The 32 greatest movies that audiences hated (and critics loved)

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Film critics and audiences famously don't agree on movies, if they ever do. But while there are movies that audiences love and critics hate, sometimes the opposite is true too. There are movies that critics couldn't get enough of but audiences outright hated.

It is popular belief that movies that critics and only critics love are esoteric indie films, usually those made with tiny budgets and come from far outside the Hollywood system. But believe it or not, that's not always the case. Whether they're made independently or come from the deep pockets of a major studio, sometimes a movie simply splits the room, with its artistry appealing more to critics than everyone else.

Here, we list 32 of the all-time greatest movies that apparently only critics dug and audiences actually hated. Scoop some popcorn and get ready to throw them, because some of these movies are either instant classics or belong in the dumpster, depending on who you talk to.

32. King Kong (2005)

King Kong

(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

The goodwill Peter Jackson accumulated from his acclaimed Lord of the Rings trilogy apparently wasn't enough for his 2005 epic, King Kong, to become a similar hit for moviegoers. Jackson's gorgeous and epic remake of the original classic from 1933 has just a 50% audience approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, compared to its more mighty 84% rating with critics. Though it's commonly believed that audiences prefer spectacles and critics favor artistic dramas, movies like King Kong smash those expectations to bits.

31. Smoking Causes Coughing (2022)

Smoking Causes Coughing

(Image credit: Magnolia Pictures)

In Quentin Dupieux's chillaxing satirical homage to Japanese tokusatsu like Super Sentai (better known as Power Rangers for Americans), a group of intergalactic superheroes known as the Tobacco Force embark on a week-long retreat in order to fix some of their internal problems. While Smoking Causes Coughing delighted critics as yet another gonzo comedy from Dupieux - it has a colossal 91% rating on Rotten Tomatoes - audiences were less inclined to vibe with its mighty morphin' strangeness, with an aggregate score of just 51%. 

30. Where the Wild Things Are (2009)

Where the Wild Things Are

(Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

Perhaps everyone's precious memories of reading Maurice Sendak's classic book meant most moviegoers couldn't be whisked away by Spike Jonze's film version. In 2009, the punk photographer turned Hollywood filmmaker delivered a gorgeous movie adaptation of Where the Wild Things Are, itself a beautiful story about the limitless wonders of childhood imagination. Although critics enjoyed Jonze's movie, albeit questioning if it was actually for kids, audiences were less enthused. On Rotten Tomatoes, the movie has a 73% with critics versus a 57% with audiences.

29. Splash (1984)


(Image credit: Buena Vista Pictures Distribution)

In just his second movie as a leading man, Tom Hanks co-starred with Daryl Hannah in Splash, a fantasy rom-com about a young man who falls for a mermaid. While Splash made, ahem, a splash with critics in 1984, and has been retroactively listed as one of the best of the year by outlets like Entertainment Weekly, audiences are less interested in swimming along. On Rotten Tomatoes, the movie enjoys a 91% rating with critics versus a more muddled 62% with audiences. While that's still technically a "fresh" rating, be honest: When was the last time you heard someone tell you that Splash was their favorite Tom Hanks movie?

28. Mississippi Grind (2015)

Mississippi Grind

(Image credit: A24)

From the filmmaking duo of Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, Mississippi Grind is a comedy drama about a deep-in-debt gambling addict (Ben Mendelsohn) who thinks that a new friend, played by Ryan Reynolds, is a living good luck charm. The two embark on a road trip to play a high-stakes poker game in New Orleans. While critics were won over by Mississippi Grind and its killer hand in Mendelsohn and Reynolds as a buddy pair, audiences folded. The movie has a 91% critics rating and a 55% audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

27. She Dies Tomorrow (2020)

She Dies Tomorrow

(Image credit: NEON)

Eerily released during the COVID-19 pandemic, She Dies Tomorrow is a psychological horror about a woman (Kate Lyn Sheil) who believes that she will die after the next 24 hours - a belief that somehow spreads through the rest of her town. Although critics caught on to She Dies Tomorrow - Guardian's Peter Bradshaw wrote in praise of the film, celebrating it as an "eerie essay in creeping dread and collective hysteria" - audiences didn't test so positively. On Rotten Tomatoes, She Dies Tomorrow has an 84% critics score and a more anemic 24% with audience.

26. Meatballs (1979)


(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

It was the movie that launched the careers of both Bill Murray and director Ivan Reitman. Yet somehow, audiences haven't taken to Meatballs like a plate of spaghetti. Set at a summer camp in Ontario, Bill Murray stars as the immature head counselor who tries to play matchmaker between two campers, as well as whip up his campers to defeat their rivals at Camp Mohawk in an upcoming competition. Despite the broad appeal of both Reitman and Murray, only critics have shown love for Meatballs. The movie maintains a 73% critics' score on Rotten Tomatoes, versus a "rotten" 57% score with audiences.

25. Spring Breakers (2012)

Spring Breakers

(Image credit: A24)

Spring breaker forever! Or not. Conceived by director Harmony Korine, who lamented that he spent all his youthful years skateboarding instead of partying, Spring Breakers follows four college girls (played by ex-Disney stars Vanessa Hudgens and Selena Gomez as well as Ashley Benson and Rachel Korine) who venture down to Florida to party it up only to wind up in a life of crime. Spring Breakers enchanted critics who saw the movie's pointed satire about the American dream and the hedonism of youth, but audiences were seemingly disappointed that Spring Breakers was anything but a carefree getaway. On Rotten Tomatoes, the movie has a 68% critics' score and a 38% audience score.

24. Drinking Buddies (2013)

Drinking Buddies

(Image credit: Magnolia Pictures)

In this understated dramedy, Olivia Wilde and Jake Johnson play coworkers at a Chicago craft brewery who desperately try to ignore their feelings for one another as they date other people. On Rotten Tomatoes, critics buzzed over Drinking Buddies, with 84% of critics writing favorably of Joe Swanberg's honest depiction of modern relationships. Praised New York Times' A.O. Scott: "[Drinking Buddies] captures the idioms of men and women who are equally inclined to waste words and to say very little. But the busy tedium of their lives is given shape and direction by the skill of the cast and by the precision of the director's eye, ear and editing instincts." On the other hand, audiences are less hoppy about Drinking Buddies, with only a 49% audience rating on RT.

23. Captain Marvel (2019)

Captain Marvel

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

In theory it's hard to even imagine it, but at least once, a Marvel movie was a bigger hit with critics than fans. In 2019, Marvel released the sci-fi period adventure Captain Marvel, with Brie Larson playing a former U.S. Air Force pilot turned intergalactic superhero with no memories of her life on Earth. Between Oscar-winner Larson's commanding performance and the movie's competent superhero origin storytelling with girl power enthusiasm, Captain Marvel delighted audiences enough, with a 79% critics' score on Rotten Tomatoes. Unfortunately, the movie was the subject of "review bombing," with many audiences rating the movie negatively even without seeing it. (The controversy prompted Rotten Tomatoes to implement a verification system to ensure that audience reviewers actually see the movie before rating it.) After all these years, Captain Marvel still only has a 49% audience score on the platform.

22. War of the Worlds (2005)

War of the Worlds

(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

Although H.G. Wells' classic sci-fi novel War of the Worlds has been adapted to the screen many times before, Steven Spielberg's version from 2005 remains singularly fantastic. It's tense and violent but stays propelled by its focused story about family and reconciliation. Tom Cruise stars as an estranged father who must reunite his kids with their mother during an alien invasion. Critics were taken by Spielberg's vision, with 75% of critics singing its praises on Rotten Tomatoes; it has since earned more retrospective praise, including recognition as one of the best movies of the 2000s by French magazine Cahiers du Cinéma in 2010. On the other hand, audiences were anything but abducted, with only a 42% audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

21. It Comes At Night (2017)

It Comes at Night

(Image credit: A24)

In this minimalist psychological apocalyptic horror by filmmaker Trey Edward Shults, a family secludes themselves in a forest as civilization collapses from a contagious disease. Their peace is disrupted when another family seeks shelter, causing tensions about trust and community and how quickly such ideas can fall apart due to fear and paranoia. Critics were floored by It Comes at Night upon release, with 88% of critics rating it positively on Rotten Tomatoes. Audiences were less enthralled by the movie's ambiguity, however, with only a 44% audience score.

20. Eileen (2023)


(Image credit: NEON)

From director William Oldroyd, Eileen adapts Ottessa Moshfegh's 2015 novel, about an aloof woman named Eileen (Thomasin McKenzie) who becomes captivated by the glamorous Dr. Rebecca St. John (Anne Hathaway), until Eileen discovers a dark secret. Critics praised Eileen as an engaging psychological thriller about obsession with the atmosphere of a handsome old school noir, as well as serving as a showcase of both McKenzie and Hataway. Although critics rated Eileen positively with an 83% score on Rotten Tomatoes, audiences were clearly left wanting more, with only 53% of them rating it favorably. 

19. Under the Skin (2013)

Under the Skin

(Image credit: A24)

A year after Scarlett Johansson starred in The Avengers, she led Jonathan Glazer's elusive low budget sci-fi thriller Under the Skin, playing a beautiful space alien who preys on men in working-class Glasgow. Although Glazer's movie was a box office bomb, critics heaped praise on the movie, both for Glazer's mystifying vision and Johansson's hypnotic performance; in 2016, it was ranked one of the greatest movies of the 21st century by BBC. On Rotten Tomatoes, the movie maintains a score of 84% with critics, but just 55% with audience reviewers. 

18. Ad Astra (2019)

Ad Astra

(Image credit: 20th Century Studios)

From James Gray, Ad Astra stars a locked-in Brad Pitt as an astronaut who blasts off to space in search of his father, himself a space legend lost in his quest for intelligent life among the stars. Following in the tradition of emotional sci-fi epics like 2001: A Space Odyssey, Solaris, and Interstellar, Ad Astra bedazzled critics who fell in love with its awe-inspiring visuals and realistic depiction of near-future space travel. Audiences, however, were left floating in zero gravity. On Rotten Tomatoes, Ad Astra is supported by 83% of surveyed critics, but only 40% of audience reviewers.

17. On the Rocks (2020)

On the Rocks

(Image credit: Apple)

While critics might agree that On the Rocks doesn't match up to previous movies by director Sofia Coppola - Lost in Translation casts a seriously long shadow - the movie still had critics enchanted when it hit Apple TV+ in the fall of 2020. Rashida Jones and Bill Murray play a daughter and her father respectively, who harbor suspicions of infidelity by the daughter's husband (played by Marlon Wayans). On Rotten Tomatoes, On the Rocks was enjoyed by 87% of critics surveyed, but only 51% of audiences who saw it.

16. The Beguiled (2017)

The Beguiled

(Image credit: Focus Features)

In 2017, Sofia Coppola directed the second-ever film version of Thomas P. Cullinan's 1966 novel. Colin Farrell plays an injured Union soldier and deserter of the Civil War who takes refuge at a female boarding school in Virginia, his presence disrupting the delicate balance of the young girls' livelihoods. Also starring Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, and Elle Fanning, the movie, ahem, beguiled most critics, with 78% of 330 reviews rating it positively on Rotten Tomatoes. Audiences, meanwhile, were less than charmed; just 48% of audiences gave it a positive review.

15. Colossal (2016)


(Image credit: NEON)

You'd think audiences would be sold on Anne Hatahway psychically controlling a giant monster. But that wasn't the case with Nacho Vigalondo's black dramedy Colossal. Hathaway plays an alcoholic, unemployed writer who moves back home and works at a local pub run by an old friend (Jason Sudeikis). Soon, Hathaway finds she has a psychic connection to a Godzilla-like creature terrorizing South Korea. While 81% of critics on Rotten Tomatoes were compelled by Vigalondo's blend of kaiju sci-fi with a realistic portrait of millennial malaise, audiences weren't exactly running in the streets, with a less imposing 58% audience score.

14. Sleight (2016)


(Image credit: Blumhouse)

In this micro-budget thriller from first-time director J. D. Dillard, a troubled teenager and street magician (Jacob Latimore) uses his magic skills to rescue his younger sister after she's kidnapped by his drug dealing crime boss. While critics were mostly impressed by Dillard's trickery behind the camera, audiences weren't as much. On Rotten Tomatoes, Sleight has won over 80% of 44 critics, but only 52% of all audiences who published a review. "The seams still show at times - this is obviously a low-budget movie - but for the most part, it's surprising, intriguing, and fun," wrote Vox's Alissa Wilkinson.

13. Kajillionaire (2020)


(Image credit: Focus Features)

In this black comedy crime drama from Miranda July, an emotionally underdeveloped woman (Evan Rachel Wood) languishes in a dead end life shaped by her con artist parents (Richard Jenkins and Debra Winger). Their lives change when a stranger (Gina Rodriguez) gets wrapped up in their business. While most critics praised the movie as another modern classic from an iconoclast director, audiences hardly fell for its schemes. On Rotten Tomatoes, Kajillionaire has the support of 90% of critics, but only 47% of audience reviewers.

12. Sausage Party (2016)

Sausage Party

(Image credit: Sony Pictures Releasing)

A vulgar, smoke-filled spoof of animated family movies (think Pixar and Disney), Sausage Party follows a talking, anthropomorphic sausage (voiced by Seth Rogen) who is horrified to learn what actually happens to food after they're purchased at the grocery store. While critics chowed down on Sausage Party and all it had to offer, giving it a delectable 82% critics' score on Rotten Tomatoes, audiences by comparison found the movie spoiled, rating it just 50% by contrast.

11. Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

(Image credit: Lucasfilm)

One of the most polarizing movies in the entire Star Wars franchise, critics felt the Force by writer/director Rian Johnson, finding his movie The Last Jedi as challenging the holy saga than standing in reverence to it. Audiences, however, apparently wanted a reverent movie and criticized Johnson's decisions as stepping on their childhoods. The Last Jedi ultimately split the Star Wars fandom in twain. While a whopping 91% of critics on Rotten Tomatoes wrote in praise of the movie, 42% of audience members instead chose the Dark Side.

10. Killing Them Softly (2014)

Killing Them Softly

(Image credit: The Weinstein Company)

A political satire of post-recession optimism in the disguise of a hard boiled gangster thriller, Brad Pitt anchors Andrew Dominik's movie as a hitman tasked with looking into a ballsy robbery of a poker game played by crime kingpins. Enjoyed by critics for its dark comic sensibilities, unbridled violence, and pointed criticisms towards American capitalism and the hypocrisies of financial crisis bailouts, Killing Them Softly enjoys a modestly strong 74% critics' score on Rotten Tomatoes. Meanwhile, audiences aren't as invested, with just 44% of audiences on its side.

9. We're All Going to the World's Fair (2021)

We're All Going to the World's Fair

(Image credit: Utopia)

In Jane Shoenbrun's coming-of-age lo-fi horror, a lonely teenage girl takes part in a viral social media challenge, only to end up trapped in an endless nightmare of inexplicable terror. On Rotten Tomatoes, over 90% of surveyed critics wrote in praise of Shoenbrun's debut feature film; the critics' summary calls it "narratively challenging" and "visually haunting." On the other hand, We're All Going to the World's Fair didn't whisk away most audiences, accumulating only a limp 29% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes.

8. Relic (2020)


(Image credit: IFC Midnight)

In Natalie Erika James' gorgeous and haunting psychological horror feature, two generations of women - Kay, played by Emily Mortimer, and her daughter Sam (played by Bella Heathcote) - tend to elderly matriarch Edna (Robyn Nevin), whose dementia seems to be the symptom of a more sinister presence in the home. Acclaimed by critics including Pulitzer-winner Justin Chang, who said on an episode of Fresh Air that James "excels at mining dread and tension" in "the horror of watching a parent slowly deteriorate," audiences weren't as captivated. On Rotten Tomatoes, Relic has a score of 92% with critics, but 51% with audiences.

7. Possessor (2020)


(Image credit: NEON)

In his sophomore feature as a director, Brandon Cronenberg, the son of legendary horror filmmaker David Cronenberg, establishes his own vision and artistry in a terrifying science fiction story about an assassin fighting to reclaim her identity as she loses control of her body to a malignant host. Provocative and grimey in equal measure, critics were wowed over Cronenberg's movie, with 94% of critics reviewing it positively on Rotten Tomatoes. But audiences couldn't latch onto Possessor as well, with an audience score of just 59%.

6. Shadow in the Cloud (2020)

Shadow in the Cloud

(Image credit: Vertical Entertainment)

From director Roseanne Liang, Shadow in the Cloud is a period action-horror set in the skies of World War II. Chloë Grace Moretz stars as a Royal Air Force officer Maude Garrett tasked with transporting a top secret package aboard an American B-17 bomber, manned by an Allied crew. During their flight, strange things begin happening, and it all stems from what Maude brought along with her. A striking film that makes the most of both a charismatic Moretz and its limited settings, Shadow in the Cloud impressed quite a few critics but not as many audience members. On Rotten Tomatoes, Shadow in the Cloud keeps a score of 77% with critics and 32% with audiences.

5. Da 5 Bloods (2020)

Da 5 Bloods

(Image credit: Netflix)

One of the last movies starring the late Chadwick Boseman, Spike Lee's gripping Vietnam movie Da 5 Bloods is all about generational trauma and unfinished obligations. Four aging Black Vietnam War veterans return to the jungles of Nam in search of the remains of their fallen squad leader (Boseman) as well as treasure they found and left buried behind. With a cast that includes Delroy Lindo, Clarke Peters, Norm Lewis, Isaiah Whitlock Jr., Jonathan Majors, and Jean Reno, Da 5 Bloods is a politically charged war drama imbued with personal intimacy, not to mention a commanding Chadwick Boseman in one of his finest performances of his woefully short career. Da 5 Bloods drips with a 92% critics' score on Rotten Tomatoes, but somehow only 53% with audiences.

4. Don Jon (2013)

Don Jon

(Image credit: Relativity Media)

At the height of his Hollywood stardom, Joseph Gordon-Levitt put on the most hilarious Italian-American accent you've ever heard in his first feature as a writer and director. In Don Jon, released in 2013, Gordon-Levitt plays a New Jersey bachelor whose life revolves around, in his precise words, "My body, my pad, my ride, my family, my church, my boys, my girls, and my porn." But Jon's life gets disrupted when he meets both drop-dead beautiful Barbara (played by Scarlett Johansson) and middle-aged Esther (Julianne Moore). Although Don Jon has been mostly forgotten and didn't kickstart Gordon-Levitt's directing career (despite praise by critics that it was well-made), Don Jon still garnered an 80% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. But audiences were less enamored by Gordon-Levitt's antics as an accented playboy, with only 58% of audiences rating it positively on the platform.

3. Support the Girls (2018)

Support the Girls

(Image credit: Magnolia Pictures)

Inside the Hooters-like sports bar Double Whammies, nurturing general manager Lisa (Regina Hall) tries to keep her staff and herself together during one especially difficult day. Written and directed by mumblecore auteur Andrew Bujalski, Support the Girls is a sentimental but not saccharine celebration of sisterhood that had critics ordering for more. On Rotten Tomatoes, 91% of 156 reviewers rated Support the Girls positively, but only 59% of audiences did the same. In David Fear's review for Rolling Stone, he wrote: "You could not ask for a better image of our country right now. You could not ask for a better American film to showcase it." Former U.S. President Barack Obama apparently agreed, and included the movie in his yearly favorite pieces of media in 2018.

2. The Green Knight (2021)

The Green Knight

(Image credit: A24)

In David Lowery's magnificent medieval fantasy, the 14th century poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight comes to life with Dev Patel in the lead role. Patel plays Sir Gawain, the nephew of King Arthur, who takes up a strange challenge by the even stranger Green Knight (Ralph Ineson). A sort of anti-Lord of the Rings, The Green Knight dazzled critics with its mesmerizing and hallucinatory imagining of sword-and-sorcery fantasy. On Rotten Tomatoes, 89% of critics were enchanted by The Green Knight. Meanwhile, only 50% of audience members felt the same way.

1. Uncut Gems (2019)

Uncut Gems

(Image credit: A24)

In what is easily one of Adam Sandler's all-time greatest performances of his career, the Safdie Brothers' anxiety-inducing high-wire thriller Uncut Gems follows a reckless gambling addict and Manhattan jeweler (Sandler) who gets in too deep too quickly with the wrong people. An immersive dive into the seedy parts of post-recession New York where the American dream comes and goes with just a finger snap - or in this movie's case, the net swishes of professional basketball - Uncut Gems won over many critics who raved over it as an instant classic. But while 91% of critics rated Uncut Gems positively on Rotten Tomatoes, only 52% of audiences did too, with most audiences befuddled by such a dark turn from a laugh riot like Sandler.

Eric Francisco

Eric Francisco is a freelance entertainment journalist and graduate of Rutgers University. If a movie or TV show has superheroes, spaceships, kung fu, or John Cena, he's your guy to make sense of it. A former senior writer at Inverse, his byline has also appeared at Vulture, The Daily Beast, Observer, and The Mary Sue. You can find him screaming at Devils hockey games or dodging enemy fire in Call of Duty: Warzone.