Well, color me impressed with the box office success of the Saturday Night Live-sketch-turned-movie MacGruber, which made a whopping $4 million at its box office debut last weekend (for comparison's, Avatar raked in $77 million when it premiered last December). While I don't doubt that Will Forte and Kristn Wiig have the ability to serve up their comedic power to a larger audience, (their Superbowl Pepsi ad is a good indication) stretching a four-minute sketch to a 90-minute feature film has proven difficult for even the best SNL skits.
Maybe it's the context: There's something special about watching a funny (and short!) routine that's performed live in front of a late-night audience, and that funny rarely translates or has the same impact on a popcorn-eating, date-nighting audience. But MacGruber isn't the only skit that couldn't jury-rig success at the Cineplex. And so I present to you the least-grossing (and let's face it, worst) SNL sketches turned into movies (opening weekend box office numbers from boxofficemojo.com).
8. Night at the Roxbury (October 2, 1998)
Opening Weekend: $9,604,791
Okay, maybe this sketch was funny the first time around (or maybe it wasn't), with its bobbing heads and all-too-perfect, guys-going-clubbing ensemble. But in the movie it turns out that Steve and Doug (Will Ferrell and Chris Kattan), who are dying to get into the Roxbury, actually want to open their own club, and they work in a plant store, and Richard Greico is in it.
7. Superstar (October 8, 1999)
Opening Weekend: $8,912,743
Only some crowds showed up to see Mary Katharine Gallagher (Molly Shannon) do her freaky, hyper-sexualized Catholic schoolgirl routine. And that routine—repeated ad nauseam—was maybe only funny when she performed with Aerosmith's Steven Tyler on SNL. Maybe.
6. The Coneheads (July 23, 1993)
Opening Weekend: $7,100,501
The Jane Curtin and Dan Akroyd routine that first appeared on SNL in 1977 was an awesome skit, and became such a phenomenon that it even inspired a whole slew of beer commercials. But then Hollywood decided to unearth the bit a decade and a half later and turn it into an odd family movie about the government chasing the Coneheads, who'd made planet Earth their new home. Nothing says current like a sketch from 16 years ago.
5. The Blues Brothers 2000 (February 6, 1998)
Opening Weekend: $6,129,615
Okay, yes, maybe John Goodman is a good person to accompany Elwood Blues, a sort of replacement for the Joliet Blues character (originally played by John Belushi), but it is rarely a good idea to bring a kid into the mix. And no amount of bit performances by B.B. King or Eric Clapton can make that okay.
4. The Ladies Man (October 13, 2000)
Opening Weekend: $5,426,390
Despite its cast of odd and enticing stars, (Billy Dee Williams, Tiffiani Thiessen, Julianne Moore), Tim Meadows' not-so-slick smooth-talkin' character Leon Phelps didn't seduce as many moviegoers as it likely anticipated. Though I have to admit that the bit about the fish sandwich is pretty funny.
3. MacGruber (May 21, 2010)
Opening Weekend: $4,100,000 (estimated)
If only MacGruber had a toilet paper roll, an avocado, and a snorkel, then maybe he could make something of this mess. At least the movie is about 40 percent of the way to making its $10 million budget back.
2. Stuart Saves His Family (April 12, 1995)
Opening Weekend: $371,898
Oh, Stuart Smalley believed he was good enough to make his life story into a movie, but no amount of self-affirming, confidence-boosting peptalks in the mirror could make this a hit. But everything turned out okay, Al Franken found another path.
1. It's Pat (August 26, 1994)
Opening weekend: $31,370
Everybody loved Pat, Julia Sweeney's ambiguously androgynous and squishy character, who was delightfully uncomfortable and awkward to watch... for about three minutes at a time. Turning her/his life story into a full-length feature film, in which she meets another androgynous character played by the incomparable Dave Foley, was an inspired idea that failed in its realization. Not even a cameo appearance by Ween saved this movie, which opened in limited release... and pretty much stayed there due to bad press.
Box-office dollars notwithstanding, which Saturday Night Live sketch do you think bombed the worst on the big screen?