Greatest Box-Office
Bombs, Disasters
and Film Flops:

The Most Notable Examples


Greatest Box-Office Bombs, Disasters and Flops of All-Time
(chronologically, by film title)
Intro | Summary Chart | 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 | 2007-2011 | 2012-2014 | 2015-2017 | 2018-2019
Film Title, Director, Studio, Budget Information, Description

Delgo (2008)
Directors: Marc F. Adler, Jason Maurer
Studio/Distributor: Fathom Studios/Freestyle Releasing
Budget: $40 million
Total Gross: $694,782 - $915,840
Total Net Loss: approx. $39 million
Total Estimated Loss: $46 million

This non-Hollywood studio, computer-animated fantasy film was nine years in the making. In the near decade it took to reach screens, advancements in CGI had mostly outpaced this entry. The timing of its release (during a glut of Christmas holiday films) and its poor marketing also led to dismal box-office of around $700K. It remains at #1 for the worst "Very Wide" opening (2,000+ theatres) of all-time - in terms of attendance, it averaged about two individuals per screen. It was a spectacular, misconceived failure! The idea of a romance between animated characters Freddie Prinze, Jr. and Jennifer Love Hewitt had cooled considerably from when it was originally conceived. The dark and convoluted film, with odd-looking creatures and an overly-complex opening voice-over narration, seemed unappealing and tedious to children, and looked more like a video-game than anything else, with hints of The Dark Crystal (1982).

The voices of the animated characters included Anne Bancroft (in her final film performance, as power-mad Sedessa - her death in 2005 was one of the film's many problems), and C-list actors including Freddie Prinze, Jr. (as Delgo), Jennifer Love Hewitt (as Kyla), and Val Kilmer (as Bogardus). The children's fantasy story was set in the magical world of Jhamora, that was divided by fear and on the brink of war. The two warring civilizations were the winged Nohrin who rode on dragons, and the earthbound, reptilian Lokni. The exiled conqueress queen Sedessa, conspiring with her treacherous ogre General Raius (Malcolm McDowell) threatened to conquer both races. Young Lokni adolescent-lizard Delgo, with forbidden love-interest Kyla - dragon-fly Princess of Nohrin, was heroically compelled to join with tough Nohrin general Bogardus to defeat the warring Sedessa, protect the world from destruction and achieve peace.

Speed Racer (2008)
Directors: Andy and Larry Wachowski
Studio/Distributor: Warner Bros.
Budget: $120 million
Domestic Gross: $44 million
Worldwide Gross: $93.9 million
Total Net Loss: $80 million
Total Estimated Loss (Inflation-Adjusted): $95 million

Up until this point, the Wachowski brothers team of writers/directors had remained mostly untainted - their series of The Matrix films was well-received. However, their family-friendly, simple-minded, cartoonish live-action PG version of the 1960s Japanese anime hit flopped miserably. [The re-imagined film was based on one of the first Japanese animes syndicated on American TV, by Tatsuo Yoshida.] The over-long film was sandwiched in between two other sure-fire blockbuster pre-summer hits (in May), the super-hero film Iron Man (2008), and the sequel The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (2008).

In the futuristic adventure race/chase fantasy live-action film enhanced with CGI, Emile Hirsch took the role of James "Speed" Racer, the youngest and most fearless racer in the World Racing League (WRL), with a custom-made Mach 5. The back story told of his deceased older brother Rex Racer (who died racing in the Casa Cristo Cross Country 5000 Rally with a tarnished reputation), and encouragement and support from his father Pops Racer (John Goodman), who designed his car, and his mother Mom Racer (Susan Sarandon). Speed Racer was presented with (and rejected) a lucrative sponsorship offer to drive for racing manufacturing giant Royalton Industries, led by maniacal owner E.P. Arnold Royalton (Roger Allam). He then learned that the Grand Prix races were being fixed by cheating, through support of multi-national sponsorships, and drivers were being manipulated to increase stock prices for Royalton. Angered by Speed Racer's refusal, Royalton told him that he would never win again and that he would destroy the family business.

To redeem himself, Speed Racer engaged in the cross-country race called the Crucible that had previously killed his brother, garnering support from his longtime and loyal girlfriend Trixie (Christina Ricci) - a helicopter pilot, and his mysterious one-time rival - a masked and leather-suited driver named Racer X (Matthew Fox). He sought to rescue his family's business and the integrity of racing itself. In the film's plot twist, Rex hadn't died, but had assumed the disguise and identity of Racer X.

It was unclear who the escapist film's target audience was designed to be for - for gamers or fanboys, but maybe not for kids? Surely, box-office suffered when the film was interpreted as being too childish (by male teens), and too frenetic and simplistic for adults, and racing films were never very popular. In any case, 135 minutes was too long. The summer's hyped-up film only took in $18.6 million in its opening weekend, and went down from there ($8.1 million in its second weekend). It was nominated for a Razzie Award in the category of Worst Prequel, Remake, Rip-Off or Sequel, losing to Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008).

The stylistic, garish, and gaudy film was filled with hyperkinetic candy-colors, and video game-style (CG) racing segments - an expensive experiment to make it look like it was taking place within a 3-D cartoonish world or comic strip. The dramatic action scenes basically fell flat, not realistic enough to promote tension. Family values were provided, as well as a bratty pet chimp named Chim Chim, and Speed Racer's fat and annoying beanie-headed brother Spritle Racer (Paulie Litt) to round out the pretentious, mindless proceedings.

How Do You Know (2010)
Director: James L. Brooks
Studio/Distributor: Sony/Columbia
Budget: $120 million
Domestic Gross: $30.2 million
Worldwide Gross: $48.7 million
Total Net Loss: $105 million
Total Estimated Loss (Inflation-Adjusted): $123 million

Director/writer James L. Brooks' romantic comedy appeared to have all the right components: an ensemble quartet of strong actors involved in a complex love triangle, and the theme of finding oneself during an identity crisis.

However, the overlong, sometimes glib, unfunny and contrived dramatic production was plagued by various systemic problems brought on by Sony: high salaries for the A-list veteran stars and director, a lengthy film shoot and post-production, the reshooting of the film's beginning and ending, and a film release during the crowded end-of-year time frame.

On its opening weekend, it was ranked # 8 (at only $7.5 million), far behind the openings of Tron: Legacy (2010) (at $44 million) and Yogi Bear (2010) (at $16.4 million). It also struggled the same weekend against three films in their second week: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (2010) (at $12.4 million), The Fighter (2010) (at $12.1 million), and The Tourist (2010) (at $8.5 million). And it even lost out to a film in its third week: Black Swan (2010) (at $8.4 million).

The mostly unlikable, overly-busy and sluggish sit-com story followed the travails of star Team USA softball player, cute and adorable but bland Lisa Jorgenson (Reese Witherspoon) after she was cut from her team, and was concerned about her advancing age of 30. Devastated and single, she moved in with Matty Reynolds (Owen Wilson), a professional major league baseball pitcher and engaged in a casual fling with the womanizing, narcissistic athlete. Meanwhile, her acquaintance George Madison (Paul Rudd), a straight-laced and honest corporate executive, had been fired from his tycoonish and creepy father Charles Madison's (Jack Nicholson) company after it was found guilty by federal officials of financial malfeasance (stock-fraud). Although George was indicted and willing to take the blame, his wheeling-dealing father ultimately confessed that he was the guilty one. George was emotionally supported by his loyal, pregnant, and honest secretary Annie (Kathryn Hahn). The entanglements of the love triangle between Lisa, Charles, and Matty comprised the bulk of the remainder of the film.

Green Lantern (2011)
Director: Martin Campbell
Studio/Distributor: Warner Bros.
Budget: $200 million
Domestic Gross: $116.6 million
Worldwide Gross: $219.9 million
Total Net Loss: $75 million
Total Loss (Inflation-Adjusted): $85 million

This much-anticipated, live-action super-hero film about a DC Comics character was an underperforming box-office flop, since its total revenue couldn't make up for its exorbitant cost. Critics bashed the overly ambitious, 3-D film very negatively, calling it overproduced, unimaginative, lifeless, and noisy with less than stellar, cheesy special effects. They also mentioned that the superhero character was miscast (with Ryan Reynolds) and unfamiliar to comic book fans. Four screenwriters prepared the slightly incoherent script, that included inconsistent pacing, four different muddled plots, and evidence of their clashing styles. Plans for a sequel - which were quite evident in the way the script played out - were dampened when the revenue results were considered disappointing.

The cosmic, super-powered, emerald-suited peace-keeping hero was human test pilot Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds), who was called upon to battle the powerful and fearful evil force known as the Parallax (voice of Clancy Brown) after one of the purple intergalactic warriors (Abin Sur (Temuera Morrison)) in the police force, known as the Green Lantern Corps, experienced a deadly crash after an encounter with the force. [Parallax was an entity that ruled via fear (signified by yellow).]

A magic, emerald-colored, empowering ring (powered by a lantern) chose Hal as Abin Sur's successor. He would be the first Earthman inducted into the Corps, to continue the fight after he endured training on the home planet of Oa, although he was viewed skeptically by the League's leader Thaal Sinestro (Mark Strong). Jordan was instructed and mentored as a new recruit by drill sergeant Kilowog (voice of Michael Clarke Duncan) and bird-beaked Tomar-Re (voice of Geoffrey Rush), but left when thought to be unfit and fearful by Sinestro.

Parallel action was also occurring on Earth, where nerdy scientist Dr. Hector Hammond (Peter Sarsgaard) was infected by the evil yellow energy from Parallax (causing his brain to expand), while performing an autopsy on Abin Sur's body at a secret government facility. The now-insane, menacing scientist with telekinetic and telepathic powers threatened Hal's love-interest girlfriend and fellow test pilot Carol Ferris (Blake Lively).

Meanwhile, the malevolent Parallax's ultimate goal was to consume all life on Earth, and wipe out all of humanity, to energize itself to conquer Oa. In the conclusion, Jordan bravely lured Parallax away from Earth and toward the Sun, using the Sun's gravity to pull and disintegrate the entity. A sequel was set up, when Sinestro took on the characteristics of Parallax after placing a yellow-energized ring on his finger.

Mars Needs Moms (2011)
Director: Simon Wells
Studio/Distributor: Buena Vista
Budget: $150 million
Domestic Gross: $21.4 million
Worldwide Gross: $39 million
Total Net Loss: $100-144 million
Total Estimated Loss (Inflation-Adjusted) $114-164 million

Reviews were quite bland for Disney's big-budgeted, motion-capture, animated science-fiction film. The market audience for a laboring, dark 3-D film about a mission to save one's Mom who had been snatched into space was unclear, and it was filled with mostly uninteresting characters, a simplistic plot, and strangely illogical ideas about body image and sex roles.

Unadjusted for inflation, it currently reigns as one of the biggest box-office bombs in film history, with a total net loss of approx. $144 million. It was the last film of Robert Zemeckis' ImageMovers Digital studio. As with other motion-capture films, it was criticized for its mannequin-like characters with soul-less eyes, unreal movements, and waxy complexions. Due to the film's commercial failure, Disney was forced to cancel its other motion-capture venture, a remake of Yellow Submarine (1968).

The adventure story, based upon the children's novel by Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Berkeley Breathed, told about whiny, complaining 9 year-old Milo (Seth Green, with voice by Seth Dusky) who was rude to his mother (Joan Cusack), and then had to rescue her after her Martian kidnapping during her sleep. She had been abducted by the flat-faced aliens to harvest her disciplining maternal instincts with a solar-powered device, in order to program and train the nanny-robots that cared for their young hatchlings (who grew out of the ground like vegetables) - and then she would be disposed of.

Milo was forced to take a treacherous and perilous journey into an extraordinarily foreign world as a stowaway in the alien spacecraft bound for Mars, in order to make a daring rescue and bring her back. On the red Mars planet, Milo befriended lonely, techno-geeky, subterranean-dwelling earthling Gribble (Dan Fogler), living in a garbage dump. Another unlikely ally was rebellious, colorful graffiti-artist Martian Ki (Elisabeth Harnois), who had been educated in Earthly life by a 60's hippie-related TV sitcom, and frequently spouted flower-power slogans. The two agreed to help him locate his missing mother and confront the tyrannical and militaristic head queen alien Supervisor (voice of Mindy Sterling).

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