5 of the biggest box office flops

Aug 11, 2015, 7:20 AM | Updated: 8:12 am

Disney's "John Carter." (AP Photo)...

Disney's "John Carter." (AP Photo)

(AP Photo)

John Clyde, KSL

REGRET CITY — It was 20 years ago on July 28 that the sci-fi movie that has become synonymous with both box office bombs and high budgets, “Waterworld,” hit theaters.

At the time, “Waterworld’s” $172 million budget was the highest of all time and recouping its cost was an uphill battle from day one. Sure, at the end of its theatrical run, “Waterworld” made $264 million worldwide, but the film still lost millions. The production budget may have been just over $170 million, but when you add in marketing and distribution, the budget was closer to $235 million. Then add the fact that theaters take a cut of the profits and “Waterworld” was hammered at the box office.

The watery sci-fi opera managed to sell like crazy on home video and managed to eventually break even, but there are several movies out there that ended up losing millions upon millions of dollars, and we’re here to tell you about it.

Here are a few of the biggest box office bombs of all time.


The 2005 flick “Sahara” isn’t a perfect film, but it’s actually pretty fun. The film stars Matthew McConaughey and Steve Zahn as explorers searching for a Civil War ship lost somewhere in the Sahara Desert.

McConaughey may be box office gold these days after winning an Academy Award and starring in blockbusters like “Interstellar” and “Magic Mike,” but people did not care to see him in 2005.

The film had a production budget of $160 million against a worldwide gross of just over $119 million. When you add in marketing costs and theater takeaways, “Sahara” lost Paramount Pictures an estimated $100,365,257.

“The Adventures of Pluto Nash”

The Eddie Murphy sci-fi comedy, if you can really call it a comedy, has become almost mythical in Hollywood as one of the biggest bombs in movie history.

The comedy had a production budget of $100 million, unheard of for a comedy in 2002, even rare today, and only made $7,103,973. The nightmare of a movie from Eddie Murphy ended up losing an estimated $96,448,014.

“John Carter”

Disney knows how to make monster hits. Not only is it the company behind massive animated blockbusters like “Frozen” and “Wreck-It Ralph,” it also own companies that make movies that kill it at the box office. Ever heard of Pixar, Marvel or Star Wars? All owned by Disney.

With all these home runs, however, Disney also has some swings and misses. That’s an understatement. It had some massive fails. One of these is “John Carter.”

Based off the timeless sci-fi classic by Edgar Rice Burroughs, “John Carter” seemed to have the formula: action, story and money. Well, none of these went in “Carter’s” favor, and the film with nearly a $264 million budget made $284 million at the worldwide box office. Sounds OK, but we still haven’t factored in those pesky marketing costs and theater cuts we talked about.

At the end of the day, Disney ended up taking a $121,630,450 loss on “John Carter.”

“Mars Needs Moms”

If “John Carter” was Disney’s only massive flop, that would be one thing, but it wasn’t. Not only was Disney behind the huge box-office bomb “The Lone Ranger,” but it also had this year’s “Tomorrowland,” which is boasting an estimated loss of over $78 million.

With all of that, there’s still one Disney film that takes the box-office flop cake, “Mars Needs Moms.”

The motion-capture space adventure wasn’t resonating with audiences from the get go. Trailers put off would be moviegoers and they stayed away from the theater when the film released.

The film had a budget of a whopping $150 million with a worldwide gross of just under $39 million. When all was said and done, “Mars Needs Moms” lost an estimated $130,503,621.

“47 Ronin”

We’ve picked on Disney enough. Let’s move on to Keanu Reeves.

That’s actually not a fair statement; the man is one of the most bankable action stars working today. Whether you like him or not, studios know that if you put Reeves in a film it usually makes money. This was not the case, however, with the martial arts spectacle “47 Ronin.”

Although “47 Ronin” wasn’t going to be a massive hit here in the states, the filmmakers were expecting that. What the studios behind the flick were hoping for was a massive turnout overseas.

Unfortunately for “47 Ronin,” the worldwide crowd wasn’t too terribly interested either.

The film had the ridiculous budget of $225 million and only made $150.9 million at the worldwide box office. Factor in all other costs and “47 Ronin” lost an estimated $149,518,763.

There you have it, some of the biggest box office flops of all time. Now, in remembrance of the most famous flop of all, go find a copy of “Waterworld” and enjoy a disappointing hour-and-a-half.

John Clyde has been writing about movies, news, sports and pretty much anything awesome for more than five years. John is the co-host of the Flix Junkies podcast and will always entertain you with his stories.


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5 of the biggest box office flops