The Top 10 Box Office Bombs
A box office bomb is a movie that is viewed as highly unprofitable during its theatrical run. Estimating the actual financial success of a flick is always difficult. The production budget is sometimes shrouded in mystery, and even when disclosed it is often higher than stated due to Prints and Advertising costs not factored in (P&A could add 50% on top of the production budget!) On top of that, a lot the gross of a picture is misleading, as studios do not get the entire amount back in their pocket, only about 45% between domestic and international ticket sales. Studios’ biggest take comes in the opening weekend, where they usually rake in about 90% of the gross, leaving the theaters to make money selling snacks. Now you know why popcorn and candy are pricey.
For the purpose of making this list as accurate as possible, we have used the estimated production budget with P&A included. We have also adjusted everything for inflation to get an accurate amount lost. That being done, let’s take a look at the biggest blunders of Hollywood.
10. Sahara (2005)
Directed by Breck Eisner and based on a novel of the same name. Adventurer Dirk Pitt (Matthew McConaughey) sets out for the African desert in search of a ship rumored to have vanished long ago. The budget documents on Sahara became public domain after book author Clive Cussler sued the producers for not consulting him on the script. In 2007 the LA Times ran a report that broke down the cost of this movie as an example on how these flicks end up costing so much to make. One of the more interesting items on the budget were bribes to the Moroccan government.
- Production Budget – $140 Million
- Worldwide Gross – $109.58 Million
- Estimated Loss – $118.69 Million
- 2017 Inflation-Adjusted Loss -$149.31 Million
- Currently ranked #6809 of all-time
- Ranked 43,969 times by 7214 Users
- Wins 24% of matchups
9. The Alamo (2004)
Directed by John Lee Hancock. A before, during, and after retelling of the 1836 battle in the Texan War of Independence. The Alamo originally went into production around the year 2000 and was set to be directed by Ron Howard and star Russell Crowe. The problem was Howard wanted a $200 Million production budget which Disney declined. Eventually, Howard left, along with Crowe, and Hancock took over with Dennis Quaid and Billy Bob Thornton starring. The money lost on this was the result of a long struggle to make the film. Apparently, some people missed the tagline that said: “You will never forget.” Though does anyone care about the Alamo outside of Texas?
- Worldwide Gross – $25.82 Million
- Estimated Loss – $116.78 Million
- 2017 Inflation-Adjusted Loss -$151.78 Million
- Currently ranked #7190 of all-time
- Ranked 10,263 times by 1009 Users
- Wins 29% of matchups
8. Jack the Giant Slayer (2013)
Directed by Bryan Singer. The ancient war between humans and a race of giants is reignited when a young farmhand (Nicholas Hoult) opens a gateway between their two worlds. This flick was originally envisioned way back in 2005 and followed a long road to get made. A lot of its failure has been placed on the PG-13 rating, a comprise between the studio wanting a children’s film and Singer wanting a darker version. In the end, it was just too unappealing for adults, and the rating kept most of the kids and their parents away. I don’t recall too much about this movie except that it helped me fall asleep once.
- Worldwide Gross – $197.69 Million
- Estimated Loss – $145.04 Million
- 2017 Inflation-Adjusted Loss -$152.24 Million
- Currently ranked #6460 of all-time
- Ranked 39,712 times by 6751 Users
- Wins 23% of matchups
7. Evan Almighty (2007)
Directed by Tom Shadyac. Newscaster Evan Baxter (Steve Carell) leaves Buffalo behind when he wins a seat in Congress. Moving his wife and family to northern Virginia, he seems to have it made; then the Lord wants him to build an ark and gather animals in preparation for a flood. Director Shadyac had a string of successful comedies before this, having directed Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, Liar Liar, The Nutty Professor and Bruce Almighty. Bruce was made on an $81 million budget and ended up with a decent gross of around $120 million, largely due to Jim Carrey still being very popular in 2003. The sequel Evan had a budget of over $200 million, a lot of scratch for a sequel missing its original star.
- Worldwide Gross – $174.13 Million
- Estimated Loss – $131.64 Million
- 2017 Inflation-Adjusted Loss -$155.21 Million
- Currently ranked #10,870 of all-time
- Ranked 88,373 times by 15,025 Users
- Wins 19% of matchups
6. The Adventures of Pluto Nash (2002)
Directed by Ron Underwood. In the year 2087, Pluto Nash (Eddie Murphy) struggles to keep his lunar nightclub out of the hands of the mafia. Murphy is one of the least bankable stars out there; he was just very lucky to snag a role in Shrek, which is a cash cow. If you remove Shrek from the list, Murphy has made 16 movies since 1999. What was the profit of all 16 of those combined? Well, it was a loss of over $665 million dollars. I’m not kidding; that’s a negative profit of $665 million dollars, or an average loss of about $41 million a movie, not adjusted for inflation. Logically, that means that if you sign Eddie Murphy to be in your movie you are most likely going to lose 40 million dollars, which is why he has only had one movie released in the last five years and nothing coming soon. I do love the Hillary Clinton currency in this flick, though:
- Worldwide Gross – $7.10 Million
- Estimated Loss – $116.8 Million
- 2017 Inflation-Adjusted Loss -$158.76 Million
- Currently ranked #41,188 of all-time
- Ranked 9,443 times by 1,114 Users
- Wins 12% of matchups
5. Stealth (2005)
Directed by Rob Cohen. Navy fighter pilots Ben Gannon (Josh Lucas), Henry Purcell (Jamie Foxx) and Kara Wade (Jessica Biel) are tasked with training an unmanned artificial-intelligence plane to hit important overseas targets. The word “stealth” is described as caution of action or movement, which pretty well sums up people’s desire to see this movie. This was one of many financial disasters released by Columbia Pictures in 2005, which also included Zathura (-$51.65 M), Man of the House (-$50.06 M), Into the Blue (-$41.11 M), XXX: State of the Union (-$40.02 M), Bewitched (-$36.98 M), and Rent (-$33.75 M).
- Worldwide Gross – $76.93 Million
- Estimated Loss – $130.98 Million
- 2017 Inflation Adjusted Loss -$163.99 Million
- Currently ranked #12,718 of all-time
- Ranked 13,681 times by 2,481 Users
- Wins 16% of matchups
4. Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (2001)
Directed by Hironobu Sakaguchi. The people of earth pitted against mysterious aliens that steal the energy from all living things. This was the first feature-length motion picture that brought photoRealism to computer-generated, human characters. It looked cool, but overall wasn’t well-scripted and cost way too much money to produce. This movie was the final fantasy for Square Pictures, as they meet their demise shortly after.
- Worldwide Gross – $85.13 Million
- Estimated Loss – $126.09 Million
- 2017 Inflation-Adjusted Loss -$174.19 Million
- Currently ranked #7,291 of all-time
- Ranked 63,530 times by 10,517 Users
- Wins 22% of matchups
3. Cutthroat Island (1995)
Directed by Renny Harlin. Armed with one thirds of a treasure map, Morgan Adams (Geena Davis) heads to find the buried treasure located on Cutthroat Island. Shooting on this movie was delayed numerous times, which cause the budget to skyrocket. At one point Harlin even spent $1 million of his money for an additional rewrite of the script. This was the last film from Carolco Pictures, who filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy a month before its release.
- Worldwide Gross – $18.52 Million
- Estimated Loss – $109.27 Million
- 2017 Inflation-Adjusted Loss -$175.32 Million
- Currently ranked #6,882 of all-time
- Ranked 11,932 times by 1,323 Users
- Wins 24% of matchups
2. Mars Needs Moms (2011)
Directed by Simon Wells. Young Milo learns just how much he needs mom after Martians come to Earth to take her away. Disney had invested somewhere near $200 million for this picture, which was made by the now closed ImageMovers Digital. The idea of this movie never seemed sellable; who wants to take their kids to see a movie about moms being kidnapped by aliens? Director Wells is the great-grandson of author H. G. Wells, which is sad because the last movie he directed before this was the abysmal Time Machine remake from 2002 which also lost something like $50 million. Needless to say; Wells is not directing anything else in the near future. Only if he could use his great grandad’s machine to fix the wrong path he took.
- Worldwide Gross – $39.55 Million
- Estimated Loss – $162.20 Million
- 2017 Inflation-Adjusted Loss -$176.59 Million
- Currently ranked #22,006 of all-time
- Ranked 4,035 times by 243 Users
- Wins 32% of matchups
1. John Carter (2012)
Directed By Andrew Stanton. Civil War vet John Carter (Taylor Kitsch) awakes on the surface of Mars and reluctantly becomes involved in a war on the planet. Do you want to know something crazy? This movie cost somewhere around $350 million to make. The amount of money it lost would have been higher if the British Tax Authority hadn’t paid Disney around $43 million in tax credits. The film’s failure led to the removal of Rich Ross, the head of Walt Disney Studios. Ross tried to flip the blame of the movie onto Pixar, which didn’t work; it just upset Pixar executives. John Carter is not a terrible movie; it’s an enjoyable popcorn flick that tested well with audiences. A lot of its failure was attributed to a really bad marketing campaign. Even so, with a $350 million budget, the movie would have had to gross over $700 million worldwide to break even, and that’s a big gamble.
- Worldwide Gross – $284.14 Million
- Estimated Loss – $202.14 Million
- 2017 Inflation-Adjusted Loss -$215.28 Million
- Currently ranked #4,547 of all-time
- Ranked 38,263 times by 2,645 Users
- Wins 41% of matchups
Did you watch any of these bombs in theaters? Tell us in the comments below.