These 11 Movies Were All Majorly Criticized Before They Even Hit Theaters, And The Reasons Range From Reasonable To Absolutely Wild

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1.The trailer for the upcoming film, Persuasion (2022), was recently met with a lot of backlash on social media for its comedic tone and unfaithfulness to the source material.

The main criticism of the trailer seemed to be its modernness. "Looks like they’ve removed the most interesting part of Jane Austin stories: the social settings of the time, and the women forced to navigate in them. This appears to be a modern teen drama with 18th century garb. No thanks," one Twitter user wrote.

"now we're worse than exes, we're friends"
Netflix

2.Songbird (2020), a dystopian thriller based on the COVID-19 pandemic, was pretty much met with universal criticism as soon as the project was announced.

a character riding a motorcycle and a character covering her mouth in shock and fear
STX Entertainment / Everett Collection

The film, which stars KJ Apa and Sofia Carson, takes place in 2024, in a world where COVID-19 has mutated into an even deadlier COVID-23, resulting in forced quarantine camps. "Reading the room should be offered as a high school elective," one Twitter user wrote in response to the trailer.

Writer and director Adam Mason addressed the controversy in an interview with BuzzFeed News: "I completely understand if you want to be like, 'f*ck that movie,' but the fundamental message with the movie is hopeful for me. That was what I was really trying to get across. I was not in any way trying to make a negative movie that capitalizes on what is by anyone's standards a terrible, terrible time."

close up of a character

Songbird has a 9% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

STX Entertainment /Courtesy Everett Collection

3.The trailer for Dear Evan Hansen (2021) sparked immediate backlash for the casting of Ben Platt, then 27 years old, as a high school student.

close up of Ben in the hallway
Universal Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

Although Platt played the character in the original Broadway show, which won numerous Tony Awards, many felt he had outgrown the role. Others criticized the film's use of de-aging makeup, which some believed had the opposite effect on Platt.

Here's the trailer if you're curious:

4.Taylor Swift faced backlash when she announced her involvement in the upcoming film adaptation of the novel Where the Crawdads Sing. The book's author, Delia Owens, who spent decades as a wildlife conservationist in Africa, was the subject of a 1996 news program entitled "Deadly Game: The Mark and Delia Owens Story" that depicted the killing of a suspected poacher.

Delia herself was not a suspect in the case, and no charges were ever filed. However, a 2010 New Yorker story about her and her former husband's conservation work revisited the killing, fueling a conversation about whether their work had "go[ne] too far." The novel, published in 2018, reignited those conversations after some readers noted alarming parallels to the real-life incident, in addition to problematic portrayals of Black characters.

owens and her husband standing on a jeep outside
William Campbell / Corbis via Getty Images

Needless to say, the upcoming film is connected to a controversial past. Where the Crawdads Sing is set to be released on July 15, 2022.

a character drawing birds
Michele K. Short / Sony Pictures Entertainment / Courtesy Everett Collection

5.Ghostbusters (2016), which features a predominantly all-woman cast, received instant backlash online when the trailer debuted. At the time, it was the most disliked movie trailer in YouTube history.

The film was also spammed with poor ratings on IMDb before its release. Director Paul Feig addressed the backlash on Twitter: "Interesting how making a movie with men in the lead roles is normal but making a movie with women in the lead roles is a 'gimmick.' #its2014."

Paul Feig smiling

"I just wanted the funniest people, and the funniest people I know are these women," Feig said to journalists and fans at an event on Sony's Culver City lot. "It shouldn’t be about that. Ghostbusters is for everybody."

Bravo / NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

The film has an approval rating of 73% on Rotten Tomatoes.

the main cast in their ghostbusters uniforms
Hopper Stone / Columbia Pictures/ Courtesy Everett Collection

6.Cats (2019) was pretty much doomed as soon as the official trailer dropped. Immediately, social media was flooded with mocking memes and negative reactions.

In particular, people criticized the CGI effects.

Upon release, Cats was a box office bomb and critically panned. It has an approval rating of 19% on Rotten Tomatoes.

three cats in the musical
Universal Pictures / Everett Collection

7.On a similar note, Sonic the Hedgehog (2020) was actually delayed because people were SO freaked out by Sonic's design in the initial trailer.

before and after of a stuffed animal looking hedgehog and then a more cartoon friendly version
Paramount Pictures / Everett Collection

For context, here's the old trailer, featuring the original (nightmarish) design:

Director Jeff Fowler thanked fans on Twitter for their criticism: "The message is loud and clear... you aren't happy with the design & you want changes. It's going to happen."

8.Ghost in the Shell (2017) — which was adapted from the Japanese manga of the same name — was criticized for casting Scarlett Johansson, a white woman, as a character who was Asian in the source material.

close up of Scarlett in character

According to ScreenCrush, Paramount and DreamWorks also attempted to make Johansson "look East Asian" by altering the CGI in post-production. The experiment was reportedly scrapped, but still garnered criticism.

Jasin Boland / Paramount / Courtesy Everett Collection

Johansson later addressed the backlash in an interview with Marie Clare: "I certainly would never presume to play another race of a person. Diversity is important in Hollywood, and I would never want to feel like I was playing a character that was offensive. Also, having a franchise with a female protagonist driving it is such a rare opportunity. Certainly, I feel the enormous pressure of that — the weight of such a big property on my shoulders."

close up of scarlett smiling
Gregg Deguire / FilmMagic / Getty Images

Ghost in the Shell has an approval rating of 43% on Rotten Tomatoes.

scarlett in character
Paramount / Courtesy Everett Collection

9.Similarly, the trailer for Death Note (2017) was met with overwhelming negativity and accusations of whitewashing.

Adapted from the manga series of the same name, the film was criticized for casting Nat Wolff, a white actor, as the protagonist Light Turner. Like Ghost in the Shell, Wolff's character was Japanese in the source material.

close up of Nat
Jon Kopaloff / Getty Images

Producer Roy Lee defended the casting choice in an interview with BuzzFeed News: "I can understand the criticism... If our version of Death Note was set in Japan and [featured] characters that were Japanese-named or of Japanese ancestry. ... It is an interpretation of that story in a different culture, so there are going to be some obvious changes. Some people will like them, some people may not."

nat's character staring ahead

Death Note has an approval rating of 37% on Rotten Tomatoes.

James Dittiger / Netflix / Courtesy Everett Collection

10.When the trailer for The Giver (2014) was released, some fans of the source material were upset that it was in color as opposed to black and white. For context, the characters in the book are unable to see color.

However, the film ended up featuring black and white footage after all. It starts off in black and white and then progresses to color as the protagonist, Jonas, gains the ability to see in color.

two of the characters holding an apple between their hands
Weinstein Company / Everett Collection

The Giver has an approval rating of 35% on Rotten Tomatoes.

two of the characters looking over paperwork
Weinstein Company/Courtesy Everett Collection

11.Finally, The Emoji Movie (2017) was met with overwhelming negativity on social media as soon as the initial teaser trailer came out. The teaser received over 22,000 dislikes on YouTube within 24 hours of its release.

The film also generated controversy when Sony posted an Emoji Movie parody of The Handmaid's Tale as a promotional image. The tweet has since been deleted.

  @EmojiMovie / Twitter
@EmojiMovie / Twitter

The Emoji Movie has a 6% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

emoji characters
Sony Pictures / Columbia Pictures / Everett Collection

UPDATE

Jun. 25, 2022, at 22:58 PM