Sometimes, even the most promising projects can go wrong. Take the movie "The Big Year" for example. Based on a book of the same name, the movie tells the story of three men trying to outdo each other spotting rare birds over one year. The Fox film attracted three big stars who could play up the comic potential of the story: Jack Black, Steve Martin and Owen Wilson. Director David Frankel, who helmed hits like "The Devil Wears Prada" and "Marley & Me" signed on to direct. It looked like a hit in the making.
But something went horribly wrong along the way. When the film hit theaters last month it was released without much fanfare. Ads for the film made it look more like a sentimental film a la The Bucket List than a comedy. Critics panned the film awarding it a mere 39 out of 100 on Rotten Tomatoes (which aggregates reviews). The $40 million film earned only $7 million.
And for that we declare Jack Black and Steve Martin among the ten biggest entertainment turkeys of 2011. Costar Owen Wilson gets to sit this one out because his other films this year were mostly big hits. He starred in Woody Allen’s latest, "Midnight in Paris," which earned $133 million on a budget of $17 million. His comedy "Hall Pass" was derided by the critics but it earned a decent $83 million on a budget of $36 million and Wilson voiced Lightning McQueen in Pixar’s "Cars 2" which brought in $552 million globally.
To come up with our list we looked at stars whose films earned less at the box office than their production budget –- a sure sign of a flop. For TV stars we looked for huge ratings drops. Brad Adgate of Horizon Media helped us crunch the TV numbers. Box office numbers come from Box Office Mojo.
Producer J.J. Abrams was the biggest TV turkey this year. His Fox sci-fi/detective show "Fringe" saw the biggest audience drop over the past 12 months of any show on TV. There are 43% fewer people watching the show than a year ago. The show averages 3 million viewers these days. His newest show, Person of Interest, is performing much better with an audience of around 12 million.
At least Abram’s shows are still on the air. The same can’t be said for Kevin Dillon. His hit HBO show "Entourage" ended its run this year after eight seasons. He quickly landed his own sitcom on CBS called "How To Be a Gentleman."
But the show turned out to be a dud. After only two episodes CBS demoted the show from Thursday at 8:30 to Saturdays and then quietly canceled the show.
Dillon will likely have more shots at TV glory though. The same can’t be said for comedian Nick Swardson’s film career. Swardson (who also has a show on Comedy Central called "Pretend Time") has been a fixture in Adam Sandler films for years appearing in hits like "You Don’t Mess With the Zohan" and
But when Swardson ventured out on his own this year, even Sandler’s stamp of approval couldn’t help. Sander is listed as a producer on Swardson’s disastrous film "Buck Larson: Born To Be a Star." The comedy follows a naïve country boy’s trip to L.A. and porn fame. It earned only $2.5 million on an estimated budget of $10 million.
Another turkey this year: Anna Faris. In April Faris landed a multi-page profile in The New Yorker magazine. The story touted the actresses’ comedic talents in a world that is tough on funny female performers. But while the female-driven film "Bridesmaids" was a massive hit (bringing in $287 million on a budget of $33 million) Faris’ 2011 films flopped at the box office. "Take Me Home Tonight," a throwback to ‘80s comedies, earned only $7 million. Her bigger film, "What’s Your Number," did better bringing in $30 million on a budget of $20 million but that’s hardly enough for the film to show a profit.