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Divergent: How do poorly reviewed films make so much money?

Despite Divergent being a highly anticipated film this year, it did not sit well with the critics. Why, then, did it top the box office? See other poorly reviewed films that made a fortune.

Photo courtesy of

Yes, Divergent was one of the most anticipated films this year. The first book of the beloved series — of the same name and comparable to The Hunger Games — raised a loyal brood of fans who were eager to flood cinemas around the globe on March 21 to watch their favourite characters come to life. But then the critic reviews were out, and this sci-fi flick managed to garner only 40 per cent on film aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. So did that spell trouble for this dystopian cinematic creation?

Nope! Here’s the interesting part: The movie still raked in $56 million during its opening weekend, thus topping the box office list. But how?

We must admit Divergent‘s stars Shailene Woodley and Theo James deserve the bulk of the credit, since their talent and fresh faces were praised by even the toughest of film critics. It also appears that the perceived banality of the plot — the term pitched by reviewers — did not deter any moviegoers whatsoever. Fans rather enjoyed the movie adaptation. But the biggest leverage Divergent has is the success of the book series, which drew out a huge crowd of readers unfazed by the film’s poor reviews.

Video courtesy of Summit Entertainment, Lionsgate / YouTube

So what does this all mean? That movies don’t even need to be reviewed well to be box office hits, while films praised by critics barely earn back their budgets? This is a wacky world we live in! Yet it is true. Here are a few other examples of poorly reviewed films that earned bajallions of dollars:

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Hancock (2008) – $624,386,746

Will Smith must be enough of a reason to tune in, because this film holds a rating of 41 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes but earned a bucketful of money.

Will SmithPhoto courtesy of

Meet the Fockers (2004) – $516,642,939 

Despite the success of the first film and a stellar cast, this movie received 38 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes. But it sure made quite a bit of moolah!

Meet the FockersPhoto courtesy of

Pearl Harbor (2001) – $449,220,945

Sure, it has Ben Affleck and Josh Hartnett, but Pearl Harbor was able to pull out only a 25-per-cent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The film made triple its budget, though.

Pearl HarborPhoto courtesy of

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The Last Airbender (2010) – $319,713,881 

This film also boasted a great cast and a huge budget but received only 6 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes. That’s right — 6.

The Last AirbenderPhoto courtesy of

Wild Hogs (2007) – $253,625,427

They laughed all the way to the bank. With only a $60 million budget and a whole lotta famous faces, who cares if they gathered only 14 per cent from the critics?

Wild Hogs castPhoto courtesy of Z. Tamaszewski /

What’s your favourite “guilty pleasure” movie? And why do you think badly reviewed films make so much money at the box office?

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