Big Budget Films That Flopped at the Box Office

By Rosunnara R.
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Photo Courtesy: Universal Pictures/YouTube

Some movies succeed at the box office while others crash and burn. It’s a real tragedy when studios lose millions of dollars after a major film flops. Highly anticipated films like Justice League and Dark Phoenix tanked at the box office and failed to wow audiences.

Plenty of movies have flopped and the reasons range from terrible scripts to controversial casting decisions. Check out the biggest box office movie flops of all time.        

Justice League (2017)

The chaotic plot, underdeveloped script and poorly executed CGI were Justice League’s kryptonite (besides the box office of course). Moviegoers also thought the film’s tone was inconsistent and boring. However, there was some good feedback: People enjoyed Gal Gadot and Ezra Miller’s performances.

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Photo Courtesy: Warner Bros./IMDb

Justice League is one of the most expensive films ever made, costing $300 million to produce and another $150 million to market. It’s also DC’s lowest grossing film. After underperforming at the box office, Justice League lost the studio somewhere between $51 million and $102 million. A sequel was planned for June 2019, but that didn’t happen. 

Production Budget: $300 million
Gross: $658 million

Rush Hour 3 (2007)

The Rush Hour franchise follows two cop buddies, portrayed by Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker. While the first two installments were fan favorites, Rush Hour 3 gave audiences a sense of déjà vu. Moviegoers grew tired of the same fistfights and life-threatening situations that were already featured in the first two films. Rush Hour 3’s estimated loss was $71 million.

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Photo Courtesy: New Line Cinema/IMDb

Although Rush Hour 3 wasn’t what fans expected, they still have hope for Rush Hour 4. In April 2019, Chan and Tucker sparked buzz on social media after posting a photo where the two are each holding up a hand with four fingers.

Is it real or are the two just trolling everyone? We’ll have to wait to find out.

Production Budget: $140 million
Gross: $258 million

Ghostbusters (2016)

The Ghostbusters reboot ran into trouble before hitting the box office. When the public and social media users found out that Ghostbusters featured an all-female cast, controversy arose. Many people who opposed the film made misogynistic and anti-feminist comments because the cast was all women. The film received major backlash, including low ratings on its IMDb page.

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Photo Courtesy: Columbia Pictures/IMDb

In May 2016, the Ghostbusters trailer became the most disliked film trailer on YouTube. Hold on; there’s more. After the film’s release, Twitter users attacked cast member Leslie Jones with racist and sexist remarks, forcing her to quit the platform for a while.

Ghostbusters’ director, Paul Feig, believes the public’s resentment of the cast negatively impacted the reboot. The studio lost $78 million.

Production Budget: $144 million
Gross: $229.1 million

Power Rangers (2017)

Many fans who grew up watching Power Rangers on TV on Saturday mornings were excited for this film’s release. However, the film didn’t perform as well as expected, losing the studio $78 million. At the theaters, there were barely any youngsters in sight.

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Photo Courtesy: Lionsgate/IMDb

The filmmaker, Dean Israelite, believes Power Rangers failed because of its PG-13 rating. He suspects that parents would’ve been more comfortable bringing their children to watch Power Rangers if it was rated PG. Although Power Rangers didn’t do well at the box office, it broke boundaries by becoming the first superhero film to feature LGBTQ and autistic teenagers. Some fans were glad to be represented in the movie.

Production Budget: $100 million
Gross: $142.3 million

Tomorrowland (2015)

A-list actor George Clooney and Britt Robertson starred in Tomorrowland, which follows a science-loving teenager and a former boy-genius inventor. The two uncover a mysterious place located in time, space and their collective memories. Sounds original, right?

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Photo Courtesy: Walt Disney Pictures/IMDb

Well, Tomorrowland’s new concept was the problem. Believe it or not, unique movies struggle at the box office because moviegoers are more likely to spend money on sequels and reboots. Many critics added fuel to the fire by slamming the film’s writing and tone, leading moviegoers to watch anything but Tomorrowland. The film’s misfortune was between $8 million and $159 million.

Production Budget: $180 million – $190 million
Gross: $209.2 million

How Do You Know (2010)

There are many great romance movies. How Do You Know is not one of them. Some of Hollywood’s most popular actors starred in How Do You Know, including Reese Witherspoon, Paul Rudd, Owen Wilson and Jack Nicholson. But the star-studded cast couldn’t save the movie. The studio, Columbia Pictures, lost between $87 million and $121 million.

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Photo Courtesy: Columbia Pictures/IMDb

In the film, an ex-softball player, Lisa, reevaluates her life and gets stuck in a love triangle. Audiences thought How Do You Know was a predictable and unoriginal story. Critics also say How Do You Know starts off terribly and just gets worse. There was no chemistry between the characters. The story also just keeps going in circles.

Production Budget: $100 million
Gross: $48.7 million

The Good Dinosaur (2015)

What if dinosaurs never became extinct? The Good Dinosaur follows a young and easily frightened Apatosaurus who goes on an adventure with a human through a tough and mysterious land. The adorable story was set in an alternate history. The film’s estimated loss was $90 million.

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Photo Courtesy: Pixar Animation Studios/IMDb

The Good Dinosaur’s production budget ballooned after a script rewrite and a delayed release. However, all that work didn’t pay off for Pixar. The film’s story and animation were beautiful, but The Good Dinosaur was too ordinary and not “Pixar-level imaginative.” Although The Good Dinosaur bombed at the box office, it did top home video sales charts.

Production Budget: $175 million – $200 million
Gross: $332.2 million

Pan (2015)

Pan received many negative reviews, with critics bashing the film’s formulaic plot and overuse of CGI. Warner Brothers spent $150 million on the film’s production budget and used between $100 and $125 million on marketing. However, the studio lost between $91 million and $159 million.

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Photo Courtesy: Warner Bros./IMDb

Why did Pan fail? The film was in hot water since casting. Warner Brothers received public backlash after casting Rooney Mara as Tiger Lily, a Native American character. Thousands of people signed a petition protesting the casting choice of a white actress for a Native American role. The film also suffered because it didn’t have enough big stars and drifted too far from the classic Peter Pan story.

Production Budget: $150 million
Gross: $128.4 million

Jupiter Ascending (2015)

Starring Channing Tatum, Mila Kunis, Sean Bean and Eddie Redmayne, Jupiter Ascending failed at the box office. The studio, Warner Brothers, suffered a loss of $92 million to $127 million. People thought the screenplay was incoherent, boring and confusing. Some moviegoers were frustrated because the movie introduced too many supporting characters.

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Photo Courtesy: Warner Bros./IMDb

When the main character, Jupiter Jones, met all of her new family members throughout the film, people quickly lost interest. Critics also slammed the film for relying heavily on special effects. However, there was a small group that actually appreciated the film: a niche of female science fiction fans.

Production Budget: $175 million
Gross: $184 million

Rise of the Guardians (2012)

Superstars like Chris Pine, Alec Baldwin and Hugh Jackman voiced characters in Rise of the Guardians, but the studio still lost a whopping $95 million. Moviegoers complained about Baldwin’s Russian accent for Santa Claus, calling it too rough for the character.

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Photo Courtesy: Paramount Pictures and DreamWorks Animation/IMDb

Rise of the Guardians also struggled because of its release date. The studio, DreamWorks Animation, typically doesn’t release movies close to Thanksgiving. But the studio did for Rise of the Guardians, losing to films like The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2, Skyfall and Lincoln. Although Rise of the Guardians failed at the box office, it was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Animated Feature Film.

Production Budget: $145 million
Gross: $306.9 million

The Mummy (2017)

Universal Pictures spent a whopping $345 million on The Mummy’s production and advertising. The Mummy received a whole lot of negative reviews, leading to a loss of $97 million. Critics slammed the film’s narrative, tone and acting. What else went wrong?

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Photo Courtesy: Universal Pictures/IMDb

Moviegoers reported that the film’s plot was chaotic and hard to follow. Some critics blame the movie’s failure on Tom Cruise, who took control of the production. Cruise guided the script’s rewrite and the film’s editing. Critics believe Cruise’s vision may have clashed with director Alex Kurtman’s.

Production Budget: $195 million
Gross: $410 million

Gigli (2003)

When Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck (Bennifer) dated in 2003, they also starred in a film together. Their film, Gigli, was a major disappointment. It’s considered one of the worst films of all time, losing the studio an estimate of $98 million.

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Photo Courtesy: Revolution Studios/IMDb

Gigli’s failure might have been caused by a lack of chemistry between Affleck and Lopez. Because Lopez’s character, Ricki, was a lesbian at the beginning of the film, fans didn’t understand how she fell in love with Affleck’s character, Larry. The chemistry was so bad, Affleck and Lopez won the Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Screen Couple.

Production Budget: $75.6 million
Gross: $7.3 million

Around the World in 80 Days (2004)

Many reviewers complained that Around the World in 80 Days was nothing like the book it was based on. Fans expected adventure and action, but the film mainly just featured weird celebrity cameos. During the fight scenes, the camera zoomed on the character’s facial expressions rather than capturing the actual fight. How much did the studio lose? $98 million.

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Photo Courtesy: Walden Media/IMDb

Critics praised Jackie Chan’s performance in the film, but Arnold Schwarzenegger got heat for his acting. Schwarzenegger portrayed the Middle Eastern character, Prince Hapi. His acting was so bad that Schwarzenegger earned a Razzie Award nomination for Worst Supporting Actor.

Production Budget: $110 million
Gross: $72.2 million

R.I.P.D. (2013)

It’s hard for a movie to live up to a book. According to critics, that was definitely the case for R.I.P.D. Critics described R.I.P.D. as dim-witted and formulaic. They called it another buddy cop movie and a bad copy of Men In Black. R.I.P.D.’s studio lost between $98 million and $124 million.

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Photo Courtesy: Universal Pictures/IMDb

If you thought R.I.P.D. sucked, you’re not the only one. Even Jeff Bridges, who portrayed veteran lawman Roy Pulsifer in the film, was disappointed. Bridges says, “And when I saw it, I was a little underwhelmed. For my mind, the studio made some, uh, choices that I wouldn't have made.”

Production Budget: $130 million – $154 million
Gross: $78.3 million

xXx: State of the Union (2005)

xXx: State of the Union is the sequel to xXx (2002). Vin Diesel starred in the first film, but dropped out of the sequel because he disliked the script. Diesel made a good move because xXx: State of the Union bombed at the box office. The film’s production company, Revolution Studios, was in the hole by $100 million.

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Photo Courtesy: Revolution Studios/IMDb

Some big names starred in the sequel, including Ice Cube, Willem Dafoe and Samuel L. Jackson. But they couldn’t help xXx: State of the Union succeed. Reviewers criticized the poor acting, illogical story and overuse of CGI-based visual effects. People thought putting Ice Cube in an action movie was a mistake because he struggled to fight and run in the film.

Production Budget: $113.1 million
Gross: $71 million

Cats (2019)

Audiences and critics are hissing at Cats. Over the holidays, the film crashed and burned at the box office, grossing only $38.3 million against production costs of $100 million. Experts estimate the loss is at least $70 million. Ouch!

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Photo Courtesy: Universal Pictures/YouTube

The studio hoped the casting of Taylor Swift, Jennifer Hudson and Idris Elba would draw in audiences, but they just weren't "feline" the film. Before hitting theaters, the film’s trailer caused an uproar on social media because the CGI and human cats creeped people out.

Production Budget: $100 million
Gross: $38.3 million

Dark Phoenix (2019)

The latest installment of the X-Men franchise, Dark Phoenix, was one of the most anticipated movies of summer 2019. However, the film tanked at the box office, having the worst opening weekend in the franchise’s history. The film was in the red by $100 million to $200 million.

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Photo Courtesy: Twentieth Century Fox/IMDb

Fans say Dark Phoenix was underwhelming and boring. Some viewers said that the cast looked like they’d rather be anywhere than in the film. Reviewers also complained that the film lacked character development and a plot. But not everything was bad. People appreciated Hans Zimmer's score.

Production Budget: $200 million
Gross: $209 million

The Lone Ranger (2013)

Although The Lone Ranger featured international star Johnny Depp, the film still flopped at the box office (especially overseas). Before hitting theaters, the movie experienced many problems. The Lone Ranger struggled with budget issues, causing the film to stop production temporarily. Its estimated loss was between $102 million and $204 million.

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Photo Courtesy: Disney/IMDb

The Lone Ranger also faced racial controversy after casting a white man (Depp) in a Native American role. Audiences were disappointed in the film’s use of stereotypes, including the Native American character, Tonto, communicating with animals and speaking in incomplete sentences. They also weren’t happy with Tonto’s costume, which featured white face paint and a dead crow hat.

Production Budget: $225 million – $250 million
Gross: $260.5 million

47 Ronin (2013)

Variety magazine called 47 Ronin one of "Hollywood's biggest box office bombs of 2013." And they weren’t wrong. The film got its butt kicked by other films that were released at the same time, including The Wolf of Wall Street, American Hustle and Her. 47 Ronin’s production company lost between $104 million and $161 million.

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Photo Courtesy: Universal Pictures/IMDb

Some critics say 47 Ronin lost momentum after taking too long to reshoot and edit. 47 Ronin was originally supposed to hit the box office in November 2012. But the good news is: Viewers applauded 47 Ronin’s action sequences and visuals. So maybe the reshooting and editing was a little worth it?

Production Budget: $175 million – $225 million
Gross: $151.8 million

Evan Almighty (2007)

Evan Almighty is considered one of the worst sequels of all time. Its loss? $106 million. Reviewers criticized Evan Almighty’s overuse of special effects. They also thought that the movie was dry and lacked humor. Although the film’s star, Steve Carell, is a successful comedian, viewers didn’t find his performance funny. Carell’s jokes just didn’t land in this film.

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Photo Courtesy: Universal Pictures/IMDb

While Evan Almighty was a disappointment, Bruce Almighty received more love from audiences. Bruce Almighty’s lead, Jim Carrey, is well known for his idiosyncratic characters and jokes. He was praised for declining to reprise his role, which was definitely a good idea because Carrey avoided the almighty disaster.

Production Budget: $175 million
Gross: $173.4 million

Battlefield Earth (2000)

People disliked almost everything about Battlefield Earth, including the acting, cinematography, story, special effects and visual direction. Battlefield Earth excessively used skewed camera angles. The film was also visually ugly with its dismal color palate. Warner Brothers was in the hole by $107 million.

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Photo Courtesy: Warner Bros./IMDb

Battlefield Earth won eight Golden Raspberry Awards, which was the most Razzie Awards a film received until 2012. It’s no surprise that Battlefield Earth is considered one of the worst movies ever made.

Production Budget: $73 million – $103 million
Gross: $29.7 million

Mars Needs Moms (2011)

Mars Needs Moms failed because it lacked imagination and heart, losing the Walt Disney Pictures an estimate of $111 million to $160 million. Moviegoers complained that there was no character development. The main character, Milo, was a brat and his mom was unconscious during the majority of the film. As a result, no one got to know the characters (or even care about them).

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Photo Courtesy: Walt Disney Pictures/IMDb

Critics also believed that kids struggled to watch Mars Needs Moms because it used motion-capture technology. Some found it creepy and scary for kids. Do kids really want to see a film about a mom getting kidnapped?

Production Budget: $150 million
Gross: $39 million

Treasure Planet (2002)

Treasure Planet led to a loss of $118 million. Many critics thought the visuals in Treasure Planet were beautiful, but the characters lacked creative development. Audiences struggled to connect with the main character, Jim. They found Jim flat, weak and predictable. His character didn’t charm moviegoers.

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Photo Courtesy: Walt Disney Feature Animation/IMDb

People also disliked the character of John Silver. Was he a villain, hero or both? Audiences also had a hard time connecting with Silver. Although critics ripped Treasure Planet apart, it received a nomination for the 2002 Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.

Production Budget: $140 million
Gross: $109.6 million

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (2017)

There are many movies based on King Arthur, but this is the only film that made the biggest box office movie flops list. King Arthur was supposed to be the first in a six-film franchise, but Warner Brothers canceled the sequels after the movie flopped at the box office. It was a one-and-done film, losing between $118 million and $157 million.

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Photo Courtesy: Warner Bros./IMDb

Reviewers criticized King Arthur’s poor pacing and planning. Critics also noted that the viewers found the movie boring. There’s a lack of successful blockbusters based on King Arthur, suggesting that people aren’t interested in the subject.

Production Budget: $175 million
Gross: $148.7 million

Stealth (2005)

Stealth is about three top fighter pilots working on an automated stealth aircraft project. The film is considered one of the worst failures in cinematic history, losing $123 million. People thought the movie performed poorly because it was dull. The action scenes weren’t even exciting.

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Photo Courtesy: Columbia/IMDb

Film critic Roger Ebert called the film "an offense against taste, intelligence and the noise pollution code -- a dumbed-down Top Gun crossed with the HAL 9000 plot from 2001." Stealth was also predictable. People knew that one of the main characters was going to die and saw a love story coming.

Production Budget: $135 million
Gross: $76.9 million

A Wrinkle in Time (2018)

A Wrinkle In Time featured some big names, including Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon and Mindy Kaling. It was also the movie adaption of Madeleine L’Engle’s beloved book of the same name, but the movie didn’t dazzle viewers. Fans of the book were very disappointed.

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Photo Courtesy: @WrinkleInTime/Twitter

Critics disliked the film's confusing plot holes and overuse of CGI. Transitions between scenes were choppy and awkward. Viewers also struggled to understand the story’s villain, IT. Why is IT’s home planet so creepy? How and why does IT travel? A Wrinkle In Time’s production company was in the red by $131 million.

Production Budget: $125 million
Gross: $133.4 million

Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (2001)

Final Fantasy was based on a video game series. The movie used the most advanced processing capabilities available for animation, driving the film’s budget to $137 million. Popular stars like Alec Baldwin, Steve Buscemi and Ving Rhames worked on the film, but it still couldn’t turn a profit, losing $133 million.

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Photo Courtesy: Chris Lee Productions/IMDb

Hardcore Final Fantasy fans found many things missing in the film. Where were the magical materia and chocobos? Instead, the film gave audiences a confusing story. Who are the bad guys? Why do the ghosts engage with humans? Final Fantasy performed so badly that some critics blame it for shutting down its production company, Square Pictures.

Production Budget: $137 million
Gross: $85.1 million

Titan A.E. (2000)

Titan A.E. roped in some big stars, like Matt Damon, Nathan Lane and Drew Barrymore, but still couldn’t manage to break even. Its studio was in the red by $145 million. Before hitting theaters, Titan A.E. faced many problems. After 18 months of production, the film changed directors. Titan A.E. also had to drop its use of 2D animation in the middle of production when 3D animation became popular.

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Photo Courtesy: David Kirschner Productions/IMDb

After two weeks at the box office, the film lost 60% of its audience. Titan A.E failed to compete with Disney’s Fantasia, Shaft and Boys and Girls. Although the movie flopped at the box office, it landed eight nominations for awards, including an Annie Award and Golden Reel Award.

Production Budget: $75 million – $90 million
Gross: $36.8 million

John Carter (2012)

John Carter led to a loss of $133 million to $218 million. Critics had nothing but bad things to say about John Carter. Some reviews slammed the film’s uneven pacing, confusing plot and terrible character development. Where were the characters’ backstories? Why was Dominic West’s character obsessed with Barsoom? Why was Mark Strong’s character manipulative? We may never know why.

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Photo Courtesy: Disney/IMDb

Moviegoers also struggled to understand the complicated plot. The story was too much to get through. The strange terminology and confusing concepts were hard to grasp. John Carter performed so poorly at the box office that Disney had no choice but to pull the plug on the sequel.

Production Budget: $263.7 million
Gross: $284.1 million

Cutthroat Island (1995)

Cutthroat Island was cursed since the beginning. The troubled and chaotic production included several rewrites and recasts. Before Matthew Modine was cast as the leading man (Shaw), Michael Douglas had originally agreed to play the part. But Douglas quit. Oliver Reed was fired from the cast after fighting at a bar and trying to expose himself to Geena Davis.

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Photo Courtesy: MGM/IMDb

Reviewers criticized the script and acting. Cutthroat Island’s star, Davis, failed to charm audiences. She flunked in delivering wit and humor. Some critics also called the film’s stunts unrealistic. Others blame Cutthroat Island for the demise of its production company, Carolco Pictures. The company lost a whopping $146 million.

Production Budget: $98 million
Gross: $18.3 million

Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas (2003)

Sinbad is the biggest box office flop on this list, losing $170 million. The studio, Dreamworks, lost so much money from Sinbad that it almost went bankrupt. People hammered Sinbad for removing Arab and Muslim context from the story. The film replaced Arab references with Greek references.

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Photo Courtesy: DreamWorks/IMDb

Sinbad had a star-studded cast, including Brad Pitt, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michelle Pfeiffer. Sinbad had all that star power, but still failed to compete with one of Pixar’s highest grossing films, Finding Nemo, which was released around the same time. Although Brad Pitt voiced Sinbad, people still disliked the character because he was an unappealing, cocky and greedy pirate.

Production Budget: $60 million
Gross: $80.8 million