uucp's theory of opening weekend gross compared to total gross is good, but the limit of $12 million opening gross leaves out many really bad movies which I think should rightfully deserve a place in this list.
Let's take, for example, a movie that is notoriously bad: Glitter (2001), starring Mariah Carey. Now, we can all agree that it's a really, really bad movie, right?
According to Box Office Mojo, it got $2,4 million in the opening weekend, and the total gross of $4,3 million. So, the opening gross/total gross ratio would be 55.81, which would make it go right in the top of uucp's list if it wasn't for the $12 million limit.
IMO the most reliable source of a movie's popularity is The Internet Movie Database (IMDb). The ratings are given by people all over the world, of different age and cultural backgrounds. The users must be registered in order to give a rating to a movie, and this eliminates the chance of someone voting the same movie over and over again. However, there are always some people who feel the need of giving a movie 10, no matter who bad it is. Or 1, even if the movie was really good.
Let's take an example again: Glitter (2001), starring Mariah Carey. Now, at this point, with the opening gross/total gross ratio of 55.81, we can all agree that it's a really, really bad movie, right?
Right. Glitter's IMDb rating is 2.3 (on a scale of 1 to 10), which is the average of votes of 9414 users. 5.9% of these users gave it a rating of 10, but the percentage of users who gave it a rating of 1 is a whopping 55%! I think that if more than half considers it that bad, it must be really, really bad.
Now, let's make some lists. Here are the ten most disliked films of the last fifteen years according to uucp, and their IMDb ratings:
Movie Title: Year: IMDb Number of
rating: votes in IMDb:
Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 2000 4.3 4158
Queen of the Damned 2002 4.8 3580
Crossroads 2002 3.1 4440
Resident Evil 2002 6.4 9165
Pokémon the Movie 2000 2000 3.9 419
The One 2001 5.4 4299
Alien 3 1992 5.9 12934
Random Hearts 1999 4.8 4087
Jeepers Creepers 2001 5.4 5699
I Still Know What You Did.. 1998 4.0 6393
As you can see, almost all of these movies have gotten a mediocre rating in IMDb. Actually, only Crossroads has made it into the IMDb bottom 100 list, which lists the worst 100 movies of all time. Bear in mind though that some people use the scale differently than others, usually the higher ratings are used more even if the movie isn't really that good. Maybe it's the lack of seeing good films and thus not being able to compare a mediocre movie to a really good one. Or maybe most people just like all kinds of movies and don't like criticizing them. Anyway, in my experience, if the movie is rated 7 or higher it's usually worth watching, especially if you like the subject. And if it's worse than 6 it's most likely not worth watching, unless the subject really interests you. There are exceptions of course.
Now, to remain on the subject which is The Least Popular Movies of the Last Fifteen Years and not the voting behaviour of IMDb users, let's view another list.
The ten most disliked films of the last fifteen years (according to IMDb ratings*):
Movie Title: Year: IMDb Number of
rating: votes in IMDb:
Backyard Dogs 2000 1.5 816
Space Mutiny 1988 1.6 957
Future War 1995 1.7 734
Troll 2 1990 1.7 963
Santa with Muscles 1996 1.8 1663
Werewolf 1996 2.0 647
Police Academy: Mission to Moscow 1994 2.1 3307
Glitter 2001 2.2 2629
Kazaam 1996 2.3 1712
Battlefield Earth: 2000 2.3 9422
A Saga of the Year 3000
These movies are completely different than in the first list, mainly because none of them made $12 million in their opening weekend. Battlefield Earth was close though, with a gross of $11,5 in the first weekend, and the total of $21,5 million. None of the others came even close to collecting that kind of money. Of course Battlefield Earth's marketing costs were estimated to be $30 million so the aggressive marketing probably got most of the people to see it in the first weekend. Still, it didn't even make enough money to cover the marketing costs, let along its production budget of $73 million.
However, I think that the box office results don't have that much significance when considering the worst movies of all time or the last fifteen years. The IMDb ranking gives a pretty good idea of which are the worst ones, although there are a lot of things that may affect the votes. If a movie is aggressively marketed, like Battlefield Earth, and you have large expectations which turn to utter disappointment when watching the movie, it probably makes you hate it even more than if you would have seen it without never hearing about it before. The previous score might also affect your rating; if you are about to give a movie a rating of 5 and others have rated it 2, you might think that maybe it doesn't deserve 5 after all and decide to lower your rating. IMDb also draws certain kind of people (computer literate, english speaking, movie buffs). Another effect is that reviews may be polarized, e.g. people are only willing to vote / comment on really good or really bad movies.
The IMDb ratings are not accurate, but they still give a good perspective of what the global appreciation of a movie is, since the voters are from all over the world and the gross income figures used here and in uucp's writeup are only from US.
All the box office figures are from US only.
*only movies with 625 or more votes are considered
Thank you everyone for your views on internet polls and IMDb ratings.
IMDb - http://www.imdb.com
Box Office Mojo - http://www.boxofficemojo.com