5. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
Estimated Budget: $209 million
Worldwide Box Office: $225.9 million
Okay, so Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets appears to break even based only on the numbers provided, but the box office is a little more complicated than it appears. After bombing domestically, the film looked to China to earn enough money to label it a success. To be fair, Valerian did relatively well in China. In fact, it dethroned reigning box office champ Wolf Warriors 2. However, as we learned from Warcraft, China can’t single handedly save a financial failure. We also learned from the Warcraft debacle that the projected budget isn’t always the best way to measure a movie’s success since there are countless other factors.
Those other factors led producers to claim that the movie would need to make $400 million in order to warrant a sequel. For those who haven’t done the math, $225 million is a far cry from $400 million. Valerian is a relatively unknown comic, DeHaan and Delevigne aren’t box office draws, and the reviews were mixed at best. There simply wasn’t enough working in the movie’s favor. It was a huge risk to begin with, and it’s clear now that the risk didn’t pay off.
4. King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
Estimated Budget: $175 million
Worldwide Box Office: $134,260,563
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword has absolutely no chance of earning its budget back. While it’s still playing in a few theaters, it seems unlikely that it’s going to make it anywhere near $200 million. It’s far more likely to settle somewhere around $150. Putting $175 million into Guy Ritchie’s risky fantasy epic was mind blowing to begin with, but the poor reviews helped cement its status as a flop. While Charlie Hunnam is getting more popular by the second, he still couldn’t draw in the giant audience needed to pull in the necessary amount of money.
The poor critical response is unfortunate considering the fact that Ritchie is the man behind the upcoming live-action Aladdin movie. Then again, considering Disney’s reputation and the box office performance of the recent live action Disney remakes, it’s probably not worth worrying about. Let’s just hope Ritchie recovers from this stumble promptly.
3. Ghost in the Shell
Estimated Budget: $110 million
Worldwide Box Office: $169,801,921
Looking purely at the numbers, Ghost in the Shell doesn’t seem like much of a box office disaster. Unfortunately, this estimated budget doesn’t include the millions of dollars reserved for P&A. With that in mind, the movie is expected to lose north of $60 million, according to studio estimates. Some have said the estimated production budget is fairly modest, so a $60 million loss may be a generous estimate at that.
Ghost in the Shell has been a controversial movie since its announcement. The casting of Scarlett Johansson led many to accuse the filmmakers of whitewashing and the trailers earned a mixed reception. When reviews actually started rolling in, they turned out to be better than expected, but not good enough to save the already doomed movie.
To make matters worse, studios have consistently shied away from making big-budget anime adaptations, so it seems likely that people weren’t willing to put any amount of confidence in the project. In the end, despite a surprising amount of positive reviews, there was simply too much working against the movie.
2. Monster Trucks
Estimated Budget: $125 million
Worldwide Box Office: $64,493,915
Honestly, who was expecting Monster Trucks to be a hit? This off-brand Transformers with tentacles looked like a hot mess from the beginning. Sure, it has the Nickelodeon brand attached to it and a few big name cast members, but the trailers seemed uninspired and the humor seemed juvenile even for a kid’s movie. The movie did worse than expected with critics, and the response from your average moviegoer wasn’t significantly better. Most people seemed to agree that it felt generic and stale. It’s no wonder everybody else was scared to spend the money to see it when there were so many better options.
After all, this movie came out in January, when all of the Oscar movies began to get wide releases. Like another movie on this list, part of its failure can be attributed to poor timing. The January release date is usually a dumping ground for all of the trash. While the movie is admittedly trash, you can’t help but wonder if it would have done better in the summer billed as a blockbuster and not a miserable failure.
1. The Promise
Estimated Budget: $90 million
Worldwide Box Office: $8,224,288
Whose bright idea was it to put $90 million into this controversial historical epic? Despite having an a-list cast, a critically acclaimed director, and an intriguing premise, The Promise just couldn’t lift off following its release.
With a disastrous box office total of just $8 million, it looks like nobody was willing to give the movie a proper chance. Reviews were harsh, with critics calling it corny, vapid, and derivative. A flood of one-star reviews popped up on IMDb from Armenian Genocide deniers as well. So your average internet surfer may have been put off by the low scores and bad word of mouth, even if a majority of the one-star votes were fake.
One of the biggest issue was the lack of publicity. By the time the movie was released, few people even knew what it was. For having a $90 million budget you’d think they’d spend a few bucks on some commercials. Unfortunately, that was not the case. The people that had actually heard of weren’t into the idea of sitting through a poorly received history movie about a controversial topic. Though the studio claims that the box office performance doesn’t bother them, this is still a giant flop in everyone else’s eyes.
Author Bio: Justin is a paraprofessional teaching assistant and full-time film enthusiast with a degree in English. When he’s not writing about films, he’s probably watching them in his spare time.