It may be where it all started for Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez, but it was also remembered as one of the worst movies of all time.
In 2002, Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez were at their peak.
She was in a string of high-profile thrillers and rom-coms, and her second studio album J.Lo was quadrupled platinum. He’s been riding high on a Hollywood wave ever since… Good Will Huntingand had released 16 films in five years.
You could do much, much worse than Affleck and Lopez if you cast for your $75 million studio film. No one could have predicted the disaster that lay in wait lilies — especially the writer and director, Oscar nominee Martin Brest, whose career exploded in the aftermath.
Affleck and Lopez met on the set of the gangster rom-com while she was still married to her second husband Chris Judd. Within a few months of the start of production, Affleck and Lopez were seen hugging and kissing at a birthday party and two days later she filed for divorce from Judd.
Their romance with celebrities became instant media feed, fueling an obsession with their glamorous courtship. They were hot, they were talented and they were – apparently – in love. It had everything, including the first superstar contraction, Bennifer, years before Brangelina, TomKat and Kimye.
But there really is too much of a good thing and soon that same glamour, talent and hotness ended up in “too much” territory. It didn’t help when he starred in the music video for her song, “Jenny from the Block,” a defiant recreation of the gossip that invaded their lives.
You know what’s not convincing when you talk about your humble roots? Sunbathing on a yacht while your Hollywood boyfriend rubs your (admittedly perfectly muscled) ass. Years later, Affleck would say he regretted making that video.
By the time lilies came out, the excess of Bennifer as a phenomenon was on the nose and the film was ready to fail. Any excuse to berate the super couple would be enough – and lilieswhich was universally panned as a really clunky and confused movie, offered a whopper.
The first problem with lilies had it arrived at the end of the gangster comedy trend that saw something like? Whole Nine Yards, Get Shorty and Lock, stock and two smoking barrels rake in decent cash registers at relatively modest budgets.
But mostly it was because lilies was a bad movie. The plot revolves around low-ranking mobster Larry (Affleck) who is tasked with kidnapping the mentally retarded younger brother of a prosecutor. But his boss also hires independent contractor Ricki (Lopez) to make sure everything runs smoothly.
That’s the gist of it, but of course with some complications that come with it, like a smoking mob of moss played by Al Pacino, a meddling mother, and a suicidal ex-girlfriend—hers, not his.
Oh yeah, because Ricki is apparently a lesbian, but couldn’t resist Larry’s limp charms after their tantalizing chemistry turned sexual. Right.
lilies was derided at length by nearly every critic and became the butt of late night talk show host jokes, with the film’s title becoming a synonym for failure.
News weekJeff Giles wrote about it: “After the glee of watching beautiful people humiliate themselves wears off, it has the same destructive effect on your will to live,” while the British Daily TelegramTim Robey warned: “It’s just as horrible as you may have heard, no, worse”.
The Wall Street Journal‘s Joe Morgenstern said, “There may be more intoxicating follies to come, but it is impossible to imagine how they will beat this one for astonishing idiocy, folly or pretentiousness”.
Prominent critic Richard Roeper called it one of the worst movies he’d ever seen and ultimately condemned it as the seventh worst movie of the decade.
That’s just a small sample. lilies currently still has a six percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Even the American public wrote it off, rating it a D- in CinemaScore’s exit-polling style surveys, as the film won that year’s Razzie awards, “winning” top gongs for worst picture, worst actor, worst actress and worst director .
But the most telling metric is the cash register. From a production budget of $75 million, a big pot for a rom-com in 2002, it grossed just $7.7 million worldwide.
After the first weekend of release, Sony withdrew the lilies‘ while movie theaters dropped showings when it was clear that the negative publicity and word of mouth meant it would play in empty theaters. It usually disappeared from the tents after the third week.
The losses were originally reported at $55 million, but Revolution Studios documents were later obtained by: the cover in 2011, actual losses were found to be over $75 million.
liliesThe stench even carried over to Bennifer’s next film project, jersey girla romcom directed by Affleck’s friend Kevin Smith.
By the time Smith was on the publicity trail in 2004, Bennifer had broken up spectacularly, and the filmmaker couldn’t stop telling everyone that Lopez’s character dies minutes into the film as an act of saving the marketing campaign for his film.
Smith said at the time, as reported by Today“In the post-Gigli world you have to be an idiot to hype it as a Ben-and-Jen movie. It’s fairer this way.”
Affleck even admitted jersey girl threatened to be dragged along by lilies. He then said: “lilies was a movie that certainly suffered from the over-publicity about me and Jen. So it was kind of “enough” before the movie came out.
“Also, liliesalthough it was a great experience and i had a great time making it, it didn’t really work like a movie in the end, and jersey girl really does. I think it’s a beautiful film and I’m really proud of it.”
jersey girl had mixed reviews, earning $36 million against its $35 million budget.
Affleck and Lopez’s dull shine would eventually regain their shine – and Affleck has credited his experience on lilies as a motivator to eventually move towards directing, starting with the critically acclaimed Gone baby gone.
And now that the two lovers have found each other again after two decades, lilies is remembered for both the place where it all started for their romance and also a huge bombshell. But in their long career, it was just a blip.
The same cannot be said of filmmaker Brest, who previously made Meet Joe Black, Fragrance of a woman and Beverly Hills Cop.
He never had credit on a movie again.