From first loves to tales from the high-school halls, there’s something magical about teen movies. Even if you aren’t a teenager, these movies remind you of your earlier years, or they might inspire you to reach out and reconnect with old friends (and loves). Whichever way you look at it, it’s a genre of cinema that’ll never go away – even if the different generations of teenagers behave differently.
Hollywood understands the potential of this genre and spends millions of dollars producing new flicks that’ll pull audiences into the theater seats. Considering how these types of stories don’t always need special effects or massive set pieces, they’re relatively cheap productions to put together with the ability to reap huge rewards.
That said, teen movies aren’t guaranteed home-run hits all the time. You could have a brilliant script, great cast, and terrific director, but the film could still flop at the box office. Sometimes, the mood of the moviegoers shifts with the wind and you can never quite predict how they’ll react to a new picture.
So, let’s pull up our cargo pants and put on a Spice Girls album as we take a look back at the 10 Teen Movies That Completely Flopped (And 10 That Became Massive Hits).
20 Massive Hit: American Pie (1999)
No one believed a raunchy teen comedy written by Adam Herz and directed by newcomers Paul and Chris Weitz would amount to much. Despite its $11 million budget, most people presumed American Pie would find a more comfortable home on DVD than the big screen. What it did, though, was become a $235.5 million mega-hit and billion-dollar franchise spawning off seven sequels.
Seann William Scott, who played Stifler, told Variety he had a good feeling about it. “Dumb and Dumber had come out a while before that, Something About Mary was coming out. The kind of grossed-out comedy was just happening and I had a good feeling. I just didn’t know if I was going to be going back to Home Depot or getting another job.”
19 Flop: Dirty Deeds (2005)
At the time of Dirty Deeds‘ release in 2005, Milo Ventimiglia was on the cusp of becoming a breakout star. He’d appeared in Gilmore Girls, Wes Craven’s Cursed, and was cast in Heroes and Rocky Balboa. As such, many people expected Dirty Deeds to become the next American Pie franchise and to be the film that cemented Ventimiglia’s place among Hollywood’s next A-listers.
Sadly, the movie bombed at the box office, only making $146,490 (and no, we didn’t forget an extra zero). The reviews were just as savage, calling it a clichéd and unfunny affair that tried to be a little bit of everything and failed miserably. Fortunately, Ventimiglia’s career survived and he went on to bigger and better things.
18 Massive Hit: Mean Girls (2004)
While Mean Girls made $129 million from a $17 million budget, its real mark of success is its cult following and legacy. From the internet memes to the Gretchen Wieners quotes, it’s a movie that stood the test of time and still holds up nearly 15 years after its release.
What’s even more fascinating is how Mean Girls became a Broadway musical, and was nominated for 12 Tony Awards. The film also spawned an inferior sequel, Mean Girls 2, in 2011; however, none of the original cast members – bar Tim Meadows – returned for it. Unfortunately, the sequel failed to capture the underlying message or sharp wit of the original movie and was connected only by name.
17 Flop: Loser (2000)
Jason Biggs was no newcomer when he appeared as Jim Levenstein in American Pie, but it was that movie that turned him into an overnight star. Seeing how favorably he was received, he was cast in another teen comedy called Loser, where he portrayed a similar character to Jim alongside his American Pie co-star Mena Suvari.
Loser had almost double the budget of American Pie at $20 million. The bad reviews and largely boring plot, however, ensured it only made $18.4 million at the box office. Yet again, Loser proved to Hollywood that you can cast the same actors from another movie in a new production, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll replicate the success.
16 Massive Hit: The Breakfast Club (1985)
When we talk about legendary teen movies, John Hughes’ The Breakfast Club is the granddaddy of them all. It’s a film that continues to inspire filmmakers around the world and it’s still considered one of the best high-school flicks of all time by numerous critics. In addition, it certainly didn’t harm anyone when it made $51.5 million from a measly $1 million budget.
Speaking about why The Breakfast Club became such a classic and revered movie, Ally Sheedy, who portrayed Allison Reynolds, said to Variety: “There hadn’t been a movie like it before. It’s a very particular movie that hasn’t been repeated. I don’t know if you could get away with doing that movie today.”
15 Flop: EuroTrip (2004)
Released in 2004, EuroTrip was meant to be the perfect, cozy merger between American Pie and Road Trip. It was bawdy and bursting with more libido than a 14-year-old boy. Despite the legacy of the infamous song “Scotty Doesn’t Know” and the Matt Damon cameo, EuroTrip stumbled to $20.8 million box-office return from a budget of $20 million.
While it’s gained something of a cult status since its release, EuroTrip‘s box-office failings were largely due to the vulgar nature of the content. Most of the criticism revolved around the boundaries of decency that the movie pushed, as well as the objectification of its female characters. It was a different time and it’s hard to see a movie like EuroTrip being released today.
14 Massive Hit: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)
Once again, another John Hughes movie is on this list. If you were unaware of it already, Hughes was the master of teen comedies and wrote the blueprint for his successors. With 1986’s Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Hughes garnered another monster hit, as the movie raked in $70.1 million from a budget of $5.8 million.
The film’s star, Matthew Broderick, admitted he wasn’t sure if the part was right for him, but his agent and manager convinced him to take it. “They were absolutely right. I probably have a few movies that I wish I hadn’t been in, but Ferris was a good one,” Broderick said in an interview for the book Powerhouse: The Untold Story of Hollywood’s Creative Artists Agency (via Chicago Tribune).
13 Flop: Sleepover (2004)
On paper, 2004’s Sleepover had it all. It featured the who’s who of young talent, such as Alexa Vega, Sara Paxton, and Scout Taylor-Compton, as well as seasoned comedians like Jane Lynch, Jeff Garlin, and Steve Carell. The best part for the studio, though? It only cost $10 million to produce.
You’d expect Sleepover to make some real dough, but it only brought in a lackluster $10. 1 million at the box office. Additionally, it holds a 15% critical approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and the critics made no secret that they hated the movie. In spite of the financial failings, it’s still a fun flick and the novelization, written by Suzanne Weyn, is a must-read for fans of the film.
12 Massive Hit: Teen Wolf (1985)
No, this isn’t about the 2011 Teen Wolf series starring Tyler Posey. We’re talking about the O.G. 1985 movie, which was directed by the late Rod Daniel, written by Jeph Loeb and Matthew Weisman, and starred Michael J. Fox as Scott Howard. Costing only $1.2 million to produce, Teen Wolf chomped its way through the box office, earning an insatiable $80 million.
It all seemed to come together for this movie, as Fox’s popularity soared during production. While shooting the movie, NBC moved Family Ties, which starred Fox, to the post-Cosby Show slot. Needless to say, this shift in timeslot catapulted Fox into the public sphere and boosted the interest and hype for Teen Wolf as well.
11 Flop: Hackers (1995)
Ah, 1995’s Hackers – a movie that scared every parent into banning the internet in their home. It’s funny in retrospect to see how a picture such as this one caused a lot of panic due to people not understanding an emerging technology. Starring Jonny Lee Miller and Angelina Jolie, Hackers is a cult classic that still finds regular rotation on movie channels.
While the movie cost $20 million to make, it only grossed $7.5 million at the domestic box office. It’s a disappointing number, especially considering the subject matter and how it acted as a tribute to the godfather of cyberpunk, William Gibson. Maybe the movie was just too ahead of its time when it was first released.
10 Massive Hit: Cruel Intentions (1999)
Based on Pierre Choderlos de Laclos’s 1782 novel, Les Liaisons dangereuses, Cruel Intentions was set in modern-day New York and not 18th century France. Interestingly, it started off as an independent movie before being snapped up by Columbia Pictures before its release. The studio must still be rubbing its hands at this smart decision, since it made $75.9 million from a small budget of $10.5 million.
While its risqué content and middling reviews put off a few people and gained some negative press, Cruel Intentions has become one of the quintessential romantic dramas of the ’90s. It also featured a stellar cast, boasting names such as Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ryan Phillippe, Reese Witherspoon, Selma Blair, and Joshua Jackson.
9 Flop: LOL (2012)
Make no mistake: Miley Cyrus was a superstar in the ’00s. Thanks to her Hannah Montana success, everything she touched turned to gold. However, 2012’s LOL was a step too far and proof that her popularity was waning by that point. Thinking it could replicate the box-office success of 2010’s The Last Song, the producers dumped $11 million into this coming-of-age tale of the 2008 movie.
LOL only managed to bring in $10.4 million, despite featuring a supporting cast of well-known actors such as Douglas Booth, Demi Moore, Thomas Jane, and Ashley Greene. It was also around this time that Cyrus decided to shed her child star image and started to steal headlines with her wild and erratic behavior.
8 Massive Hit: Easy A (2010)
Think back to 2010. Emma Stone was still on her meteoric rise to fame and superstardom, winning our hearts with every performance. In the Wil Gluck-directed Easy A, she demonstrated why she’s a force to be reckoned with as she ripped up the box office. The movie made an outstanding $75 million from a measly $8 million budget.
It’s as clear as day that Easy A paid tribute to John Hughes films, and Stone wasn’t shy of admitting it to Vancouver Sun. “The brilliance of John Hughes was so exciting. It was so exciting to pay homage here to John Hughes, because he told his stories in the most empathetic way. That’s why they still resonate,” she said.
7 Flop: The Perfect Score (2004)
It’s unfathomable to think that a movie starring Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson might’ve tanked at some point. Heck, look at The Avengers movies for goodness’ sake; they’re some of the highest-grossing movies of all time with over a billion dollars at the box office. Yet, it happened in 2004, when The Perfect Score failed to make the grade with only $10.9 million at the domestic box office.
Inspired by The Breakfast Club and Dazed and Confused, the movie had a solid young cast and humorous heist storyline. Sadly, The Perfect Score was almost universally panned and criticized for every aspect. Well, at least most of the cast members went on to bigger and better things in the future.
6 Massive Hit: Not Another Teen Movie (2001)
Are you curious about which movie catapulted Chris Evans into a household name? It wasn’t some big action film, but rather Joel Gallen’s 2001 parody movie Not Another Teen Movie. Like Scary Movie, this movie poked fun at all the clichés and tired tropes of the genre. In it, Evans portrayed the talented football player Jake Wyler who fell in love with Chyler Leigh’s Janey Briggs, aka “The Pretty Ugly Girl.”
Not Another Teen Movie cost $15 million and brought in $66.5 million at the box office. The best part is that it didn’t result in another sequel, but it did provide us with the setting for the music video of Marilyn Manson’s cover of Soft Cell’s “Tainted Love”.
5 Flop: Josie And The Pussycats (2001)
To be frank, it still doesn’t make sense why Josie and the Pussycats failed at the box office. The 2001 movie starred Rachael Leigh Cook, Tara Reid, and Rosario Dawson, and it was hilarious. Not only was it a fun story to watch unfold, but it also took potshots at consumer culture and product placements.
Still, there’s no escaping the fact that it cost $39 million to produce this Archie Comics-inspired picture and it only managed to make $14.9 million at the box office. Perhaps it was a case of it being before its time, as we’ve seen Riverdale (which features a version of the fictional group) and The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina achieve mainstream success in recent times.
4 Massive Hit: She’s All That (1999)
What most people fail to realize is how big of a hit She’s All That actually was. In 1999, the movie cost $10 million to make and it brought in $103.2 million at the box office. No one had expected that sort of return on investment from it.
For a teen romantic comedy, She’s All That possessed a tight and well-written narrative. Part of this is due to M. Night Shyamalan, who did rewrites of R. Lee Fleming Jr.’s original script. “Night’s big thing was [also], ‘How do we pay off the bet? We can’t just say there was a bet and then not show off the bet.’ So there were months of discussion about that,” director Robert Iscove told Cosmopolitan.
3 Flop: Down To You (2000)
Seeing the financial success of She’s All That and Freddie Prinze Jr.’s rise to stardom, every studio wanted him as the lead for their next teen romcom production. Miramax Films’ Down to You was about losing your first love and rediscovering it, and starred Prinze and Julia Stiles. While it wasn’t as lighthearted as She’s All That, it still featured similar nuances and beats.
Unfortunately, it only grossed $24.4 million at the box office from a budget of $35 million. Naturally, no one was pleased, especially since it was badly received by critics as well. One of Down to You‘s biggest criticisms was that it was a bland and by-the-numbers affair which provided nothing new to the genre.
2 Massive Hit: 10 Things I Hate About You (1999)
Let’s forget about 10 Things I Hate About You‘s financial success for a second (it made $53.5 million from a $16 million investment). This production’s biggest achievement is how it went toe-to-toe with The Matrix on opening weekend and defied what a teen romcom is expected to be. Furthermore, it launched the careers of Julia Stiles and the late Heath Ledger.
Ten years after the movie’s release, a TV series based on 10 Things I Hate About You was broadcast on ABC. While it never garnered the same accolade or praise as the movie, it was a terrific adaptation as fans felt it did justice to the original and provided a new spin on things.
1 Flop: Whatever It Takes (2000)
While most teen movies are relatively cheap affairs compared to other genres, Whatever It Takes was an expensive exercise at $32 million. Considering it features the talents of Shane West, James Franco, Jodi Lyn O’Keefe, Marla Sokoloff, Aaron Paul, and Colin Hanks, the bulk of the budget must’ve gone to the actors’ salaries alone.
Nonetheless, this film didn’t just flop by a few dollars; it experienced a total meltdown at the box office by only bringing in $9 million worldwide. No one seemed to care about this flick and the critics hated it as well. It currently holds a 16% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. We’re sure this is one movie that everyone involved wishes they could forget.
Are there any other teen movies that flopped or became massive hits? Let us know in the comments section!