List of box office bombs

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If a film released in theatres fails to break even at the box office by a large amount, it is considered a box office bomb or box office flop, thus losing money for the distributor, studio, and/or production company that invested in it. Unless officially acknowledged by studios, figures of losses are usually rough estimates at best. This is mostly due to Hollywood accounting practices that typically manipulate profits or keep information on costs a secret in order to avoid profit-sharing agreements.[1]

In some cases, a company can make profits from a box office bomb when ancillary revenues are taken into account, such as home media sales and rentals, television broadcast rights, and licensing rights, so a box office bomb can still break even after its theatrical run.[2] However, this list includes a chart of films that failed to recover their production costs during their theatrical run from worldwide box office revenue, ranked by the nominal value of their losses.

Because studios rarely release official distribution, prints, and advertising costs for most films, costs are limited to production budgets. The losses presented in this list are very approximate.

Estimating loss[edit]

Production outfits do not retain all of the box office revenue their films generate, and their share, which can often be variable throughout a film's run, largely depends on their deals with distributors and exhibitors as well as the various taxes that are imposed. For example, the tax filings for Cinemark Theatres in 2010 showed that 54.5% of box office revenues were paid to distributors. Earnings from outside of the US and Canada are even harder to gauge because of various cost factors, like the "dollar fluctuating against foreign currencies" and tariffs.[3] Notably in 2013, the "Big Six" major studios were involved in a dispute with the China Film Group over delay in payments from Chinese box office revenue.[4]

Because of these complex considerations that vary from film to film, it is not possible to calculate exactly how much a film has earned for its backers, but industry analysts regularly apply the rule of thumb that film studios take half of the box office receipts, with theaters taking the other half. Thus, a film would normally need to make twice its production budget worldwide to break even.[5][6][7]

In keeping with industry analyses, losses are calculated by subtracting the production budget from half of the theatrical box office revenues:

{TWG \over 2} - {PB}

where TWG is the total worldwide box office gross and PB is the production budget.

Biggest box office bombs[edit]

With a worldwide box-office gross of around $151 million on a production budget of $225 million, 47 Ronin is estimated to be the biggest box office bomb based on absolute loss on worldwide gross. However, such claims usually refer to losses when only taking into account theatrical revenue and production budget. It is not immediately clear which film loses the most when home video and television income, which can form a significant portion of a film's earnings, and the prints and advertising budget, which can inflate a film's overall cost, are factored in. For instance, in addition to the $225–250 million spent on producing The Lone Ranger, it was estimated that Disney spent a further $150 million on worldwide marketing,[8] causing Disney to ultimately take a $160–190 million write-off on the film.[9] The cost of Sahara also spiraled out of control: Los Angeles Times provided an extensive special report about the film's financial troubles two years after its release, which included a net loss of $78 million through 2006.[# 1]

Sometimes a film can be financed by selling its distribution rights to cover costs before production begins. C2 Pictures made deals with Warner Bros., Sony Pictures, and Toho-Towa to release Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines in their respective territories in return for $149 million, with another $11 million earned by transferring the copyright to German tax shelters. The final budget was estimated to be $187.3 million, so at least 85% of costs had been covered for the producers before any box office revenue came in.[10]

Only the revenues from theatrical exhibition and production budgets at their nominal value are included here, which sees 47 Ronin rank in the top position. Up to nine films in total have lost in excess of $100 million. The films on this chart have all had a theatrical run since 1995, and films that have not played since then do not appear on the chart due to ticket-price inflation, population size, and ticket purchasing trends not being considered. The most represented years are 1999, 2001, and 2005, all with five films.

  film currently playing Background shading indicates films playing in the week commencing 28 August 2015 in theaters around the world.
Biggest box office bombs
Rank Title Production budget Worldwide gross Estimated losses Year Ref
1 47 Ronin $225,000,000 $150,962,475 $149,518,763 2013 [11][# 2]
2 Mars Needs Moms $150,000,000 $38,992,758 $130,503,621 2011 [# 3]
3 The 13th Warrior $100,000,000–160,000,000 $61,698,899 $69,150,551—129,150,551 1999 [# 4]
4 John Carter $263,700,000 $284,139,100 $121,630,450 2012 [# 5]
5 The Lone Ranger $225,000,000–250,000,000 $260,502,115 $94,748,943—119,748,943 2013 [11][# 6]
6 R.I.P.D. $130,000,000–154,000,000 $78,324,220 $90,837,890—114,837,890 2013 [# 7]
7 Jack the Giant Slayer $185,000,000–200,000,000 $197,687,603 $86,156,199—101,156,199 2013 [# 8]
8 Sahara $160,000,000 $119,269,486 $100,365,257 2005 [# 1]
9 Stealth $135,000,000 $76,932,872 $96,533,564 2005 [# 9]
10 The Adventures of Pluto Nash $100,000,000 $7,103,973 $96,448,014 2002 [# 10]
11 Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within $137,000,000 $85,131,830 $94,434,085 2001 [# 11]
12 The Alamo $107,000,000 $25,819,961 $94,090,020 2004 [# 12]
13 Green Lantern $200,000,000 $219,851,172 $90,074,414 2011 [# 13]
14 Cutthroat Island $98,000,000 $18,333,397 $88,833,301 1995 [# 14]
15 Evan Almighty $175,000,000 $173,418,781 $88,290,610 2007 [# 15]
16 Jupiter Ascending $179,000,000 $183,887,723 $87,056,139 2015 [# 16]
17 Treasure Planet $140,000,000 $109,578,115 $85,210,943 2002 [# 17]
18 Town & Country $90,000,000 $10,372,291 $84,813,855 2001 [# 18]
19 Supernova $90,000,000 $14,828,081 $82,585,960 2000 [# 19]
20 The Nutcracker in 3D $90,000,000 $16,178,959 $81,910,521 2010 [# 20]
21 Windtalkers $115,000,000–120,000,000 $77,628,265 $76,185,868—81,185,868 2002 [# 21]
22 The Wolfman $150,000,000 $139,789,765 $80,105,118 2010 [# 22]
23 Tomorrowland film currently playing $180,000,000 $204,650,192 $77,674,904 2015 [# 23]
24 xXx: State of the Union $113,100,000 $71,022,693 $77,588,654 2005 [# 24][12]
25 Hugo $150,000,000–170,000,000 $185,770,160 $57,114,920—77,114,920 2011 [# 25]
26 How Do You Know $100,000,000 $48,668,907 $75,665,547 2010 [# 26]
27 Cowboys & Aliens $163,000,000 $174,822,325 $75,588,838 2011 [# 27]
28 The Great Raid $80,000,000 $10,769,311 $74,615,345 2005 [# 28]
29 A Sound of Thunder $80,000,000 $11,665,465 $74,167,268 2005 [# 29]
30 Around the World in 80 Days $110,000,000 $72,178,895 $73,910,553 2004 [# 30]
31 Speed Racer $120,000,000 $93,945,766 $73,027,117 2008 [# 31]
32 The Chronicles of Riddick $105,000,000–120,000,000 $115,772,733 $47,113,634–72,886,262 2004 [# 32]
33 Gigli $75,600,000 $7,266,209 $71,966,896 2003 [# 33][12]
34 Alexander $155,000,000 $167,298,192 $71,350,904 2004 [# 34]
35 Monkeybone $75,000,000 $7,622,365 $71,188,818 2001 [# 35]
36 Peter Pan $130,600,000 $121,975,011 $69,612,495 2003 [# 36][12]
37 The Postman $80,000,000 $20,783,810 $69,608,095 1997 [# 37]
38 Zoom $75,600,000 $12,506,188 $69,346,906 2006 [# 38][12]
39 Poseidon $160,000,000 $181,674,817 $69,162,592 2006 [# 39]
40 Beloved $80,000,000 $22,852,487 $68,573,757 1998 [# 40]
41 Jack Frost $85,000,000 $34,562,556 $67,718,722 1998 [# 41]
42 Fathers' Day $85,000,000 $35,659,604 $67,170,198 1997 [# 42]
43 K-19: The Widowmaker $100,000,000 $65,716,126 $67,141,937 2002 [# 43]
44 Driven $94,000,000 $54,744,738 $66,627,781 2001 [# 44]
45 Land of the Lost $100,000,000 $68,777,554 $65,611,223 2009 [# 45]
46 Conan the Barbarian $90,000,000 $48,795,021 $65,602,490 2011 [# 46]
47 The Astronaut's Wife $75,000,000 $19,598,588 $65,200,706 1999 [# 47]
48 Dudley Do-Right $70,000,000 $9,974,410 $65,012,795 1999 [# 48]
49 Chill Factor $70,000,000 $11,788,676 $63,843,307 1999 [# 49]
50 Red Planet $80,000,000 $33,463,969 $63,268,016 2000 [# 50]
51 Ali $107,000,000 $87,713,825 $63,143,088 2001 [# 51]

Biggest box office bombs adjusted for inflation[edit]

Biggest box office bombs adjusted for inflation
Rank Title Estimated losses
(constant $)
Year Ref
1 The 13th Warrior $97,896,514—182,838,584 1999 [# 4]
2 47 Ronin $151,377,068 2013 [# 2]
3 Cutthroat Island[a] $137,488,885 1995 [# 14]
4 Mars Needs Moms $136,816,444 2011 [# 3]
5 The Adventures of Pluto Nash $126,461,993 2002 [# 10]
6 The Fall of the Roman Empire $126,417,784 1964 [# 52]
7 Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within $125,776,050 2001 [# 11]
8 John Carter $124,944,919 2012 [# 5]
9 The Lone Ranger $95,926,537—121,237,251 2013 [# 6]
10 Sahara $121,194,169 2005 [# 1]
Notes

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Susman, Gary (April 14, 2015). "The 19 Biggest Box Office Bombs in Movie History". Moviefone. Retrieved August 15, 2015. 
  2. ^ Davidson, Adam (June 26, 2012). "How Does the Film Industry Actually Make Money". The New York Times. Retrieved August 15, 2015. 
  3. ^ Anders, Charlie Jane (January 31, 2011). "How much money does a movie need to make to be profitable?". io9. Retrieved July 12, 2013. 
  4. ^ Pamela McClintock, Kim Masters (July 29, 2013). "Hollywood Studios Haven't Been Paid by China in Months (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved August 15, 2015. 
  5. ^ Weinraub, Bernard (July 31, 1995). "'Waterworld' Disappointment As Box Office Receipts Lag". The New York Times. Retrieved July 21, 2013. (Studios only earn about half of a film's gross; the rest goes to theater owners). 
  6. ^ Natale, Richard (September 8, 1999). "Company Town : Company Town Film Profit Report". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 12, 2013. Notes: Cost estimates are for production only. Only half of box-office receipts come back to the studio. 
  7. ^ Pomerantz, Dorothy (November 14, 2012). "The Biggest Box Office Flops Of 2012". Forbes. Retrieved July 21, 2013. Keep in mind that to begin to even imagine breaking even a film needs to earn at least twice its production budget at the box office. 
  8. ^ Graser, Marc (June 25, 2013). "Disney, Jerry Bruckheimer See ‘Lone Ranger’ as New Genre-Bending Superhero". Variety. Retrieved August 2, 2013. 
  9. ^ Shaw, Lucas (August 6, 2013). "'The Lone Ranger' to Cost Disney $160-$190M in Q4". The Wrap. Retrieved 7 August 2013. 
  10. ^ Epstein, Edward J. (May 9, 2005). "Concessions Are for Girlie Men". Slate.com. Retrieved August 9, 2013. 
  11. ^ a b Pamela McClintock. "Box Office: Universal's '47 Ronin' Likely to Result in $175 Million Loss". The Hollywood Reporter. 
  12. ^ a b c d Lang, Brent; Waxman, Sharon (September 1, 2011). "Inside the Revolution Library: Where Joe Roth Went Wrong". The Wrap. Retrieved July 16, 2013. 
  13. ^ "Largest Box Office Loss". Guinness World Records. HIT Entertainment. Archived from the original on November 27, 2005. Retrieved July 16, 2013. 
  14. ^ McClintock, Pamela (July 8, 2013). "Why 'Mars Needs Moms' bombed for Disney". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved July 16, 2013. Other infamous financial flops include Renny Harlin's pirate pic Cutthroat Island -- listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the biggest bomb of all time -- Sahara, The Adventures of Pluto Nash and Gigli. 
Box-office sources
  1. ^ a b c Sahara
  2. ^ a b 47 Ronin
  3. ^ a b Mars Needs Moms
  4. ^ a b The 13th Warrior
    • Total worldwide gross: "The 13th Warrior (1999)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved July 12, 2013. 
    • Production budget: Sklar, Elizabeth S. (2011). The Vikings on Film: Essays on Depictions of the Nordic Middle Ages. McFarland & Company. p. 122. ISBN 9780786460441. Despite a lavish production budget for which estimates range from $100,000,000 to $160,000,000 with an additional $25,000 expenditure for marketing... 
  5. ^ a b John Carter
  6. ^ a b The Lone Ranger
  7. ^ R.I.P.D.
  8. ^ Jack the Giant Slayer
  9. ^ Stealth
  10. ^ a b The Adventures of Pluto Nash
  11. ^ a b Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within
  12. ^ The Alamo
  13. ^ Green Lantern
  14. ^ a b Cutthroat Island
  15. ^ Evan Almighty
  16. ^ Jupiter Ascending
  17. ^ Treasure Planet
  18. ^ Town & Country
  19. ^ "Supernova (2000)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved July 12, 2013. 
  20. ^ The Nutcracker in 3D
  21. ^ Windtalkers
  22. ^ The Wolfman
  23. ^ Tomorrowland
  24. ^ "XXX: State of the Union (2005)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved July 16, 2013. 
  25. ^ Hugo
  26. ^ How Do You Know
  27. ^ Cowboys & Aliens
  28. ^ The Great Raid
  29. ^ A Sound of Thunder
  30. ^ Around the World in 80 Days
  31. ^ Speed Racer
  32. ^ The Chronicles of Riddick
  33. ^ "Gigli (2003)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved July 16, 2013. 
  34. ^ Alexander
  35. ^ Monkeybone
  36. ^ "Peter Pan (2003)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved July 16, 2013. 
  37. ^ "The Postman". The Numbers. Nash Information Services. Retrieved June 22, 2015. 
  38. ^ "Zoom (2006)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved July 16, 2013. 
  39. ^ Poseidon
  40. ^ "Beloved (1998)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved July 12, 2013. 
  41. ^ "Jack Frost (1998)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved July 21, 2013. 
  42. ^ "Fathers' Day (1997)". The Numbers. Nash Information Services. Retrieved June 22, 2015. 
  43. ^ K-19: The Widowmaker
  44. ^ "Driven (2001)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved July 21, 2013. 
  45. ^ Land of the Lost
  46. ^ Conan the Barbarian
  47. ^ "The Astronaut's Wife (1999)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved July 12, 2013. 
  48. ^ "Dudley Do-Right (1999)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved July 12, 2013. 
  49. ^ "Chill Factor (1999)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved July 12, 2013. 
  50. ^ "Red Planet (2000)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved July 12, 2013. 
  51. ^ "Ali (2001)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved July 21, 2013. 
  52. ^ "The Fall of the Roman Empire". The Numbers. Nash Information Services. Retrieved July 16, 2013. 

External links[edit]