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Image: Ryan Reynolds in "The Green Lantern"
Warner Bros.
Ryan Reynolds as Hal Jordan in Warner Bros. Pictures' action adventure "Green Lantern."
TODAY contributor
updated 8/25/2011 2:47:59 PM ET 2011-08-25T18:47:59

Hollywood got plenty of good news this summer, with everything from "Horrible Bosses" to "The Help" to "The Hangover 2" making loads of cash. But for every hit, there was a thundering flop. Here are five of the summer's biggest turkeys, and the reasons they didn’t measure up.

'Cowboys & Aliens' had humorless stars
“Cowboys & Aliens” is a sci-fi-action-western starring Indiana Jones and James Bond: What could possibly go wrong? Lots, apparently. Despite the star power of Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig, this wannabe blockbuster made less than $100 million in its first four weeks. For a movie that cost $160 million, that’s devastating news.

Slideshow: Harrison Ford, onscreen hero (on this page)

Brandon Gray, creator and president of BoxOfficeMojo.com, says the movie may have been doomed from the start. “For any movie, the premise is the foundation, and ‘Cowboys & Aliens’ was conceptually challenged,” he says. “I know it’s based on some comic book, but it feels like a classic case of Hollywood executives putting a lot of terms on a board and throwing darts at it and then combining whatever they land on.”

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Plus, Ford and Craig are not a dynamic duo. “Why did they make this sort of wacky, oddball film with the two most humorless leading men in Hollywood?” wonders Guy Lodge, a film critic for InContention.com. “They both seemed to be taking it so seriously, and that was apparent even from the marketing and the trailers. If it had had one Harrison Ford type and then a comic star to play off him — the Tommy Lee Jones/Will Smith dynamic [from ‘Men in Black’] — then that might have looked more appealing.”

Story: Cut! Cut! Movies so bad, you had to leave

'Cars 2' stalled out
Pixar’s latest animated movie made over $185 million, but compared to the studio’s other films, it was a letdown. "Toy Story 3” and “Up,” for instance, both got sterling reviews and Best Picture nominations, but critics hated “Cars 2.” They complained that the story lacked warmth and charm, and that the movie seemed like a ploy to sell merchandise.

Story: Someone save Bambi's mom! Worst kid films

Audiences didn’t love it either: Despite the hefty box office, Gray notes that “Cars 2” sold fewer tickets than any other Pixar film. “Disappointment isn’t just about how much money a movie makes,” he says.

Slideshow: A mom's look at recent kid flicks (on this page)

Stephanie Duncan, a movie buff from Knoxville, Tenn., took her first grader to see the film. “It was solid, but it was a little too complicated [for him] to follow,” she says. “I think adults would enjoy the references to classic spy movies but that kids really wouldn’t get the jokes. I think Pixar movies usually work when they can relate to their entire audience, both kids and parents.”

It's not easy being 'Green Lantern'
As Lodge says, “This has been the summer of the superhero movie, and at least one of them was doomed to failure.” While people flocked to “Captain America” and “Thor,” they just didn’t care about “Green Lantern,” starring Ryan Reynolds as a pilot who gets superpowers when an alien gives him a magical green ring.

Story: Chat transcript: Worst movies ever

For one thing, the story was a little too weird. “Nothing in the marketing really explained to me what he was,” says Lodge. “I just knew he was a green guy with vague powers. I think they did a very bad marketing job of introducing the character, and they just assumed that people knew. Obviously, people aren’t that invested in the Green Lantern.”

Slideshow: Best and worst superhero costumes (on this page)

Gray agrees, adding, “It was treated like an A-list superhero movie when it was really B- or C-list. The costume looks cheesy. It lacked a strong villain. The space-fantasy elements are alienating, no pun intended, and it doesn’t help that you had ‘The Green Hornet’ out in January. At least space out your green superheroes.”

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'Glee: The 3D Concert Movie' hit sour note
The week it opened, the “Glee” movie didn’t even crack the top 10, and it barely recouped its $9 million budget. That’s a major fall for a franchise that has produced a hit TV show and almost a dozen successful albums. But then again, maybe that’s the problem. In retrospect, it makes sense that “Glee” fans wouldn’t pay 3-D prices for songs they’ve already seen on TV or heard on their iPods. “It just seems like the studio’s obvious attempt at getting more of the tween-set money,” says Duncan. Gray sums it up by saying, “The ‘Glee’ franchise is overexposed."

Ryan Reynolds 0-for-2 with 'The Change-Up'
This was another summer stinker for "Green Lantern" star Ryan Reynolds, starring as a playboy who magically switches bodies with an uptight dad (Jason Bateman.) It was marketed as a goofier version of “Wedding Crashers” or “The Hangover,” complete with sex jokes and potty gags, but it barely made half of its $50 million budget.

Slideshow: Ryan Reynolds displays acting range (on this page)

“This was supposed to be the big, light summer comedy,” Gray says. “But it relied too much on R-rated gags. R-rated comedies aren’t necessarily successful because they’re R-rated. It’s because they’re funny and have relatable premises. ‘The Change-Up’ didn’t have that. It didn’t understand what made body-switch comedies [like ‘Big’ and ’13 Going on 30’] successful in the past, and that’s a distinct physical change. Going from Jason Bateman to Ryan Reynolds is not that extreme.”

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Besides, was anybody hungry for another body-switch comedy? Marya Grandy, a movie fan from Chicago, says, “I really like both Ryan Reynolds and Jason Bateman, but I have already seen this movie. It was called ‘Freaky Friday,’ and it left me with no longing for another installment.”

That’s a lesson Hollywood keeps forgetting: Whether it’s a star or a franchise or a plot device, audiences eventually get sick of the same old thing.

What's the worst movie you saw this summer? Discuss with us on Facebook.

Mark Blankenship is on Twitter as @CritCondition

© 2013 NBCNews.com  Reprints

Photos: Harrison Ford

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  1. Chairman of the board

    Harrison Ford cradles the Board of the Governors Award he was presented with at the 26th annual American Society of Cinematographers' Outstanding Achievement Awards, held in Hollywood, Calif. on Feb. 12, 2012. (Angela Weiss / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Golden couple

    Ford and wife Calista Flockhart attend the 69th Golden Globe awards in Beverly Hills, Calif. on Jan. 15, 2012. (Frazer Harrison / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Frequent flyer

    Ford, who is a pilot as well as an actor, attends the Senate General Aviation Caucus meeting in Washington on Oct. 18, 2011. (Paul Morigi / WireImage) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. 'Cowboys & Aliens'

    Ford is still playing a hero, even decades after his start in film. He stars with James Bond star Daniel Craig in 2011's "Cowboys & Aliens." (Universal Studios) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Can't wait!

    Ford accepts the most anticipated movie award for "Cowboy & Aliens" at the Spike TV Guys Choice Awards on Saturday, June 4, 2011, in Culver City, Calif. Looking on are Jon Favreau and Jeremy Renner. Favreau directs the film. (Matt Sayles / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. What's the story, 'Morning Glory'?

    Ford and Rachel McAdams attend the UK premiere of their 2010 film, "Morning Glory," held at The Empire Leicester Square on Jan. 11, 2011, in London. He plays a veteran journalist and she an aspiring producer in the world of morning television. (Dave Hogan / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Wake-up call

    Diane Keaton also stars with Ford in "Morning Glory." (Paramount Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Red-carpet couple

    Ford and wife Calista Flockhart arrive at the premiere of "Extraordinary Measures" at Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, Calif., Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2010. (Danny Moloshok / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. 'Extraordinary Measures'

    In 2010's "Extraordinary Measures," Brendan Fraser, right, plays John Crowley, a biotechnology executive, whose two youngest children were afflicted with Pompe disease. He raises money for research scientist Robert Stonehill (Ford), forming a company to develop a drug to save his children's lives. (CBS Films) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. 'Crossing Over'

    Ford plays an immigration officer in 2009's "Crossing Over," which explores the allure of the American dream, and the reality that immigrants find --- and create -- in 21st century Los Angeles. (The Weinstein Company) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Advocate

    Ford speaks during the second Governors' Global Climate Summit in Los Angeles on Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2009. (Reed Saxon / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Indy returns!

    Ford reprised his role as Indiana Jones in 2008's "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull." Shia LaBeouf played Mutt, Jones' son with "Raiders of the Lost Ark" paramour Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen). (Paramount Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Big kid

    Ford gets slimed during the 21st Annual Kids' Choice Awards in Los Angeles, in 2008. (Matt Sayles / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Pitching in

    Flockhart and Ford join Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa Nov. 2007, to dish up Thanksgiving dinner to hundreds of men, women and children who live in Los Angeles' Skid Row. (Reed Saxon / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Meet the press

    Ford answers question as he arrives at the Rome Film Festival in October 2006. Ford was at the festival to honor Jim Berkus, co-founder and president of the United Talent Agency. (Vincenzo Pinto / AFP-Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Drama king

    Ford promotes his film "Firewall" at the Coliseum Cinema in Barcelona on March 2006. The film tells the story of a bank-security executive (Ford) who must rob his own bank in order to ensure the safety of his kidnapped wife and children. (Lluis Gene / AFP-Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Globe trotters

    "Firewall" co-stars Virginia Madsen and Ford share a laugh backstage before presenting at the 63rd Annual Golden Globe Awards on Jan. 16, 2006. (Kevin Winter / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Jedi mind trick

    Flockhart and Ford pose with storm troopers at the 33rd American Film Institute Life Achievement Awards after-party on June 9, 2005 in Hollywood, Calif. Ford starred as Han Solo in "Star Wars," "The Empire Strikes Back," and "Return of the Jedi." (Vince Bucci / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. True star

    Ford attends a ceremony honoring him with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on May 30, 2003 in Hollywood, Calif. (Vince Bucci / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Ready for action

    Ford films a scene on the set of "Hollywood Homicide," on Sept. 17, 2002 in Beverly Hills, Calif. He co-starred with Josh Hartnett in this film about two moonlighting L.A. cops. (Frazer Harrison / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Real hero

    On July 10, 2001, Ford used his helicopter in a search-and-rescue mission in Jackson, Wy. Ford located 13-year-old Boy Scout Cody Clawson, who had wandered off the trail. Clawson's mom told People magazine, "Cody said the kids asked if he got an autograph and he said, 'No, but I got a hug and a handshake, and that's better.'" (Getty Images / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. Pensive pair

    Ford starred opposite Michelle Pfeiffer in the 2000 film, "What Lies Beneath." The pair played a husband and wife who are haunted by a specter from Ford's past. (Dreamworks) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. Three amigos

    Ford receives the American Film Institute's lifetime achievement award from director George Lucas while director Steven Spielberg looks on in Beverly Hills, Calif., Thursday, Feb. 17, 2000. Lucas cast Ford in "American Graffiti" and "Star Wars," and Spielberg directed him in the "Indiana Jones" movies. (Michael Caulfield / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. Former couple

    Ford and his former wife Melissa Mathison attend the premiere of "Six Days and Seven Nights" on June 8, 1998. The two divorced in 2004 after more than two decades of marriage. (Brenda Chase / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. All wet

    Harrison Ford and Anne Heche starred together in "Six Days Seven Nights" as feuding pair who crash on a deserted South Seas island. The film was a notorious flop. (Touchstone Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  26. Power player

    Ford is greeted by President Bill Clinton and British Prime Minister Tony Blair at a 2005 White House state dinner honoring Blair and wife Cherie. (Joyce Naltchayan / AFP-Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  27. Tasty trio

    Ruben Blades, Ford and Brad Pitt starred in 1997's "The Devil's Own." Ford played a police officer who realizes his houseguest (Pitt) is an IRA agent. (Getty Images / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  28. Turbulent flight

    Harrison Ford starred as the president of the United States in 1997's "Air Force One." The presidential plane is hijacked by bad guy Gary Oldman. (Columbia Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  29. Harvard follies

    Ford beams as Nick Gordon and Jason Watkins plant a kiss on him during the Hasty Pudding Theatrics Man of the Year Award Presentation at Harvard University, in Cambridge, Mass., on Feb 20, 1996. (Stuart Cahill / AFP-Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  30. 'Working' for a living

    Ford teamed up with Melanie Griffith in this 1988 film about a Staten Island-raised secretary who gets her corporate big break when she impersonates her injured boss -- and stealing her boyfriend (Ford) in the process. (20th Century Fox) Back to slideshow navigation
  31. 'Mosquito Coast'

    In this 1986 film, Allie Fox (Ford) and his wife take their family to Central America to build a paradise that is never found. (Warner Bros.) Back to slideshow navigation
  32. Top cop

    Ford starred as Rick Deckard in Ridley Scott's 1982 film "Blade Runner." In the sci-fi thriller, Deckard must track down and kill four replicants (human clones). (Warner Bros.) Back to slideshow navigation
  33. The birth of Indy

    Ford struck cinematic gold starting as swashbuckling archeologist Indiana Jones in 1981's "Raiders of the Lost Ark." The film sparked three sequels. (Paramount Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  34. 'The Frisco Kid'

    This 1979 comedy, directed by Robert Aldrich, tells the story of a Polish rabbi (played by Gene Wilder) who is traveling to San Francisco, and Ford as a bank robber who befriends him. (Warner Bros.) Back to slideshow navigation
  35. Let the Wookiee win

    Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) and Han Solo (Ford) outwit Darth Vader and destroy the Death Star in 1977's "Star Wars." She loves him. He knows. (Twentieth Century Fox) Back to slideshow navigation
  36. Reporting for duty

    Ford had a featured role in Francis Ford Coppola's 1979 classic, "Apocalypse Now." (Paramount Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  37. Early break

    Director George Lucas took notice of Ford early, casting him in his 1973 film "American Graffitti" opposite other rising stars such as Richard Dreyfuss and Ron Howard. (Universal Studios) Back to slideshow navigation
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  1. American Society Of Cinematographers' 26th Annual Outstanding Achievement Awards
    Angela Weiss / Getty Images
    Above: Slideshow (37) Harrison Ford
  2. 'Woman in Gold' Photocall - 65th Berlinale International Film Festival
    Pascal Le Segretain / Getty Images
    Slideshow (45) Ryan Reynolds
  3. Paramount Pictures
    Slideshow (11) Best and worst superhero costumes
  4. Pixar
    Slideshow (57) A mom's look at recent kid flicks

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