Greatest Box-Office
Bombs, Disasters
and Film Flops:

The Most Notable Examples


Written by Tim Dirks
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 | 2020-2021
Film Title, Director, Studio, Budget Information, Description

Fantastic Four (2015)
Director: Josh Trank
Studio/Distributor: Fox
Budget: $120-125 million
Domestic Gross: $56.1 million
Worldwide Gross: $168 million
Total Net Loss: $80-100 million
Total Estimated Loss (Inflation-Adjusted): $86-108 million

This action-adventure superhero film was an attempt to jump-start (and reboot) the three-film franchise (extending from 1994-2007), composed of The Fantastic Four (1994), Fantastic Four (2005), and Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007). The script was based on the Marvel comic book by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.

The big-budget, widely-criticized and unimaginative production never seemed to emerge from its negative space - there was studio interference and editing during post-production, multiple re-shoots, negative press reviews for the film (and about the erratic director), delays in the release date, a script rewrite, a superficial and uneven plot (with poor character development), cheap-looking yet expensive special effects, and unclear marketing publicity.

In this origin story (with an extended set-up), four young high-school seniors and friends: Reed Richards/Mister Fantastic (Miles Teller), Sue Storm/The Invisible Woman (Kate Mara), Johnny Storm/The Human Torch (Michael B. Jordan), and Ben Grimm/The Thing (Jamie Bell) were teleported to a parallel or alternate dimension-universe (Planet Zero). During transport, they were genetically-altered and acquired various superhero powers, and ultimately had to face the telekinetic forces of evil Victor von Doom/Doom (Toby Kebbell) who was intent on destroying Earth in the film's short and violent climax.

It opened in early August of 2015 at lower than expected revenue levels (at $25.7 million) for a summer blockbuster - ranked # 2 behind the second week's showing of Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation (2015) (at $28.5 million). Fortuitously, it had a weak line-up of competitors: The Gift (2015), Ricki and the Flash (2015), Shaun the Sheep Movie (2015), and Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection 'F' (2015). Although its total worldwide gross appeared higher than its initial production budget, the additional production, marketing and advertising costs (estimated at $200 million) doomed the possibility of it making any profit - in fact, it was a major box-office bomb.

It was also a major Razzie Awards nominee (Worst Screen Combo - all four team members, and Worst Screenplay) and winner (Worst Picture, Worst Remake, Rip-Off or Sequel, and Worst Director).

Jupiter Ascending (2015)
Directors: Lilly/Andy & Lana/Larry Wachowski
Studio/Distributor: Warner Bros.
Budget: $175 million
Domestic Gross: $47.4 million
Worldwide Gross: $184 million
Total Net Loss: $95-120 million
Total Estimated Loss (Inflation-Adjusted): $102-129 million

This was one of two poorly-performing, highly-anticipated films for Warner Bros. in the year 2015. The failed effort was co-financed by three entities: the US' Warners (40%), Australia's Village Roadshow Pictures (40%), and Rat-Pac Dune Entertainment (20%).

There were many similarities between this film and elements of both the Star Wars and The Matrix (also by the Wachowskis) franchises. Reportedly, the film was inspired by the spiritual quest-journey theme in Homer's epic poem The Odyssey, Lewis Carroll's children's novel Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, and in The Wizard of Oz (1939).

The film's original yet strange script - a space opera (an action-adventure sci-fi fantasy) - followed the life of ordinary young female Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) who was stuck in life as a cleaning woman from a Russian immigrant family, and unaware of her intergalactic nobility. She was tracked down by genetically-engineered, ex-military hunter Caine Wise (Channing Tatum), an interplanetary alien warrior (half-dog!), who claimed she was destined for great things in the cosmos - he explained that she was actually "The Queen of the Earth" - the Earth's rightful owner. The basic conflict in the film was between the heirs of the Abrasax Dynasty, a powerful alien dynasty of three Abrasax siblings who plotted against her to acquire her inheritance: Balem (Eddie Redmayne), Titus (Douglas Booth), and Kalique (Tuppence Middleton).

There were numerous reasons for its financial failure: multiple film reshoots, rescheduling and delays in the release date, additional special effects work in post-production, and expensive TV and marketing advertisements. Its opening weekend was abysmal for a major blockbuster, taking in only $18.4 million, while competing against the strong weekend showings of the animated The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water (2015) (at $55.4 million), and the 7th week of American Sniper (2015) (at $23.3 million).

The risky film, critically-assailed as awkward and incoherent, overly-explanatory and reliant on special effects, was a prominent contender in the Razzie Awards, with six nominations and one win: Worst Picture, Worst Actor (Channing Tatum), Worst Actress (Mila Kunis), Worst Director and Worst Screenplay (the Wachowskis), and a win for Worst Supporting Actor (Eddie Redmayne).

Pan (2015)
Director: Joe Wright
Studio/Distributor: Warner Bros.
Budget: $150 million
Domestic Gross: $35 million
Worldwide Gross: $128.4 million
Total Net Loss: $85-150 million
Total Loss (Inflation-Adjusted): $92-162 million

This family-friendly action-fantasy film was a prequel to the Peter Pan legendary fable written by Scottish author J. M. Barrie. It was an alternative origin story for the young boy who could fly and never grew up in Neverland, battling his major enemy pirate Captain Hook on the Jolly Roger.

In the reimagined film with a new backstory for the familiar beloved tale, orphaned 12 year-old Peter Pan (Levi Miller) in WWII-era London was kidnapped by pirates led by tyrannical nemesis Blackbeard (Hugh Jackman) on his flying-floating ship and taken to magical Neverland. Peter and others were forced to work mining pixum - a magical, youth-inducing crystallized form of Pixie Dust, where they encountered American James Hook (Garrett Hedlund), and Princess Tiger Lily (Rooney Mara) with her tribe of indigenous peoples. Tiger Lily believed that Peter was the legendary savior Pan (with an ability to fly), but first he had to find faith in himself and believe in his destiny - that he could defeat the pirates with the aid of Tinker Bell (a fairy).

There were numerous reasons for the film's failure at the box-office: the ill-conceived new storyline, the push-back of release dates, additional reshoots and special effects, expensive worldwide marketing, the strange use of contemporary pop songs on the soundtrack, a last minute change in composers, and controversy over the insensitive casting of British-accented, European white Rooney Mara as Tiger Lily rather than a Native-American. One of Warner Bros' exorbitant marketing strategies was the recreation of "Neverland" in various locales, such as London's Leicester Square, or Tokyo's Keyakizaka Complex.

On its opening weekend in early October, Pan only attained $15.3 million (domestic), far behind The Martian (2015) in its second weekend (at $37 million), and Sony's animated Hotel Transylvania 2 (2015) in its third weekend (at $20.4 million). Steep declines in revenue continued for a few weeks to come, from which the film never recovered. With one last opportunity, Warner Bros. rushed a home-video DVD to the marketplace to capture Christmas-time business.

It received two Razzie Award nominations: both for Worst Supporting Actress (Rooney Mara and Amanda Seyfried - as Peter's mother Mary).

Tomorrowland (2015)
Director: Brad Bird
Studio/Distributor: Buena Vista
Budget: $180-190 million
Domestic Gross: $93.4 million
Worldwide Gross: $209.2 million
Total Net Loss: $90-150 million
Total Estimated Loss (Inflation-Adjusted): $97-162 million

Buena Vista's and Walt Disney Pictures' visually-stunning, live-action mystery adventure involved an exciting and dangerous mission by two innovators in the present-day - to an enigmatic utopian place known as Tomorrowland in parallel reality, a world of inventions and hopeful dreams:

  • disillusioned, reclusive and grumpy ex-boy-genius inventor (flashbacking to the 1964 NY World's Fair) named Frank Walker (George Clooney); once an idealistic dreamer, he had been exiled from Tomorrowland and was now living life as a cranky, bitter, angry and grizzled old man in Pittsfield, New York.
  • scientifically-curious, optimistic female Casey Newton (Britt Robertson) - the teenaged daughter of NASA engineer Eddie Newton (Tim McGraw) who would soon become unemployed. To prevent him from losing his job, Casey made attempts at sabotage to prevent the dismantling of Pad 39 at the Kennedy Space Center, used to engage in celestial exploration.

In the heavy-handed tale with obviously positive sermonizing-messaging, both Casey and Frank were united chosen ones by the possession of a magical "T" pin (the gateway to the alternate futuristic dimension of Tomorrowland), presented to them by childlike robot-android Athena (Raffey Cassidy) ("I am the future"). The object allowed them to make their way back to Tomorrowland to save Earth (with dreamy optimism) from a worldwide catastrophe of environmental collapse, war and disease.

Tomorrowland was founded by some of history’s greatest geniuses and dreamers, including Gustave Eiffel, Jules Verne, Nikola Tesla, and Thomas Edison. They had originally been founders of Plus Ultra in the 19th century before discovering Tomorrowland and seeking new recruits. The film climaxed with villainous David Nix's (Hugh Laurie) monologue about humanity's embrace of dystopia ("How do you think people responded to the prospect of imminent doom? They gobbled it up like a chocolate eclair! They didn't fear their demise, they re-packaged it...In every moment there's the possibility of a better future, but you people won't believe it. And because you won't believe it, you won't do what is necessary to make it a reality. So, you dwell on this terrible future").

Although writer/director Brad Bird's Tomorrowland (2015) was the # 30th highest-ranked grossing (domestic) film of 2015 (at $93.4 million), its tremendous production budget and marketing campaign kept it way under expectations for a blockbuster. It scored # 1 at the box-office on its opening Memorial Day weekend (at $33 million), but was just above two films in their second weekend: Pitch Perfect 2 (2015) (at $30.1 million) and Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) (at $24.6 million), and it was also competing against the debut of the remake Poltergeist (2015) (at $22.6 million).

Many factors contributed to the Disney film's disappointing demise: an unusual and vague marketing campaign (ill-defining its audience), poorly-advised secrecy surrounding the project (with only sneak-peeks and teasers), a delay of six months in its release, the preachy nature of the script, and the unabashed and nonstop Disney commercial-references and product placements (for Disneyland, the "It's a Small World" ride, Coca-Cola, Oreos, e-Bay, the Chevrolet Volt, Disney's new acquisition Star Wars, Apple's iMac, and others).

Ben-Hur (2016)
Director: Timur Bekmambetov
Studio/Distributor: Paramount
Budget: $100 million
Domestic Gross: $26.4 million
Worldwide Gross: $94.1 million
Total Net Loss: $75-121.7 million
Total Estimated Loss (Inflation-Adjusted): $80-128 million

There was no adequate justification for Paramount (the film's domestic distributor and co-financier at 20%) to partner with MGM (responsible for most of the $100 million budget) to produce and fund the third big screen feature of the sword and sandals epic novel "Ben-Hur," especially after director Fred Niblo's classic silent film Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ (1925), and William Wyler's epic Best Picture-winning blockbuster Ben-Hur (1959) starring Charlton Heston.

Marketing made weak attempts (on account of co-producers Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, experienced in religious-oriented entertainment) to appeal to church-based audiences during the current crazed era of faith-based filming (although the PG-13 violence was a hard sell). The film was also tauted in TV spots during Rio's Summer Olympics. It all turned out to be a huge, almost-instant failure and miscalculation.

At 123 minutes in length, this disposable and uninspired retread (stripped down with choppy editing and liberal use of CGI) was mercifully condensed to 89 minutes shorter than the 1959 version. However, it still reinstated all of the former Biblical-era scenes, including the galley/slave ship naval battle, the exalted chariot race, the encounters with Jesus and his crucifixion, and the intense rivalry between close childhood friends - adopted brothers who were of different persuasions: Jewish prince Judah Ben-Hur (Jack Huston) and Roman officer Messala Severus (Toby Kebbell).

Unfortunately, the two leads were fairly bland and lightweight actors, while the character of Jesus (Rodrigo Santoro), although more prominent and featured than in the 1959 version, was highly romanticized and portrayed as handsome, wise, eloquent and compassionate. Morgan Freeman took the role of horse trainer Sheik Ilderim, who was inappropriately dread-locked and exhibited modern affectations.

Delays in scheduling meant that the summer film would open in mid-August of 2016. It placed third among new releases when lined up against the strong debuts of War Dogs (2016) (at $14.7 million) and the animated Kubo and the Two Strings (2016) (at $12.6 million). Ben-Hur only attained $11.2 million - ranking 6th overall in total box-office returns for the weekend. It was also easily outperformed by Suicide Squad (2016) in its third week (at $20.9 million), the comedy Sausage Party (2016) in its second week (at $15.5 million), and Pete's Dragon (2016) - also in its second week (at $11.3 million).

The BFG (2016)
Director: Steven Spielberg
Studio/Distributor: Buena Vista
Budget: $140 million
Domestic Gross: $55.5 million
Worldwide Gross: $183.3 million
Total Net Loss: $71-100 million
Total Estimated Loss (Inflation-Adjusted): $76-107 million

Disney's two-hour long family adventure film, premiering in a prime mid-summer July 4th weekend slot, was co-financed with Walden Media and Reliance Entertainment (India) at an astronomical figure of $140 million. Its enormous budget was partly due to a combination of live-action, CGI, and motion capture, producing stunning visuals. It was predicted to be a major hit, combining the talents of Disney, Spielberg, and the original source material - Roald Dahl's much-loved 1982 novel The BFG about friendship and courage. [Note: Similarities were noted between this film's story and another major flop, Bryan Singer's Jack the Giant Slayer (2013).]

The visually-stunning film followed the adventures of young 10 year-old insomniac orphan Sophie (Ruby Barnhill) and a benevolent 24 foot-tall giant (the BFG or "Big Friendly Giant") (Mark Rylance) to evade and capture evil, man-eating giants in Giant Country, with assistance from the Queen of England (Penelope Wilton). The evil giants were led by the Fleshlumpeater (Jemaine Clement) and his advisor the Bloodbottler (Bill Hader).

During its opening weekend, it had rough competition for the same family audience, from Pixar's blockbuster animated Finding Dory (2016) in its third week (at $41.8 million), and the strong openings of WB's expensive The Legend of Tarzan (2016) at $38.5 million, and Universal's horror-thriller The Purge: Election Year (2016) at $31.5 million. While it had a respectable opening at $18.8 million, it wasn't enough for a mega-million budgeted production. During its next three weekends, it had added competition with the debuts of The Secret Life of Pets (2016) at $104.4 million, Ghostbusters (2016) at $46 million, and Fox's Ice Age: Collision Course (2016) at $21.4 million.

Deepwater Horizon (2016)
Director: Peter Berg
Studio/Distributor: Lionsgate/Summit
Budget: $110-120 million
Domestic Gross: $61.4 million
Worldwide Gross: $121.8 million
Total Net Loss: $60-112 million
Total Estimated Loss (Inflation-Adjusted): $64-119 million

Director Peter Berg's disaster action-thriller drama - based upon a true historical event - told about the massive failure of equipment in Transocean's and BP's oil drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico (off the coast of Louisiana) in late April of 2010. The malfunctioning machinery eventually ceased working, causing a deadly explosion and enormous seepage of oil from the well into the water. Ultimately, 11 men lost their lives but none of the higher-up authorities at BP or Transocean were ever prosecuted. Those who lost their lives were paid tribute and viewed as heroes rather than as victims. According to the film's postscript, "The blowout lasted for 87 days, spilling an estimated 210 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. It was the worst oil disaster in U.S. history."

Before the catastrophe occurred in this technically-amazing film, the backstories of the three major characters were summarily explored: Chief Electrical Technician Mike Williams (Mark Wahlberg), offshore crew chief James "Mr. Jimmy" Harrell (Kurt Russell); and female rigger/navigation officer Andrea Fleytas (Gina Rodriguez). There was little blame placed upon BP's nefarious, profit-driven and arrogant executive manager Donald Vidrine (John Malkovich) who ordered continued drilling and ignored warning signs because the project was 43 days behind schedule.

Originally, the film was to be directed by J.C. Chandor, but because of creative differences, he was replaced. Divisiveness arose between two differing opinions about the film's objective - should it be more socially-aware and political (and environmentally-concerned about the ecological impact) rather than a commercial money-making enterprise along the lines of epic disaster films such as The Towering Inferno (1974) or The Perfect Storm (2000). All reviewers and critics nonetheless praised the film for its stunt work, realistic special effects, and exciting set-pieces.

But many criticized the film for taking advantage of a human tragedy. It only briefly acknowledged the natural consequences of the disaster, avoided taking a muckraking stand against the big oil company BP, and did not directly indict the corporation and its greedy mindset for causing the worst oil spill in American history in the first place.

On its opening weekend in late September of 2016, it performed fairly well (at $20.2 million) - coming in 2nd behind Fox's Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (2016) (at $28.9 million), but then faltered miserably in subsequent weeks, taking in only $61.4 million (domestic) by mid-December. Maybe there was over-saturation of this specific real-life historical-event subgenre: just three weeks earlier, Clint Eastwood's and WB's heroic disaster drama Sully (2016) had opened - it eventually doubled Deepwater Horizon's domestic take (on a smaller budget of $60 million).

It was nominated for two Academy Awards (with no wins): Best Sound Editing and Best Visual Effects.

Monster Trucks (2016)
Director: Chris Wedge
Studio/Distributor: Paramount Pictures' Animation Division/Nickelodeon
Budget: $125 million
Domestic Gross: $33.4 million
Worldwide Gross: $64.5 million
Total Net Loss: $109-123 million
Total Estimated Loss (Inflation-Adjusted): $116-131 million

This live-action CGI-animated adventure film was Paramount Animation's second film after their highly-successful The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water (2015). It was originally developed to be part of a new film franchise that never materialized when it became a major box-office flop.

Signs that there were major problems were evident early on when the release date kept being pushed back over a time frame of a year and a half - from mid-2015 to late-2015 to the spring of 2016, and eventually to mid-January of 2017 (the MLK holiday weekend). It was ranked 7th on its opening weekend (at $11 million) when it faced a slew of other films - many of which were in their 4th-6th weeks. Films that pulled in higher revenue totals for the weekend, in descending order, included: Hidden Figures (2016), La La Land (2016), Sing (2016), The Bye Bye Man (2017), Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016), and Patriots Day (2016).

This family-friendly film's high-concept (boy-meets-creature adventure, similar to E.T.'s premise) was about small-town, North Dakota high-school teen Tripp Coley (Lucas Till) who constructed a pick-up truck from various scrap pieces in the junkyard where he had a part-time job. The town was benefiting from land-lease contracts with an evil fracking company known as Terravex Oil, run by CEO Reece Tenneson (Rob Lowe). In a heavy-handed way, the unscrupulous oil-drilling enterprise was environmentally-insensitive about the watery eco-system of a nearby lake's natural habitat that potentially blocked their lucrative operations.

Circumstances changed for Tripp when he befriended a highly-intelligent, giant, purple-colored, tentacled subterranean squid creature - a Barney-like cephalopod (dubbed Creech, short for creature) with a wide mouth that took shelter in his truck and was voraciously consuming the vehicle's oil and gas. Creech had escaped from the lake where Terravex's drilling experiments were occurring. Tripp discovered that Creech could power and soup up his hybrid "monster" truck (without an engine), providing it with super-speed and racing agility. He was able to save Creech (and his parents) with help from benevolent Terravex geologist Dr. Jim Dowd (Thomas Lennon), his divorced mother's (Amy Ryan) boyfriend Sheriff Rick (Barry Pepper) and his biology tutor and love interest Meredith (Jane Levy), against Terravex's hired mercenary Burke (Holt McCallany).

Its exorbitant promotional and production budgets mushroomed out of control, eventually causing a loss for the studio of approximately $120 million.

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (2017)
Director: Guy Ritchie
Studio/Distributor: Warner Bros.
Budget: $175 million
Domestic Gross: $39.2 million
Worldwide Gross: $148.7 million
Total Net Loss: $114-153 million
Total Estimated Loss (Inflation-Adjusted): $119-160 million

Writer/director Guy Ritchie's epic fantasy action-adventure was another in a long string of remakes about the origin story of the legendary figure and the classic Excalibur (magical sword) myth. It traced the long journey of young heir Arthur (Charlie Hunnam) - from the time of the murder of his mother and father, Briton King Uther Pendragon (Eric Bana) of Camelot, to the seizure of the throne away from him by Arthur's tyrannical uncle Vortigern (Jude Law). After being raised by prostitutes in a brothel, Arthur ultimately returned (after removing the sword from a stone) with support from a powerful Mage (Astrid Bergès-Frisbey) and a group of Uther Pendragon loyalists led by Sir Bedivere (Djimon Hounsou) - to fulfill his destiny as King.

Quick-cut editing, fast non-stop pacing, CGI flourishes, dizzyingly kinetic camera work, rapid-fire dialogue, scene shifting and flash forwards, a loud soundtrack, and chaotic action-filled battle scenes with violent carnage characterized most of the sequences. Critics were unforgiving of the studio's unwise financial strategy and the anachronistic, contemporary and revisionist tone laid onto the historical legend.

As early as 2010, Ritchie had been dreaming of a King Arthur film, while Warner Bros. was also considering a remake of Excalibur (1981). Their attempts were prematurely realized for a film project titled Arthur & Lancelot. By 2014, plans were solidified for the release of a revived picture - the first of a proposed, overly-ambitious six-film franchise. After filming commenced, expensive reshoots (after poor preview showings) and multiple changes in release dates signaled that the film was struggling. One positive sign was strong audience reaction to free advance screenings the month before its official release (when it was promoted as "King for a Day").

When the film finally opened, it was up against the 2nd week of the juggernaut Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 (2017) (at $65.3 million), and the debut of Snatched (2017) (at $19.5 million) - the Amy Schumer and Goldie Hawn comedy. In third place, King Arthur only acquired $15.4 million, a little less than half of its entire domestic total. Ultimately, it was estimated that the film was a total disaster, with over $150 million in losses - one of the largest box-office flops in cinematic history.

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