It’s A Gamble: 10 Of The Biggest Box Office Bombs

1) John Carter

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Production Budget: $250 million

Worldwide Box Office Total: $282,778,100

By now, everyone knows the saga of Disney’s John Carter. Regarded as one of the biggest box office failures ever, the film itself wasn’t necessarily terrible, but it was marketed poorly and had a rather excessive budget. It was a gamble to begin with too, bringing a character who debuted in 1912 to the big screen almost a century later.

Analysts have pointed out that once you add in the marketing budget and everything else associated with releasing the film, for John Carter to have broken even, it would have needed to hit $600 million at the worldwide box office. To make profit, it would have needed to pull in a number even higher than that. Obviously, the odds were not in its favor.

As I said above, I don’t think that John Carter was really that terrible. It wasn’t a good film but it wasn’t as bad as many made it out to be. It hads its moments and I still wouldn’t be totally opposed to seeing a sequel. Not that we’ll ever get one, but I wouldn’t be against it if it ever did happen.

Unfortunately, this is one franchise that I think is dead, for now at least. Disney lost way too much money on it and I can’t see them going back to the character anytime soon.

Comments (44)

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  1. John Taylorsays:

    Quite a list. Disagree with the Lone Ranger movie being on the list. Should be 10 movies that are no longer being run in theatres. Strangely enough, this list is about 50/50 on films I liked and films I disliked. Of the ones I did not like, I’d say Speed Racer was the worst of all the films. HUGE disappointment.

    1. Jakesays:

      You know he isn’t talking about the quality of the films, he is talking about the ratio in the amount of money spend vs. what was made back. Box office bomb doesn’t mean the film was bad because there have been plenty of movies that didn’t make money that are great movies, box office bomb is only referring to revenue. The Lone Ranger failed to make its money back or at least what the companies wanted so its considered a bomb so it should be on the list.

      1. lewis jsays:

        there have also been movies that made a lot of money but totally sucked. AVATAR. that movie just shows how people can be convinced that a movie is good just because all the critics say it is. i really think someone was paid off to hype this movie up. because it just an unoriginal storyline with over-the-top cgi graphics. sure its a good story but its been done before. i knew exactly what was going to happen before i even watched the movie.

  2. Dean Whitesays:

    I have seen most of them on purpose I enjoy bad movies but on a low budget level money can not buy box office happiness

  3. Hakusays:

    I don’t know about Hathaway’s Catwoman being in a other film. I never thought she made a good Catwoman and when I saw her in the film I only ever saw her as a good thief, but never as a good Catwoman. I wouldnt be interested in seeing her reprise the same Catwoman as in TDKR, because the Catwoman in TDKR just wasnt Catwoman. As to me she wasnt.

    1. Jakesays:

      Its because she was Selina Kyle and not represented as Catwoman because in some of the comics she is just a thief, a highly skilled flexible thief. I really liked both Michelle and Annes renditions because unlike Michelles over the top “I’m a cat” Catwoman, Anne has a much more realistic and subtle tone to her portrayal. I do however LOVE Michelle because of the way she took the role so literal and displayed an amount of emotional distraught throughout the film along with such a dynamic blend of emotions that just unraveled beautifully in the ending scene where she is being shot over and over and she just conveys so much emotion in this scene that its almost impossible not to feel something amazing watching her.

      1. The Dark Knight
      2.Batman Begins
      3. TDKR and Batman Returns are a tie although I love everything about Christopher Nolan’s Batman universe, Batman Return was still the best we had until Nolan took on the project.

  4. Morpheussays:

    John Carter was actually a good movie

  5. agb1953 .says:

    Anybody who found it necessary to spend $250M to make a western, The Lone Ranger, needs to be driven out of Hollywood with torches and pitchforks.

  6. K-Dawgsays:

    What about Waterworld?

  7. Iam_Sparticussays:

    Where’s the most iconic of money losers, Heavens Gate?

  8. Luis A Bernalsays:

    The Postman was an even bigger bomb for Kevin Costner. He went from Hollywood gold to high risk investment. Besides a supporting role in Man Of Steel, can anyone list a blockbuster this past 15 years? He is the king of A list actors that consistently fail to deliver.

  9. Ryan Kadlecsays:

    Ishtar was one of the biggest flops in hollywood history. Heaven’s Gate was the first before Ishtar. Stealth crashed badly.

  10. Arjan Crielaardsays:

    The Alamo (not bad)
    The 13th Warrior (not bad)
    Green Lantern (not bad)
    Windtalkers (not bad)
    Cowboys & Aliens (not bad)
    A Sound of Thunder (very bad)

    Hugo (very good)

    1. docsays:

      All of those movies except for Hugo are terrible.

      1. Benjamin Landgrensays:

        agreed.

    2. Mercurio Ostermansays:

      A shame about Hugo, given how wonderful it was. I liked Green Lantern, though it was ill regarded, but the rest of those are indeed pretty bad, with Sound of Thunder being excrutiating, having the worst cgi I’ve seen in a big theatrical release.

  11. DrNopesays:

    The Adventures of Pluto Nash?

  12. go with the guestosays:

    This should be #1. Actually, John Carter was one of the 1st SyFy stories but caught a bad director. Still a good story!

    1. Jakesays:

      Uhm no you are completely incorrect, Andrew Stanton is a fantastic director with films like Wall-E which was highly regarded by critics and audiences, then Finding Memo which as well was a very good movie, and the A Bugs Life which lead Pixar into being the ONLY company that has had every movie on its roster be top grossing and critically acclaimed films, true fact. The reason John Carter didn’t do well was because the poor marketing and people just didn’t know how to take the film, it just wasnt accepted well by the core audiences and that’s usually what big budget films need first is that core audience and it just didn’t hit that point but it was not at all the fault of the brilliant director Andrew Stanton.

  13. Preposterous Pants Bulgesays:

    Waterworld, Pluto Nash, The Postman, the list could go on and on.

  14. Nostrasays:

    Another one worth mentioning is Delgo (which wasn’t very good)

  15. Guestsays:

    I think John Carter was a great movie. There was nothing wrong with the movie. Just bad Publicity, no one really went to see the movie when it debut.

    1. Andrewmag166says:

      Well let’s be honest about it, there were no blacks in the movie so it’s going to get bad reviews and write ups by the powers that be. It was above average movie for sure.

      1. WoWedsays:

        that had nothing to do with it. the majority of the movie going public has no idea who or what John Carter is.

  16. samheiasays:

    What doesnt show is the Dvd sales as well remember that movies like Waterworld have been said to be the biggest bomb of all times .
    but that still made Kevin Costner a lot of money on just DVD sales

  17. Wallace Morrisonsays:

    Berry was hot as Catwoman. it was Stone, the writers and directors, etc. who killed it. Berry was sexy and delicious, exactly what Catwoman should be. I could see her do it again.

    1. WoWedsays:

      it’s hard to say she was sexy when was she was CG most of the time. I guess a computer animated Hally Berry could be sexy, but it’s just not my thing.

      1. Wallace Morrisonsays:

        Computers make everything better, jk. lol.

  18. chilibootssays:

    ‘John Carter’ was, actually, not half bad. It was nice to see “Caesar” and “Marc Antony” work together, again. Lynn whats-her-name was good as the Princess,
    and many other characterizations were quite well done, even the CGI’d ones. It was kind of an interesting story line, as well.

    1. Jakesays:

      Agree I just wished it wouldn’t have bombed because they spent a lot of money on that movie and I mean a lot of money lol but idk I quote enjoyed the film and you might be excited to find out the Jim Morris the producer has announced the John Carter The Gods of Mars is in development.

  19. Jakesays:

    Just to let everyone know John Carter The Gods of Mars is in development, confirmed by producer Jim Morris and I’m excited as the first was actually a brilliant film that didn’t hit with consumers and that it, people just didn’t go and see the movie.

  20. Slartibartfastsays:

    Where is Waterworld?

  21. Marc Harfordsays:

    How can you do this list without a mention to Battlefield Earth or Showgirls.

  22. lewis jsays:

    its one of the worst titles ever. why would i go see a movie about some random guy. there is no intrigue for me. i saw the previews and never one thought “hey, i wonder how whats his name is gonna get outta this.” who care about john carter? this movie was marketed extensively but ever so poorly. it’s as if they thought the whole world already knew who john carter was. but no one did, so the movie bombed.

  23. lewis jsays:

    depp needs to stop playing this character. it isn’t funny anymore.

  24. Richard Hollingsworthsays:

    I enjoyed John Carter, not wowed, but I really enjoyed Cutthroat Island, one o may movies that were not properly advertised before release.

  25. terry2usays:

    Heaven’s Gate from United Artists is highly regarded as the BIGGEST box office bomb EVER. It lost so much money that it killed the United Artists Studio. Check out the writeup on Wikipedia to read it’s insipid story.

  26. Tossawaysays:

    Halle Berry was gracious enough to show up in person to collect her Razzie for Catwoman. That’s talent AND grace.

  27. Witnesssays:

    Guess I’m in the big minority here, but I actually loved Speed Racer and though that it was very true to the original, had a lot of good action, good multiple plot lines that kept you guess, great special effects, good fighting sequences, the same kind of humor that was in the show that I watched growing up and more. Most all of my friends that saw it and knew the original cartoon agreed as well. Some say the movie had too much plot, but I found it enjoyable that it kept us guessing right till the end. It also had a good bond between Speed and his father, as well as Speed and his younger brother, they all pulled together to build the Mach 6 I believe and it had a great climactic ending. About half the audience applauded at the end of the movie in the theater that I went to and a few people were crying, so I certainly wasn’t alone in my enjoyment of it.

  28. Sam D. Maloneysays:

    I just LOVE the Cutthroat Island poster: the cheesy way they tried to paint pecs on Modine is just so wrong on so many levels– anatomy lessons, anyone?– that I laugh every time I see it. Just look at it! JUST LOOK!!!

  29. mph23says:

    I actually like FF:The Spirits Within.

    1. WoWedsays:

      it wasn’t bad, but it really shouldn’t have had Final Fantasy slapped on the front of it. It could have held it’s own as a movie, but that FF tag actually hurt it.

  30. Andrewsays:

    Thanks to disc sales and broadcast rights, John Carter is now making nothing but profit. It may not have done well at the box office, but the film is not a failure any more. It was killed by Disney so the Star Wars purchase could go through. It’s a great film!

  31. mlauzonsays:

    I am surprised you didn’t include “Playback” (2012), I don’t know what it’s budget was, but it only made $264 during its run…!

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