Evan Almighty became the first big-budget bomb of the summer, bringing in just $32 million at the box office over its debut weekend. The sequel to the blockbuster Bruce Almighty cost more than $250 million to produce and promote, making it one of the most expensive comedies in history.

Universal Pictures and its financing partner, Relativity Media, had been counting on the PG-rated modern-day Noah’s Ark tale would be its biggest summer hit. One industry analyst said the movie’s performance was a “disaster of biblical proportions.” The studio says the movie still could gain momentum, but they’ll likely need to sell a lot of tickets overseas to get their money back.

So much for the summer of the sequel, said Ian Mohr in Variety. The follow-ups in the Shrek, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Ocean’s 11 franchises were huge successes, but this film’s “lackluster” debut must have sent a chill through Hollywood.

Let this huge disappointment be a lesson to the studios, said Peter Sanders in The Wall Street Journal (paid subscription required). It’s a bad idea to “pursue sequels at all costs.”

The “astronomical budgets” of this crop of sequels squeeze profits mercilessly, said Keith Hahn in DealBreaker.com. They have to be blockbusters to make any money, and when one flops like Evan Almighty the losses can be catastrophic.

Steve Carell is the savior of this stinker, said Carina Chocano in the Los Angeles Times (free registration required). "Nobody plays the humiliated, put-upon putz" better than he does. It's "disappointing to see him stuck in a soulless widget like this one.," but that's "better than not seeing him at all."