Before even starting production, film companies have already set expectations for a movie’s outcome. Oftentimes, this also dictates the overall budget, depending on how marketable the story and even the artists playing in it. However, despite projections and considerations, some movies just couldn’t meet these expectations. In other words, these films inevitably end up as flops at the box office.
From animated films to major motion pictures, no particular genre is exempt from becoming a box office flop. Regardless of the stellar cast and advanced visual effects, some movies just weren’t meant to hit theatrical success.
Check out our list of 30 box office flops and see if your favorite is included!
30. Tenet (2020)
The sci-fi action thriller grossed a total of $363.1 million worldwide. However, with a production budget amounting to $200 million already, Indiewire projected that the expenses raise to at least $300-350 million, including the advertising costs. While it wasn’t a total loss, the sales were definitely not enough to even out the total production cost.
29. The BFG (2016)
The fantasy adventure film grossed $55.5 million in North America and $139.7 million overseas, amounting to $195.2 million in total. It was a box office disappointment for Disney, though, which shed a total of $140 million for the film’s production budget. Luckily, the motion picture giant didn’t hurt Disney so much because the expenses were evened out with the releases of Captain America: Civil War and Finding Dory that same year.
28. Fantastic Four (2015)
Based on the Marvel Comics superheroes of the same name, Fantastic Four (2015) was the third and last installment of the Fantastic Four film franchise produced and distributed by 20th Century Fox. Earning a total of $167.9 million against a production budget of $155 million, the movie was one of the biggest flops of Marvel properties.
Box office analysts attributed its underperformance to the poor critical reviews it received, ultimately affecting its audience reception. In Rotten Tomatoes, it only scored a 9% approval rating based on 258 reviews.
27. Titan A.E. (2000)
Don Bluth and Gary Goldman’s 2000 post-apocalyptic sci-fi adventure film was also one of the biggest Hollywood’s box office bombs. Critics gave the movie mixed reviews, resulting in the small number of its final audience. The animated film grossed $36,754,634 worldwide over a budget estimated between $75 to $90 million. According to its film supervisor Chris Meledandri, 20th Century Fox lost over $100 million for Titan A.E.
26. Wonder Woman 1984 (2020)
This DC Superhero film, which is also the sequel for 2017’s Wonder Woman, was among the unfortunate casualties of the recent global pandemic. Wonder Woman 1984 was only able to screen in selected cinemas and grossed a total of $166.1 million, a far cry from its first installment, which earned a total of $363.1 million.
In January 2021, The Hollywood Reporter wrote in an article that the studio likely lost over $100 million, taking into account the $17 million spent on ads promoting the film. On the other hand, the movie was also released on HBO Max, WarnerMedia’s streaming service, although it is unknown how it would help even out production expenses.
25. Transformers: The Last Knight (2017)
Transformers’ fifth installment of the live-action film series, The Last Knight, received the lowest rating among the six films from critics. The movie only received a 15% approval rating based on 250 reviews in Rotten Tomatoes. Despite grossing $605.4 million worldwide against an estimated $217-260 million film budget, it was still a commercial failure. Reportedly, the loss amounted to over $100 million in Paramount’s attempt to compete with box office hits Despicable Me 3, Wonder Woman, Spider-Man: Homecoming, and Dunkirk.
24. Missing Link (2019)
Missing Link is a stop-motion animated comedy film that features the voices of Hollywood actors Hugh Jackman, Zoe Saldana, and Zach Galifianakis. The movie received fairly positive reviews from critics. It won the Golden Globe Award for Best Animated Feature film in 2020 and earned a nomination in the 92nd Academy Awards. The accolades it received, however, did not match its box office performance, which only grossed $26.2 million worldwide over a $102.3 million budget. Deadline predicted the loss at about $101.3 million, factoring in its overall expenses and revenues.
23. The Promise (2016)
This American indie movie top-billed by Oscar Isaac was set in the final years of the Ottoman Empire, just before the historic Armenian genocide. The Promise only managed to gross $12.4 million worldwide against a $90 million film budget. Incorporating the total revenues against its overall expenses, the film lost an estimated $102.1 million.
Low profits were partly attributed to the production’s struggle to find a U.S. distributor because of geopolitics. In an article by The Hollywood Reporter, Producer Eric Esrailian said, “It became clear that the government of Turkey was going to have an influence on this movie.”
22. Cutthroat Island (1995)
Pirate-themed movie Cutthroat Island was considered one of the biggest box office bombs of all time, even making it to the notorious list of Guinness World Records. It received mixed reviews from critics who praised its high production values but frowned at the poorly written script, bad casting, and unbelievable stunts. The movie had a budget of $155 million and only grossed $10 million during its release. Insider revealed that its total loss amounted to $147 million when adjusted for inflation in film history.
21. How Do You Know (2010)
With a stellar cast, including Reese Witherspoon, Jack Nicholson, Owen Wilson, and Paul Rudd, Sony Pictures had high hopes for this romantic comedy film. Sadly, the movie underperformed during its release and was even listed in The Los Angeles Times’ all-time box office flops. The film had a budget of $120 million, but it only grossed around $48 million worldwide, with the overall loss estimated at $105 million.
20. Jack the Giant Slayer (2013)
The modern storytelling of this childhood tale brought well-known director Bryan Singer and Hollywood actors, including Nicholas Hoult, Eleanor Tomlinson, Stanley Tucci, Ian McShane, Bill Nighy, and Ewan McGregor into production. The film had a major budget of $185 million but didn’t break even, despite its cast line-up and stunning visual effects.
Jack the Giant Slayer only grossed $125 million worldwide and was projected to have lost $125-140 million. Vulture wrote in 2013 this low figure might have resulted from conflicting desires of the director and the studio, with the former preferring a darker-themed film and the latter wanting a more family-friendly output.
19. Gemini Man (2019)
Gemini Man was 20 years in the making, with its concept development starting as early as 1997. In 2019, Paramount Pictures released the movie in theaters, and it received mainly negative reviews. The film only generated a $173.5 million profit worldwide against its $138 million production budget. Deadline projected Paramount’s loss at $111.1 million.
18. Deepwater Horizon (2016)
This Mark Wahlberg 2016 movie dramatizes the real-life oil spill disaster that claimed the lives of 11 people in 2010. Deepwater Horizon generally received positive reviews from critics and earned two nods from the 82nd Academy Awards for the Best Sound Editing and Best Visual Effects categories.
But despite the positive critical response, the film underperformed at the box office. It only grossed $122.6 million worldwide over a $156 million production budget. The Hollywood Reporter listed it in its 2016’s biggest box-office bombs, with a projected loss of $60-122 million in total.
17. Cats (2019)
Cats is the 2019 film adaptation of the Tony Award-winning Broadway play of the same name. Its cast includes James Corden, Judi Dench, Jason Derulo, Idris Elba, Jennifer Hudson, Ian McKellen, Taylor Swift, Rebel Wilson, and Francesca Hayward.
While the stage musical was released to critical acclaim, the same couldn’t be said about the movie version, having received overall negative reviews from critics. The film was a box-office bomb and grossed only $74.6 million over a production budget of about $95 million. The projected loss for Universal Pictures was about $113.6 million, with its underperformance attributed to poor reviews and competition from Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
16. Jupiter Ascending (2015)
Wachowski siblings, creators of the critically acclaimed The Matrix series, wrote and directed Jupiter Ascending, set mainly in outer space. Mila Kunis and Channing Tatum starred in the movie. Unfortunately, the film received negative reviews and gained praise only for its visual effects. Warner Bros. reportedly spent more than $176-200 million for its production, but the film only grossed $183.9 million worldwide. The studio projected an overall loss of about $95-120 million.
15. Ben-Hur (2016)
Ben-Hur the movie was based on the 1880 novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ by Lew Wallace. The 1959 film adaptation was the most acclaimed among the five reboots, as it won a record-breaking 11 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor in a Lead Role.
Despite this huge success, the 2016 version failed short of expectations and received overwhelmingly negative reviews from critics. It only grossed $94.1 million worldwide against its $100 million production budget. Meanwhile, the estimated loss was around $75-120.1 million, which includes the expenses spent on marketing and distribution.
14. Monster Trucks (2016)
Paramount Pictures’ monster action comedy film, Monster Trucks, received mixed reviews from critics. Thus, it was not surprising that the movie was a box office bomb, having only grossed $64.5 million against its $125 million budget.
In 2016, The Hollywood Reporter revealed the movie led the company to take a writedown in relation to its projected poor performance in the box office, months before it would even appear in theaters. Adding the amounts spent on marketing and promotion, the studio lost an estimated $123.1 million.
13. Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas (2003)
This animated adventure film that featured voices of famous actors Brad Pitt, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Joseph Fiennes was produced and distributed by DreamWorks Pictures. It was released in 2003 and received mixed reviews from critics who lauded the voice performances but criticized its animation and storyline. Worldwide, it only grossed $80.8 million over a production budget of $60 million.
Following its run, DreamWorks Animation reportedly lost $125 million, leading its founder Jeffrey Katzenberg to conclude, “I think the idea of a traditional story being told using traditional animation is likely a thing of the past.”
12. The 13th Warrior (1999)
Based on Michael Crichton’s 1976 novel, Eaters of the Dead, ‘The 13th Warrior’ was a loose retelling of the classic tale Beowulf and the historical accounts of Volga Vikings. Reportedly, the film had an initial production budget of $80 million, which exponentially increased to $160 million after re-shoots and promotional expenses. Despite the re-edits, the movie remained lackluster, grossing only $61.7 million worldwide. The studio projected losses amounting to $129 million, making it the biggest box office bomb in 1999.
11. Terminator: Dark Fate (2019)
Terminator: Dark Fate was the sixth and final installment to the Terminator series franchise and was released in 2019. Receiving a 70% approval rate based on 343 reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, the film was considered by critics to be a significant improvement compared to its predecessors.
This movie did not seem to translate to good box office reception, as the movie only grossed $261.1 million worldwide over a production budget of $185–196 million. With added expenses on marketing and ads, box office experts said the film would have to earn at least $450 million to break even, which did not happen.
10. A Wrinkle In Time (2018)
Produced by Walt Disney Pictures and directed by Ava DuVerney, A Wrinkle in Time is based on Madeleine L’Engle’s 1962 novel of the same name. This fantasy adventure film featured a great ensemble of actors, including Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, Storm Reid, Zach Galifianakis, and Chris Pine.
Despite the stellar casting and strong message of celebrating women’s empowerment and diversity, it still fell short of becoming a box office hit. The movie only grossed $132.7 million worldwide against its production and marketing budget of $250 million.
9. X-Men: Dark Phoenix (2019)
X-Men: Dark Phoenix is a superhero film based on the Marvel Comics X-Men characters. It is the 12th instalment in the X-Men Film series and the sequel to X-Men: Apocalypse. With only $252 million earnings on a $200 million production budget, the action film was the lowest-grossing installment of the main series. Moreover, the studio lost an estimated $133 million in total. As a result, Deadline dubbed the film as the biggest box office bomb of 2019.
8. Mars Needs Moms (2011)
Distributed by Walt Disney Pictures, Mars Needs Moms was a huge box office failure and branded as the worst financial loss for a Disney-branded movie. It was made using 3D motion capture and animation and had a $150 million production budget. Unfortunately, it only earned $39 million worldwide. In 2014, the Los Angeles Times listed the movie as one of the most expensive box-office flops of all time.
7. Pan (2015)
This fantasy film told the origin story of Peter Pan and Captain Hook but ultimately failed to connect to audiences. Pan was actually ‘panned’ by critics, who criticized its formulaic plot and heavy reliance on CGI for action scenes. The Warner Bros. Pictures-produced film only grossed a total of $128.4 million worldwide, making it a certified box-office bomb. Meanwhile, the production budget settled at $150 million, excluding the marketing expenses estimated at around $125 million.
6. Battleship (2012)
Based loosely on the board game of the same name, Battleship is a military sci-fi action film where world warships are pitted against a fleet of extraterrestrial origin to stop their destructive goals. The film starred Alexander Skarsgård, Taylor Kitsch, Brooklyn Decker, Rihanna, Tadanobu Asano, and Liam Neeson. It received mixed reviews from critics and only grossed $303 million against a production budget of $209 million. In 2012, The Hollywood Reporter projected losses for Universal Pictures at about $150 million.
5. Tomorrowland (2015)
Tomorrowland is a sci-fi film starring George Clooney, the genius inventor who embarks on a journey to an alternate universe. Worldwide, the film grossed $209 million against its $180-190 million production budget.
Reports note the financial losses for Disney amounted to $120-150 million. In response to this negative turnaround, Walt Disney Pictures Distribution Chief Dave Hollis said, “Tomorrowland is an original movie and that’s more of a challenge in this marketplace. We feel it’s incredibly important for us as a company and as an industry to keep telling original stories.”
4. King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (2017)
This movie is another example of a classic tale retelling that hardly appealed to any audience. Inspired by Arthurian legends, this 2017 epic fantasy film starring Charlie Hunnam was also a box-office flop. It only grossed $148 million worldwide against its $175 million production budget. Initially, the movie was set as the first installment in a six-film franchise, but the planned sequels never came to fruition. Warners Bros. and Village Pictures reportedly lost over $150 million for the film.
3. Mortal Engines (2018)
Screenwriter and producer Peter Jackson acquired the rights to the book of the same name and decided to make it into a film in 2016. He brought his team behind the live-action Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies, but that seemed not enough to save the doomed movie. It was released in theaters worldwide in 2018 and only grossed $83.7 million against a production budget of $100–150 million. Deadline also listed the movie as one of the biggest box office flops in 2018, losing its studio an estimated $175 million.
2. The Lone Ranger (2013)
The Lone Ranger is an action film set in the American Old West, starring Hollywood actors Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer. During its production, budget concerns became problematic, and the movie was almost canceled. Unfortunately, it also struggled at the box office, making only $260.5 million worldwide.
The New York Times estimated the film’s overall expenses at $375 million including promotions and marketing and would need to earn at least $650 million to break even. Disney took around $160-190 million dollar loss for the project.
1. John Carter (2012)
John Carter was based on A Princess of Mars, the first book in Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Barsoom novel series. Worldwide, it grossed $284.1 million against a whopping $350 million production and marketing budget. With the obvious large gap between its expenses and revenues, John Carter was dubbed as one of the biggest box-office bombs in history. The huge financial losses resulted in a $200 million write-down for Disney, while its planned sequel, titled Gods of Mars, was ultimately canceled.