Against all odds, "Pirates of the Caribbean" proved to be a swashbuckling success, earning $654 million worldwide and spawning three sequels, thanks mostly to Johnny Depp's cheeky performance as Capt. Jack Sparrow.
Despite the end results, that pre-release ridicule was richly deserved. After all, Disney had tried three previous times to capitalize off its amusement park rides, although you can't be blamed if you missed the resulting movies.
Blazing the trail were the 1997 made-for-TV Steve Guttenberg/Kirsten Dunst "thriller" "Tower of Terror," the 2000 sci-fi movie "Mission to Mars" and the 2002 flop "The Country Bears," all based in one way or another on Disney theme park attractions.
Disney didn't stop with "Pirates," though. It attempted to again catch lightning in a bottle with the 2003 Eddie Murphy vehicle "The Haunted Mansion," which did OK at the box office but was left for dead by the critics.
No. 1: "Mars Attacks!"
Even the most ardent Tim Burton fan has to admit that 1996's "Mars Attacks!" suffers from far too many stars and too few laughs.
But few realize the movie, whose ensemble cast includes Jack Nicholson, Annette Bening, Pierce Brosnan, Sarah Jessica Parker, Glenn Close, Martin Short, Jack Black, Natalie Portman, Danny DeVito, Jim Brown and Tom Jones, was actually based off a 1960s Topps trading card series.
The film runs with the trading cards' depiction of Earth's attack by violence-loving and sex-crazed Martians while giving a spoofy nod to 1950s sci-fi B-movies.
Even after the script's ambitious first draft was scaled down from its 60 leading characters, worldwide destruction and $256 million price tag to a $100 million film, it still just barely broke even worldwide.
Maybe the "half-developed, pedestrian material," as one reviewer described it, was to blame. Given the film's inspiration, that sentiment doesn't seem so alien.