Over the past few months citizens have been anxious over financial concerns weighing down on the nation, but we here at CHUD will put your mind at ease.  Finally, we have arrived with the assessment of the movies that fared poorest during the past blockbuster season.

This stretch of the calendar saw a stark turnaround in comparison to the summer of 2010 in two ways. This year began with marked plunging box office returns in the early months – at times off by 25% – but the healthy summer session has closed the gap and 2011now lags by only a few percentage points. Also, last summer saw a preponderance of poor titles that underperformed while this year there was more quality spread around, with many titles giving us competitive weekends and fewer disasters.  But that is not to say there were none, and so here is the tabulation of the ten worst misfires, mistakes, and outright miserable efforts to clog the cineplex this summer session.

10. Winnie the Pooh  Disney’s attempt to reinvigorate this franchise had tepid results.  (Maybe opening against the “Harry Potter” juggernaut was a bad idea?) Even that distributer disaster however cannot explain a family pic failing to latch on during the non-school session and losing money.  The studio will likely realize a small profit in the home market, but failing to break even in theaters has to be judged as failing, especially with such an established property.  It became a bother.

9. The Beaver  Touted as the comeback for Mel Gibson from his societal meltdowns this odd title had plenty of advance word.  The Jodi Foster-directed pseudo psycho-drama was given a small rollout to test the waters but audiences never arrived.  Normally a small film such as this (it maxed out at 22 screens while in release) would not warrant the title of “bomb”, but it couldn’t crack the million dollar plateau while sporting a healthy $21 million budget.  Yea, that’ll leave a crater.

8. Judy Moody and the NOT Bummer Summer  Movies based on adolescent novels have had a decent track record.  Diary of a Wimpy Kid, for example, warranted a sequel.  But this rhyming release could not generate interest while garnering hatred from critics, and even audiences scored it with less than 50% approval.  It debuted with only Kung Fu Panda 2 on the third week of release as the only family-based competition, yet it still struggled to crack the top ten on the way to losing money.  This was bad enough that it may have ended up encouraging some kids to stop reading.

7. Zookeeper  This movie did not feel like a typical summer release, and that is because in actuality it was not.  Sony had initially staked out a summer date for Spiderman 4, but then their decision to reboot the franchise meant they had to scramble to fill that slot.  Thus this retread story with talking animals and fat man pratfalls, which had initially been cast off in last year’s fall schedule, saw a promotion to this July.  Factoring marketing costs means realizing a profit on this title is about as realistic as a talking gorilla.

6. Glee Live! 3-D   Man, even with an exclamation point in the title the Gleeks failed to get excited over this concert film.  It opened with a soft Friday debut, and then the dreaded Twitter-effect slammed into it with full force: The movie took a severe 34% drop in only its second day of release.  Overall the movie debuted on over 2,000 screens and it failed to even crack the top-ten for the weekend, drawing an embarrassing $5 million. Audiences effectively threw a Slushie in the face of Fox.

5. Priest  Here’s all you need to gauge the success of this title; how many people even remember this was released in the second week of May? It is easy to forget considering it was thumped soundly by Thor, the surprising Bridesmaids, and the oddly strong Fast Five, in its third week of release.  This title plunged 60% in week two and fell out of the top ten after that, not even having a prayer at making half of its $60 million budget.

4. The Change Up  Initially things were looking up for this title. The early trailers were receiving some positive responses and this summer proved to be fertile ground for R-rated comedies.  But then in the weeks before release the mood soured and it was evident that this was going to be disastrous.  This then became confirmed when Universal had their two stars putting out some interviews and new promo ads where they took a self-deprecating tone in promoting the title. Admitting your film sucks does little to draw audiences it seems. The trailers of a body-switch comedy centered on two men pissing into a wishing fountain proved to be the comedic highlight.

3. Hoodwinked Too: Hood vs. Evil  The Weinstein Company has long struggled to join the collection of studios which possess a bankable animation division.  Their struggle continues.  This was to be a sequel to their lone (minor) success in animation, and it crashed like a hard drive.  Normally CGI cartoons express advancements in technology on screen over the years; however this mess looked as if they used earlier generation computers, which matched the lame recycled gags in the tired script of distaff fairy tale characters. This was so completely ignored that among titles given a 2,500 theater release Hood 2 had the tenth worst opening of all time, and it could have been worse – that dismal return is with the benefit of higher 3-D ticket prices.

2. Cowboys & Aliens  This was not for a lack of effort. The pumping of this title spanned over two different ComiCons, and yet the premise from a lesser graphic novel proved to be a tough sell.  Hints of the challenge could be heard in some interviews from director Jon Favreau as he gently tried to tamp down expectations. While hoping to be another comic-based hit instead it appears to be a repeat of another western-hybrid failure, “Wild, Wild West”. The studio began revising its expectations downward and as the opening weekend evolved even those altered projections proved overly optimistic.  The failure became starker when in the end C&A barely edged out The Smurfs on its opening weekend, and that was due entirely to appearing on 350 more screens. That’s more embarrassing than being caught wearing ass-less chaps.

1. Green Hornet  This was not a good summer for Ryan Reynolds.  The monstrous budget here is one thing, but the marketing push was also enormous.  The general guess is this cost near $200 million to produce and estimates had Warner Brothers spending an additional amount of anywhere from $100 million upwards to $150 million selling the film.  This failed across the board so amazingly that it makes a $115 million return paltry.  After opening as the #1 film audiences turned their backs as it dropped 66% the second week.  Warner Brothers is taking a bath in red ink on this release, so naturally the studio announced plans to make a sequel.