As profitable as the film industry looks, not all Hollywood movies rake in millions. A movie is labelled a flop when the total cost of making the movie surpasses the revenues that the movie generates once it is released. Forget about the huge budgets movies. Our focus in this article will be on movies that have made the biggest losses. If a movie fails to cover all its costs, it is an automatic flop. It doesn’t matter how big the budget was.
Given the fact that movies cost millions to make, movie flops result in very painful losses. This explains why Hollywood executives are extremely careful when choosing directors, producers and cast members. It is however important to note that movie losses can be caused by many other factors apart from the cast, directors or actors. Budget imbalances also top the list of main causes of movie flops. For instance, many movies have flopped because of having low marketing budgets.
For a movie to attract a big audience, the marketing budget has to be big enough. A movie also needs to have an extremely engaging storyline otherwise the movie will be deemed boring. This in turn attracts negative reviews which result in low revenues when people become discouraged to pay and watch the movie.
If you are interested in finding out some of the most expensive movie flops of all times, you are in the right place. Below is a list of top 10 most expensive movie flops of all time starting with the movie that lost the least amount of money. Please note that the figures have been adjusted to cater for inflation.
10. Stealth 2005 (Estimated loss: $112 million)
Number 10 in this list is Stealth which was released back in 2005. The movie is about 3 pilots struggling to contain a military artificial intelligence program. Such a storyline normally attracts a huge audience however this wasn’t the case with Stealth. Critics claim the movie wasn’t real and interesting which is why it flopped. These claims can’t however be substantiating because many movies which have been deemed boring by many have somewhat managed to make millions.
Stealth makes it to this list because of making huge losses despite having a good storyline and a big budget. The movie was also highly hyped. The movie cost $170.8 million to make however it generated only $77 million in revenues. That translates to a $112 million loss which is one of the biggest in box office history for a movie with an impressive cast i.e. (Jamie Foxx and Jessica Biel).
9. Heavens Gate 1980 (Estimated loss: $114 million)
Heaven’s gate is a 1980’s movie about a fictional dispute between European immigrants in Wyoming and land barons in the 1980’s. The movie makes it to this list because of making a $114 million inflation adjusted loss on a $44 million budget. Considering this was in the 1980’s this loss is huge. Heaven’s gate only made $3.5 million in revenues which is an insignificant amount of revenue for a movie that cost $44 million in the 1980’s. No wonder the movie makes it to this list.
8. Speed Racer 2008 (Estimated loss $115 million)
Speed Racer is an American action film based on the Japanese anime & manga series Speed Racer. The movie is by Tatsunoko productions. Considering the movie was made by the usually brilliant producers (the Wachowski brothers), it is surprising that Speed racer made losses. The cast was also equally impressive with Emile Hirsch and Susan Sarandon taking lead roles. How Speed Racer made a net loss of $106 million despite having an excellent cast, producers and a 200 million budget is anyone’s guess. Most critics say the storyline wasn’t what people expected. Others say the budget was overstretched given the fact that the movie was based on a cartoon. Whichever way you look at it, $94 million in revenues is a huge flop on a $200 million movie budget.
7. Town and Country 2001 ( Estimated loss $124 million)
Town and Country is a 2001 romantic comedy film starring Goldie Hawn, Diane Keaton, Warren Beatty and Garry Shandling. Warren Beatty plays an architect with Diane as his wife and Shandling and Hawn as the couple’s best friends. Considering the film cost $105 million to make and only generated $10.4 million in revenues, Town and country surely deserves to be in this list. Romantic comedies rarely flop. How Town and Country made a net loss of $94.6 million still remains a mystery to the few romantic comedy fans who enjoyed the film. The movie’s 13% review on movie review sites like rotten tomatoes says it all.
6. The 13th Warrior 1999 (Estimated loss: 137 million)
Although Antionio Banderas is considered to be one of the best male actors in Hollywood, he has also had his fair share of disappointments. One notable disappointment is in the movie 13th Warrior where he plays a lead role. The historical fiction action movie is based on Michael Crichton’s novel; Eaters of the dead. Despite having a storyline and cast boost, the movie still made $137.1 million in losses ($61.7 million in revenues on a $160 million budget). This was after the movie underwent several re-edits after a test audience failed to react favourably to the initial cut. We can therefore conclude that the flop was foreseen. How the director (John McTiernan) failed to turn the movie around even after being sensitized way before the release remains a mystery. Judging from the re-edits, it is safe to say the movie scenes aren’t to blame here
5. Mars Needs Moms 2011 (Estimated loss $141 million)
This movie is one of the latest box office animation flops. With a budget of $175 million, you would be tempted to think Mars Needs Moms would be immune to loses given the fact that there are better animation films which cost less. Well, think again. Mars Needs Moms only managed to generate $39 million in revenues making the film one of the biggest box office animation flops of all time. The movie has attracted all sorts of negative reviews the most notable being the poor motion capture technology used to make the film. We can therefore conclude that Mars Needs Moms failed because of experimenting on new technology.
4. Sahara 2005 (Estimated loss $145 million)
Number 4 on this list is the 2005 comedy adventure film Sahara. Considering the movie was based on a bestselling book, Sahara 2005 failed miserably by incurring huge losses ($144.9 million) on a $241 million budget. The movie only managed to generate $119.3 million in revenues despite opening in the number 1 slot in the U.S. box office with revenues amounting to $18 million in the first weekend. According to movie analysts, the huge overall losses can be attributed to overspending in production and distribution costs which amounted to $160 and $81 million respectively.
3. Adventures of Pluto Nash 2002 (Estimated loss: $145.9 million)
Adventures of Pluto Nash makes it to top 3 in this list because of generating the least revenue in this list after heaven’s gate. The 2002 science fiction comedy film starring Eddy Murphy only generated $7.1 million in revenues on a $120 million budget. This is an unimaginable flop considering the film was adequately financed and featured a movie star. Many movie critics attribute the flop to a bad script, bad special effects, bad acting and bad humour. When you combine all these factors together, you can see clearly that success was impossible. Revenues amounting to $7.1 million can’t cater for any significant movie costs on a $120 million movie budget.
2. The Alamo 2004 (Estimated loss $147 million)
The Alamo is an American war film based on the Alamo battle during the Texas revolution. This 2004 film is set in the 1860’s Mexico. It is a remake of a popular 1960’s film on the Alamo battle but offers an updated version which represents both the Mexican and Texan sides of the argument. Judging from this short description of the movie, it is obvious the movie is based on an interesting storyline. These sentiments are however inaccurate according to many reviews about the movie. According to most critics, the director and cast didn’t do a good job to make the movie as interesting as it should have been. Also, there was a high level of inaccuracy i.e. sword length, props e.t.c. These among many other factors made The Alamo a huge flop. With only $25.8 million generated in revenues on a $145 million budget, The Alamo truly deserves a top spot in this list.
1. Cutthroat Island 1995 (Estimated loss: $148 million)
Cutthroat Island tops this list with an estimated loss of $148 million on a $115 million budget. This 1995 pirate action film tops the list of the most expensive movie flops of all time simply because the film failed to capitalise on a highly successful movie niche. Despite the success of pirate movies in the 1990’s, Cutthroat Island failed miserably considering the movie has one of the most original plotlines in the history of pirate action films. The movie marked the end of star actors’ careers as bankable stars. It also forced producers (Carolco Pictures) into bankruptcy. It took 8 years and actors like Johnny Depp to bring back pirate action films to our screens. It doesn’t get worse than this for a movie ($18.5 million in revenues on a $115 million budget) not to mention bankruptcy and the end of lucrative acting careers.