Biggest Box Office Bombs Of 2018!
Mortal Engines opened over the weekend to a very disappointing $7.5 million domestic.
We know what you’re thinking. “What is Mortal Engines? Was that in the empty theater next-door when I saw Spider-Man?”
Yes, the steampunk fantasy flick may have cost as much to make as a Marvel movie, but it lacked the superheroic box office — it even made the DC movies look like monster hits.
It’s a late addition to the list you absolutely LEAST want to end up on in Hollywood, but it’s currently on its way to being number one with a bullet!
See the other biggest box office bombs of the year (below):
- Production Budget: $100 mil
- Worldwide Box Office: $42 mil (so far)
Director Peter Jackson did what many in the film industry thought impossible by turning an adaptation of previously unfilmable classic fantasy book series The Lord Of The Rings into THREE huge hits. His attempt at writing and producing this sci fi franchise… not so much.
Based on an award-winning quadrilogy of novels, Mortal Engines tells the story of a dystopian steampunk future where the cities are mobile, driving around the world on huge tank treads in search of scarce resources.
Or are we making that up? Really, how would you know? The marketing behind this thing was so bad, most people had no idea it even opened opposite Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse in the U.S. and Aquaman in the rest of the world.
The film is unlikely to add much to its sad domestic opening of 7.5 million with its poor critical reception and nonexistent word of mouth.
And with a budget some have guessed may actually be as much $150 mil, it’s a sad day in Tinseltown. Wherever that is at the moment.
(See, the movie really is about rolling cities. Buy your tickets now.)
- Production Budget: $100 mil
- Worldwide Box Office: $73 mil
It seems every decade we get another Peter Pan, another Three Musketeers, and another Robin Hood — and they just keep getting weirder and worse.
The charm of Taron Egerton and Jamie Foxx was not enough to get the crowds to see yet ANOTHER retelling, especially one which seemed less interested in a timeless (and timely) tale of good vs greed and more fueled by video game action and bizarrely anachronistic production design.
Lesson for the 2028 Robin Hood movie? Less time spent animating CG arrows, more on script. (Or, y’know, make something else?)
The Happytime Murders
- Production Budget: $40 mil
- Worldwide Box Office: $27.5 mil
The good news? This hard R-rated muppet crime caper won its court case with Sesame Street and got to keep its “No Sesame. All Street.” tagline. The bad news? Execs who greenlit it now have to live in a trashcan with Oscar the Grouch.
Melissa McCarthy has a real shot this year to join an elite club with both an Oscar nomination for her acclaimed role in Can You Ever Forgive Me? and a Razzie nod for her latest raunchy comedy flop. So, yeah. Fuzzy fingers crossed.
[Fun fact: Ironically it was this year’s #1 box office bombardier Peter Jackson who did the whole meta muppet grossout thing first with his 1989 cult classic Meet The Feebles — which was also a bomb on its original release.]
- Production Budget: $8 mil
- Worldwide Box Office: $300k
It wasn’t the BIGGEST flop of the year — since the whole thing cost less than the CG arrow budget of Robin Hood — but this neo-noir thriller does have the ignominious honor of being the messiest.
Filming started WAY back in 2013, and the festival premiere was at Toronto International Film Festival in 2015 — but the “sexy” mystery was caught up in legal limbo when Amber Heard sued, saying producers added nude scenes she never shot or agreed to, using a body double and editing.
(Frankly, Cara Delevingne should have sued over those dreads they made her wear.)
When it finally made it to theaters in October, it scored the SECOND WORST opening for a wide release film in cinema history. Second. It even failed at being a failure.
[Fun Fact: #1 worst is a corporate-sponsored biopic about the founding of Wal-Mart and Coca-Cola called Proud American.]
- Production Budget: $10 mil
- Worldwide Box Office: $4.1 mil
Films rarely go so wrong their own distributors drop them and back away. But such is the case with this gangster flick that made Lionsgate back away at the last minute and say, NO THANKS WE’D RATHER GO WITH ROBIN HOOD.
Gotti also went through lawsuit limbo thanks to actor Joe Pesci dropping out. But hey, they replaced him with John Travolta.
Then MoviePass happily picked up Gotti as its first attempt at using its popular free movie ticket app to advertise its own movie. They must have forgot — they were the ones buying all the tickets they sold…
In any case, it wasn’t a lot of tix, thanks to the abysmal reviews.
- Production Budget: $35 mil
- Worldwide Box Office: $31 mil
The director of The Fast and the Furious. Wild action and physics-defying vehicle stunts. Simple good guys vs. bad guys story.
The only problem? This ain’t a Fast and Furious movie.
Without the recognizable faces of the fan fave franchise — Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson — this big dumb action flick just flew (at 74 miles per hour, no less) right under the radar.
No offense to the fine actors involved, but no one has never heard their aunt say over Thanksgiving dinner, “Ooh, did you see that new Toby Kebbell movie?”
Even the name of the distributor, Entertainment Studios, is generic-sounding and completely forgettable.
As much as Hollywood has declared the death of the movie star over the past couple years, you can see what happens without them.
- Production Budget: $10 mil
- Worldwide Box Office: $5.6 mil
When Amazon Studios tapped Dan Fogelman, the creator of award-winning drama series This Is Us, to bring the same tearjerker magic to the big screen, it was far less successful.
Simple. No one wants to go ugly cry in the movie theater. That’s for the comfort of your couch.
And even those who did were barely aware of the film’s existence — after all, there’s only so many times you can put the words THIS IS US in your advertising.
(tie). A Wrinkle In Time
- Production Budget: $103 mil
- Worldwide Box Office: $132.7 mil
In order to understand how the last three movies made it onto the list, you have to remember something very important: production budget ain’t everything.
Distributors also spend money on making you aware of a movie’s existence. Studios aren’t exactly forthcoming with the amount they spend, but a good rule of thumb? The more aware you were of it, the more they spent on it.
Disney is known to pull out all the stops, with TV ads, billboards, fast food tie-ins, etc. That’s why Disney rarely flops — but when they do, it’s so, so hard. *cough*Lone Ranger*cough*
So when you see the ambitious adaptation of the beloved YA novel A Wrinkle In Time made back its production budget, don’t be fooled. The Mouse House easily spent at least as much marketing it.
Where does the blame lie for this miss?
If we had to guess? The book is a strange one, with esoteric concepts which are difficult to visualize in a concrete way. While that can do tons for a child’s imagination during reading, it’s maybe a bit harder to sell on the big screen.
Unlike Disney’s other big whiff…
(tie). Solo: A Star Wars Story
- Production Budget: $250 mil???
- Worldwide Box Office: $392 mil
This was supposed to be one of those guaranteed hits that helped Disney make back the four billion bucks they spent on buying Lucasfilm. So what went wrong?
First off, there was the bad timing.
The Force Awakens was a crowd-pleaser but suffered a common criticism of being too much of a remake of Episode IV. Rogue One was exciting for some of the more hardcore fans but left a great many children (and their parents!) confused and disturbed with its dour tone and grim ending. The less said about the divide between fans of The Last Jedi the better.
On the heels of all those mixed reactions, the fan base was no longer waiting around the block for a new Star Wars movie. Maybe if Disney had known this beforehand, Solo would have been pushed back to December to give fans time to decompress build up a new appetite. Instead, like their hero, they shot first.
Kathleen Kennedy hired hot Lego Movie masterminds Phil Lord and Chris Miller to breathe new life into the prequel. Then she fired them because she hated their new life (and, reportedly, their socks) and hired vet Ron Howard to reshoot over half the movie.
With all things Star Wars under intense scrutiny, all this dirty laundry was aired on the Internet, and fans got even more reticent about seeing it right away.
Meanwhile all the extra shooting and recasting caused the production budget to balloon, reportedly ending up well north of $250 mil (uncertainty over this amount keeps the movie from being higher up on our list — as Disney likely intends).
We may not be sure how much the flick ended up costing the studio, but it was enough they announced a hiatus on future Star Wars Stories for awhile. Not a good sign.
The Nutcracker and the Four Realms
- Production Budget: $120 mil
- Worldwide Box Office: $160.8 mil
Another month, another ambitious Disney adaptation from a visionary director — that just couldn’t find an audience.
Perhaps it was because no one really understood what to expect from this ballet-based fairy tale that looked like a cross between Return To Oz and The Chronicles Of Narnia.
Sometimes this pays off, as was the case with Tim Burton‘s take on Alice In Wonderland. And sometimes the nut breaks you.