Hollywood’s 15 Biggest Blunders of 2015

By  · Published on December 29th, 2015

Warner Bros.

Hollywood made a lot of mistakes this year, as they’re known to do. Here are the 15 worst cases, that had us wondering what the heck they were thinking:

Snubbing Ava DuVernay

We named Selma as our pick for Movie of the Year and its director, Ava DuVernay, was our choice for Filmmaker of the Year, so it burned that she wasn’t nominated for an Oscar. She definitely deserved it more than at least two of the men filling up the Best Director category.

Making a Mog the Love Interest of Jupiter Ascending

We’re all for interspecies romance, but most of the world is not. So, when Channing Tatum showed up in the latest from the Wachowskis as a dog-man on rocket skates wooing Earth human Mila Kunis, we had to wonder who at Warner Bros. thought it a good idea. In all fairness, it may have been hard to single out among the busy mess of things they shouldn’t have allowed out of the gate with Jupiter Ascending.

Casting Die Antwoord in Chappie

The idea of Die Antwoord starring in a movie, especially a Neill Blomkamp movie, has seemed like a cool idea for a while. At least since being foreshadowed in the group’s music video for “Baby’s On Fire.” Unfortunately, after the filmmaker not only cast Ninja and ¥o-landi Vi$$er as themselves and allowed for their stage personas to sort of dictate the tone of his latest, Chappie, everything went downhill. Nobody on set liked working with them, and worse, nobody in the audience liked watching them.

Get Hard

Both Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart are better than a comedy so filled with racial and homophobic cliches. We as a species are better than a comedy so filled with racial and homophobic cliches.

Manufacturing Sexist Toys Based on Avengers: Age of Ultron and Star Wars: The Force Awakens

It’s one thing to sell a package of action figures and leave out the main female character(s). It’s another to sell toys based on specific scenes or parts of a movie prominently featuring those female characters and replace them with male characters or leave them out, as in the Avengers: Age of Ultron Cycle Blast Quinjet and the Star Wars: The Force Awakens NERF Millennium Falcon. We know this isn’t something done by anyone in Hollywood necessarily, but they should be able to have control against sexist merchandising.

Wasting the Talent of Judy Greer

If you wanted to see Judy Greer at her hilarious best this year, you could have just watched the FX series Married (sadly you didn’t and now it’s canceled). You could also have seen her go all out in the feature indie comedy Addicted to Fresno. But Greer’s fans were still disappointed over and over last summer to find the funny actress in nothing roles in Tomorrowland, Jurassic World and Ant-Man. Hollywood owes her a lead part in a blockbuster now. And not just as a performance-capture ape.

Casting Emma Stone as an Asian American in Aloha

Whitewashing will continue to happen at least through next year (ahem, Gods of Egypt), but hopefully Hollywood is beginning to learn its lesson from flops like Cameron Crowe’s Aloha, the majority of its attention having gone to its poor representation of the racial makeup of Hawaii and, worse, its casting of a white actress as a character with partial Chinese ancestry. Crowe later apologized, which was the least he could do.

Ruining a Perfectly Good Short Film With Pixels

A lot of filmmakers are trying to get their start these days by making a standout short film, which they can use as a calling card. Many of them wish to turn those shorts into features, though not like we saw happen last summer with Pixels. The good thing is that Patrick Jean’s original is so dissimilar from what Chris Columbus did with his version that we can all pretend they’re not related and continue to champion the former.

Trying to Fix Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four

There are few movies so clearly altered from their original direction than the Fantastic Four reboot. Fox was unhappy with the way Josh Trank was going with his take on the Marvel superheroes, and there were rewrites done during production and reshoots after to “fix” it. We can imagine it would have been better left alone. There’s no way that what Trank was doing was worse than the inconsistent mess that wound up on screen, or at least there is no way it would have been as much of a box office failure in that other incarnation.

Casting Owen Wilson and Lake Bell as Leads in a Serious Action Thriller

When you see Owen Wilson and Lake Bell on a poster, you assume or maybe at least want for it to be a comedy. They would probably be a good rom-com pair. Even one or the other with a non-comedic co-lead would have made more sense for the no-nonsense action thriller No Escape, but together they’re all wrong for a movie that’s essentially a nightmare for any featured family from an episode of House Hunters International.

Casting Rooney Mara as Tiger Lily in

More whitewash casting here, this time with Rooney Mara in the role of Tiger Lily for a Peter Pan prequel. Technically, the character doesn’t have to be represented as Native American in appearance the way she and her tribe are in Disney’s animated version. However, J.M. Barrie did mean for the Picaninny Tribe to be aligned with the various “others” and aboriginal peoples of the world. Not a white hipster-looking girl.

Changing anything at all for the Jem and the Holograms movie

This is not our Jem and the Holograms, fans cried when the trailer for the movie premiered. All the changes from the nostalgically cherished cartoon to the big screen, from adding in a robot to excising the whole concept of the holographic band, were enough to keep those fans away, leading to one of the least successful releases ever of this kind – that is, based on a pre-existing property. It was a truly outrage-inducing mistake.

Repeating the Mistake of Star Trek Into Darkness with SPECTRE

Fool us once… After the blunder a couple years ago where J.J. Abrams tried to hide the fact that the villain in Star Trek Into Darkness was actually the iconic Khan – yet everybody saw the reveal coming – nobody at Sony should have allowed for a similar mystery box to remain shut with the latest James Bond movie. Again, everybody saw through the deception, knowing Christoph Walt’z “Franz Oberhauser” was actually the iconic Blofeld. Nothing in the movie required the secret or its reveal, so it was just a backfiring attempt to be crafty or something.

Wasting the Talents of Iko Uwais, Yayan Ruhian and Cecep Arif Rahman in Star Wars: The Force Awakens

When fans of The Raid see the trio of Indonesian martial arts icons on screen in the new Star Wars movie, they expect to see them show off their skills. Technically viewers do get treated to the talents of Cecep Arif Rahman, who served as a fight choreographer for the sequel, but for the other two it’s just a showcase of their faces, really. Surely there could have been time to see a move or two from each of the guys while they were being chased by a CG monster.

Half-Assing the Hateful Eight 70mm Roadshow Attraction

Never mind the problems with the projection being reported nationwide since the first press screenings and through this week’s release, though The Weinstein Company should have done more to ensure consistent, quality exhibition of Quentin Tarantino’s new movie. The special old-fashioned roadshow edition of The Hateful Eight wasn’t ever going to be a big mainstream phenomenon but it still should have been hyped more than it was. The ball was actually rolling early and then stalled when the theater list wasn’t released as scheduled. And now, because the media loves to focus on the negative (not us, though… umm), it’s looking like more of a disaster than it probably is, and that’s therefore still a disappointment for what could have been a major movie event.

Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.