They could have fed a Third World nation, or poured money into cancer research, or tried saving those polar bears stuck on itty-bitty ice floes.
But no-o-o-o-o, Hollywood had better things to do with its hundreds of millions of dollars, like letting Adam Sandler make That's My Boy, and thinking we needed a remake of Red Dawn.
Sure, the film biz isn't in it for the philanthropy, and it's totally unfair to hold the expenditure of $240 million for John Carter or even a paltry $98 million for Cloud Atlas against actors, directors, and second grips engaged in earnest endeavours to create something memorable, or moving, or just fun.
After all, no one sets out to make 90 minutes or two or three hours of stupefying dreck, right?
Herewith, the 10 dumbest, most misguided, wasteful, indulgent, soul-crushing films of 2012.
Cloud Atlas Cross-dimensional, time-travelling cosmic hooey, although Tom Hanks and Halle Berry's post-apocalyptic patois would make for a great comedy sketch. The gods of reincarnation should sue.
John Carter Pixar animator Andrew Stanton tried his hand with live-action in this $240 million Disney fiasco, an adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs' John Carter of Mars — or Barsoom, as the pulp scribe was wont to call the Red Planet. Lynn Collins is Princess Dejah, who hails from Helium, and some of the warring creatures she and US Civil War-era Earthling Taylor Kitsch contend with are Tharks, Therns and Zodangans.
Lola Versus The charming and goofy Greta Gerwig gets the title role in a hopelessly cliched post-break-up/ single-in-New-York character study.
The Odd Life of Timothy Green A fertility clinic fantasy, with Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgerton as the parents who want so, so much to have a child but can't — and then one pops out of the vegetable garden, a boy with leafy shins. Impossible treacle.
Playing for Keeps A pack of soccer mums - Uma Thurman, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Judy Greer among them - throw themselves at former soccer pro Gerard Butler, who only wants to throw himself back into the life of his ex, Jessica Biel. A rom-com full of contrived rom and fake com.
Red Dawn In John Milius' teen militia fantasy, released in 1984, the Soviet Union drops platoons of paratroopers down on the sleepy midwest, but luckily Charlie Sheen and Patrick Swayze are there to save the day. In this ill-advised redo, North Korea is the enemy, and Chris Hemsworth leads a couple of Joshes (Josh Hutcherson, Josh Peck) in a battle to save Washington state. Somehow, it's not the same.
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World Don't know what's worse, Keira Knightley's pseudo-hipster cool (and that vintage vinyl she lugs around), or filmmaker Lorene Scafaria's phony Delaware and New Jersey locations. Giving the apocalypse a bad name.
That's My Boy Adam Sandler and Andy Samberg as estranged father and son - what could be funnier? A warm and fuzzy embrace of all-American values - incest, statutory rape, strip clubs, obesity and homophobia.
Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie Even if you were stoned, this cheap and surreal shopping mall farce wouldn't be funny.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey All this from J.R.R. Tolkien's little book? Two hours and 49 minutes of dwarfs and elves, orcs and wizards, goblins and trolls chasing each other across flimsy rope bridges - with two more instalments to come? The beginning, and end, of 48 frames-per-second technology. Watch the Air New Zealand in-flight safety video instead - it's a lot shorter, and smarter.
LOS ANGELES TIMES