For a lot of people, summer and movies go hand-in-hand. But as every experienced movie-goer knows, some summer flicks aren’t worth the ticket price or the time.
To help you become a savvy moviegoer, here’s a list of the biggest summer blockbuster flops from the last 26 years. The movies on this list were among the lowest-earning films of major production studios released between the first Friday in May and Labor Day weekend in their respective years, according to Box Office Mojo, a website that tracks box office revenue.
Click through to see which summer movies fell flat, then check out their polar opposites: the highest-grossing summer movies.
1992: ‘The Vagrant’
Opening Weekend Gross: $4,300
Domestic Gross: $5,900
Financial clerk Graham Krakowski has just purchased a house but struggles to rid the home of its former tenant, a homeless vagabond. No matter what Krakowski tries, the vagabond seems to elude him, continually finding new ways to engage him in psychological warfare. The movie stars Bill Paxton, who died in February 2017, and Marshall Bell.
“The Vagrant” only ran at eight theaters for one week and ended with total domestic gross earnings of $5,900.
1993: ‘That Night’
Opening Weekend Gross: Unknown
Domestic Gross: $20,194
Based on the book, “That Night” by Alice McDermott, this story centers on a young girl named Alice who idolizes her 17-year-old neighbor, Sheryl. Alice helps Sheryl pursue a forbidden romance, and when pregnancy tears the young lovers apart, Alice embarks on a mission to help patch up the relationship. The movie, which was well-received by critics, stars Eliza Dushku in her acting debut, alongside Juliette Lewis.
However, when the movie hit screens, it apparently was not with a bang. The movie’s domestic lifetime gross was only $20,194.
1994: ‘Police Academy: Mission to Moscow’
Opening Weekend Gross: Unknown
Domestic Gross: $126,247
In this continuation of the “Police Academy” franchise, the Russian government is overwhelmed. Criminal Constantine Konali, played by Ron Perlman, has successfully marketed a popular computer game that gives him access to security systems and allows him to commit robberies. The veteran members of the academy are called upon for help.
“Police Academy 7” was the final movie in the otherwise successful movie franchise. It was released in U.S theaters and, ultimately, the production saw meager domestic gross earnings of $126,247. Compared to the $81 million the original “Police Academy” pulled in, this sequel did not live up to expectations.
1995: ‘Magic in the Water’
Opening Weekend Gross: $1.5 million
Domestic Gross: $2.7 million
In this family adventure, overworked radio show psychologist Jack Black (played by Mark Harmon of NCIS fame) takes his children on vacation to a Canadian town where — legend has it — a dragon-like creature named Orky lives in the lake. They all must work together to save the creature, who is dying from the toxic waste that’s been dumped in the lake. Joshua Jackson of “Dawson’s Creek” plays Harmon’s son.
On its debut weekend, this movie opened in 890 theaters and averaged $1,635 per location. Those first-weekend earnings accounted for more than 50 percent of the movie’s lifetime U.S. revenues, which only amounted to $2.7 million.
Opening Weekend Gross: $270,107
Domestic Gross: $516,349
John Baker, a senior at a private boys’ school, one day finds an unconscious woman in a field. He takes her back to his dorm room and cares for her. Baker continues to hide her in his room, and the two become attached to each another, but she’s hiding something from him. Lukas Haas and Winona Ryder star.
Shown in 328 theaters on its opening weekend, the movie only averaged $823 at each location. And those opening-weekend revenues accounted for more than 50 percent of the movie’s gross ticket sales. The movie was taken out of theaters after less than three weeks. It earned $516,349 at U.S. box offices, eliminating any hope of it landing on the summer blockbuster list.
1997: ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation’
Opening Weekend Gross: $53,111
Domestic Gross: $185,898
“The Next Generation” was one of many sequels to the original 1974 movie “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.” In the movie, a teenager, Jenny, and her three friends hit another car after they’ve left prom, knocking the driver unconscious. One teen stays with the unconscious man while Jenny and her other two friends go to find help. They run into a real estate agent and her tow-truck driving boyfriend, Vilmer, but the pair are in cahoots with Leatherface, the chainsaw-wielding manic. Renée Zellweger stars as Jenny, and Matthew McConaughey plays Vilmer.
Despite the names attached, this movie debuted at 23 theaters and averaged $2,309 at each its opening weekend.
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1998: ‘Dancer, Texas Pop. 81’
Opening Weekend Gross: $87,983
Domestic Gross: $676,631
This comedy-drama is about four friends from Dancer, Texas, a town with a population of 81. After high school graduation, the friends plan to move to Los Angeles, but as the time draws closer, doubts arise. Breckin Meyer, Peter Facinelli, Eddie Mills and Ethan Embry star.
This movie didn’t gain the traction to spread and become a summer blockbuster. The opening weekend, it was released at 26 theaters and averaged $3,384 per theater. Over its lifetime, it did manage to cross the half-million mark, grossing $676,631.
1999: ‘A Dog of Flanders’
Opening Weekend Gross: $807,873
Domestic Gross: $2.2 million
This family movie is based on the book “A Dog of Flanders.” In the movie, a poor boy, Nello, and his grandfather make a meager living delivering milk, but the boy has artistic talent. One day he rescues a dog, which becomes his best friend and the subject of his artwork. He decides to enter a famous art contest and develops under the tutelage of mentor Michel La Grande. The movie features Jon Voight, father of successful actress Angelina Jolie.
This movie is among the list of the 100 worst openings for movies that debuted in 600+ theaters. On opening weekend, it played in 1,267 theaters and only averaged $637 per location. It ended the week with just under $1.4 million in ticket sales and didn’t go much further.
2000: ‘Running Free’
Opening Weekend Gross: $55,451
Domestic Gross: $117,608
It’s 1914 and a stable boy named Richard rescues a pony that he names Lucky. One day, Lucky and Richard are separated. Lucky encounters an array of tribulations but is eventually reunited with Richard many years later.
Certainly not set to be a summer blockbuster, this movie debuted at No. 53. At the 100 theaters where the movie was shown on its opening weekend, it only averaged $554 per theater. Overall, “Running Free” pulled in $117,608 in the U.S.
2001: ‘The Trumpet of the Swan’
Opening Weekend Gross: $102,202
Domestic Gross: $102,202
Adapted from an E. B. White tale, this animated movie is about a mute swan named Louie. His father gives him a trumpet, which helps him find his voice. Jason Alexander, Reese Witherspoon and Seth Green are among the actors who lend their voices to the movie.
“The Trumpet of the Swan” was no competition for the movie “Shrek,” which was released the same year and went on to become a summer blockbuster smash.”The Trumpet of the Swan” played in 125 theaters for just three days and averaged only $817 per theater, bringing in a total of $102,202.
Opening Weekend Gross: $54,942
Domestic Gross: $414,358
Set in Paris in the late 1960s, “CQ” is about the production of a sci-fi film. The film’s director falls for the lead actress, Valentine, and cannot complete it. He is replaced by Paul, who also becomes infatuated with the actress. Gérard Depardieu and Jeremy Davies are among the movie’s leads.
The movie was released in seven theaters, where it averaged $7,848 per theater its opening weekend. The movie blossomed to 19 theaters at one point, but that wasn’t enough to help it gain traction to be a summer blockbuster. By week 15, the movie had dwindled to three theaters. It ended its box office run with domestic gross earnings of just $414,358.
2003: ‘Civil Brand’
Opening Weekend Gross: $99,296
Domestic Gross: $254,293
Women prisoners become friends with a young law student and the group decides to take a stand against prison abuses after finding out that a corporation funds and profits from the terrible conditions.
When the movie was released, it only appeared in 35 theaters, averaging $2,837 per theater its opening weekend. Revenues dropped 60 percent after the first week. After a seven-week run, the movie’s domestic gross earnings were a mere $254,293.
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2004: ‘The Clearing’
Opening Weekend Gross: $472,781
Worldwide Gross: $12.5 million
Wealthy Wayne Hayes is kidnapped by the less fortunate Arnold Mack, a disgruntled former employee. Hayes’ wife is then left to deliver the ransom. “The Clearing” stars Robert Redford, Willem Dafoe and Helen Mirren, who also appeared in “The Fate of the Furious,” a movie that wasn’t a flop.
This movie only brought in $472,781 its opening week, but it gained traction in the second and third weeks with the number of theaters and ticket sales on an upward trend. The results were short-lived, however. By the end of its 14-week run, the movie was only showing in eight theaters with ticket sales of $3,814 for that seven-day period. Domestically, it earned just under $5.8 million, but foreign viewers were a bit more supportive, spending about $6.8 million on the movie.
Opening Weekend Gross: $676,048
Worldwide Gross: $1.1 million
Brier moves to Los Angeles to become an actress, and in the process she meets Luke, who is a struggling musician. They begin a friendship, but he wants more. But as they both want stardom, it appears to be what could keep them apart.
During its opening weekend, the movie showed at 1,304 theaters, where it averaged just $518 per theater. After the first week, box office receipts declined more than 85 percent, and the theater count declined from 1304 to 754. After two weeks, it was pulled from the lineup of summer movies, having grossed just more than $1 million despite a production budget of $9 million. The movie is ranked No. 2 on Box Office Mojo’s list of Biggest Second Weekend Drops.
Opening Weekend Gross: $124,367
Worldwide Gross: $495,303
Private Joe Bauers is selected by the Pentagon to take part in a top-secret hibernation program. However, he ends up forgotten about and awake centuries later to discover society is now full of idiots and he’s the smartest person alive. Luke Wilson, Maya Rudolph, Dax Shepard and Terry Crews star.
“Idiocracy” was released in 130 theaters and averaged $956 per theater. The theater count and ticket sales drastically declined during its five-week run, with the movie bringing in a meager $444,093 at U.S. box offices.
2007: ‘Illegal Tender’
Opening Weekend Gross: $1.4 million
Domestic Gross: $3.1 million
In this crime-action movie, a woman is forced to flee her home after gangsters kill her husband. She lives well with her two sons — until an enemy from the past catches up with the family.
The movie averaged $2,785 across 512 theaters on its opening weekend and brought in about $2 million its first week. By week two, box office revenues were down more than 50 percent and steeper declines followed. The movie closed after a four-week run having only made $3.1 million.
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Opening Weekend Gross: $2.2 million
Worldwide Gross: $6.3 million
In this comedy, a trio of high school friends go on a wild weekend visit to a local college. Drake Bell, who voiced Peter Parker in the animated television series “Ultimate Spider-Man,” plays the lead in “College.”
On its opening weekend, this movie averaged just more than $1,000 at the 2,123 theaters where it was shown. It finished the week with a little more than $3 million. But then came the fall, with revenue dropping more than 50 percent per week. In its eighth week, the movie only made $34 at the box office.
2009: ‘Post Grad’
Opening Weekend Gross: $2.7 million
Worldwide Gross: $6.4 million
In this comedy, Ryden Malby is a recent college graduate who returns home to live with her stereotypical all-American family. She has dreams of a career in publishing, but struggles to figure out where her life is headed. Alexis Bledel, Carol Burnett, Michael Keaton and Jane Lynch star in this movie.
“Post Grad” opened in 1,959 theaters, averaging $1,960 at those locations its first week. When the movie completed its eight-week run, it was showing in 14 theaters where it averaged $275 per theater. Abroad, the results were more dismal, with the movie bringing in less than $35,000 from foreign viewers.
Opening Weekend Gross: $224,233
Domestic Gross: $1.8 million
In this novel-based family movie, Juli has had a crush on a boy named Bryce since the second grade. Initially, he doesn’t feel the same way, but by the eighth grade, things have flipped. Bryce is interested in Juli, but she is focused on other things.
This movie started out in 45 theaters and grossed just more than $329,000 its first week. “Flipped” made just $9,938 in its final week in theaters. The movie settled with gross ticket sales of around $1.8 million, far short of its $14 million production budget.
2011: ‘Glee: The 3D Concert Movie’
Opening Weekend Gross: $6 million
Worldwide Gross: $18.7 million
“Glee: The 3D Concert Movie” is a concert documentary about the Glee Live! In Concert! Tour. It features stars from the hit television show “Glee,” including Lea Michele, Cory Monteith and Chris Colfer, and offers concert footage and a peek at the cast members’ lives.
According to Billboard, the concert grossed $40.8 million from 40 sold-out concerts. On the contrary, this movie, which was released August 12, debuted at No. 11 its opening weekend, averaging just $2,922 and ending the first week with $8.6 million in ticket sales. From there, numbers grew increasingly dismal. Over its seven-week run, the movie reached about $11.9 million in U.S ticket sales.
Fox was able to turn a profit as the movie cost $9 million to make, but the movie was a huge disappointment by many accounts.
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2012: ‘The Apparition’
Opening Weekend Gross: $2.8 million
Worldwide Gross: $9.6 million
In this horror movie, a group of college students conduct a parapsychology experiment in which they try to summon the spirit of a dead man. The experiment goes awry and years later, the students are plagued by supernatural occurrences.
This movie opened at No. 12 and brought in just more than $3.6 million from 810 theaters the first week. U.S. box office sales were near equally matched by foreign ticket sales of $4.7 million; however, the movie did not recoup its $17 million production budget.
Opening Weekend Gross: $4.5 million
Domestic Gross: $10.5 million
In this action thriller, a former race car driver comes home to find his wife has been kidnapped. He is ordered by a mysterious man to do things that take him on a high-speed adventure. Ethan Hawke and Selena Gomez star.
With screenings at 2,130 locations, “Getaway” had a theater average of $2,115 its opening weekend. By the end of the first week, box-office sales were approaching $6.5 million. However, second-week ticket sales declined more than 50 percent, and from there, the declines got steeper. “Getaway” closed after week five with U.S. ticket sales only reaching $10.5 million, which was not enough to cover its $18 million production budget.
2014: ‘As Above, So Below’
Opening Weekend Gross: $8.6 million
Worldwide Gross: $41.9 million
In this horror movie, a group travels into the Paris Catacombs to explore what’s hidden there. Once inside, however, they are haunted by supernatural beings.
The movie opened at 2,640 theaters — averaging $3,270 per location — and finished the week with approximately $11.9 million in ticket sales. By week three, the movie slid from the top 10 and was averaging $1,260 a theater. It limped along for another three weeks in theaters.
In the end, “As Above, So Below” brought in about $41.9 million. The production budget for the movie is not available, though revenues suggest production company Universal did turn a slight profit.
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2015: ‘We Are Your Friends’
Opening Weekend Gross: $1.8 million
Worldwide Gross: $11.1 million
In this drama, aspiring DJ Cole is trying to make it big on the electronic music scene. Cole meets a more established DJ, James, who takes him under his wing and introduces him to his girlfriend, Sophie. Things change when Cole begins to fall for Sophie. Zac Efron, who starred in another summer release, “Baywatch,” plays Cole in “We Are Your Friends.”
This movie holds the No. 9 spot for worst openings ever among movies released in 2,000+ theaters. It opened at 2,333 locations with a $758 theater average. The movie earned less than $2.5 million its first week, almost half of all the money it earned in the U.S. Over the next three weeks, it only earned about $1 million more. When the figures were tallied, roughly 70 percent of the movie’s earnings came from foreign viewers.
Opening Weekend Gross: $2 million
Worldwide Gross: $8.8 million
In this sci-fi horror movie, a risk-management specialist must decide whether or not to terminate an artificially created humanoid being. Kate Mara and Anya Taylor-Joy star.
This movie currently holds the No. 11 spot for worst openings ever among movies released in 2,000+ theaters. It opened at 2,020 locations with a $996 theater average. The movie earned more than $3 million its first week. If it wasn’t for the almost $4.9 million in foreign earnings, “Morgan” would have been on the list of summer movies that finish deep in the red.
2017: 'Tulip Fever'
Opening Weekend Gross: $1.1 million
Worldwide Gross: $8.3 million
In this drama set during the tulip mania of 17th century Amsterdam, an artist falls in love with the young married woman whom he is commissioned to paint.
Despite its star power — the film stars Alicia Vikander, Christoph Waltz, Zach Galifianakis, Judi Dench, Cara Delevigne and more — the movie had one of the worst openings of a wide release film since 1982. “Tulip Fever” made most of its earnings abroad, with 71 percent of its total box office gross coming from foreign movie theaters.
Keep reading if you have a movie fan in your life and want to find the perfect gift for them.
Gabrielle Olya contributed to the reporting for this article.
All box office figures are according to Box Office Mojo, an online box-office reporting service owned by IMDB. Figures are accurate as of June 22, 2018.
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