Some movies are a smash success, earning critical acclaim and serious cash at the box office. However, others turn into epic box-office flops that tarnish the reputation of the cast and crew and serve as a financial liability for the studios that backed them.
Based on data from Box Office Mojo’s “Pop Flop Showdown” and “Worst Wide Openings from 1982 to the Present” lists, here’s a look at the biggest box-office bombs in history.
‘The Adventures of Pluto Nash’
Blasted by critics as dull, humorless and all-around awful, the 2002 film “The Adventures of Pluto Nash” — starring Eddie Murphy, Randy Quaid, Rosario Dawson and Jay Mohr — was a disaster.
One of the biggest box-office flops ever, the movie had a $100 million production budget but earned only $7.1 million at theaters worldwide, meaning it lost a whopping $92.9 million.
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‘Town & Country’
Beleaguered by critics for its lack of humor and formidable plot line, the 2001 film “Town & Country” failed to resonate despite its starry cast, which included Warren Beatty, Diane Keaton and Goldie Hawn. The film earned just $10.4 million in theaters across the globe. When paired with its $90 million production budget, losses totaled $79.6 million.
Released in 2003, “Gigli” starred Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez and became one of the biggest box-office flops of all time. The film brought in only $7.3 million on a $54 million production budget.
Deemed “nonsensical” by Variety, Lopez and Affleck have both blamed the attention garnered by their $47 million flop on the fact that they were a real-life couple at the time. Fortunately for them, the film didn’t seem to have a lasting impact on Affleck and Lopez’s sky-high net worth.
‘What Planet Are You From?’
Lamented by critics as a film that missed its mark, “What Planet Are You From?” starred Garry Shandling, Annette Bening, John Goodman and Greg Kinnear and hit theaters in 2000. Despite its $60 million production budget, it earned only $14.1 million at theaters, bringing total losses to $45.9 million.
From an uninspired plot to shoddy animation, critics didn’t hold back with their disdain for the 2008 animated film “Delgo,” voiced by a cast that included Freddie Prinze, Jr., Chris Kattan, Jennifer Love Hewitt and Val Kilmer.
One of the biggest box-office flops ever, it had a $40 million production budget but only earned about $700,000 in theaters, generating more than $39 million in losses. Needless to say, it didn’t make the list of the most successful animated movies of all time.
‘I Dreamed of Africa’
Panned for everything from poor casting to a storyline that lacked depth, “I Dreamed of Africa” — starring Kim Basinger and Vincent Perez — tanked at the box office.
Released in 2000, the movie had a production budget of $50 million but earned only $14.4 million at theaters worldwide, realizing losses of $35.6 million.
Lambasted by critics as poorly written, the 2004 animated film “Thunderbirds” fell flat as a silver screen adaptation of the 1960s television series.
Featuring the voices of the late Bill Paxton and Brady Corbet, the movie’s $28.3 million in box-office earnings totaled less than half of its $57 million production budget, bringing losses to $28.7 million.
‘Lost & Found’
Released in 1999, David Spade both starred in and co-wrote “Lost & Found,” which also featured Sophie Marceau. Spade’s acting was heavily criticized — and so was the film’s lack of humor.
It earned only $6.6 million at the box office. With a $30 million production budget, it posted losses of $23.4 million.
‘Rules Don’t Apply’
Hurt by everything from a lack of star appeal to a plot that covers too much ground, the 2016 film “Rules Don’t Apply” is one of the biggest box-office flops ever.
Written and directed by Warren Beatty and starring Lily Collins and Alden Ehrenreich, the film had a production budget of $25 million but earned just $3.9 million at theaters worldwide, generating losses of $21.1 million.
‘The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon’
Deemed odd by critics, the 2012 animated film “The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon” had a production budget of $20 million but made only $1.1 million at the box office.
Several stars lined up to lend their voices to the film — including Jaime Pressly, Cary Elwes, Christopher Lloyd and Cloris Leachman — but that didn’t prevent it from losing nearly $19 million.
Bad acting and a poor screenplay have been cited among the reasons the 2001 film “Glitter,” starring Mariah Carey, joined the ranks of box-office flops. The film earned just $5.3 million at box offices worldwide on a production budget of $22 million, realizing losses of $16.7 million.
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Starring Gerard Butler, Elisabeth Shue and Jonny Weston, the 2012 film “Chasing Mavericks” was condemned by critics as cliché. The movie had a $20 million production budget but collected only $6 million at box offices worldwide, for a total of $14 million in losses.
‘Alone in the Dark’
Criticized for its lack of plot, the 2005 film “Alone in the Dark” starred Christian Slater, Tara Reid and Stephen Dorff. One of the more notable box-office flops, the film’s $10.4 million earnings worldwide fell well short of its $20 million production budget, resulting in a $9.6 million loss.
Written and directed by Guy Ritchie, the 2002 remake of the original 1974 film “Swept Away” starred Ritchie’s then-wife, Madonna. Both husband and wife received heavy criticism for their uninspired work, as the poor directing and acting earned the movie less than $600,000 at box offices on a $10 million production budget, resulting in a loss of $9.4 million.
‘From Justin to Kelly’
Starring “American Idol” Season 1 winner Kelly Clarkson and runner-up Justin Guarini, the 2003 film “From Justin to Kelly” brought in about $5 million at box offices on a production budget of $12 million. The movie’s $7 million loss was blamed on everything from bad acting to a terrible storyline, making it an all-around disaster.
Labeled by critics as a predictable film with subpar acting, “The Rocker” hit theaters in 2008 with a cast that included Rainn Wilson, Christina Applegate, Josh Gad and Emma Stone.
Despite that lineup, the movie pulled in just $8.8 million at theaters worldwide on a production budget of $15 million and realized losses of $6.2 million.
‘Jem and the Holograms’
A silver screen adaptation of the beloved 1980s cartoon, the 2015 film “Jem and the Holograms” — starring Aubrey Peeples and Stefanie Scott — garnered a meager $2.3 million at theaters worldwide on a production budget of $5 million. Part of the $2.7 million loss was blamed on the film’s inability to align with its popular 1980s self.
‘The Real Cancun’
This 2003 spring break documentary, from the producers of MTV’s “The Real World,” was roasted by critics as forced, devoid of a storyline and crudely explicit.
“The Real Cancun” earned just $5.3 million on a production budget of $7.5 million. Even a cameo from Snoop Dogg couldn’t save this gem from losing $2.2 million.
Skewered by critics as not funny, unoriginal and crass, the 2008 film “College” starred Drake Bell and Andrew Caldwell. It generated just $6.3 million at theaters worldwide on a production budget of $7 million, bringing total losses to $700,000. In fact, “College” is one of the biggest summer blockbuster flops of all time.
Bad writing was largely cited as the reason the 2003 film “Grind,” starring Adam Brody and Mike Vogel, failed to captivate audiences. This skateboarding-centric movie generated $5.1 million at theaters worldwide, but its $6 million production budget brought its losses to around $900,000.
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All financial data and movie selections are courtesy of BoxOfficeMojo.com. Movies were also pulled from the Box Office Mojo’s Pop Flop Showdown list and Worst Wide Openings from 1982 to the Present list.
About the Author
Laura is a writer with nearly 10 years of experience in marketing and personal finance. She is a Los Angeles-based writer specializing in personal finance, higher education, legal matters and marketing. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from the University of Pittsburgh and an MBA from Robert Morris University.