The Lone Ranger
After the dust had cleared from the summer’s bloodiest critical massacre, Johnny Depp & Co. argued that the reviewers had a grudge against The Lone Ranger. It’s true that critics took great relish in ambushing Gore Verbinski’s Disnified Western, in which Depp played Tonto and Armie Hammer wore the iconic black mask, but the bloated epic was a giant, slow-moving target. Disney admitted the bomb could ultimately cost them $190 million, casting great doubts that the Ranger will get back in the saddle any time soon.
Beyoncé and Jay-Z
Here’s the good news: Both members of the Carter family killed it on the road this summer (though only one of them wore a gold bodysuit on stage). But on record, Blue Ivy’s parents struggled. Following an unprecedented build up to his new album Magna Carta Holy Grail that included a lucrative exclusivity deal with Samsung, Jay-Z sounded untethered and hopelessly dense for the first time in his career. It scored at the cash register, though its sales were blunted by the pre-release platinum plaque he scored after Samsung bought a million copies to give away. If it wasn’t going to be a good album, Magna Carta should have at least been a great event. But it’s a non-starter either way. At least Jay’s recording career is in better shape than his wife’s: Beyoncé floated a handful of singles, most of which were associated with ads for Pepsi and H&M. But nothing stuck, and her forthcoming fifth solo joint still doesn’t have a release date despite the fact that she reportedly has more than enough material in the can. Both Jay and Bey are cultural institutions, but as recording artists, they spent the season flailing.
Two years ago, EW excitedly ushered in the summer of Ryan Reynolds…then watched in disappointment as both Green Lantern and The Change-Up underperformed critically and at the box office. ”But…but he’s so charming!” we thought. ”Surely Hollywood’s second-favorite Ryan can bounce back — maybe with, say, a cute animated adventure and a wry supernatural comedy about dead policemen.” Alas, it wasn’t meant to be; both Turbo and R.I.P.D. were utter busts, leading us to wonder why Reynolds still hasn’t learned to pick better material. Don’t feel too bad for the guy, though; even when his movies bomb, he still gets to go home to Blake Lively.
Nobody had astronomical hopes for this Will Smith/M. Night Shyamalan sci-fi epic. (Possible exceptions: Will Smith and M. Night Shyamalan.) But the movie has only pulled in $60.4 million domestically, making it Smith’s lowest-grossing action pic ever — and a moon-crater-size dud at the summer box office. (But before you go calling the bomb squad, keep in mind that it still grossed $184.5 million abroad.) Was it the cheesy VFX? Jaden Smith backlash? Absurd names like Cipher Raige? Those crackpot Scientology conspiracy theories? A general dearth of world-saving from Will, who spends most of the movie laid-up with a bum leg? Maybe all of the above. But there’s no way on (after) earth we’d watch the movie again to figure it out.
Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn’s first big-screen pairing, the 2005 comedy smash Wedding Crashers, grossed a staggering $209 million, but when the duo tried to recapture that magic eight years later, they just, well, crashed. The Internship — which starred Vaughn and Wilson as unemployed middle-aged friends who bluff their way into an internship at Google — felt to many like a by-the-numbers, not very funny advertisement for the tech giant, and the result was a $44 million box office dud. Perhaps The Onion put its best with this headline: ”The Internship Poised to be Biggest Comedy of 2005.”
Despite famously living the stuff great country songs are made of — adultery, public breakdowns, D-I-V-O-R-C-E — Rimes couldn’t translate her personal travails into sales on her 11th studio album. She called it ”a peek into my world; who I am, what I’ve gone through, what my emotions are, it’s an intimate conversation between me and whoever’s listening.” Turns out, nobody really was. Despite extensive promotions, it debuted with disappointing numbers, and quickly fell off the charts. Why buy the cow, after all, when the milk’s already free — and tweeting constantly?
Dexter (so far...)
During the final season of Showtime’s Dexter, surely the bloody serial killer thriller would be crazy amazing, right? Not quite. There was a gripping premiere with a guilt-ridden Debra on a dangerous spiral and the creepy addition of Charlotte Rampling (as Dr. Evelyn Vogel, the author of Dexter’s murder code) to the cast. But most weeks since then have seemed like a wasted opportunity aimed at killing time instead of raising the stakes. Is anybody watching to see Masuka bonding with his sperm-donation daughter, Quinn struggling to get a promotion, Deb bickering with her new boss, Dex’s wannabe apprentice, or the hopelessly convoluted ”brain surgeon” storyline? For eight seasons we’ve watched this show about a guy working for a police department who’s secretly a serial killer and wondered what will happen once his colleagues start to catch on. Let’s hope these last few episodes will focus on that.
Magic City had elements of Mad Men, Boardwalk Empire, and The Sopranos — all critically revered and fan-beloved series — a stunning 1950s Miami backdrop, and a tense (and impressively acted) rivalry between Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s Ike Evans and Danny Huston’s Ben Diamond. What it didn’t have, however, was a good time slot (Fridays at 10 p.m.), a consistent pace (many episodes were way too slow), or, in the end, the ratings. We had high hopes given the Starz series’ season 2 pickup before the pilot even aired, but Magic City never ended up casting a spell on viewers, and the glamorous Miramar Playa hotel checked out for good earlier this month.
Revenge Wears Prada
We never expected Lauren Weisberger’s sequel to the best-selling The Devil Wears Prada to be Pulitzer-worthy literature, but we were hoping for more delicious zingers from fashion editrix Miranda Priestly, portrayed masterfully by Meryl Streep in the 2006 movie. Unfortunately, Weisberger seems more interested in the ever-so-dull Andy Sachs, who was a whiny assistant in the first book and an insufferable bridal magazine editor in this one. We have no doubt there’s already chatter about filming the Prada follow-up, but let’s hope Hollywood execs never greenlight this dud.