The Biggest Box Office Flops of All Time

Bethany Quinn | May 16, 2019 Movies
The Biggest Box Office Flops of All Time

Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively in Green Lantern
Warner Bros. Pictures

When a movie is a hit, it can garner millions of dollars at the box office and subsequently set off a pop culture frenzy -- and even spawn a sequel or two that make just as much (if not more) money! Just look at Avengers Endgame, which broke all kinds of records and has brought in over $2 billion in days -- making it the second highest-grossing film of all time, after Avatar. But not all movies can achieve this kind of success. In fact many of them don't even come close.

Movies are expensive to make, and after stars' salaries are negotiated, locations finalized, special effects ordered, a marketing plan is put in place, and hundreds of crew members paid, the tab that movies ring up can be well into the millions. So it only makes sense that studios would like to make that money (and then some) back.

However, that's not always the case. Many films that were incredibly expensive to make flopped horribly at the box office. Studios only take a cut of what a movie earns at the box office, so for them to make a profit, a film usually has to earn double what it cost to make.

Well, the films on this list didn't do that. In fact, they were total busts and cost their respective production companies millions!

Here are the 30 biggest box office flops of all time.

  • 'Green Lantern'

    1

    Rated: PG-13

    Budget: $200 million

    Loss (inflation adjusted): $101.7 million

    While we love Ryan Reynolds, everyone knows this movie was terrible. It was overproduced, and more money was spent on marketing the film that should have gone into creating a better script.

  • 'Sahara'

    2

    Rated: PG-13

    Budget: $160 million

    Loss (inflation adjusted): $104-$133 million

    When one scene alone costs $2 million to make, the film needs to do well in the box office. However, this one did not, and to add insult to injury, the expensive scene did even make the final cut of the film.

    Overall, Sahara was way too expensive to make!

  • 'The BFG'

    3

    Rated: PG

    Budget: $140 million

    Loss (inflation adjusted): $106 million

    We're sad this film didn't do as well as it should have. The story is based on the classic Roald Dahl tale, and while it was received well by critics and audiences, it cost too much to be considered a success for what it brought in money-wise.

  • 'Fathers' Day'

    4

    Rated: PG

    Budget: $85 million

    Loss (inflation adjusted): $106 million

    With two A-list stars, Billy Crystal and Robin Williams, one would've expected to do much better than it did. But, the plot was weird (two men try to find their ex-girlfriend's missing son), and audiences and critics were not receptive at all.

    We just wish this dream team could have found a better project to work on!

  • 'Beloved'

    5

    Rated: R

    Budget: $80 million

    Loss (inflation adjusted): $106.8 million

    This movie had a star-studded cast and was based on an award-winning novel. Yet that wasn't enough to make Beloved a hit at the box office. While the film wasn't successful, producer and star, Oprah Winfrey, admitted she did learn a valuable lesson from the experience.

    "It taught me to never again -- never again, ever -- put all of your hopes, expectations, eggs in the basket of box office," she revealed. "Do the work as an offering, and then whatever happens, happens."

  • 'Windtalkers'

    6

    Rated: R

    Budget: $115 million

    Loss (inflation adjusted): $107.4-$114.5 million

    Another big budget film that flopped despite a big name director and star. Director John Woo and actor Nicholas Cage were not enough to save this movie that was seemingly doomed from the start.

  • 'Inchon'

    7

    Rated: PG

    Budget: $46 million

    Loss (inflation adjusted): $107.5 million

    This is kind of a weird one. When a cult gets involved in a film's production, it makes sense that it would flop at the box office. Inchon is about the Korean War and is considered one of the worst movies of all time. Cardboard cutouts were used as special effects, and well, that just didn't go over well.

  • 'Evan Almighty'

    8

    Rated: PG

    Budget: $175 million

    Loss (inflation adjusted): $107.9 million

    This sequel to Bruce Almighty did not live up to its predecessor, and it seems as if the studio had a hunch as they spent $250 million just trying to market the film. Evan Almighty is forgettable at best.

  • 'Battlefield Earth'

    9

    Rated: PG-13

    Budget: $73 million

    Loss (inflation adjusted): $108 million

    From the terrible acting to weird costumes, this flick is pretty much a joke -- although it has become a cult classic (an expensive cult classic that is).

  • 'The Postman'

    10

    Rated: R

    Budget: $80 million

    Loss (inflation adjusted): $111 million

    This film takes place in a post-apocalyptic 2013, where Kevin Costner's character disguises himself as a postman and goes around performing for people in order to earn some money. It's convoluted and weird, and audiences thought so, too!

  • 'Monster Trucks'

    11

    Rated: PG

    Budget: $125 million

    Loss (inflation adjusted): $113-$119.2 million

    Paramount Pictures had high hopes for this film, including a line of toys and subsequent sequels. But the film was so bad, the studio abandoned these plans all together.

  • 'Jack the Giant Slayer'

    12

    Rated: PG-13

    Budget: $195 million

    Loss (inflation adjusted): $120 million

    While it appears that this film made a profit, when one considers the $100 million Warner Bros. spent to market the film, it's actually a complete failure. Jack the Giant Slayer went through several script rewrites and a delayed premiere, making it even harder for it to turn a profit.

  • 'King Arthur: Legend of the Sword'

    13
    Rated: PG-13

    Budget: $175 million

    Loss (inflation adjusted): $120-$157 million

    While we hate to knock anything starring hottie Charlie Hunnam, the star himself couldn't even stand behind this film. "I was going to be a pro, and I was grateful for it and liked everyone that was involved," he confessed to USA Today. "But I had some pretty big reservations about the end result. It didn't reflect the movie that I thought we were making."

  • 'Treasure Planet'

    14

    Rated: G

    Budget: $140 million

    Loss (inflation adjusted): $120 million

    When an animated Disney film doesn't ring any immediate bells, that's ultimately not a good sign. We had a hard time jogging our memory for any recollection of this film. Critics liked it, but audiences didn't, and Disney ultimately lost millions in branding partnerships and marketing.

    Perhaps sci-fi-fi and animation aren't the best match.

  • 'Town & Country'

    15

    Rated: R

    Budget: $90 million

    Loss (inflation adjusted): $122 million

    Town & Country just goes to prove that even with the most talented and famous stars (Warren Beatty, Diane Keaton, Goldie Hawn, and Garry Shandling), a film can be a disastrous flop. When things got heated on the set of this film, Warren Beatty took over as director ... and things continued to spiral. Critics hated it, and the movie only spent one month in theaters.

    Not a lot of time to turn a profit!

  • 'The Alamo'

    16

    Rated: PG-13

    Budget: $107 million

    Loss (inflation adjusted): $126 million

    Producers of this film can blame Mel Gibson for it failing at the box office. (We kid, but not really.) The Alamo was released at the same time as Gibson's The Passion of Christ, which was a total box office winner. With audiences not too impressed with this film, it was pretty hard for it to gain any traction.

  • 'Supernova'

    17

    Rated: PG-13

    Budget: $90 million

    Loss (inflation adjusted): $133.6 million

    Oh boy!

    The story of this film has us feeling all sorts of awkward. It went through five directors, and none of whom wanted to be attached to the project. In the end, the director was listed as Thomas Lee, who is a completely made up person. MGM cut the special effects budget while the film was in production, which should've raised a red flag right then and there.

  • 'The Adventures of Pluto Nash'

    18

    Rated: PG-13

    Budget: $100 million

    Loss (inflation adjusted): $138 million

    "Apparently, setting this picture on the moon wasn't enough to help it escape the crushing gravitational pull of a bad script." That's how the New York Times described this flop. Critics and audiences alike canned the film, and it made hardly any money at the box office.

  • 'Stealth'

    19

    Rated: PG-13

    Budget: $135 million

    Loss (inflation adjusted): $128 million

    Jamie Foxx, Josh Lucas, and Jessica Biel starred in this sci-fi action flick that crashed and burned! It lost $128 million at the box office, and Foxx himself admitted to hating having to promote the film.

  • 'Mars Needs Moms'

    20

    Rated: PG

    Budget: $150 million

    Loss (inflation adjusted): $115-$166 million

    Animation issues plagued this film from the start, and viewers were turned off at the idea of sitting through Mars Needs Moms as a result. Disney spent $200 million on marketing this film that hardly anyone saw.

  • 'The 13th Warrior'

    21

    Rated: R

    Budget: 4160 million

    Loss (inflation adjusted): $107-$300 million

    This film is based on the Michael Crichton book, The Eaters of the Dead, and after numerous production complications, Crichton took over as director. He clashed with the former director on the trajectory of the film, and things got so bad, the studio didn't even schedule a premiere.

    Not a good sign.

  • 'The Lone Ranger'

    22

    Rated: PG-13

    Budget: $215 million

    Loss (inflation adjusted): $105-$210 million

    Don't let the numbers above be deceiving, this film was a total flop. Before The Lone Ranger was finished, it was actually canceled -- and then production started again, because budgeting was an issue. With well over $200 million in budget and another $175 million in marketing costs, this film did not live up to the hype!

  • '47 Ronin'

    23

    Rated: PG-13

    Budget: $175 million

    Loss (inflation adjusted): $107-$165.5 million

    Universal Pictures took a huge risk in this film in that it hired a virtually unknown director who had never worked on a project of this size before. It tanked worldwide, and the director was ultimately fired.

  • 'Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within'


    24

    Rated: PG-13

    Budget: $137-$145 million

    Loss (inflation adjusted): $135.5 million

    This film is entirely CGI and featured the voice talents of Alec Baldwin and Steve Buscemi. Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within is based on a widely popular video game, but even with a built-in fan base, this movie could not make back what it spent to create it. Fans complained the movie veered too far from the video game, and so one of the largest flops was born.

  • 'Titan A.E.'

    25

    Rated: PG

    Budget: $75 million

    Loss (inflation adjusted): $151 million

    As we've learned by now, sci-fi and animation simply to do not mix, and this the third film on the list to prove it. Matt Damon, Ron Pearlman, and Drew Barrymore all lent their voice talents to the film, but the script couldn't find a home base with either kids or adults.

  • 'Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas' 

    26

    Rated: PG

    Budget: $60 million

    Loss (inflation adjusted): $175 million

    DreamWorks Animation released Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas after the success of Shrek, and audiences were not happy. We had come to love computer-generated animation as opposed to drawn animation, and this film looked incredibly outdated despite having a decent script.

  • 'Mortal Engines'

    27

    Rated: PG-13

    Budget: $100-$110 million

    Loss (inflation adjusted): $179 million

    Peter Jackson attempted to recreate the success of his most famous franchise, The Lord of The Rings, but was unable to do so with this tale about a post-apocalyptic world with moveable cities. Reports point to the complexity of the plot, and that it opened in the same weekend as Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.

    Either way, it lost $179 million.

  • 'Heaven's Gate'

    28

    Rated: R

    Budget: $44 million

    Loss (inflation adjusted): $135 million

    Michael Cimino of Deerhunter fame directed this film immediately after the colossal hit. He had big dreams for the film that included the cast learning how to roller skate (it took six weeks), and insisted on fresh grass for a battle scene, which required an elaborate irrigation system to be built. The budget quickly skyrocketed, and when Heaven's Gate hit theaters, critics and audiences were widely disappointed.

  • 'Cutthroat Island'

    29
    Rated: PG-13

    Budget: $98-$121 million

    Loss (inflation adjusted): $148.5-$200 million

    Many blame this movie's epic failure on its director, Renny Harlin, who had sets built only to be taken down, and inflated the budget with expensive explosive scenes. Others say it was its star, Matthew Modine.

    "That was a picture which desperately needed a big star," a Hollywood agent told The Independent in 1996. "When Michael Douglas pulled out the movie was doomed."

  • 'John Carter'

    30

    Rated: PG-13

    Budget: $250 million

    Loss (inflation adjusted): $137-$224 million

    John Carter lost major bucks. Disney had big plans for the film based on Edward Rice Burroughs's John Carter of Mars book series -- and it included several sequels. When it came time to market the film, director Andrew Stanton and Disney had two different ideas of doing it. Thus it resulted in the biggest box office flop of all time!

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