Greatest Box-Office
Bombs, Disasters
and Film Flops:

The Most Notable Examples


2003


Greatest Box-Office Bombs, Disasters and Flops of All-Time
(chronologically, by film title)
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2000 | 2001 - 1 | 2001 - 2 | 2002 - 1 | 2002 - 2 | 2002 - 3 | 2003 | 2004 | 2005 | 2006 | 2007-Present
Film Title, Director, Studio, Budget Information, Description

From Justin to Kelly (2003)
Director: Robert Iscove
Studio/Distributor: Twentieth Century Fox
Budget: $12 million
Domestic Gross: $4.9 million

This predictably lame film, shot in only a two week period, was universally hailed as one of the worst films ever made, although it was nominated for three Teen Choice Awards: Choice Movie (Female) Breakout Star (Kelly Clarkson), Choice Movie (Male) Breakout Star (Justin Guarini), and Choice Movie Chemistry. More characteristically, the film received eight Razzie Awards nominations: Worst Actor (Justin Guarini), Worst Actress (Clarkson), Worst Director, Worst Excuse for an Actual Movie, Worst Picture, Worst Remake or Sequel (Where the Boys Are (1960) and Where the Boys Are '84 (1984)), Worst Screen Couple, and Worst Screenplay. It won the Governor's Award for Distinguished Underachievement in Cinematography (Travis Payne) and in 2005 won the Razzie Award for Worst 'Musical' in the Razzie's 25-year history, defeating Can't Stop the Music (1980), Xanadu (1980), Rhinestone (1984), Spice World (1997) and Glitter (2001). It was like watching an unhip and unslick but updated version of the 60s Beach Blanket films starring Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello.

This exploitative spin-off Fox film (from the same studio that produced the hit TV show American Idol) starred Kelly Clarkson and Justin Guarini, the winner and runner-up respectively from the first season (aired during the summer of 2002). It was executive-produced by promoter Simon Fuller with a superficial script by his brother Kim Fuller, mostly designed to promote the show and its stars - and sales of CDs. Some theatres balked about its early summer release when they heard that Fox planned to release the DVD only six weeks after its theatrical opening, forcing the studio to delay its DVD release for a few months instead. The studio decided to forgo any advance press screenings at the same time that Clarkson told interviewers that critics wouldn't like the film, but that teenybopper fans would.

The overhyped musical romance about love-at-first-sight at the beach (signaled by a choreographed musical number) was doomed from the start with its manufactured stars as a wholesome couple (Kelly Clarkson as a frumpy-looking Kelly from Texas, and Justin Guarini as "party animal" Justin who never even removes his shirt, but hosts and judges a whipped cream bikini contest!) and squeaky clean plot about Miami spring break -- without wild drinking, nudity, profanity or even a kiss between them in the first hour - fulfilled later by a brief fountainside smooch. To provide a bit of tension to the plot, their courtship was sabotaged by Kelly's girlfriend via cell-phone text-messaging. Unflattering lighting and makeup added to the awful mix of tedious and unconvincing dialogue, making the 'reality feature film' The Real Cancun (2003) from the producers of MTV's The Real World look like a masterpiece.

Gigli (2003)
Director: Martin Brest
Studio/Distributor: Columbia Pictures/Revolution Studios
Total Cost: $74 million
Budget: $54 million
Domestic Gross: $6.1 million
Worldwide Gross: $7.3 million
Total Net Loss: $66.7 million

Writer/director Martin Brest's infamous dark romantic comedy with an unpronounceable title (pronounced Jee-lee, rhyming with "really"), has been declared one of the worst stinkers ever made. During their own real-life, tabloid-fueled courtship (adding to the intensity of the film's criticism that has become naturally fashionable) when they were called "Bennifer," Ben Affleck played the role of dim mobster hitman Larry Gigli assigned to kidnap a mentally-damaged, Baywatch-obsessed man from an institution, and Jennifer Lopez took the role of lesbian-leaning (or bisexual) assassin and no-nonsense rival mobster Ricki assigned to oversee his work.

There were many reasons for its failure: its over two-hour length and slow pacing, shallow plot with insincere emotions, an inept and disjointed script, miscast performers, its confused and inconsistent tone, and a tiresome chatty struggle to convince the heroine to become heterosexual (similar to Affleck's role in Chasing Amy (1997)). Due to a horrible box-office drop-off in attendance in just three weeks, the film was entirely withdrawn from theatres. Bad critical press and universally-negative word-of-mouth quickly sank the film.

The film was nominated for nine Razzie Awards, including Worst Supporting Actor (Al Pacino), Worst Supporting Actor (Christopher Walken), and Worst Supporting Actress (Lainie Kazan), with six wins: Worst Actor (Ben Affleck), Worst Actress (Jennifer Lopez), Worst Director, Worst Picture, Worst Screen Couple, and Worst Screenplay. It also set the record by being the first film in the history of the Razzie Awards to "sweep" all the top categories. It also won the Razzie Award for the Worst 'Comedy' in the 25-year history of the Razzies.

During production, script rewrites added a coarse romantic subplot, contributing to the overall strangeness of the film's dialogue that included over 120 instances of the 4-letter F word. One of the film's most notorious sequences was the 3-minute debate in which the two compared the relative merits and attractiveness of the male and female sex organs, while Ricki did yoga exercises in blue spandex shorts in his apartment. She instructed him on how the male organ was overvalued: "The penis is like some sort of bizarre sea slug or a really long toe"; she offered her description of the real power in the world: "There is no place, nowhere, that has been the object of more ambitions, more battles than the sweet, sacred mystery between a woman's legs that I am proud to call my pussy" matched later only by Affleck's: "I'm the bull, you're the cow...Got that?" And when Ricki invited Larry to have oral sex with her when she inevitably changed her sexual preference and seduced him, she hinted animalistically: "It's turkey time...Gobble, gobble."

Gods and Generals (2003)
Director: Ronald F. Maxwell
Studio/Distributor: Ted Turner Pictures/Warner Bros.
Total Cost: $60 million
Budget: $55 million
Domestic Gross: $12.9 million
Worldwide Gross: $12.9 million
Total Net Loss: $47.1 million

Director/producer/co-writer Ronald Maxwell's overproduced, overextended, lifeless and overlong (almost four hours) saga was adapted from Jeffrey M. Shaara's novel of the same name. The historically-authentic, episodic, solemn and plodding Civil War battle film (concentrating on the early eastern front battles at Manassas, Fredericksburg, and Chancellorville (but ignoring the bloody Antietam), and surveying the period from April 1861 to May 1863) was designed as a prequel to the superior Civil War film Gettysburg (1993). [Note: Jeffrey Shaara was the son of Michael Shaara, who wrote the novel The Killer Angels on which Maxwell’s Gettysburg was based.] Both films were directed by Ron Maxwell and financed by billionaire Ted Turner.

It was mostly a portrayal of the rise and fall of the brave and devoutly religious Virginian General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson (Stephen Lang) fighting for the Confederates, with Robert Duvall portraying General Robert E. Lee and Jeff Daniels as Northern commander Lt. Col. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain. The cardboardish script also introduced two black characters in very slight speaking roles (after the first hour) to apparently represent an African-American point of view, in contract to the self-righteous Confederacy view of its noble cause -- free man Jim Beale (Frankie Faison) and black slave Martha (Donzaleigh Abernathy, daughter of Ralph Abernathy).

This stiff and inert film elaborately re-enacted the era as if it wanted to appeal solely to Civil War buffs. Lacking visceral power in its PG-13, non-graphic re-enacted battle scenes with thousands of extras, it also had statuesque generals speechify with florid, windy and unrealistic dialogue (often about military strategy) in long segments, and then concluded with Stonewall's endless 20-minute death scene. The third film in the expected trilogy, The Last Full Measure, was indefinitely postponed after this ill-fated film's financial failure. Ted Turner announced that he wouldn't finance anything else with his personal fortune, at a time when he had lost most of the worth of his assets, his job (he resigned from his position as Vice-President of AOL Time Warner in early 2003), and his wife Jane Fonda in mid-2001 by divorce.

Timeline (2003)
Director: Richard Donner
Studio/Distributor: Paramount Pictures
Total Cost: $80 million
Budget: $80 million
Domestic Gross: $19.5 million
Worldwide Gross: $43.9 million
Total Net Loss: $36.1 million

Michael Crichton's novel of the same name was crudely adapted by first-time scripter George Nolfi for this action/science-fiction film, with the tagline: "They had to travel into the past to save the future." It was director Richard Donner's first film in five years, following the last installment of Lethal Weapon 4 (1998).

The over two-hour, big-budget dud began in the near future, with Yale students led by archaeology professor Edward Johnston (Billy O'Connolly), including David Stern (Ethan Embry) and Kate Erickson (Frances O'Connor) and the professor's son Chris Johnston (Paul Walker), at a medieval village dig site in France. Intrigue developed when they discovered that their teacher was missing after he returned to New Mexico to meet with the head of the funding sponsor of the expedition -- ominous, eccentric ITC Corp. technology company executive Robert Doniger (David Thewlis). Further mysteries unfolded when they unearthed a handwritten plea for help from Professor Johnston, dated April 2, 1357.

Four of the students were chosen to travel to mid-14th century France in Doniger's teleportation device (a "3-D fax machine"!) to rescue their teacher. Predictably, the group became entrapped in the past, but were able to successfully change the course of history, avoid feudal warring hordes of French and British during the Hundred Years War, defeat the evil scientist in the nefarious organization, and return to the present. To add to the mess, one of the students - Scottish André Marek (Gerard Butler), remained in the past and changed history through his love affair with Frenchwoman Lady Claire (Anna Friel).

Casting issues (Walker and O'Connor in particular), leaden and seemingly ad-libbed dialogue, a quasi-suspenseful countdown of time cues, and a lumbering and haphazard storyline (with some illogical scientific problems, to say the least, such as "wormholes") were a few of the film's major downfalls. Aging septuagenarian Donner was criticized for almost completely forsaking CGI-effects and blue-screens in favor of old-fashioned sets for his fantasy film. Medieval battle scenes were impressive, but that was about it.



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