The 10 Biggest Movie Box Office Flops of All Time

5. Mars Needs Moms (Simon Wells) – 137-Million-dollar loss

Mars Needs Moms

The ambitious computer animation Mars Needs Moms was bound to not turn a profit; the hope was that it would at least break even, but even that didn’t happen. Considering the budget and spending was over 150 million dollars, which is in fact a lot higher than many other animation or live action films. It was, therefore, not a big surprise when the film flopped upon being released onto the big screens, but a drastic disappointment still considering it brought in as little as 39 million at the box office.

The plot of the animation is based on a book by Berkeley Breathed, of the same name. The heart-warming story follows a young boy Milo (Seth Green) who is raised by his loving and caring Mom (Joan Cusack), despite their occasional misunderstandings. On one of such unfortunate occasions, when Milo comes to apologise to Mom after their argument, he finds that she is being abducted and taken away to Mars to be experimented on and used as a prototype for the caretaking robots.

After sneaking on board of the ship and landing on Mars, Milo makes friends and together they attempt to save his Mom, making him appreciate her even more in the dangerous process. The movie generally received negative reviews, calling the movie “unentertaining” and “unimaginative” which explains why the box office numbers were in fact so low.


4. Cutthroat Island (Renny Harlin) – 137-Million-dollar loss

Cutthroat Island (Geena Davis)

Cutthroat Island made it difficult to release not only Pirates of the Caribbean, but any other pirate themed movie, due to its tremendous loss of 137 million when adjusted to inflation, making only 10 million at the box office out of its over 100 million budget.

Cutthroat Island didn’t only put a halt to pirate movies, but also to its production company Carolco Pictures which went bankrupt, as well as an end to actors’ careers who at a later stage of filming asked to be released from their contracts as they knew the film would be unsuccessful, which is all surprising considering the plot of the movie was outstanding and unique amongst others of its genre; but it not being executed well is what caused the movie to flop and gain such bad reviews.

The movie follows Morgan Adams (Geena Davis) and William Shaw (Matthew Modine), her companion and slave, on a mission to recover a hidden island and its treasures with several obstacles in their way including Morgan’s uncle who hold a part of the treasure map, her ship crew that are about to rebel as they are in doubt of her leadership skills, rivals that try to outrun them to the treasures and on top of that the British crown is out to take her piracy down.


3. The 13th Warrior (John McTiernan & Michael Crichton) – 140-Million-dollar loss

The 13th Warrior

The 13th Warrior according to most research is thought to be the biggest flop in movie history with the loss coming up to 183 million dollars when adjusted to inflation, despite the fact that an exact number could not be agreed on with loss statements ranging from 100 million to 183, having a budget of 160 million which is a big budget now, but an even bigger one for 1999, when the movie was made.

Despite not doing too bad on the big screens, earning 62 million, the movie still could not make up for the massive amounts of money spent; this is after the movie was given a second chance after a test audience came out of the screening unsatisfied causing McTiernan to re-edit and rethink several scenes – but considering the results, not to the needed extent.

The movie stars Antonio Banderas, and is an adaptation of Crichton’s novel, Eaters of the Dead. Ahmad Ibn Fadlan (Banderas), after an unfortunate love affair, is sent to join Vikings with whose customs and ways he highly disagrees with. His path leads him to become the foreign 13th warrior to help the Vikings fight a force that is much greater than any of them.


2. Sahara (Breck Eisner) – 145-Million-dollar loss


Sahara is yet more proof that not all movies that flop are terrible movies. In fact it received moderately good reviews from critics, as well as high ratings from websites such as Roger Ebert or IMDB. Being based on a bestselling novel of the same name by Clive Cussler, it was though that the movie couldn’t not be a success; perhaps that is the reason that such a high budget amounting to nearly 250 million was raised for it.

When the movie was released in the US, even then one couldn’t predict its flop considering it made a stunning 18 million on the first weekend giving it the top slot at the box office. But the hype soon died and the movie ended up making only 119 million in total which was not enough to make a profit, let alone break-even – despite the use of A-list stars Matthew McConaughey and Penelope Cruz.

The plot follows Dirk Pitt (McConaughey) on a quest to uncover the lost battleship from the Civil War times, “Ship of Death”, while simultaneously helping a W.H.O doctor (Cruz) in her fight against an epidemic caused by pollution that threatens not only people’s lives but all life in the seas.


1. 47 Ronin (Carl Rinsch) – 151-Million-dollar loss

keanu reeves 47 ronin

47 Ronin is another case of an extremely high budget movie that couldn’t live up to expectations causing it to flop and lose 151 million dollars. Its starting budget was in fact only a little bit over that amount, at 170 million; but as production continued and the studio took the film from Rinsch, following up with extremely expensive re-shootings of scenes, the already extreme budget was raised to 225 million, making the challenge of turning a profit even more difficult.

Several other factors didn’t help either; the name for example, that is a duplicate of a Japanese classic, in fact has nothing to do with this movie itself and therefore caused confusion amongst devoted fans and critics. On top of that, although usually a cast of unknown Japanese actors would be a positive aspect, in this case, the fact that the primary US audience couldn’t recognise anybody apart from Keanu Reeves didn’t help to sell the movie within America.

The plot revolves around a young half-breed boy Kai (Keanu Reeves) who is found by Lord Asano (Min Tanaka). Moving on years later, he takes the place of a blinded participant in the customary tournament and fails, causing his banishment.

Along with other banished samurais, 47 in total, they decide to avenge their lord and in turn save Kai’s beloved, Mika (Kou Shibasaki) from being married away to an awful and dangerous man. Despite the potential of the plot, the movie was executed poorly, making it receive negative critical reviews in regards to it trying too hard to be what it is not.

Author Bio: Polina is an aesthete and cinephile, devoted to using the arts to revive “sex, drugs and rock’n’roll” in hopes of loosening up the world by defying the unnecessary social restrictions. When taking time off her edgy crusade she can be found soaking in a bubble bath with a Dostoevsky novel.