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, thus losing money for the distributor, studio and 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.

In some cases, the production studio 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, licensing rights, or from selling distribution rights and covering costs before it is released, so a box office bomb can still break even after its theatrical run. This list includes a chart of films that failed to recover their production costs on 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 percent of the 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. Because of this, 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.[1][2][3][4]

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}

Biggest box office bombs[edit]

With a worldwide box-office gross of around $150.0 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 $250 million production budget of John Carter, it was estimated that Disney spent $100 million on worldwide marketing,[5] causing Disney to ultimately take a $160 million write-off on the film.[6] 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 an actual loss of $105 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.[7]

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 26 December 2014 in theaters around the world.
Biggest box office bombs
RankTitleProduction budgetWorldwide grossEstimated lossesYearRef
147 Ronin$225,000,000$150,962,475$149,518,7622013[8][# 2]
2Mars Needs Moms$150,000,000$38,992,758$130,503,6212011[# 3]
3The 13th Warrior$100–160,000,000$61,698,899$69,150,551—129,150,5511999[# 4]
4The Lone Ranger$225–250,000,000$260,502,115$94,748,943—119,748,9432013[9][# 5]
5R.I.P.D.$130–154,000,000$78,324,220$90,837,890—114,837,8902013[# 6]
6John Carter$250,000,000$282,778,100$108,610,9502012[# 7]
7Jack the Giant Slayer$185–200,000,000$197,687,603$86,156,199—101,156,1992013[# 8]
8Sahara$160,000,000$119,269,486$100,365,2572005[# 1]
9Stealth$135,000,000$76,932,872$96,533,5642005[# 9]
10The Adventures of Pluto Nash$100,000,000$7,103,973$96,448,0142002[# 10]
11Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within$137,000,000$85,131,830$94,434,0852001[# 11]
12The Alamo$107,000,000$25,819,961$94,090,0202004[# 12]
13Green Lantern$200,000,000$219,851,172$90,074,4142011[# 13]
14Cutthroat Island$98,000,000$18,517,322$88,741,3391995[# 14]
15Evan Almighty$175,000,000$173,418,781$88,290,6102007[# 15]
16Treasure Planet$140,000,000$109,578,115$85,210,9432002[# 16]
17Town & Country$90,000,000$10,372,291$84,813,8552001[# 17]
18Supernova$90,000,000$14,828,081$82,585,9602000[# 18]
19The Nutcracker in 3D$90,000,000$16,178,959$81,910,5212010[# 19]
20Windtalkers$115–120,000,000$77,628,265$76,185,868—81,185,8682002[# 20]
21The Wolfman$150,000,000$139,789,765$80,105,1182010[# 21]
22XXX: State of the Union$113,100,000$71,022,693$77,588,6542005[# 22][10]
23Hugo$150–170,000,000$185,770,160$57,114,920—77,114,9202011[# 23]
24How Do You Know$100,000,000$48,668,907$75,665,5472010[# 24]
25Cowboys & Aliens$163,000,000$174,822,325$75,588,8382011[# 25]
26The Great Raid$80,000,000$10,769,311$74,615,3452005[# 26]
27A Sound of Thunder$80,000,000$11,665,465$74,167,2682005[# 27]
28Around the World in 80 Days$110,000,000$72,178,895$73,910,5532004[# 28]
29Speed Racer$120,000,000$93,945,766$73,027,1172008[# 29]
30Gigli$75,600,000$7,266,209$71,966,8962003[# 30][10]
31Alexander$155,000,000$167,298,192$71,350,9042004[# 31]
32Monkeybone$75,000,000$7,622,365$71,188,8182001[# 32]
33The Postman$80,000,000$17,626,234$71,186,8831997[# 33]
34Peter Pan$130,600,000$121,975,011$69,612,4952003[# 34][10]
35Zoom$75,600,000$12,506,188$69,346,9062006[# 35][10]
36Poseidon$160,000,000$181,674,817$69,162,5922006[# 36]
37Beloved$80,000,000$22,852,487$68,573,7571998[# 37]
38K-19: The Widowmaker$100,000,000$65,716,126$67,141,9372002[# 38]
39Land of the Lost$100,000,000$68,777,554$65,611,2232009[# 39]
40Conan the Barbarian$90,000,000$48,795,021$65,602,4902011[# 40]
41The Astronaut's Wife$75,000,000$19,598,588$65,200,7061999[# 41]
42Dudley Do-Right$70,000,000$9,974,410$65,012,7951999[# 42]
43Chill Factor$70,000,000$11,788,676$63,843,3071999[# 43]
44Red Planet$80,000,000$33,463,969$63,268,0162000[# 44]
45Ali$107,000,000$87,713,825$63,143,0882001[# 45]
46Osmosis Jones$70,000,000$14,026,418$62,986,7912001[# 46]
47Instinct$80,000,000$34,105,207$62,947,3971999[# 47]
48Sphere$80,000,000$37,020,277$61,489,8621998[# 48]
49Lolita$62,000,000$1,071,255$61,464,3731997[# 49]
50Hard Rain$70,000,000$19,870,567$60,064,7171998[# 50]

Biggest box office bombs adjusted for inflation[edit]

Biggest box office bombs adjusted for inflation
RankTitleEstimated losses
(constant $)
1The 13th Warrior$97,896,514—182,838,5841999[# 4]
247 Ronin$151,923,9732013[# 2]
3Cutthroat Island[a]$137,346,5541995[# 14]
4Mars Needs Moms$136,816,4442011[# 3]
5The Adventures of Pluto Nash$126,461,9932002[# 10]
6The Fall of the Roman Empire$126,417,7841964[# 51]
7Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within$125,776,0502001[# 11]
8Sahara$121,194,1692005[# 1]
9The Lone Ranger$95,926,537—121,237,2512013[# 5]
10Heaven's Gate$120,953,6641980[# 52]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Anders, Charlie Jane (January 31, 2011). "How much money does a movie need to make to be profitable?". io9. Retrieved July 12, 2013. 
  2. ^ 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). 
  3. ^ 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. 
  4. ^ 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. 
  5. ^ Fernandez, Jay A. (August 17, 2012). "'John Carter': Disney Scrambles to Save its $250 Million Gamble". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved July 12, 2013. 
  6. ^ "Split screens: A tale of two Tinseltowns". The Economist. February 23, 2013. Retrieved September 7, 2013. 
  7. ^ Epstein, Edward J. (May 9, 2005). "Concessions Are for Girlie Men". Retrieved August 9, 2013. 
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ 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. 
  11. ^ "Largest Box Office Loss". Guinness World Records. HIT Entertainment. Archived from the original on November 27, 2005. Retrieved July 16, 2013. 
  12. ^ 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 The Lone Ranger
  6. ^ R.I.P.D.
  7. ^ John Carter
  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. ^ Treasure Planet
  17. ^ Town & Country
  18. ^ "Supernova (2000)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved July 12, 2013. 
  19. ^ The Nutcracker in 3D
  20. ^ Windtalkers
  21. ^ The Wolfman
  22. ^ "XXX: State of the Union (2005)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved July 16, 2013. 
  23. ^ Hugo
  24. ^ How Do You Know
  25. ^ Cowboys & Aliens
  26. ^ The Great Raid
  27. ^ A Sound of Thunder
  28. ^ Around the World in 80 Days
  29. ^ Speed Racer
  30. ^ "Gigli (2003)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved July 16, 2013. 
  31. ^ Alexander
  32. ^ Monkeybone
  33. ^ "The Postman (1997)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved July 12, 2013. 
  34. ^ "Peter Pan (2003)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved July 16, 2013. 
  35. ^ "Zoom (2006)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved July 16, 2013. 
  36. ^ Poseidon
  37. ^ "Beloved (1998)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved July 12, 2013. 
  38. ^ K-19: The Widowmaker
  39. ^ Land of the Lost
  40. ^ Conan the Barbarian
  41. ^ "The Astronaut's Wife (1999)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved July 12, 2013. 
  42. ^ "Dudley Do-Right (1999)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved July 12, 2013. 
  43. ^ "Chill Factor (1999)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved July 12, 2013. 
  44. ^ "Red Planet (2000)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved July 12, 2013. 
  45. ^ "Ali (2001)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved July 21, 2013. 
  46. ^ Osmosis Jones
  47. ^ "Instinct (1999)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved July 21, 2013. 
  48. ^ "Sphere (1998)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved July 12, 2013. 
  49. ^ "Lolita (1997)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved July 12, 2013. 
  50. ^ "Hard Rain (1998)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved July 12, 2013. 
  51. ^ "The Fall of the Roman Empire". The Numbers. Nash Information Services. Retrieved July 16, 2013. 
  52. ^ "Heaven's Gate (1980)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved July 16, 2013.