I don’t know what the producers were smoking when they decided to make these films. From the bizarre to the boring and the just plain stupid, we count down the films that lost serious amounts of money at the box office. This just goes to show, sometimes producers have no idea what people really want. Films are all about taking risks, but why risk millions and millions of dollars on ridiculous films like Battlefield Earth, Mars Needs Moms, and Rollerball?
We may laugh and point fingers at these laughably poor films, but people’s careers were probably ended because of them. Who is at fault? Is it the writer, who failed to create an interesting script? Is it the director, who failed to adequately bring the script to life? Or does the fault lie with the actors, whose terrible performances incited groans from cinemas worldwide? The truth is that it depends on the film. One thing to remember though, is that every single one of these terrible films was once someone’s baby, their life’s work and a project they poured everything they had into. This fact just makes their failures even more hilarious.
This list focuses not on the worst movies of all time, but the movies that suffered the biggest losses of all time. These are films with budgets of around $100 million, films that were intended to be blockbusters. But in the end, they not only failed to make a profit, they lost tens of millions of dollars and ended up as the laughing stock of the entire entertainment industry. So what’s the moral of the story here? Simple. It doesn’t matter how much a movie is hyped up and advertised, it doesn’t matter how much money is spent or how many big-name actors are hired – if the film itself stinks, the people will spread the word and make sure it goes in the garbage where it belongs.
10. Rollerball (2002)
If you’ve never seen this movie, don’t. This is one film that fully deserves its extreme level of failure. Rollerball is a remake of a 1975 film of the same title, but unlike its predecessor, which did fairly well both at the box office and in its reviews, Rollerball was a complete and utter failure. Its budget was $70 million, which is a fair wad of cash but not record-breaking by any stretch of the imagination. Even so, with that amount of money you’d expect them to make a film that’s at least somewhat watchable. Even with $70 million, they still ran out of money at the end and had to delay filming by six months just to film a night vision scene that in the end just made the movie worse. Worldwide, this film only made $25.9 million, making it one of the biggest box office flops of all time.
9. Red Planet (2000)
The year is 2056. Earth is in trouble. The only way to save the human race is to terraform Mars. On paper it sounds like an awesome film, but Red Planet failed to deliver both financially and on the screen. Not even a star-studded cast and a fairly large budget of $80 million could save this film from disaster. So what went wrong? Well, it seems that the film’s addition of a big-name actor proved to be its downfall, not its saving grace. Val Kilmer and co-star Tom Sizemore were reportedly arguing and physically fighting with one another for the duration of filming. Things got so heated between the two actors that the director had to use body doubles for all the scenes the two actors shared – things were so bad they refused to talk to one another and even be in the same room. When the film hit the big screen, it grossed a meager $33 million, making it a total bomb.
8. The Nutcracker 3D (2010)
The Nutcracker 3D was the pride and joy of Russian director Andrei Konchalovsky, and he poured his entire life into this one. He had spent over 20 years trying to get this film produced. It was also one of the biggest box office failures of all time. Interestingly, this film failed to credit the original classic story “The Nutcracker And The Mouse King.” Konchalovsky also chose to make the evil rats of the film dressed up as Nazis, which left a lot of people scratching their heads. The film had a huge budget of $90 million, but made only about $16 million. This makes it one of the biggest box-office flops of all time. Critics said that it made no sense, and that it was completely misguided with the moral message of the film being completely lost. It is one of the few films that managed to receive a Rotten Tomatoes Rating of 0%. It was meant to be a kids movie, but this film caused children to either cry or walk away confused.
7. The Adventures Of Pluto Nash (2002)
The film is generally viewed as one of the worst films ever made, and its performance at the box office reflects that notion. It was made in 2002, and one would hope that by then special effects wouldn’t look as cheesy as they do in this film, but it was the acting, the dialogue, and the lack of humor that contributed most to this complete commercial failure. Eddie Murphy received a lot of criticism for his performance in this film, and later joked about it, saying “I know the two or three people that liked the film.” The biggest failure was in the box office. The film cost $100 million, and they spent $20 million on advertising. The final figure for the gross revenue? A little over $7 million. The only silver lining in this monster of a film was the fact that it made over $24 million once it went to DVD. Hopefully, those DVDs will stay at the bottom of a cupboard, gathering dust for eternity, never seeing the light of day ever again.
6. The Astronaut’s Wife (1999)
This film failed because it was utterly boring. I mean, just look at the title. A lot of other critics felt the same way, saying the film “moved at a snail’s pace.” Some others actually enjoyed the film, and it was even nominated for Best Film at the Catalonian International Film Festival. It had a budget of $75 million, and only managed to earn $19 million at the box office. The Astronaut’s Wife just wasn’t the type of film that people wanted to see; when they pay money to see a film they want something that will amaze them, not a slow-building drama that never seems to go anywhere. They should have kept this one in film festivals where people could sit and debate its true meaning, not put it in theaters for the average joe to go and see.
5. Battlefield Earth (2000)
Ah, Battlefield Earth. This is one of those movies that is so bad, it’s almost worth watching simply for the entertainment value. Based on a science fiction written by none other that L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology, its hard to pin down what made this movie so laughably terrible. Was it John Travolta’s completely over-the-top portrayal of the cyberpunk-esque leader of the alien race known as the “Physchlos?” Was it the numerous plot holes? Perhaps it was the intolerably ridiculous script. In any case, it’s probably a good thing Hubbard never lived to see this abomination hit the screens. The film had many difficulties right from the get go, simply because everyone was too weirded out by Scientology to fund it, and many people rightly predicted that it would be a complete failure. Basically, as soon as this movie hit the cinemas, people began to spread the word that it was one of the worst movies of all time. This resulted in the film only making $21 million, after spending nearly $100 million on producing and advertising the film.
4. How Do You Know (2010)
How Do You Know had it all – a cast full of talented actors, a successful screenwriter, and a budget totaling over $120 million. All the ingredients were there for a successful film both financially and critically. Fate, it seems, had other plans. You see, the script was never actually that good, but because of screenwriter and director James L. Brooks‘ prior success, a lot of big names were jumping on board in the hopes that this film would do well. These figures included Reese Witherspoon, Jack Nicholson, Owen Wilson, and Paul Rudd. Combined with the director, these stars were paid a total of $50 million – almost half the film’s cost. At the end of the day, it made less that $50 million worldwide, making it one the most expensive film disasters of all time. For all those people that hate romantic comedies, take joy in the fact that the people responsible were rightly punished, at least for once.
3. Mars Need Moms (2011)
Disney is known for making films that wow audiences, films that are basically assured of financial success. Mars Needs Moms was the exception, and it was a big exception at that. This film is widely known as Disney’s biggest failure financially, and for good reason. Directed by Simon Wells, the man behind the movie Antz, and other hit animation films, and with a budget of over $150 million, this movie seemed sure to succeed. Its hard to pin down what exactly went wrong, but when it finished showing at theaters, the film made less than $40 million. People say that it was unimaginative, the animation was terrible, and that it just wasn’t that interesting. During production, Seth Green spent a month and a half in a motion capture suit before production realized that his voice was too mature to play a child. They then brought in an 11-year-old actor to play the part.
2. Dudley Do Right (1999)
Dudley Do Right was meant to be a funny, comedic film about a bumbling Canadian Mountie, played by Brendan Fraser. It ended up losing over $60 million. It has a Rotten Tomatoes rating of just 16%, an IMDB rating of 3.8 out of 10, and scored negative ratings worldwide. People criticized its repetitive jokes and stupid gags, saying that it just wasn’t funny. This is probably one of those movies that haunts Fraser at night, but you can see why he decided to do it. He had experienced massive commercial success with George of the Jungle, which was actually based on a cartoon that was created by the same guy who made Dudley Do Right, another cartoon. In any case, the film had a budget of over $70 million and truly failed to deliver at the box office.
1. The Postman (1997)
The Postman was a film that was produced and directed by Kevin Costner, who also starred in the film as the main character. Like Costner’s other film, Waterworld, this movie takes place in the post-apocalyptic future of 2013 (it was made in 1997). It had a budget of $80 million, which was a lot of money back in 1997, but that didn’t stop this movie from being a complete failure at the box office. The plot has the potential to be interesting, but in the end its just a film about a guy pretending to be a mailman … not the most gripping of story lines. The film only managed to gross $18 million at the box office. The film received extremely negative reviews, both in the press and online. It has a rotten tomatoes score of 9%. Since this film, Costner is rarely seen in films anymore, but in truth his career was already on a downward spiral at the time he made this film.