Big Budget Movies With Tiny Box Office Returns

A great movie can transport audiences into their wildest dreams. Heck a great movie can take audiences to worlds they’ve never even dreamed of! And for production companies, movie studios and promotional agencies, a great audience experience translates into major box-office earnings and of course Hollywood supremacy. But these days it costs a sultan’s fortune to make a Hollywood-grade film. So what happens when a major studio invests mega millions on a movie that falls flat? Check out our list of Hollywood flops that left studios running in the red and looking for their next big smash.

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11 The Fifth Estate (2013): Production Budget $25 Million

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In this movie Distributor Buena Vista learned that moviegoers aren’t exactly ready to line up and learn more about hacktivists and whistle blowers. Though the Fifth Estate is an important film about the work, rise and exile of Wiki Leaks founder, Julian Assange it grossed $8 million at the box office. Even with rising star Benedict Cumberbatch playing the lead role, the movie failed to captivate audiences the world over. In a time of secrets, spying and political tension, surely producers thought this movie would do more.

10 The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (2013): Production Budget $30 Million

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If you ever tried to convince a major Hollywood studio that a movie starring Steve Carell, Steve Buscemi, Jim Carrey, James Gandolfini and Olivia Wilde would flop, they’d call you crazy. But that’s exactly what happened when the tale of Magician, Burt Wonderstone hit theatres last year. After assembling an all-star cast for the Vegas-based comedy the $30 million dollar film generated a measly $27 million. Hard to believe this ensemble cast wasn’t box office gold but sometimes the magic simply disappears.

9 Grudge Match (2013): Production Budget $40 Million

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The stars of this movie once played iconic characters in two of the biggest boxing movies of all time—Rocky starring Sylvester Stallone and Raging Bull starring Robert De Niro. With these two heavy hitters on board for Grudge Match, the story of two aging boxing rivals shaping up for one last match in their golden years, Warner Bros. Studio was sure they’d have a smash on their hands. But even with supporting actors like Alan Arkin and Kim Basinger this movie barely made it through the first round. Though the production budget was a relatively small (but healthy) $40 million, the movie suffered $10 million in losses and was only screened in domestic theatres. All in all it was a total TKO.

8 Bullet to the Head (2012): Production Budget $55 Million

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Another gem from our pal Sly Stallone, not only did this movie bomb at the box office it was the lowest grossing movie of the past 13 years. In this predictable action flick Stallone plays a revenge seeking hit man who teams up with a likeminded cop to avenge his partners death. Needless to say the movie had audiences feeling they’ve seen it all before. Between the one-liners, clichés and Stallone-esque mumblings the old guy, good cop act fell terrifically flat. With a reported production budget of $55 million, Bullet to the Head earned Warner Bros. a brutal $9.5 million worldwide. Don’t hold your breath for a sequel.

7 Battlefield Earth(2000): Production Budget $61 Million

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Based on a novel by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, this film, championed by John Travolta was not only a financial failure, it was a critical bomb. Though the budget for the film is unknown it is estimated the movie cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $61 million to make.  Thought by many to be a propaganda film for the Scientology movement the Battlefield Earth only earned $29 million worldwide bankrupting Franchise Studios in the process.

6 Conan The Barbarian (2011) : Production Budget $90 Million

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Tales of ancient folklore are hit and miss when adapted for the Hollywood big screen. Studios invest huge dollars in what they believe will be massive movies trading on fantasy, brut force and true love, and sure to resonate with audiences everywhere. Films like 300 have got the formula just right achieving major box-office success while others like Conan the Barbarian are brutal disasters. This Lionsgate film starring little known actor, Jason Momoa (now Kahl Drogo of The Game of Thrones), failed to break even on its $90 million production budget. After registering but a blip in theatres the film took home a disappointing $48.8 million worldwide.

5 Enders Game (2013): Production Budget $110 Million

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This movie adaptation of the famous book by Orson Scott Card was one of 2013’s most anticipated Sci-Fi films. Starring Harrison Ford and Ben Kingsley, the space inspired journey with a production budget of $110 million was poised to dominate in theatres. Despite the critical acclaim and popularity of the book the movie failed to bring in audiences grossing only $88 million worldwide. Distributors are still miffed and trying to figure out what went wrong. 

4 Jack the Giant Slayer (2013): Production Budget $200 million

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Warner Bros. Studio is no stranger to box office success. But the long-standing entertainment conglomerate has been humbled a time or two over their long run. This was indeed the case with 2013’s Jack the Giant Slayer. Thought by the studio to be a CGI masterpiece, the film which cost $200 million to create, was just shy of breaking even leaving studio reps a few million in the red and with red faces.

3 The Green Lantern (2011): Production Budget $200 Million

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Ryan Reynolds may have met his wife on the set of the Green Lantern but that’s about the only thing that worked out for this film. After grueling months in the gym, a myriad of special effects and $200 million investment, the movie was a flop. Unlike its contemporaries, this superhero franchise revealing the origin story of the glowing green powerhouse was lost on viewers and grossed a disappointed $19 million worldwide.

2 The Lone Ranger (2013): Production Budget $215 Million

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This movie was in trouble from the time it started filming until the end of its theatre run. Though it was nominated for an Oscar in 2013 for best visual effects, the $215 million remake barely managed to cover production costs. This film was met with accusations of racism, animal abuse and just being down right bad from beginning to end. Between the negative press and media backlash the $260 million worldwide gross was little consolation for a wounded Disney Studios.

1 John Carter (2012): Production Budget $250 Million

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This Sci-Fi action adventure film featuring Canadian actor, Taylor Kitsch had a whopping production budget of $250 million. Highly anticipated and massively promoted the movie was expected to bring in serious cash and possibly even a franchise. Though the film didn’t leave the studio with a deficit (or worse bankrupt), its box office performance was lukewarm with a mere $30 million in profits. It’s arguable the promotion budget ate up most of the movie profits but either way, we haven’t heard a peep from the John Carter giant fighter since.

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