Studios sure do love to put all of their faith into movies that don’t deserve any faith at all. For example, most people can look at a movie like Geostorm or Monster Trucks and predict things won’t turn out as planned. Several of those types of movies appear on this list.
At the same time, studios also like to put money into promising movies that either fail to live up to the hype or fail to find the right audience. Deepwater Horizon, for example, is a legitimately solid movie that unfortunately only appealed to a very specific audience.
Meanwhile, a movie like Tomorrowland 2049 certainly sounds good on paper. Regardless of the reasoning, the fact is that countless movies fail to make a dent when they desperately need to do so. That’s why this list exists.
The 2018 version of this list is going to do things a little differently. Instead of focusing solely on the amount lost or the percentage lost, this list will focus on several aspects that sort of come together and prove that these movies are certifiable financial failures. By just measuring the loss, we’re forgetting about small movies that spectacularly fail, and that’s not entirely fail.
To some degree, that method works because it shows that studios put a lot of money into eventual failures, but it’s important to keep track of the less noteworthy failures as well. That being said, the first few entries on this list will be more monumental failures because big studio failures are hard to ignore. That being said, the ranking is not solely based off one specific number.
Gotti sat in development hell for several years before finally getting its 2018 release date. While sitting in development hell, it appears that nobody tried to take the time to fix the numerous issues that are so prominent in this disastrous movie.
With a 0% Rotten Tomatoes score, it’s easy to see why most people chose to avoid this dumpster fire. The critical beating, combined with John Travolta’s limited box office draw almost ensured that the film would be a failure. Maybe if it weren’t 2018, people would be willing to check this thing out, but times have changed.
Gotti’s $10 million budget meant that the folks involved could probably survive another day regardless of how much the movie made. That’s the one and only piece of good news. This movie isn’t the size of something like Mortal Engines, but it still lost the studio money thanks to the fact that it earned a mere $4 million. In other words, the fact that it’s a critical bomb isn’t good enough. It had to settle for being a financial bomb as well. The people who avoided the movie were wise, so it’s best to sweep this thing under the rug and forget about it entirely.
9. Action Point
Maybe if it were the year 2006, Action Point would be a hit. Jackass would still be popular, people would still love Knoxville’s very physical brand of humor, and R-rated comedy would be even more hit-or-miss than it is today.
People are smarter now, and they know a bad movie when they see one. They also know when a movie is too dated to be enjoyable. People have criticized Venom for feeling very retro, and that’s fair, but Action Point really feels like a movie that has been in development hell for over a decade. The problem is that there were no noteworthy production troubles. It’s just an antiquated comedy with a whole lot a bark and very little bite.
This article doesn’t exist to pan the quality of movies though. The point is to inform readers of financial failures. That whole first paragraph was just meant to tell people that people aren’t interested in this kind of movie anymore. Even if it did well critically (it didn’t), it doesn’t seem like the type of movie that people would want to leave the house to see. This kind of “been-there-done-that” marketing clearly convinced people that Action Point isn’t worth the time.
8. Sgt Stubby: An American Hero
Sgt Stubby: An American Hero was quietly released on fewer than 2,000 screens following very little marketing. It had to compete against several other movies vying for the same target audience, and it came from a studio with little to no history.
This movie was doomed from day one, but you have to admire the commitment to a movie that was, truthfully, not half bad. In fact, Sgt Stubby is a pretty decent animated movie that failed largely because nobody knew it existed. Bad critical reception didn’t scare people away by any means. Instead, it failed simply because it fell under the radar almost immediately.
The movie made a little over one million opening weekend. For a computer animated movie coming from America, that simply isn’t okay. It ended its run with less than $4 million. Since it wasn’t released outside of America, it had no chance to make up for those weak domestic numbers. The budget for this thing was around $25 million, so let the math do the talking.
7. The Nutcracker and the Four Realms
Walt Disney Pictures didn’t have the best of luck this year when it came to their live action releases. A Wrinkle in Time is arguably their biggest failure of the year, but there’s a pretty clear competitor: The Nutcracker and the Four Realms.
Domestically, this was a box office disaster. Earning just $53 million against a $120 million budget, it’s hard to find a silver lining when viewing the American box office returns. While the foreign box office numbers were slightly better, they did absolutely nothing to save the movie. With a combined worldwide total of $160 million, this is a box office bust.
Like most movies on this list, The Nutcracker and the Four Realms was torn apart by critics, who claimed the movie was borderline incoherent. To make matters worse, another Christmas movie came out shortly after. The Grinch’s more mainstream appeal helped it become the holiday movie to see in November.
The biggest overall issue seems to be that people just don’t care about The Nutcracker. Every Nutcracker adaptation has fallen flat on its face, and Disney was unable to break that curse. Maybe it’s time to put this story to rest for a decade or two.
6. The Hurricane Heist
Remember in the intro where it was stated that some movies are obvious flops from the start? Meet The Hurricane Heist, a movie so outlandishly silly that the target audience would probably be happier with a release on the SyFy channel.
After all, that’s kind of what this appears to be. It’s a SyFy original movie gussied up to look like a mid-range blockbuster. The crew was smart enough to keep it under $50 million, but even the reported $45 million budget seems a little unrealistic. How could anyone expect a movie this goofy looking to bring in a sizable audience?
It turns out that a decent-sized audience was an impossibility. The domestic haul for The Hurricane Heist was pathetic. Earning just $6 million, this movie was outgrossed by several limited release indie movies.
Big budget disaster movies are supposed to gross more than Christian dramas and niche documentaries, but it turns out most people can smell a turd from a mile away. While the recent Chinese release has helped the film earn some of its money back, this is still an undeniable failure.