Warner Bros. Pictures
For every record-breaking film like "Titanic" and "Avengers: Endgame," there are disappointments that cost studios millions of dollars.
We've found the biggest box-office flop from every year since 1978.
Whether critically panned movies like "King Arthur: Legend of the Sword" or beloved cult classics like "The Adventures of Baron Munchausen," these movies just could not find their audience — and cost their studios exorbitant amounts of money.
Keep scrolling to find out if you remember the biggest box-office flops from the past 42 years.
Crown International Pictures
"Sextette" is the movie version of Mae West's last play, and filmmakers had a hard time finding a distributor from the get-go. Eventually, they decided to release it themselves and show it at the Cinemadome in Hollywood. According to "The Complete Films of Mae West," the movie grossed only about $50,000 against an estimated $8 million budget.
"Sextette" has many urban legends surrounding it regarding the deteriorating health of the then 85-year-old West — namely that she was senile and had to be fed her lines through an earpiece.
1979: "The Concorde... Airport '79"
"Concorde" is the fourth and final film in the "Airport" franchise. The first "Airport" movie made over $100 million at the box office, but it was all downhill from there. Nine years later, the fourth sequel made just $13 million — less than half of what the third installment made.
1980: "Heaven's Gate"
According to the BBC, on the sixth day of filming the Western "Heaven's Gate," production was already five days behind schedule. "Heaven's Gate" is one of the best-known flops of all time, as it lost the studio, United Artists, so much money UA had to be sold.
The film received rave reviews, however, after being re-edited and shown at the New York Film Forum in 2013. Critics praised its beauty and commitment to authenticity — but that's what caused the film's budget to balloon.
1981: "Honky Tonk Freeway"
Why was "Honky Tonk Freeway," a comedy based in a small town in Florida, so expensive? Potentially because of the elephants that were brought in, or because the film required painting much of the real city of Mount Dora, Florida, bright pink, or because it had hundreds of extras. Whatever the reason, it ended up being the most expensive comedy film at the time.
The film was critically panned and lost $22 million.
MGM/UA Entertainment Company
"Inchon" was never released on home video or DVD, so it lives only in the memories of those few who saw it in theaters (or on YouTube). The film took four years and almost $50 million to make: The New York Times called it the "most expensive B-movie ever made."
The movie had a total loss of almost $41 million at the time.
"Krull" is a sci-fi/fantasy film about a prince and a group of outlaws setting out to rescue his bride from alien invaders. It received dismal reviews, however, and has been described as an unsuccessful clone of other adventure movies like "Star Wars" and "Excalibur."
1984: "The Cotton Club"
"The Cotton Club" took five years to make and had highly publicized problems, such as budget overages, and a feud between the film's producer Robert Evans and its director, Francis Ford Coppola.
The New York Times called the film "neither a smash nor a disaster," but the film's deficit begs to differ. IMDb says the film had an estimated budget of $58 million and made half that at the box office.
A Revolutionary War movie starring Al Pacino sounds ... strange. Seeing the star of films like "Serpico" and the "Godfather" series fighting for the Colonies' freedom perhaps didn't sit well with viewers.
The numbers speak for themselves: a $358,574 box-office gross against an estimated $28 million budget, according to IMDb.
1986: "Howard the Duck"
"Howard the Duck" is surely not what comes to mind when people today think of Marvel movies, but it was actually the first one, and it was produced by George Lucas. As a whole, the movie, about a duck from another planet who accidentally lands on Earth to stop an alien invasion, is bonkers. And it tanked so terribly that Frank Price resigned as Universal's president after it flopped.
Something good did come out "Howard" though. Lucas, in debt from the movie and the creation of his Skywalker Ranch, sold the CGI branch of LucasFilm to Steve Jobs — it would eventually become Pixar.
"Ishtar" was released on Blu-ray in 2013, prompting many critics to revisit the notorious flop — and many were shocked to find that it's actually not bad. Production of the film (about two US songwriters in Morocco who find themselves in the middle of a CIA power play) was plagued with the most common problems of every box office flop: delays, overspending, and issues among stars.
"Ishtar" went on to make only $14 million from a $51 million budget.
1988: "The Adventures of Baron Munchausen"
This movie is (rightfully) praised for its breathtaking visual effects. In fact, it was nominated for four Oscars: art direction, costume design, visual effects, and makeup and hairstyling. Unfortunately, the high production value caused costs to skyrocket and made it almost impossible for the film, about an 18th-century German nobleman and his fight against the Ottoman Empire, to break even.
When all was said and done, the film had a loss of $38.5 million.
1989: "Pink Cadillac"
The '80s were a rough decade for Clint Eastwood, and "Pink Cadillac," in which he plays a California bounty hunter, is a significant reason.
According to IMDb, the movie made only $12 million at the box office against an estimated budget of $19 million.
1990: "The Bonfire of the Vanities"
This movie, about '80s-era Wall Street, was so controversial that a book about the behind-the-scenes drama was a huge success — more successful than the movie.
There are many reasons this adaption of Tom Wolfe's novel of the same name didn't work out, but most point to it being miscast, having too many changes from the source material, and going way over budget.
The film ended up with a total loss of over $31 million.
1991: "Hudson Hawk"
"Hudson Hawk," an absurdist spoof of action movies — like the ones that made Bruce Willis famous — lost almost $50 million at the box office. In its opening weekend it made just $7 million, and thanks to terrible reviews it didn't stand a chance at coming anywhere close to turning a profit.
Known in the UK as "Accidental Hero," this movie is one of the more forgettable entries in Dustin Hoffman's extensive filmography. Even though it received decent reviews, audiences just weren't interested in seeing Hoffman save injured passengers from a plane crash.
1993: "Addams Family Values"
The first "Addams Family" was a huge success, so — of course — there had to be a sequel. And for the most part, "Addams Family Values" was enjoyable — it even developed into a cult classic. But at the time, the movie made less than half of what its predecessor did. Compared with other films of the year, like "Mrs. Doubtfire," it'd be impossible to call this movie a success.
"North" is the story of a child prodigy (Elijah Wood) in search of his ideal parents.
According to Rolling Stone, the movie's budget was $40 million, and it took in just $7 million at the box office in the summer of 1994. Roger Ebert may have best explained why no one saw this movie when he wrote: "I hated this movie. Hated, hated, hated, hated, hated this movie. Hated it."
1995: "Cutthroat Island"
"Cutthroat Island" could have been a feminist pirate story, a rarity in Hollywood, but it ended up being an expensive mess. The film actually held the Guinness World Record for "History's Biggest Box Office Bomb"; according to "Freeze Frame," it cost $98 million to make and opened at $2.3 million.
1996: "Mary Reilly"
Sony Pictures Releasing
Did anyone ask for a retelling of the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde from the housekeeper's perspective? Audiences definitely didn't, because the movie was critically panned and lost its studio a large amount of money. IMDb estimated its budget at $47 million, and the film made just $12 million.
1997: "The Postman"
Before dystopian future movies were all the rage, "The Postman," based on a short story about America fractioned into multiple small groups with no central government, premiered in 1997. Its dismal reviews certainly gave no indication that movies like "The Hunger Games" would be able to do so well years later.
The Telegraph reported that the film made just $18 million on its $80 million budget.
Buena Vista Pictures
"Beloved," based on a Toni Morrison novel about an Ohio mother haunted by her slave past (as well as a poltergeist), is a good movie — it has a 78% on Rotten Tomatoes. But the quality of the film just didn't translate into box-office success. Disney ended up writing it off after it made just $8 million during its opening weekend, and saw a 50% drop-off the next weekend.
1999: "The 13th Warrior"
Buena Vista Pictures Distribution
"The 13th Warrior" is based on a novel written by Michael Crichton (author of "Jurassic Park") and directed by John McTiernan (director of "Die Hard" and "Predator"). By all accounts, this movie, loosely based on the tale of Beowulf, should have been a hit. But production costs ran high, and the film just couldn't recover.
The film had a $160 million budget and made just $61 million back, NME reported.
2000: "Titan A.E."
Twentieth Century Fox
Ten days after "Titan A.E.," a sci-fi flick based in the distant future, opened to dismal box-office numbers, Fox Animation closed its doors — even though it had a hit with "Anastasia" in 1997. According to Digital Spy, Fox took a $100 million loss on the animated film.
2001: "Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within"
Square, the company that financed "Final Fantasy," went on to quit the movie business and shut down its animation facility in Hawaii because of the overwhelmingly terrible numbers of "Final Fantasy." Pajiba reports that the film had a total loss of almost $95 million.
2002: "The Adventures of Pluto Nash"
This movie, about a nightclub owner on the moon who refuses to sell his club to local mobsters, was plagued by costly reshoots, pushed-back release dates, and terrible audience reactions at test screenings — by the time it was released, Murphy refused to do any publicity related to it.
Even though Murphy didn't want to be associated with the film, he still collected a $20 million paycheck — almost triple what the movie made at the box office.
2003: "Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas"
"Sinbad" tanked so terribly that it almost bankrupted its studio, DreamWorks, after losing $125 million. As a result of this box-office disaster, DreamWorks pivoted away from hand-drawn animation altogether and focused more on computer-generated films (its next two movies were "Shrek 2" and "Madagascar").
2004: "The Alamo"
Buena Vista Pictures
"Remember the Alamo" is a rallying cry throughout Texas and the US as a whole, but Disney would probably like to forget about this 2004 movie about the 1836 standoff between Texan and Mexican soldiers.
According to a 2012 Time report, the movie lost over $146 million, which would be around $164 million in 2020 dollars.
Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE)
"Stealth," about three pilots involved in a top-secret military program, finished fourth in its opening weekend, behind the popular films "Wedding Crashers," "Sky High," and "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory." In other words, there was no way this movie was going to do well when faced with this competition (though it also has just 13% on Rotten Tomatoes).
Box Office Scoop reported a $111.7 million loss.
This disaster-at-sea epic is definitely no "Titanic." It holds a 33% score on Rotten Tomatoes and was nominated for a Razzie Award for worst remake or ripoff. Just like the Poseidon, the film sank, losing $77 million.
2007: "Evan Almighty"
"Bruce Almighty" made almost $500 million, so it makes sense that studios thought that a sequel starring Steve Carrell and Lauren Graham would be box-office gold — turns out, those two couldn't compete with Jim Carrey and Jennifer Aniston.
2008: "Speed Racer"
The 2008 remake of "Speed Racer," a popular anime series that ran in the '60s, was praised for its visual effects, but critics agreed that the story left a lot to be desired.
Those special effects racked up the film's budget, and the public didn't much want to see the film. Thrillist reported that the film made just $44 million against a $120 million budget.
2009: "Land of the Lost"
The then-Universal Studios president said it best: "'Land of the Lost' was just c---. I mean, there was no excuse for it. 'Land of the Lost' was a huge loss. We misfired. We were wrong."
The time-traveling would-be epic lost its studio $31.3 million.
2010: "The Nutcracker in 3D"
"The Nutcracker in 3D" is a mess. There are Nazi rats, sharks, a singing Albert Einstein, and absolutely no ballet. It's not shocking that it couldn't find its audience. Hollywood.com estimates that the film lost $81.9 million.
2011: "Mars Needs Moms"
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
According to NME, "Mars Needs Moms" has the questionable distinction of having the worst box-office numbers of any Disney film ever made. The film also had the 10th-worst opening weekend of any movie since 1982.
Why did it so poorly? People thought the motion-capture style looked creepy, the title reportedly alienated boys, and the thought of seeing a mom get kidnapped was too scary for kids.
Time estimated a loss of $140 million in 2012 dollars, which would be $157 million today.
2012: "John Carter"
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
The box-office misfortune of "John Carter" can perhaps be blamed on its marketing — few knew what this movie was even about (a Civil War vet who wakes up on a planet inhabited by giants).
This movie did so terribly that estimates of how much money Disney lost because of it became a heated topic of discussion. Walt Disney Studios eventually announced that it was taking a $200 million second-quarter write-down because of "John Carter."
2013: "47 Ronin"
"47 Ronin" had a lot of problems. The story the movie was based on was famous only in Japan, and the casting of Keanu Reeves instead of someone of Japanese descent to play the main character, a leaderless samurai avenging the death of his master, caused an uproar.
2014: "Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return"
"Legends of Oz" earned just $3.7 million in its first weekend and only $19 million worldwide — 27% of its estimated production cost of $70 million, according to Forbes.
The film was also plagued by behind-the-scenes drama as producers and fundraisers were accused of pocketing millions of dollars.
Another year, another reboot that tanked. "Pan," a prequel to JM Barrie's "Peter Pan," was controversial before it even was released because of the casting of Rooney Mara (a white woman) as Tiger Lily, a Native American in the original.
This was unlikely to endear moviegoers to the film, and it flopped. Vulture reported that the film could lose Warner Bros. up to $150 million.
"Ben-Hur" — the original — is one of the most iconic films of all time. So, of course, Hollywood thought a reboot would be a box-office gold. Unfortunately, the film — about a prince falsely accused of treason — was widely panned with a 25% score on Rotten Tomatoes.
2017: "King Arthur: Legend of the Sword"
It turns out that audiences also didn't want to see another reboot of the legend of King Arthur. We included it on our list of most disappointing movies of 2017, and it's hard to disagree with the numbers. It earned just $15.4 million its opening weekend and is thought to have lost at least $150 million total.
2018: "Mortal Engines"
The movie, based on the 2001 novel of the same name, ended up being another forgettable dystopian sci-fi flick. The premise — that after a catastrophic war, humanity turned cities into mobile "predator cities" — was just too strange for people to connect with.
2019: "Playmobil: The Movie"
The "Playmobil" movie broke a record upon its release — though not a positive one. It made just $670,000 across more than 2,000 screens in the US, making it the lowest box office of any movie to open on that many screens. The Independent went so far as to call it the worst box-office flop of all time.
According to Box Office Mojo, the film, based on the Playmobil toys in an apparent bid to replicate the success of "The Lego Movie," made only $1.1 million in the US and $16 million overall. It reportedly had a $75 million budget.
Read the original article on Insider