, and on paper, the film's credits were all solid. But some miscasting and internal problems did "Bonfire" in, and it flopped with both critics and audiences.
Movies that missed – "All the King's Men" (2006), a version of the Robert Penn Warren novel about a corrupt Southern governor, suffered from odd casting -- co-star James Gandolfini may have been a better fit for the lead than Sean Penn -- and sank quickly. The 1949 version, incidentally, won best picture.
Movies that missed – A remake of the 1951 classic, the 2008 version of "The Day the Earth Stood Still" starred Keanu Reeves in the Michael Rennie role. A talented cast, including Jennifer Connolly and Kathy Bates, couldn't save the film.
Movies that missed – "The Wolfman" (2010) had a terrific cast -- Benicio Del Toro and Anthony Hopkins were among the performers -- and was based on a surefire horror character. But a number of internal problems, including changing directors and reshooting the ending, doomed the result.
Movies that missed – "John Carter" (2012) was expected to be a huge hit. Instead, it was a divisive failure. Even the marketing was questioned: the original Edgar Rice Burroughs character was "John Carter of Mars," but the "Mars" part was cut because it was thought to turn off women.
Movies that missed – Kevin Costner had a huge success with "Dances With Wolves," and a qualified one with "Waterworld." But "The Postman" (1997), based on an award-winning novel, proved to be a blockbuster too far. "Goofy and pretentious," wrote Roger Ebert. Audiences agreed.
Movies that missed – Oscar winner Russell Crowe. Oscar winner Ridley Scott. A bestselling book by Peter Mayle. What could go wrong? For the comedy "A Good Year" (2006), quite a bit. Critics thought it was too leisurely; audiences mostly stayed away. But the scenery was nice.
Movies that missed – "The Fortune" (1975) starred Jack Nicholson and Warren Beatty. It was directed by Mike Nichols. The script was by Oscar winner Carole Eastman (under the pseudonym "Adrien Joyce"). But the throwback farce split critics and didn't appeal to audiences. Perhaps Eastman's name change should have been a clue.
Movies that missed – "Heaven's Gate" (1980), Oscar winner Michael Cimino's follow-up to "The Deer Hunter," had grand ambitions. Instead, it became the poster boy for directorial excess, including the sheer amount of film shot -- reportedly 1.3 million feet, or 220 hours. It's undergone some critical re-estimation, but not enough to overcome its reputation.
Movies that missed – Another symbol of excess, 1987's "Ishtar," has also improved with age. But at the time of release, the film suffered -- not least because of high expectations for a film starring Dustin Hoffman and Warren Beatty and directed and written by Elaine May.
Movies that missed – Something about Philip Roth's work tends to resist first-rate moviemaking. OK, "Goodbye, Columbus" (1969) was a success, but "The Human Stain" (2003) was earnest at best, and "Portnoy's Complaint" (1972) -- which starred "Columbus" actor Richard Benjamin and was written by Ernest Lehman -- was awful. "A true fiasco," wrote Roger Ebert.
Movies that missed – Even Steven Spielberg misses the bulls-eye from time to time. "Always" (1989), with Richard Dreyfuss, Holly Hunter and Audrey Hepburn, was a remake of 1943's "A Guy Named Joe." The general critical view was that it was unexceptional, and though it had a profitable box office run, it was no blockbuster.
Movies that missed – A Nicole Kidman film with big ambitions and a blockbuster budget, "The Golden Compass" (2007), didn't measure up to Philip Pullman's book -- but that was the least of its problems. Pullman's anti-religious themes were blunted and the film tried to cram a lot into its 113 minutes. Interestingly, it was a huge hit in Europe -- but not enough to prompt any studio from taking on the second and third books of Pullman's "His Dark Materials" trilogy. Not yet, anyway.