List of biggest box-office bombs

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In the film and media industry, if a film released in theatres fails to break even by a large amount, it is considered a box office bomb (or box office flop), thus losing money for the distributor, studio, and/or production company that invested in it. Due to the secrecy surrounding costs and profit margins in the film industry, figures of losses are usually rough estimates at best, and there are often conflicting estimates over how much a film has lost. To accommodate this uncertainty, the losses are presented as ranges where this is the case, and the list is ordered alphabetically in the absence of a definitive order. Because the films on the list have been released over a large span of time, currency inflation is a material factor, so losses are adjusted for inflation using the United States Consumer Price Index to enable comparison at equivalent purchasing power.

Some films on this list grossed more than their production budgets yet are still regarded as flops. This can be due to Hollywood accounting practices that manipulate profits or keep costs secret to circumvent profit-sharing agreements,[1] but it is also possible for films to lose money legitimately even when the theatrical gross exceeds the budget. This is because a distributor does not collect the full gross, and the full cost of a film can substantially exceed its production budget once distribution and marketing are taken into account. For example, tax filings in 2010 for Cinemark Theatres show that only 54.5 percent of ticket revenues went to the distributor, with the exhibitor retaining the rest. While the distributor's cut will vary from film to film, a Hollywood studio will typically collect half the gross in the United States and less in other parts of the world. Marketing often represents a substantial share of the overall cost of the picture too: for a film with an average sized budget the promotion and advertising costs are typically half that of the production budget, and in the case of smaller films it is not unusual for the cost of the marketing to be higher than the production budget.[2] In some cases, a company can make profits from a box office bomb when ancillary revenues are taken into account, such as home media sales and rentals, television broadcast rights, and licensing fees, so a film that loses money at the box office can still eventually break even.[3]

There are some films notorious for large production budgets and widely seen as box-office bombs that have either broken even or turned a profit. Cleopatra nearly bankrupted 20th Century Fox with production and marketing costs of US$44 million and numerous delays.[4][5] Despite becoming the highest-grossing film of 1963 it failed to recoup its investment during its theatrical release,[4] and eventually broke even in 1966 when Fox sold the television broadcast rights to ABC for $5 million.[6] The total costs for Waterworld (1995) exceeded $300 million and it was perceived as a disaster at the time, despite grossing $264 million worldwide. It also eventually broke even through other revenue streams.[7][8] Such films are still cited as high-risk examples in evaluating the prospects of future productions.[7] For example, Cleopatra killed big-budget epic films in the 1960s.[9]

The COVID-19 pandemic, starting around March 2020, caused temporary closure of movie theaters, and distributors moved several films to premier to streaming services such as HBO Max, Disney+, and Peacock with little to no box office takes. While these films may have had successful runs on these services, the viewership or revenue from these showings are typically not reported and excluded from the box office. As a result, several films on this list from 2020–2021 are considered to be box office bombs.[10]

Biggest box office bombs[edit]

The following is a partial list of films that lost the most money, based on documented losses or estimated by expert analysis of various financial factors such as the production budget, marketing and distribution costs, gross box office receipts and other ancillary revenues. The list is limited to films that are potentially among the top one hundred box office losses, adjusted for inflation (approximately upper-bound losses of $80 million or higher as of 2021).

  film currently playing Background shading indicates films playing in the week commencing 14 January 2022 in theaters around the world.
Biggest box office bombs
Title Year Net production budget
(millions)
Worldwide gross
(millions)
Estimated loss (millions) Ref.
Nominal Adjusted for inflation [nb 1]
The 13th Warrior 1999 $100–160 $61.7 $69–129 $107–200 [# 1]
47 Ronin 2013 $175–225 $151.8 $96 $107 [# 2]
The Adventures of Baron Munchausen 1988 $46.6 $8.1 $38.5 $84 [# 3]
The Adventures of Pluto Nash 2002 $100 $7.1 $96 $138 [# 4]
The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle 2000 $76–98.6 $35.1 $63.5 $95 [# 5]
The Alamo 2004 $107 $25.8 $94 $129 [# 6]
Alexander 2004 $155 $167.3 $71 $97 [# 7]
Ali 2001 $107 $87.7 $63 $92 [# 8]
Allied 2016 $85 $118.6 $75–90 $81–97 [# 9]
Around the World in 80 Days 2004 $110 $72.2 $74 $101 [# 10]
The Astronaut's Wife 1999 $75 $19.6 $65 $101 [# 11]
Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever 2002 $70 $19.9 $70.1 $101 [# 12]
Battlefield Earth 2000 $73–103 $29.7 $73.3 $110 [# 13]
Battleship 2012 $209–220 $303 $150 $169 [# 14]
Beloved 1998 $80 $22.9 $68.5 $109 [# 15]
Ben-Hur 2016 $100 $94.1 $75–121.7 $81–129 [# 16]
The BFG 2016 $140 $179.6 $71–100 $77–108 [# 17]
Blackhat 2015 $70 $19.7 $68–90 $74–98 [# 18]
Blade Runner 2049 2017 $150–185 $260.5 $80 $84 [# 19]
The Call of the Wild 2020 $125–150 $107.6 $50–100 $50–100 [# 20]
Cats 2019 $90–100 $73.7 $71–113.6 $72–115 [# 21]
Chaos Walking 2021 $100 $26.5 $112 $112 [# 22]
Chill Factor 1999 $70 $11.8 $64 $99 [# 23]
A Christmas Carol 2009 $175–200 $325.3 $50–100 $60–137 [# 24]
The Chronicles of Riddick 2004 $105–120 $115.8 $47–73 $64–100 [# 25]
The Cotton Club 1984 $47 $25.9 $32.1 $80 [# 26]
Cutthroat Island[nb 2] 1995 $98 $18.3 $105 $178 [# 27]
Dark Phoenix 2019 $200 $252.4 $79–133 $81–137 [# 28]
Deepwater Horizon 2016 $110–120 $119.5 $60–112 $65–121 [# 29]
Doctor Dolittle 1967 $17 $9 $10.8 $84 [# 30]
Dolittle 2020 $175 $227.9 $50–100 $50–100 [# 31]
Driven 2001 $94 $54.7 $67 $98 [# 32]
Dudley Do-Right 1999 $70 $10 $65 $101 [# 33]
Evan Almighty 2007 $175 $173.4 $87 $109 [# 34]
The Fall of the Roman Empire 1964 $18.4 $4.8 $14.3 $119 [# 35]
Fantastic Four 2015 $120–125 $168 $80–100 $87–109 [# 36]
Fathers' Day 1997 $85 $35.7 $67 $108 [# 37]
Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within 2001 $137 $85.1 $94 $137 [# 38]
The Finest Hours 2016 $70–80 $52.1 $75 $81 [# 39]
Gemini Man 2019 $138 $173.5 $111.1 $112 [# 40]
Ghostbusters 2016 $144 $229.1 $75 $81 [# 41]
Gigli 2003 $75.6 $7.3 $72 $101 [# 42]
Gods of Egypt 2016 $140 $150.7 $76–90 $82–97 [# 43]
The Good Dinosaur 2015 $175–200 $332.2 $85 $93 [# 44]
The Great Raid 2005 $80 $10.8 $75 $99 [# 45]
The Great Wall 2016 $150 $332 $75 $81 [# 46]
Green Lantern 2011 $200 $219.9 $75 $86 [# 47]
Hard Rain 1998 $70 $19.9 $60 $95 [# 48]
Hart's War 2002 $70–95 $32.3 $62.7 $101–137 [# 49]
Heaven's Gate 1980 $44 $3.5 $40.5 $127 [# 50]
How Do You Know 2010 $100 $48.7 $104 $123 [# 51]
Hudson Hawk 1991 $65 $17.2 $47.8 $91 [# 52]
Hugo 2011 $150–170 $185.8 $91 $105 [# 53]
The Huntsman: Winter's War 2016 $115 $165 $75 $81 [# 54]
Inchon 1982 $46 $5.2 $40.8 $109 [# 55]
Instinct 1999 $80 $34.1 $63 $98 [# 56]
The Invasion 2007 $80 $40 $71 $89 [# 57]
Ishtar 1987 $51–55 $14.4 $40.6 $92 [# 58]
Jack Frost 1998 $40–85 $34.6 $68 $108 [# 59]
Jack the Giant Slayer 2013 $185–200 $197.7 $103 $114 [# 60]
John Carter 2012 $263.7 $284.1 $113–200 $127–225 [# 61]
Jupiter Ascending 2015 $175 $184 $95–120 $104–131 [# 62]
K-19: The Widowmaker 2002 $100 $65.7 $67 $96 [# 63]
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword 2017 $175 $148.7 $112–153.2 $118–162 [# 64]
Krull 1983 $27 $16.5 $33.5 $87 [# 65]
Live by Night 2016 $65 $22.3 $75 $81 [# 66]
Lolita 1997 $62 $1.1 $61 $98 [# 67]
The Lone Ranger 2013 $225–250 $260.5 $160–190 $178–211 [# 68]
The Man from U.N.C.L.E. 2015 $75 $109.8 $80 $87 [# 69]
Mars Needs Moms 2011 $150 $39 $100–144 $115–166 [# 70]
Missing Link 2019 $102.3 $26.2 $101.3 $103 [# 71]
Monkeybone 2001 $75 $7.6 $71 $104 [# 72]
Monster Trucks 2016 $125 $64.5 $109–123.1 $118–133 [# 73]
Mortal Engines 2018 $110 $83.7 $174.8 $180 [# 74]
Mulan 2020 $200 $66.8 $142 $142 [# 75]
The Mummy 2017 $195 $410 $60–95 $63–100 [# 76]
The New Mutants 2020 $67–80 $49.2 $84 $84 [# 77]
The Nutcracker in 3D 2010 $100–160 $20.5 $82 $97 [# 78]
Onward 2020 $175–200 $142 $131 $131 [# 79]
Osmosis Jones 2001 $70 $14 $63 $92 [# 80]
Pan 2015 $150 $128.4 $86–150 $94–164 [# 81]
Peter Pan 2003 $130.6 $122 $70 $98 [# 82]
Pixels 2015 $88 $244.9 $75 $82 [# 83]
Poseidon 2006 $160 $181.7 $83 $107 [# 84]
The Postman 1997 $80 $20.8 $70 $113 [# 85]
Power Rangers 2017 $100 $142.3 $76 $80 [# 86]
The Promise 2016 $90 $10.6 $93–102.1 $100–110 [# 87]
R.I.P.D. 2013 $130–154 $78.3 $92 $102 [# 88]
Red Planet 2000 $80 $33.5 $63 $95 [# 89]
Rise of the Guardians 2012 $145 $306.9 $87 $98 [# 90]
Robin Hood 2018 $100 $85.7 $83.7 $86 [# 91]
Sahara 2005 $160 $119.2 $78.4 $104 [# 92]
Seventh Son 2015 $95 $114.2 $85 $93 [# 93]
Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas 2003 $60 $80.8 $125 $176 [# 94]
Soldier 1998 $60–75 $14.6 $60 $95 [# 95]
A Sound of Thunder 2005 $80 $11.7 $74 $98 [# 96]
Speed Racer 2008 $120 $93.9 $88 $106 [# 97]
Sphere 1998 $73–80 $50.2 $61 $97 [# 98]
Stealth 2005 $135 $79.3 $96 $127 [# 99]
Supernova 2000 $90 $14.8 $83 $125 [# 100]
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows 2016 $135 $245.6 $75 $81 [# 101]
Tenet 2020 $200 $363.7 $50–100 $50–100 [# 102]
Terminator: Dark Fate 2019 $185–196 $261.1 $110–130 $113–134 [# 103]
Titan A.E. 2000 $75–90 $36.8 $100 $150 [# 104]
Tomorrowland 2015 $180–190 $209 $90–150 $98–164 [# 105]
Town & Country 2001 $90 $10.4 $85 $124 [# 106]
Transformers: The Last Knight 2017 $217 $605.4 $100+ $106+ [# 107]
Treasure Planet 2002 $140 $109.6 $85 $122 [# 108]
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets 2017 $177.2–180 $225.9 $82 $87 [# 109]
Windtalkers 2002 $115–120 $77.6 $76–81 $109–117 [# 110]
The Wolfman 2010 $150 $139.8 $76 $90 [# 111]
Wonder Woman 1984 2020 $200 $166.5 $100–143 $100–143 [# 112]
A Wrinkle in Time 2018 $125 $133.4 $130.6 $135 [# 113]
xXx: State of the Union 2005 $113.1 $71 $78 $103 [# 114]
Zoom 2006 $75.6 $12.5 $69 $89 [# 115]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ 1634–1699: McCusker, J. J. (1997). How Much Is That in Real Money? A Historical Price Index for Use as a Deflator of Money Values in the Economy of the United States: Addenda et Corrigenda (PDF). American Antiquarian Society. 1700–1799: McCusker, J. J. (1992). How Much Is That in Real Money? A Historical Price Index for Use as a Deflator of Money Values in the Economy of the United States (PDF). American Antiquarian Society. 1800–present: Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Retrieved January 1, 2020.
  2. ^ Cutthroat Island was once listed as having the "largest box office loss" by Guinness World Records,[11][12] but the category has since been retired.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Susman, Gary (April 14, 2015). "The 19 Biggest Box Office Bombs in Movie History". Moviefone. Retrieved August 15, 2015.
  2. ^ Anders, Charlie Jane (January 31, 2011). "How much money does a movie need to make to be profitable?". io9. Retrieved July 12, 2013.
  3. ^ Davidson, Adam (June 26, 2012). "How Does the Film Industry Actually Make Money". The New York Times. Retrieved August 15, 2015.
  4. ^ a b Galloway, Stephen (September 9, 2019). "Hollywood History Questions Answered: What Movie Was the Biggest Bomb Ever?". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved September 10, 2019.
  5. ^ Hall, Sheldon; Neale, Stephen (2010). Epics, spectacles, and blockbusters: a Hollywood history. Wayne State University Press. p. 166. ISBN 978-0-8143-3008-1. With top tickets set at an all-time high of $5.50,Cleopatra had amassed as much as $20 million in such guarantees from exhibitors even before its premiere. Fox claimed the film had cost in total $44 million, of which $31,115,000 represented the direct negative cost and the rest distribution, print and advertising expenses. (These figures excluded the more than $5 million spent on the production's abortive British shoot in 1960–61, prior to its relocation to Italy.) By 1966 worldwide rentals had reached $38,042,000 including $23.5 million from the United States.
  6. ^ Block, Alex Ben; Wilson, Lucy Autrey, eds. (2010). George Lucas's Blockbusting: A Decade-by-Decade Survey of Timeless Movies Including Untold Secrets of Their Financial and Cultural Success. HarperCollins. pp. 434 & 461. ISBN 9780061778896.
  7. ^ a b Fleming, Mike Jr. (August 7, 2013). "Isn't It Time To Take 'Waterworld' Off The All-Time Flop List?". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on January 8, 2015.
  8. ^ Stewart, Andrew (August 11, 2012). "B.O. reality gets lost in perception". Variety. Retrieved July 18, 2016.
  9. ^ Patterson, John (July 15, 2013). "Cleopatra, the film that killed off big-budget epics". The Guardian. Retrieved September 10, 2019.
  10. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (December 31, 2020). "How Covid Wiped Out The Studios' Domestic Box Office Market Share In 2020". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved December 12, 2021.
  11. ^ "Largest Box Office Loss". Guinness World Records. HIT Entertainment. Archived from the original on November 27, 2005. Retrieved July 16, 2013.
  12. ^ McClintock, Pamela (July 8, 2013). "Why 'Mars Needs Moms' bombed for Disney". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved July 16, 2013. Other infamous financial flops include Renny Harlin's pirate pic Cutthroat Island -- listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the biggest bomb of all time -- Sahara, The Adventures of Pluto Nash and Gigli.

Chart sources[edit]

  1. ^ The 13th Warrior
  2. ^ 47 Ronin
  3. ^ The Adventures of Baron Munchausen
  4. ^ The Adventures of Pluto Nash
  5. ^ The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle
  6. ^ The Alamo
  7. ^ Alexander
  8. ^ Ali
  9. ^ Allied
  10. ^ Around the World in 80 Days
  11. ^ The Astronaut's Wife
  12. ^ Ballistic
  13. ^ Battlefield Earth
  14. ^ Battleship
  15. ^ Beloved
  16. ^ Ben-Hur
  17. ^ The BFG
  18. ^ Blackhat
  19. ^ Blade Runner 2049
  20. ^ The Call of the Wild
  21. ^ Cats
  22. ^ Chaos Walking
  23. ^ Chill Factor
  24. ^ A Christmas Carol
  25. ^ The Chronicles of Riddick
  26. ^ The Cotton Club
  27. ^ Cutthroat Island
  28. ^ Dark Phoenix
  29. ^ Deepwater Horizon
  30. ^ Doctor Doolittle
  31. ^ Dolittle (2020)
  32. ^ Driven
  33. ^ Dudley Do-Right
  34. ^ Evan Almighty
  35. ^ The Fall of the Roman Empire
  36. ^ Fantastic Four
  37. ^ Father's Day
  38. ^ Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within
  39. ^ The Finest Hours
  40. ^ Gemini Man
  41. ^ Ghostbusters
  42. ^ Gigli
  43. ^ Gods of Egypt
  44. ^ The Good Dinosaur
  45. ^ The Great Raid
  46. ^ The Great Wall
  47. ^ Green Lantern
  48. ^ Hard Rain
  49. ^ Hart's War
  50. ^ Heaven's Gate
  51. ^ How Do You Know
  52. ^ Hudson Hawk
  53. ^ Hugo
  54. ^ The Huntsman
  55. ^ Inchon
  56. ^ Instinct
  57. ^ The Invasion
  58. ^ Ishtar
  59. ^ Jack Frost
  60. ^ Jack the Giant Slayer
  61. ^ John Carter
  62. ^ Jupiter Ascending
  63. ^ K-19: The Widowmaker
  64. ^ King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
  65. ^ Krull
  66. ^ Live by Night
  67. ^ Lolita
  68. ^ The Lone Ranger
  69. ^ The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
  70. ^ Mars Needs Moms
  71. ^ Missing Link
  72. ^ Monkeybone
  73. ^ Monster Trucks
  74. ^ Mortal Engines
  75. ^ Mulan
  76. ^ The Mummy
  77. ^ The New Mutants
  78. ^ The Nutcracker in 3D
  79. ^ Onward
  80. ^ Osmosis Jones
  81. ^ Pan
  82. ^ Peter Pan
  83. ^ Pixels
  84. ^ Poseidon
  85. ^ The Postman
  86. ^ Power Rangers
  87. ^ The Promise
  88. ^ R.I.P.D.
  89. ^ Red Planet
  90. ^ Rise of the Guardians
  91. ^ Robin Hood
  92. ^ Sahara
  93. ^ Seventh Son
  94. ^ Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas
  95. ^ Soldier
  96. ^ A Sound of Thunder
  97. ^ Speed Racer
  98. ^ Sphere
  99. ^ Stealth
  100. ^ Supernova
  101. ^ Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows
  102. ^ Tenet
  103. ^ Terminator: Dark Fate
  104. ^ Titan A.E.
  105. ^ Tomorrowland
  106. ^ Town & Country
  107. ^ Transformers: The Last Knight
  108. ^ Treasure Planet
  109. ^ Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
  110. ^ Windtalkers
  111. ^ The Wolfman
  112. ^ Wonder Woman 1984
  113. ^ A Wrinkle in Time
  114. ^ XXX: State of the Union
  115. ^ Zoom

Bibliography[edit]