Summer movie seasons are getting tough. If box office numbers are any indication, moviegoers are becoming more pronounced in their support of the movies they love, as well as in their denunciation of the movies they hate. Popular movies shoot up into box office record territory instantly (i.e. The Avengers); mediocre movies get kicked to the eight-digit box office curb, lucky if they even make their production budgets back. There is scarcely any middle ground anymore.

Part of this has to fall on the shoulders of movie marketing departments, who insist on over-exposing even the weakest movies, setting expectations too high to ever be satisfied. Yet, in this summer of winners, lukewarm movies, and losers, some films stood out for their startling flops from the highest hype to the worst box office numbers. Here are the five summer 2012 movies that failed to live up their own hype:

1. Men in Black III

RottenTomatoes Score: 69%; Box Office Total: $178M
Before you look at the box office gross and say, “Well, $178 million? That ain’t half-bad,” remember two things: this is a Will Smith summer tentpole movie and the first MIB hauled in $589,390,759 waay back in 1997. Although the timing felt weird, the hype around this was still thick. It was the reunion of one of film’s great duos and it was the Fresh Prince’s first fun movie in a long time.

What this franchise managed to cook up in the last decade was, well… ‘underwhelming’ is the word that comes to mind. It was like waiting two hours hoping for a chef to whip up a gut-satisfying feast and getting a Happy Meal instead. Will Smith was just sort of old and grouchy. Tommy Lee Jones was more old and grouchy. The aliens were quirky in that way they’ve always been. The whole exercise was missing that slick cool aesthetic, that sly sense of humor that worked so well in the first one.

2. Prometheus

RottenTomatoes Score: 73%; Box Office Total: $126.3M
Okay, when people began to talk about Ridley Scott making his return to the genre that he practically birthed with Alien, yeah, the hype-o-meter was primed to go through the roof. The awesome-creepy viral videos only fanned the flames until there was no way fans were going to stay away from this one.

Then it released… and fans didn’t like it. They griped about the lack of conclusion, the lack of answers. The father of space-horror had taken a misstep, and, although its RottenTomatotes score was respectable it failed to bring in even as much as its predecessor Aliens hauled in back in 1986. To add to the pain, keep in mind that Alien 3, which came out in 1992 and really wasn’t very good, also eclipsed this one’s box office take at $159,773,545.

3. Battleship

RottenTomatoes Score: 34%; Box Office Total: $65.2M
But MIB III and Prometheus would feel like box office triumphs next to Peter Berg’s tribute to everything Michael Bay and Transformers (neither of which really deserved tributes). It was flat-out rejected by the moviegoing public. And why not? It was a noisy, stupid Transformer clone based on one of the least dynamic board games of all time. And it had Taylor “I’m-not-really-cut-out-for-this-leading-man-thing” Kitsch as its protagonist.

Based on the heavy marketing, it was clear someone in a Hollywood boardroom wanted us to think this was the greatest freaking idea ever. They spent enough to make us want to believe. And then we saw the movie.

4. Total Recall

RottenTomatoes Score: 30%; Box Office Total: $55.2M
The movie studio obviously intended for this to be its second-half-of-summer lion, which would come roaring to life just as the dust from Dark Knight Rises was settling. They spent enough that we all knew about it. We got the cool movie clips showing off the wannabe-Bourne fight sequences and the Blade Runner-esque sets. But you have to be remembered to get the kind of attention they were trying to buy.

It became the reject movie to which every bad movie of the summer would be compared. Len Wiseman’s remake of the Schwarznegger scifi classic was panned as “serviceable” at best and “forgettable” at worst. And despite the action set pieces and the impressive effects, audiences did just that. They forgot to tell their friends about it. They forgot to go back for more.

5. Rock of Ages

RottenTomatoes Score: 41%; Box Office Total: $38.5M
This dud replaced reliance on special effects with reliance on A-list names. We picked up on the stories. “Tom Cruise sings!” “Julianna Hough does lap dances!” “More stars than you can shake a stick at!” These stories were plastered everywhere, surely enough to get female moviegoers’ curious.

But this film shared a fatal flaw with so many of its effects-laden brethren: the story and the characters weren’t worth the money. And the music just wasn’t very good–especially for a musical. The wattage of Tom Cruise, who probably just made his salary back with this kind of box office take, proved inadequate.

6. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

RottenTomatoes Score: 36%; Box Office Total: $37.4M
The title alone was provocative enough to get Civil War, vampire, Lincoln, and Wanted fans in the theatre. The book was good enough to warrant a movie. In fact, fanboys across the Internet lit up when we heard they were going to make a movie of it. From that moment on, the interest was there. So what happened?

What worked in the book–that straight-faced historic take, without a wink to be spoken of–did not work in movie form? Moviegoers like to know what they’re dealing with (“Is this supposed to be serious or am I just not getting the jokes?”) and this one left them confused. So the relatively small fanbase it did have withered on the vine. ABVH came and went so fast we barely noticed.

So what do you think the most over-hyped movies of summer 2012 were? Why did they fail so spectacularly? Join the conversation below!

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