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CEOWORLD magazine - Latest - Special Reports - Silver Screen Disasters: Epic Failures in Hollywood

Special Reports

Silver Screen Disasters: Epic Failures in Hollywood

The box office performance of a movie often garners significant attention, with successes like “Avatar” making headlines for its historic profitability, while flops like the cinematic adaptation of “Cats” drew gasps despite its star-studded cast featuring Taylor Swift and Jennifer Hudson.

However, the question of the biggest box-office bomb prompts exploration. Utilizing data from the film industry data site The Numbers, compiled here is a list of 40 movies that incurred the most significant losses by comparing their box office gross to their production budgets.

In the unpredictable realm of the box office, even renowned directors sometimes rely on Hollywood’s recognizable names to attract audiences. Surprisingly, the roster of major film flops includes A-listers such as Christian Bale, Reese Witherspoon, Chris Rock, and Angelina Jolie.

Moreover, no particular genre emerges as a fail-safe strategy for financial success. The compilation of movies with substantial losses spans diverse genres, encompassing everything from science fiction thrillers delving into time travel to romantic comedies and historical dramas based on true events.

The film production industry, while lucrative, also proves to be highly precarious. Some movies find success through sheer luck, while others face the challenge of becoming part of the list of the highest-grossing movies each year since 1930.

In determining the biggest movie flops, data on worldwide box office and production costs from The Numbers, a film industry data site, has been meticulously reviewed. The ranking was based on the difference between the total worldwide box office gross and production budget, with films experiencing the most substantial losses positioned at the top.

Supplementary data, including the number of reviews and overall ratings on the Internet Movie Database, as well as audience scores and Tomatometer rankings from Rotten Tomatoes, were also considered. Data on the domestic box office was sourced from The Numbers.

  1. Mars Needs Moms (2011)
    Loss: $110,450,242 Production budget: $150,000,000 Worldwide box office: $39,549,758 Starring: Seth Green, Joan Cusack, Dan Fogler Directed by: Simon Wells
    In “Mars Needs Moms,” a 9-year-old boy embarks on a journey to save his mother from Martians, gaining a newfound appreciation for her. Critics labeled the movie a mess and an interplanetary clunker, contributing to its substantial financial loss.
  2. Town & Country (2001)
    Loss: $94,635,231 Production budget: $105,000,000 Worldwide box office: $10,364,769 Starring: Warren Beatty, Diane Keaton, Nastassja Kinski Directed by: Peter Chelsom
    “Town & Country,” a romantic comedy about two couples and their relationships, faced confusion and disapproval. With a Tomatometer score of 13%, only 14% of audiences liked the film, leading Warren Beatty to take a 15-year hiatus from starring in motion pictures.
  3. The Adventures of Pluto Nash (2002)
    Loss: $92,905,005 Production budget: $100,000,000 Worldwide box office: $7,094,995 Starring: Eddie Murphy, Jay Mohr, Randy Quaid Directed by: Ron Underwood
    “The Adventures of Pluto Nash,” a sci-fi action comedy set in 2087, struggled with a mere 4% approval from critics and 15% from audiences. The film depicts a man’s attempt to save his Moon nightclub from the mafia aiming to conquer the Moon.
  4. The Promise (2016)
    Loss: $79,448,583 Production budget: $90,000,000 Worldwide box office: $10,551,417 Starring: Oscar Isaac, Charlotte Le Bon, Christian Bale Directed by: Terry George
    Set in the early 20th century during the Ottoman Empire’s last years, “The Promise” involves a romantic drama with a love triangle. While not a box office hit, the film received a more favorable audience response, with 92% liking it.
  5. A Sound of Thunder (2005)
    Loss: $73,699,549 Production budget: $80,000,000 Worldwide box office: $6,300,451 Starring: Edward Burns, Ben Kingsley, Catherine McCormack Directed by: Peter Hyams
    “A Sound of Thunder” explores time travel and its consequences, facing criticism for choppy logic and uneven performances. Both critics and audiences had unfavorable reviews, resulting in a significant financial loss.
  6. Cutthroat Island (1995)
    Loss: $73,482,678 Production budget: $92,000,000 Worldwide box office: $18,517,322 Starring: Geena Davis, Matthew Modine, Frank Langella Directed by: Renny Harlin
    Featuring a feisty female pirate in search of buried treasure, “Cutthroat Island” received criticism from both critics (38%) and audiences (40%). Desson Thomson of the Washington Post described it as a “moribund movie.”
  7. How Do You Know (2010)
    Loss: $70,371,823 Production budget: $120,000,000 Worldwide box office: $49,628,177 Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Paul Rudd, Owen Wilson Directed by: James L. Brooks
    “How Do You Know” centers on a softball player caught in a love triangle, marking Jack Nicholson’s last movie before retirement. The romantic comedy faced negative reviews, with critics and audiences alike disliking its confusing choppiness, resulting in a 13% approval rating.
  8. Monkeybone (2001)
    Loss: $69,590,483 Production budget: $75,000,000 Worldwide box office: $5,409,517 Starring: Brendan Fraser, Bridget Fonda, John Turturro Directed by: Henry Selick
    “Monkeybone” follows cartoonist Stu Miley trapped in the world he created, needing to fight his own creation, Monkeybone. Labeled as “shapeless” with unengaging characters and random situations, the film received only 13% approval on Tomatometer and 14% from audiences.
  9. The Alamo (2004)
    Loss: $68,088,638 Production budget: $92,000,000 Worldwide box office: $23,911,362 Starring: Dennis Quaid, Billy Bob Thornton, Emilio Echevarría Directed by: John Lee Hancock
    A historical war drama, “The Alamo” portrays the last stand of historical figures against the Mexican army, receiving mixed reviews. About 29% of critics and 45% of audiences gave it a positive review, with a Critics Consensus noting it as “too conventional and uninvolving.”
  10. The 13th Warrior (1999)
    Loss: $63,301,101 Production budget: $125,000,000 Worldwide box office: $61,698,899 Starring: Antonio Banderas, Diane Venora, Dennis Storhøi Directed by: John McTiernan, Michael Crichton
    “The 13th Warrior” follows a Muslim ambassador joining Vikings in a fight against an evil threat. While praised for visual effects, critics were overwhelmingly disappointed in the plot, though audiences were more forgiving, with 66% approval.
  11. Stealth (2005)
    Loss: $61,583,254 Production budget: $138,000,000 Worldwide box office: $76,416,746 Starring: Josh Lucas, Jessica Biel, Jamie Foxx Directed by: Rob Cohen
    Three Navy fighter pilots engage in a top-secret mission involving unmanned aircraft, with one pilot distrusting the artificial intelligence technology. Criticized for being loud, preposterous, and predictable, “Stealth” faced negative reviews, resulting in a significant financial loss.
  12. Soldier (1998)
    Loss: $60,376,918 Production budget: $75,000,000 Worldwide box office: $14,623,082 Starring: Kurt Russell, Jason Scott Lee, Jason Isaacs Directed by: Paul W.S. Anderson
    The action movie “Soldier” centers on a skilled soldier deemed obsolete and dumped on a waste planet, joining colonists to prevent the launch of genetically engineered killers. Critics deemed it a “waste of a good set,” forming a Critics Consensus on Rotten Tomatoes.
  13. The Postman (1997)
    Loss: $59,158,877 Production budget: $80,000,000 Worldwide box office: $20,841,123 Starring: Kevin Costner, Will Patton, Larenz Tate Directed by: Kevin Costner
    Set in a post-apocalyptic America, “The Postman” tells the story of a drifter bringing hope by delivering old mail. Critics found it fatally self-serious, resulting in a mere 8% approval from movie critics and 50% from audiences.
  14. Osmosis Jones (2001)
    Loss: $56,403,089 Production budget: $70,000,000 Worldwide box office: $13,596,911 Starring: Laurence Fishburne, Chris Rock, David Hyde Pierce Directed by: Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly
    Combining live action and animation, “Osmosis Jones” features a white blood cell trying to eliminate a virus threatening a cop’s body. While critics gave it a 55% approval, audiences were more generous at 41%.
  15. Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever (2002)
    Loss: $55,705,158 Production budget: $70,000,000 Worldwide box office: $14,294,842 Starring: Antonio Banderas, Lucy Liu, Talisa Soto Directed by: Wych Kaosayananda
    In this mystery/action film, a former FBI agent tracks down a former DIA agent, both pursuing an injectable device with lethal potential. Not a single critic provided a positive review, resulting in a 0% Tomatometer score, with audiences only slightly more favorable at 19%.
  16. Lucky Numbers (2000)
    Loss: $54,985,766 Production budget: $65,000,000 Worldwide box office: $10,014,234 Starring: John Travolta, Lisa Kudrow, Tim Roth Directed by: Nora Ephron
    The dark comedy “Lucky Numbers” features a TV weatherman and a lotto ball announcer scamming the state lottery. Described as having repulsive characters, the film garnered only 22% positive reviews from critics and 19% from audiences.
  17. Lolita (1997)
    Loss: $53,852,216 Production budget: $55,000,000 Worldwide box office: $1,147,784 Starring: Jeremy Irons, Dominique Swain, Melanie Griffith Directed by: Adrian Lyne
    Based on Vladimir Nabokov’s novel, “Lolita” follows an English professor who marries a woman to be close to her daughter, with taboo subject matter likely affecting its box office performance. While relatively well-reviewed with 68% of critics and 75% of audiences approving, the film faced challenges in attracting audiences due to its controversial themes.
  18. Timeline (2003)
    Loss: $53,296,816 Production budget: $80,000,000 Worldwide box office: $26,703,184 Starring: Paul Walker, Gerard Butler, Billy Connolly Directed by: Richard Donner
    “Timeline” unfolds as an archaeologist accidentally time travels to 14th-century France, prompting his son and colleague to journey back and save him, leading to entanglement in the war between France and England. The film faced criticism for its incoherent plot and was labeled as looking and sounding cheesy by Rotten Tomatoes’ Critics Consensus.
  19. Eye See You (2002)
    Loss: $53,192,010 Production budget: $55,000,000 Worldwide box office: $1,807,990 Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Charles S. Dutton, Polly Walker Directed by: Jim Gillespie
    In “Eye See You,” an FBI agent in a rehab clinic for law enforcement officers with PTSD becomes the target of a serial killer preying on patients. The thriller received scant praise, with a mere 18% approval from movie critics and 28% from the audience. Kevin N. Laforest of Apollo Guide deemed it a “guilty pleasure at best” and advised against watching unless for a laugh.
  20. Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (2001)
    Loss: $51,868,170 Production budget: $137,000,000 Worldwide box office: $85,131,830 Starring: Alec Baldwin, Steve Buscemi, Ming-Na Wen Directed by: Hironobu Sakaguchi, Motonori Sakakibara
    “Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within” uses computer-generated human characters in a sci-fi fantasy about a scientist saving Earth from mysterious aliens. Despite its groundbreaking CGI, the film received mixed reviews, with 44% of critics and 48% of the audience providing positive feedback.
  21. R.I.P.D. (2013)
    Loss: $50,923,322 Production budget: $130,000,000 Worldwide box office: $79,076,678 Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Jeff Bridges, Mary-Louise Parker Directed by: Robert Schwentke
    “R.I.P.D.” is a supernatural action-adventure where a murdered cop joins the Rest In Peace Department, protecting the living from destructive souls. Positive reviews focused on Jeff Bridges’ performance, but the overall film received mixed to negative feedback.
  22. Blackhat (2015)
    Loss: $50,334,996 Production budget: $70,000,000 Worldwide box office: $19,665,004 Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Viola Davis, Tang Wei Directed by: Michael Mann
    “Blackhat” follows a hacker aiding American and Chinese authorities in uncovering a global cybercrime network. Despite moments of well-developed action scenes, the thriller was criticized for being dull and slow, with only 24% approval from fans and 32% from critics.
  23. Battlefield Earth (2000)
    Loss: $50,274,337 Production budget: $80,000,000 Worldwide box office: $29,725,663 Starring: John Travolta, Forest Whitaker, Barry Pepper Directed by: Roger Christian
    “Battlefield Earth” is a sci-fi action-adventure where Earth is a wasteland, focusing on one human’s attempt to save humanity from the alien Psychlos. Critics panned the film as a misguided, bad sci-fi folly with poor acting, resulting in a mere 3% positive review rate.
  24. Hard Rain (1998)
    Loss: $50,129,433 Production budget: $70,000,000 Worldwide box office: $19,870,567 Starring: Morgan Freeman, Christian Slater, Randy Quaid Directed by: Mikael Salomon
    The heist movie “Hard Rain” follows an armored truck driver attempting to thwart a local gang’s $3 million theft during a storm. Labeled virtually unbelievable by Variety’s Todd McCarthy, the film received just 34% positive reviews from audiences and 30% from critics.
  25. Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return (2013)
    Loss: $49,892,067 Production budget: $70,000,000 Worldwide box office: $20,107,933 Starring: Lea Michele, Kelsey Grammer, Dan Aykroyd Directed by: Will Finn, Daniel St. Pierre
    Based on a novel by Roger S. Baum, “Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return” is an animated musical fantasy featuring Dorothy’s return to Oz after her home is destroyed by a tornado. Critics were unimpressed, but 68% of audiences gave the film a positive rating.
  26. The Great Raid (2005)
    Loss: $49,402,930 Production budget: $60,000,000 Worldwide box office: $10,597,070 Starring: Benjamin Bratt, Joseph Fiennes, James Franco Directed by: John Dahl
    Set in 1945, “The Great Raid” portrays a mission to rescue over 500 American prisoners of war in the Philippines. While the war movie garnered a 70% positive score from audiences, only 38% of critics provided positive reviews.
  27. Fathers’ Day (1997)
    Loss: $49,318,920 Production budget: $85,000,000 Worldwide box office: $35,681,080 Starring: Robin Williams, Billy Crystal, Julia Louis-Dreyfus Directed by: Ivan Reitman
    In the romantic comedy “Fathers’ Day,” two men assist an ex-girlfriend in finding her missing son, with either of them potentially being the father. Despite the comedic talents of Robin Williams and Billy Crystal, the film failed to resonate, receiving only 25% positive reviews from critics and audiences alike.
  28. Last Man Standing (1996)
    Loss: $48,884,073 Production budget: $67,000,000 Worldwide box office: $18,115,927 Starring: Bruce Willis, Bruce Dern, William Sanderson Directed by: Walter Hill
    Set during the Prohibition era, “Last Man Standing” is a crime drama following a hitman entangled in a war between local Italian and Irish mafias. Roger Ebert, in the Chicago Sun-Times, described the film as desperately cheerless, dry, and lacking in fun.
  29. Outlander (2008)
    Loss: $48,749,383 Production budget: $50,000,000 Worldwide box office: $1,250,617 Starring: Jim Caviezel, Sophia Myles, Ron Perlman Directed by: Howard McCain
    In “Outlander,” an alien soldier and an alien predator crash on Earth during the Iron Age. Armed with Viking weaponry, the soldier attempts to eliminate the predator before it wreaks havoc on the planet. The film’s schizophrenic subject matter and lackluster execution left critics unimpressed, and Rotten Tomatoes’ Critics Consensus questioned its ability to find the intended cult audience.
  30. Beyond Borders (2003)
    Loss: $48,572,910 Production budget: $60,000,000 Worldwide box office: $11,427,090 Starring: Clive Owen, Angelina Jolie, Linus Roache Directed by: Martin Campbell
    “Beyond Borders” depicts a wealthy woman joining a doctor in aiding war-torn countries, blending tragedy and love. Critics criticized the film for exploiting real-life tragedy for a love story, branding it soap opera silliness. Despite this, 72% of audiences expressed a more favorable opinion.
  31. Lucky You (2007)
    Loss: $48,478,171 Production budget: $55,000,000 Worldwide box office: $6,521,829 Starring: Eric Bana, Drew Barrymore, Robert Duvall Directed by: Curtis Hanson
    “Lucky You” follows a poker player navigating personal relationships while striving for the world championship. Criticized for clichés, predictability, and slowness, the rom-com received only 29% positive reviews from critics, slightly higher than audience approval.
  32. Holy Man (1998)
    Loss: $47,930,281 Production budget: $60,000,000 Worldwide box office: $12,069,719 Starring: Eddie Murphy, Jeff Goldblum, Kelly Preston Directed by: Stephen Herek
    The comedy “Holy Man” features a TV evangelist enhancing a home shopping network, turning shopping into a religious experience. Critics found the film unfunny, uneven, shallow, and mundane, resulting in a mere 12% approval from critics and 24% from audiences.
  33. Hudson Hawk (1991)
    Loss: $47,781,084 Production budget: $65,000,000 Worldwide box office: $17,218,916 Starring: Bruce Willis, Danny Aiello, Andie MacDowell Directed by: Michael Lehmann
    Following a recently released burglar tasked with stealing art by Leonardo Da Vinci, “Hudson Hawk” garnered mixed reviews. Critics called it a surreal, baffling misfire, while fans were more forgiving, with 56% enjoying the comedy.
  34. Gigli (2003)
    Loss: $46,873,998 Production budget: $54,000,000 Worldwide box office: $7,126,002 Starring: Ben Affleck, Jennifer Lopez, Justin Bartha Directed by: Martin Brest
    Starring real-life couple Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez, “Gigli” struggled critically, earning a 6% Freshness score on Rotten Tomatoes. Labeled atrocious and worse by critics, the film failed to translate the offscreen romance into onscreen chemistry.
  35. In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale (2007)
    Loss: $46,766,780 Production budget: $60,000,000 Worldwide box office: $13,233,220 Starring: Jason Statham, Ron Perlman, Ray Liotta Directed by: Uwe Boll
    Inspired by the Dungeon Siege video game series, “In the Name of the King” boasted star power but faced harsh criticism, with only 4% of critics favoring the film. Described as featuring wooden performances, laughable dialogue, and shoddy production values, it failed to resonate with audiences.
  36. Red Planet (2000)
    Loss: $46,536,031 Production budget: $80,000,000 Worldwide box office: $33,463,969 Starring: Val Kilmer, Carrie-Anne Moss, Tom Sizemore Directed by: Antony Hoffman
    “Red Planet,” a sci-fi film about saving humanity by colonizing Mars, received mixed reviews. While some critics appreciated the special effects, most agreed on its lack of energy, imagination, and compelling dialogue.
  37. All the King’s Men (2006)
    Loss: $45,478,542 Production budget: $55,000,000 Worldwide box office: $9,521,458 Starring: Sean Penn, Jude Law, Kate Winslet Directed by: Steven Zaillian
    Loosely based on populist politician Huey Long’s time as governor of Louisiana, “All the King’s Men” chronicles the rise and fall of the corrupt politician. Despite being a remake of the 1949 Oscar-winning film, the 2006 version lacked narrative cohesiveness, according to Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus.
  38. Flyboys (2006)
    Loss: $45,183,621 Production budget: $60,000,000 Worldwide box office: $14,816,379 Starring: James Franco, Jean Reno, Jennifer Decker Directed by: Tony Bill
    “Flyboys” presents a fictionalized take on World War I fighter pilot squadron Lafayette Escadrille. Criticized for its corniness and predictability, the film received a mixed response, with only 33% of critics providing positive reviews, while 67% of the audience appreciated the portrayal of the historical narrative.
  39. Supernova (2000)
    Loss: $45,183,506 Production budget: $60,000,000 Worldwide box office: $14,816,494 Starring: James Spader, Peter Facinelli, Robin Tunney Directed by: Walter Hill
    “Supernova” follows a space hospital crew rescuing a man from another galaxy, entwined with peril arising from the alien artifact he smuggled aboard. Critically panned, with only 10% approval from critics and 17% from audiences, the sci-fi thriller was labeled an insult to the genre, lacking excitement and featuring subpar special effects.
  40. Virus (1999)
    Loss: $44,373,310 Production budget: $75,000,000 Worldwide box office: $30,626,690 Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Donald Sutherland, William Baldwin Directed by: John Bruno
    The sci-fi horror film “Virus” centers around the crew of an American tugboat combating a perilous alien life form aboard an abandoned Russian research vessel. Despite earning praise for its special effects, critics found fault in the movie’s predictability and rushed narrative. Entertainment Weekly’s Lisa Schwarzbaum quipped, “Your average winter cold follows a less predictable course.”

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CEOWORLD magazine - Latest - Special Reports - Silver Screen Disasters: Epic Failures in Hollywood
Deepankar Shyam
Global Breaking News Editor at the CEOWORLD magazine, helping lead the direction of the bureau. I'm a veteran digital storyteller with a record of creating best-in-class content and commerce experiences. I work with our reporters and columnists to develop story ideas, edit their work and coordinate with various other bureaus on coverage. I also have broad industry experience managing and leading change while consistently exceeding readership goals and company expectations.