21 Box Office Bombs That Almost Cratered Their Stars' Careers

·8 min read

In Hollywood, there's no such thing as a "sure thing," especially as audience fatigue, bad marketing, and absurd premises turn once-popular actors into a walking, talking punchline.

Unfortunately, many stars (such as the 21 below) have had to find this out the hard way, with some troublesome projects having halted their professional momentum for years.

1.The Lone Ranger (Johnny Depp)

Johnny Depp in "The Lone Ranger"

Johnny Depp was largely riding high from the success of Alice in Wonderland and the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise before his problematic appearance as Tonto in Disney's big budget reboot of The Lone Ranger sent his career into a tailspin, which was further fueled by the back-to-back failures of Transcendence and Mortdecai as well as a groundswell of personal troubles.

Walt Disney Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

2.Passengers (Jennifer Lawrence)

Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence in "Passengers"

While co-star Chris Pratt had a golden parachute in the form of the Jurassic World franchise and Marvel Cinematic Universe, the underwhelming box office performance of the blockbuster science fiction film Passengers harmed the box office viability of Jennifer Lawrence, who took an acting sabbatical after the consequent failure of her spy thriller, Red Sparrow.

Columbia Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

3.Catwoman (Halle Berry)

Sharon Stone and Halle Berry in "Catwoman"

After winning an Academy Award for Monster's Ball, Halle Berry decided to swing for the big leagues by leading her own superhero film, but Catwoman's camp factor and underwhelming marketing led to a box office disaster that plagues Berry's portfolio to this day.

Warner Brothers / Courtesy Everett Collection

4.The Watch (Ben Stiller & Vince Vaughn)

Ben Stiller, Johnny Pemberton and Jonah Hill in "The Watch"

Unfortunately released in the shadow of the Trayvon Martin murder, this comedy about wacky neighborhood watch members who encounter an extraterrestrial being hurt almost every major cast member, with Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn turning to more independent and dramatic fare soon thereafter.

20th Century Fox Film Corp. / Courtesy Everett Collection

5.The Great Wall (Matt Damon)

Matt Damon in "The Great Wall"

From the release of the first trailer, The Great Wall became a laughing stock, with questions regarding appropriation and a "white savior" narrative hitting alongside general criticisms of the film's over-the-top fantasy story. Moreover, The Great Wall was the first in a long losing streak for Matt Damon at the box office, as it was followed by Downsizing and Suburbicon.

Legendary / Pictorial Press Ltd. / Courtesy Alamy

6.The Bonfire of the Vanities (Bruce Willis & Melanie Griffith)

Bruce Willis in "Bonfire of the Vanities"

Considering the phenomenal success of Tom Wolfe's novel, Bonfire of the Vanities seemed like a surefire hit, but a critical evisceration set the stage for a commercial fiasco. While co-star Tom Hanks rebounded with A League of Their Own, Bruce Willis' career didn't rebound until Pulp Fiction in 1994, while Melanie Griffith floundered with a string of poorly reviewed flops.

Warner Brothers / Courtesy Everett Collection

7.Gigli (Jennifer Lopez & Ben Affleck)

Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck in "Gigli"

Before there was Bennifer 2.0, Bennifer dominated the tabloids for 18 months back in the early '00s, but the first stage in their eventual collapse came in the form of Gigli, a major bomb that hurt both Lopez and Affleck (whose next hit as a leading man was The Town in 2010) while firmly cratering the legacy of classic comedy filmmaker Martin Brest.

Columbia / Courtesy Everett Collection

8.Rock of Ages (Tom Cruise)

Alec Baldwin and Tom Cruise in "Rock of Ages"

Adapted from the massively popular jukebox musical of the same name, Rock of Ages was a rare misstep for Tom Cruise, who barely avoided being written off of the Mission: Impossible franchise and skirted subsequent disasters thanks to international audiences showing up for Jack Reacher, Oblivion, and Edge of Tomorrow.

Warner Bros. Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

9.The Last Stand (Arnold Schwarzenegger)

Arnold Schwarzenegger and Rodrigo Santoro in "The Last Stand"

In his first leading role after his Gubernatorial tenure in California, Arnold Schwarzenegger proved that audiences were not ready for him to be back, as The Last Stand fired blanks on its opening weekend with a #9 debut and a worldwide gross of less than $50 million. As of this writing, Schwarzenegger's lead roles have yet to inspire much faith in another run at the top, with flame-outs such as Sabotage, Terminator Genisys, and Terminator: Dark Fate unraveling his Hollywood credibility.

Lionsgate / Pictorial Press Ltd. / Courtesy Alamy

10.Ishtar (Warren Beatty)

Dustin Hoffman and Warren Beatty in "Ishtar"

Whether it was audience ambivalence or sabotage from bitter studio executive David Puttnam, Ishtar has been synonymous with large-scale box office bombs for decades, causing Beatty to become incredibly selective of his roles until entering semi-retirement following another similarly huge flop, Town & Country, in 2001.

Columbia Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

11.Blackhat (Chris Hemsworth)

Tang Wei and Chris Hemsworth in "Blackhat"

Outside of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the Netflix film Extraction, Chris Hemsworth has not had the strongest track record at the box office, with Michael Mann's hacker thriller Blackhat losing $90 million before scorning financiers with studio disappointments such as In the Heart of the Sea, The Huntsman: Winter's War and Men in Black: International.

Universal Pictures / AA Film Archive / Courtesy Alamy

12.Babylon A.D. (Vin Diesel)

Vin Diesel in "Babylon A.D."

Vin Diesel may connect with audiences as Dom Toretto, Xander Cage, Richard B. Riddick or Groot, but nearly no one showed up to watch him in the sci-fi flick Babylon A.D., the failure of which motivated Diesel to return in a spearheading position in the Fast & Furious saga.

20th Century Fox Film Corp. / Courtesy Everett Collection

13.The Razor's Edge (Bill Murray)

Bill Murray in "The Razor's Edge"

More popular than ever after Ghostbusters, Bill Murray decided that he wanted to prove to the world that he had dramatic chops with The Razor's Edge in 1984. While he'd eventually do so with impressive turns in Lost in Translation and The Royal Tenenbaums, The Razor's Edge was virtually non-existent upon its arrival and caused Murray to take a four-year sabbatical from leading roles until Scrooged in 1988.

Columbia Pictures / Ronald Grant Archive / Courtesy Alamy

14.The Golden Compass (Nicole Kidman)

Nicole Kidman in "The Golden Compass"

For New Line Cinema and Nicole Kidman (on the heels of The Invasion's failure-to-launch), The Golden Compass was supposed to be the next major fantasy franchise in the vein of Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter. Sadly, The Golden Compass couldn't muster enough interest stateside, causing the property to go MIA until its HBO revival in 2019 while Kidman's losing streak extended to Australia and Nine.

New Line Cinema / Courtesy Everett Collection

15.Sahara (Matthew McConaughey)

Matthew McConaughey in "Sahara"

Long intertwined with the romantic comedy genre, Matthew McConaughey hoped to find his own Indiana Jones-esque adventure franchise with Sahara, but the Clive Cussler adaptation unfortunately became renowned as one of the most expensive box office duds of all time. McConaughey would not find a crossover hit until The Lincoln Lawyer became a sleeper success in 2011.

Paramount / Courtesy Everett Collection

16.Around the World in 80 Days (Jackie Chan)

Jackie Chan and Steve Coogan in "Around the World in 80 Days"

After both The Tuxedo and The Medallion failed to move the needle for Jackie Chan's solo action comedy work, the action legend hoped the globetrotting Around the World in 80 Days would take his career back to prominence. But the film was an astounding box office calamity and would dissuade Chan from the Hollywood system for many years.

Walden Media / AA Film Archive / Alamy

17.Bangkok Dangerous (Nicolas Cage)

Nicolas Cage in "Bangkok Dangerous"

Outside of National Treasure and Ghost Rider, the '00s were not a great time for Nicolas Cage, with failures in the form of Captain Corelli's Mandolin, Windtalkers, The Weather Man, The Wicker Man and Next. But it was Bangkok Dangerous' $7.8 million opening weekend that relegated Cage out of superstardom, with The Sorcerer's Apprentice, Drive Angry and publicized financial issues sending him to the direct-to-video market in the following years.

Blue Star Entertainment / Moviestore Collection Ltd / Alamy

18.John Carter (Taylor Kitsch)

Taylor Kitsch in "John Carter"

Hollywood had anointed Taylor Kitsch as the next big thing following his lauded performance on Friday Night Lights, but sadly, Kitsch came out of the gate with John Carter, one of Disney's biggest financial stumbles ever, followed by the high-profile catastrophe Battleship, from which his career has never truly recovered.

Walt Disney Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

19.Ghost in the Shell (Scarlett Johansson)

Scarlett Johansson in "Ghost in the Shell"

Marred by a whitewashing controversy prior to its release, the one-two punch of Ghost in the Shell and Rough Night would greatly diminish Scarlett Johansson's star power, leading her to remain solely in her MCU role of Black Widow with the exception of Netflix's Marriage Story and a supporting turn in Jojo Rabbit in 2019.

Paramount Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

20.Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (Jude Law)

Jude Law in "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow"

One could argue that Jude Law somewhat abandoned the leading man role after the action/sci-fi throwback Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow failed to stick the landing, choosing lower key projects and supporting parts until re-emerging with his next major studio co-starring role as Dr. Watson in Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes films.

Paramount / Courtesy Everett Collection

21.After Earth (Will Smith)

Will Smith in "After Earth"

Will Smith used to be as bulletproof as bulletproof could get, especially for high-concept studio projects that were major financial risks, but criticisms of nepotism as well as director M. Night Shyamalan proved to be fatal for the epic After Earth, after which Smith ran into a string of box office failures until appearing in DC's ensemble Suicide Squad.

Collection Christophel / Columbia Pictures / Overbrook Entertainment / Courtesy Alamy