The 50 biggest movie flops that deserved better

Serenity (2005)

The Movie: Joss Whedon resurrects aborted TV series Firefly for the big screen, bringing back Captain Mal (Nathan Fillion) for one last adventure amongst the stars.

The Flop: In our post- Avengers world, it's hard to imagine a time when Joss Whedon didn't equal box office gold.

That time definitely existed, though, as Serenity is here to prove - it was made for a modest $39m, but only made back $38m. Franchise: buried.

Why It Deserved Better : It's everything you want from Whedon - quip-y, action-packed, heartbreaking, jaw dropping. It's top-notch sci-fi, and we're still upset that a sequel was never made…

Scott Pilgrim Vs The World (2010)

The Movie: Based on Brian Lee O'Malley's graphic novel series, Edgar Wright's zippy adap follows Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera), who falls for Ramona Flowers, but has to defeat her seven evil exes before he can be with her.

The Flop : Though it was directed by the guy who made Shaun Of The Dead , it seemed only Pilgrim graphic novel fans turned up to watch this at cinemas - it made $47m worldwide on its $60m budget.

Not so much POW! as OOF!

Why It Deserved Better: Wright's film is a loving adap that perfectly captures the tone of O'Malley's series - it feels like a tiny indie film, only with some awesome fight scenes and too many brilliant sight gags to count.

The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford (2008)

The Movie: The second film from director Andrew Dominik, charting the rise of gang leader Jesse James (Brad Pitt), who's targeted for death. As the title suggests, it may just be at the hands of Robert Ford (Casey Affleck).

The Flop: Released two whole years after it was completed, Jesse James suffered under its wordy, spoilerific title and its promise of hard-hitting drama.

Quite simply, it seems audiences didn't fancy a downer starring a beardy Brad Pitt, and people stayed away…

Why It Deserved Better: Yes, it's long. Yes, it takes its sweet time. But Dominik's film is both arresting in its naturalistic visuals and crammed full of fantastic performances. By the end, it's like you've had a hearty (if mightily depressing) meal.

Children Of Men (2006)

The Movie: A futuristic sci-fi (it's set in 2027) based on P.D. James' same-named novel. In the future, female infertility is so high that civilisation is on the brink of collapse - until Clive Owen's former activist comes across a pregnant woman…

The Flop: Not a massive disaster, but not the success that director Alfonso Cuaron was no doubt hoping for, Men took $69m worldwide on its $76m budget.

Why It Deserved Better: Cuaron's film is gorgeous, gritty and riveting - it works both as a hard-hitting action film and a heart-rending drama.

Once Upon A Time In America (1984)

The Movie: A historical epic from Sergio Leone. It originally premiered at the Cannes Film Festival as a 229-minute opus following a group of gangsters in Prohibition-era New York.

The Flop: "I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a worse case of mutilation," opined critic Pauline Kael when a 139 minute theatrical version was released in the US, where it was promptly branded a "travesty".

Why It Deserved Better: In terms of craft and storytelling, this is on a level with The Godfather and deserves every accolade it has since received.

Robert De Niro and James Woods in particular and fantastic, and we can take hope from the fact that Martin Scorsese is still attempting to reassemble Leone's original 269 minute version.

Dredd (2012)

The Movie: The 2000 AD comic gets adapted for the big screen once more, years after Sly Stallone's irksome 1995 attempt. This time around, Karl Urban's Dredd goes up against Lena Headey's fearsome drug baroness Mama.

The Flop: Dredd failed to grab new fans, meaning only die hard comic lovers turned up - it took $36m worldwide on a budget of $45m.

Considering it was made so cheaply, though, there's hope for another Dredd flick - especially as campaigners have been out in their droves attempting to get it made.

Why It Deserved Better: It's a "lean, mean comic-book adaptation that makes some great judgement calls" said we in our official review. We can't put it any plainer'n that.

Blade Runner (1982)

The Movie: Science-fiction based on Philip K. Dick's nove l Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? Harrison Ford is the grizzled future bounty hunter who's tasked with capturing dangerous 'replicants' before they find a way to extend their four-year lifespan.

The Flop: In a time when audiences were suffering from sci-fi fatigue ( The Thing, ET and Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan all came out around the same time), Ridley Scott's epic made just $6.15m in its opening weekend.

Critics didn't help, arguing that Scott was more interested in special effects than plot and characterisation.

Why It Deserved Better: Blade Runner was a film ahead of its time, and it's gratifying that it has found a place in the sci-fi pantheon as a philosophical masterpiece with oodles of style. It certainly beats 90% of the sci-fi rubbish that gets cranked out these days…

The Night Of The Hunter (1955)

The Movie: A sinister drama that follows Harry Powell (Robert Mitchum), who marries and then murders fragile widows in order to take their money. Scarier still, he believes he's doing it as a favour to God…

The Flop: Neither audiences nor critics were prepared for director Charles Laughton's stark stylistic choices - his film stood out like a sore thumb next to other films being made in the 1950s.

The result? Box office belly flop…

Why It Deserved Better: In short, it's a masterpiece. From Laughton's exceptional use of light and shadow (he drew on German expressionism) to Mitchum's bone-chilling portrayal of evil, Hunter is mesmerising and unforgettable.

The real tragedy is that Laughton never directed again.

The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

The Movie: An adaptation of Stephen King's prison-set book, which follows a man (Tim Robbins) wrongly accused of murder and sent to Shawshank State Prison for 20 years.

The Flop: After 10 weeks of release, Frank Darabont's drama earned just $16m in the US - not a patch on its $25m budget. It required a re-release during Oscar season to pump that figure up to $28m…

Why It Deserved Better : It deserved better, and it got it - Shawshank famously became a VHS super-hit (the seven Academy nominations will have helped), and has since become lauded as one of the finest prison dramas ever made. Hurrah!

Hugo (2011)

The Movie: Martin Scorsese's loving ode to the movies, following the titular Hugo (Asa Butterfield), who lives in the Gare Montparnasse train station in Paris.

The Flop: Hugo 's competition at the time of its release was The Muppets and Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 1 , which partially explains why fewer people went to see it than expected. Who wants to go up against Kermie?

Scorsese's film made just $74m in the US, which barely scraped the halfway mark of its $170m budget…

Why It Deserved Better: It's a fantastic film, full of beautiful flourishes - and for once the 3D heightens the storytelling rather than getting in the way of it.