Greatest Box-Office Bombs, Disasters and Film Flops
of All-Time

The Most Notable Examples

Box-Office Index
Top 100 (Domestic) | Top 100 (Inflation-Adjusted) | Top 100 (Worldwide) | Film Franchises - Box-Office | Summer Blockbusters
Top Films (By Decade and Year) | Highest-Grossing Films By Genre Type | Greatest Box-Office Bombs, Disasters, and Flops


Greatest Box-Office Bombs, Disasters and Film Flops: Films have the potential to skyrocket the profits of a studio, or to send it into ruins and bankruptcy.

Films that cost more to make than they acquire in revenue (both domestic and worldwide) are considered box-office catastrophes or bombs. Studios split grosses with theater owners, so even if a movie makes as much as its production budget, it's still losing, and that's before even considering marketing costs. A film often must make almost double its budget to become profitable. Most big box-office bombs are summer blockbusters which are enormously expensive and face stiff competition.

There are many reasons for a film to "bomb" at the box-office - the major causes are lack of studio promotion, heavy competition from other movies released at the same time, exorbitant productions costs difficult to recoup and other production problems, negative word of mouth (especially in the era of the Internet and social media) or critical reviews, or other external factors such as bad timing or economic problems in society at large.

Movie audiences often love to relish the fact that some films, such as Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (2001), Cutthroat Island (1995) or Heaven's Gate (1980) turn out to be monumental flops (which bankrupted their studios), and are fascinated by the details of why certain directors/actors and their films fail. Sometimes an actor's or director's career suffers, sometimes not. Most A-list directors and actors have suffered through at least one major flop, including George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Ang Lee and Brian DePalma, to name just a few.

Some films are unjustly labeled flops, such as Cleopatra (1963) and Waterworld (1995), although both are included in this listing. In recent years, some of these low-income producing films have become profitable (after initial box-office failures) with strong international grosses, and further profits from the sales of movies to TV syndication and to home video/DVD releases (or re-releases). A prominent example of a film which did very poorly in the US, (i.e., The Golden Compass (2007)) with only $70 million (domestic revenue), easily recouped its production budget costs of $180 million with $302 million (foreign revenue) - for a total of $372 million (worldwide).

This kind of comeback has been particularly true for films in the cult films genre, such as Spielberg's 1941 (1979), or action films with a big name star, such as Last Action Hero (1993), Batman & Robin (1997) or Speed 2: Cruise Control (1997), or larger epics such as Alexander (2004) or Poseidon (2006).

Bombs vs. Turkeys: This selection of box-office financial bombs is often significantly different from another category of films, known as "turkeys" -- or in other words, films which have been rated as the worst ever made. These clunkers have often received official Golden Raspberry Awards (or "Razzies") which were first awarded in 1981 (for films made in 1980), although some "turkeys" are included in this list (such as Showgirls (1995) and Basic Instinct 2 (2006)). The Razzie Awards were loosely based on the 1980 book The Golden Turkey Awards written by film critic Michael Medved and his brother Harry Medved. Many of the 'turkeys' were also described in Harry Medved's earlier 1978 book The Fifty Worst Films of All-Time. In 1984, the Medveds also wrote The Hollywood Hall of Shame: The Most Expensive Flops in Movie History -- detailing the biggest financial film disasters in Hollywood history up to that time.


All-Time Greatest Box-Office Bombs, Disasters and Flops
(chronological, by film title)
Intro | Silents-1949 | 1950 -1966 | 1967-1969 | 1970-1974 | 1975-1977 | 1978-1979
1980 | 1981 | 1982 | 1983-1984 | 1985-1986 | 1987-1989
1990-1991 | 1992-1994 | 1995 - 1 | 1995 - 2 | 1996-1997 | 1998 | 1999
2000 | 2001 - 1 | 2001 - 2 | 2002 - 1 | 2002 - 2 | 2002 - 3 | 2003 | 2004 | 2005 | 2006 | 2007-Present

Top Box-Office Flops of All-Time - Summary
(estimated, current as of mid-2013)
The Figures for Total Net Loss are Inflation-Adjusted for the Year 2013, With a Lower Cut off Mark of $80 million.

The following list (most films are written up in detail in the pages that follow) comprises the flops that lost the most revenue*:

Top 10 Major Box-Office Flops of All-Time
(based upon Total Net Loss, Inflation-Adjusted)
Film Title
Year
Total Cost and
Worldwide Revenue
Total Net Loss
Total Net Loss
(Inflation Adjusted)
Cutthroat Island (1995) Total cost: $115 million
$18.5 million revenue
$96.5 million $145.4 million
The Alamo (2004) Total cost: $145 million
$25.8 million revenue
$119.2 million $144.9 million
The Adventures of Pluto Nash (2002) Total cost: $120 million
$ 7.1 million revenue
$113 million $144.1 million
Sahara (2005) Total cost: $241 million
$119.3 million revenue
$121.7 million $143.1 million
Mars Needs Moms (2011) Total cost: $175 million
$39 million revenue
$136 million $138.8 million
The 13th Warrior (1999) Total cost: $160 million
$61.7 million revenue
$98.3 million $135.5 million
Town & Country (2001) Total cost: $105 million
$10.4 million revenue
$94.6 million $122.7 million
Speed Racer (2008) Total cost: $200 million
$94 million revenue
$106 million $113.1 million
Heaven's Gate (1980) Total cost: $44 million
$3.5 million revenue
$40.5 million $112.9 million
Stealth (2005) Total cost: $170.8 million
$77 million revenue
$94 million $110.3 million

Other Major Box-Office Flops
(in descending order of Total Net Loss, Inflation-Adjusted)
Film Title
Year
Total Cost and
Worldwide Revenue
Total Net Loss
Total Net Loss
(Inflation Adjusted)
Green Lantern (2011) Total cost: $325 million
$220 million revenue
$105 million $107.3 million
Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (2001) Total cost: $167 million
$85.1 million revenue
$81.9 million $106.1 million
The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964) Total cost: $19 million
$4.75 million revenue
$14.25 million $105.5 million
Supernova (2000) Total cost: $90 million
$14.8 million revenue
$75.2 million $100.2 million
Battlefield Earth: A Saga of the Year 3000 (2000) Total cost: $103 million
$29.7 million revenue
$73.3 million $97.7 million
Jack the Giant Slayer (2013) Total cost: $295 million
$197.5 million revenue
$97.5 million $97.5 million
Inchon (1982) Total cost: $46 million
$5.2 million revenue
$40.8 million $97.1 million
Treasure Planet (2002) Total cost: $180 million
$109.6 million revenue
$70.4 million $89.9 million
Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever (2002) Total cost: $90 million
$19.9 million revenue
$70.1 million $89.4 million
The Postman (1997) Total cost: $80 million
$17.6 million revenue
$62.4 million $89.2 million
Red Planet (2000) Total cost: $100 million
$33.5 million revenue
$66.5 million $88.7 million
K-19: The Widowmaker (2002) Total cost: $135 million
$65.7 million revenue
$69.3 million $88.4 million
Monkeybone (2001) Total cost: $75 million
$7.6 million revenue
$67.9 million $88 million
Lolita (1997) Total cost: $62 million
$1.1 million revenue
$60.8 million $87 million
The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle (2000) Total cost: $98.6 million
$35.1 million revenue
$63.5 million $84.6 million
Soldier (1998) Total cost: $75 million
$15 million revenue
$60 million $84.5 million
Gigli (2003) Total cost: $74 million
$7.3 million revenue
$66.7 million $83.3 million
Dudley Do-Right (1999) Total cost: $70 million
$10 million revenue
$60 million $82.7 million
Around the World in 80 Days (2004) Total cost: $140 million
$72.2 million revenue
$67.8 million $82.4 million
Ishtar (1987) Total cost: $55 million
$14.4 million revenue
$40.6 million $82.1 million
The Great Raid (2005) Total cost: $80 million
$10.8 million revenue
$69.2 million $81.4 million
Chill Factor (1999) Total cost: $70 million
$11.3 million revenue
$58.8 million $81 million
Hudson Hawk (1991) Total cost: $65 million
$17.2 million revenue
$47.8 million $80.5 million
Beloved (1998) Total cost: $80 million
$22.8 million revenue
$57.2 million $80.5 million
A Sound of Thunder (2005) Total cost: $80 million
$11.7 million revenue
$68.3 million $80.3 million
Hart's War (2002) Total cost: $95 million
$32.3 million revenue
$62.7 million $80 million

Calculation: *Total Net Loss (inflation-adjusted for 2013) = Total Cost (the film's production (budget) + marketing expenses) minus Total Worldwide Theatrical Gross Revenue


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