Biggest movie failures in the past 20 years?

The reason why I’m only wanting to go back 20 years is because I’m referencing The Hollywood Hall of Shame: The Most Expensive Flops in Movie History by the brothers Medved, which was published in 1984. I pulled this out of a moving box I’ve just now got around to unpacking and got a kick out of reading about all the ridiculous excesses Hollywood studios went through thinking the movies they were making were going to be blockbusters. The book goes into detail about how movies like Cleopatra, Heaven’s Gate and Inchon bombed like mushroom clouds at the box office and sometimes bankrupted studios.

It doesn’t look like they ever wrote a follow-up. Movies made since 1984, like Ishtar and Batman and Robin would certainly fit into this category. Do any of you Hollywood Insider types know the Straight Dope on which movies made in the last 20 years lost the most money and why?

According to the Trivia entry for The Adventures of Pluto Nash (2002), it had a budget of about $100 million and only grossed about $5 million in the U.S.

Don’t be so sure about Batman & Robin. IIRC, that particular asspile made a small sum back after it had been released internationally, and on home video, as well as the amount from selling the rights to pay cable and network.

Without getting too mired in current en vogue Bennifer-bashing, certainly Gigli is going to be on the list. At a stated budget of $55+ million, the studio has to date seen only $6 million in revenue.

I imagine “The Adventures of Pluto Nash” falls into the same category, but I don’t have any hard numbers to back me up. Perhaps another Doper does.

Cutthroat Island is up there (down there?) with Pluto Nash. It made $11M with a $90M budget.

Town & Country is in that territory too ( $6.7M on a $90M budget).

The worst I’ve seen on IMDB though is It’s Pat.
It grossed $60,822.

No, that’s not $600,822.

Assuming the IMDB is accurate, I doubt you could possibly get much lower from a major studio release.

I know Cuttroath Island, Town And Country and The Postman all crashed and burned.

What about Waterworld? Was it really that big of a failure? I think I remember reading it eventually broke even.

IMDB sez it flopped in the US, but got better business worldwide.

But the costs don’t take into account marketing the film AFAIK. Plus, the movie costs may have ultimately gone over budget.

Please tell me that Battlefield Earth made the list.

Wild Wild West, the 1999 version with Will Smith, had an official buget of about $100 million, which it did make back at the box office. However, some people suspect that the actual budget was much more than that, and that Warner Brothers refused to admit the true cost to avoid embarrassment.

If I’m not mistaken… the anime flick “Final Fantasy” cost like $130 million to produce and made only 10 or 20 million…

How can you forget Showgirls?

Here’s a reasonably up-to-date list of the biggest money-losers of all time. It’s ranked by the percentage of the investment that was lost:

Here’s what it lists:

Heaven’s Gate (1980) - $44 million budget/$1.5 million US box office earnings = 97 % loss
The Adventure of Pluto Nash (2002) - $100 million/$4.4 million = 96 % loss
Town & Country (2001) - $90 million/$6.7 million = 93 % loss
Monkeybone (2001) - $75 million/$5.4 million = 93 % loss
Cutthroat Island (1995) - $92 million/$11 million = 88 % loss
Raise the Titanic (1980) - $36 million/$7 million = 81 % loss
3000 Miles to Graceland (2001) - $62 million/$15.7 million = 75 % loss
Treasure Planet (2002) - $140 million/$37 million = 74 % loss
Hudson Hawk (1991) - $65 million/$17 million = 74% loss
Battlefield Earth (2000) - $73 million /$21.5 million = 71 % loss
The Postman (1997) - $80 million/$27 million = 66 % loss
Ishtar (1987) - $40 million/$14 million = 65% loss

Heh. I guess all the Scientologists went more than once.

Hollywood has different accounting practices than the rest of society, so it’s pretty hard to tell how much money a movie actually made or lost. Prior to Art Buchwald’s Coming to America suit, there was a common practice of generating huge and unnecessary in-house studio expenses for any movie that looked like it was about to show a net profit. This was done explicitly to cut out anyone who was paid partially in points of the net (an arrangement actors and directors were always strongly encouraged to participate in, but few ever did so twice).

Fantasia took a bath in its initial release and didn’t show a profit until sometime in the 70s.

It’s also worth noting that sometimes the studio doesn’t have a clear idea of how a movie has done until well after the fact.

Case in point: Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, a film which didn’t do anywhere near as well as was hoped in general release, and was originally characterized as a borderline flop… until someone realized how insanely well the film was doing on video and DVD…

Basically, what a studio wants to hear is “X million first weekend, X-y million second weekend…”

First of all, it’s not anime. Sure, it was a Japanese company that made it, but that alone doesn’t make it anime. It’s visual style was to be extremely realistic CGI, which, to a certain extent, the movie did pull off.

Here’s the numbers for the movie. It made more than 10 or 20 million, but looks like it bombed nonetheless. Though last I heard the movie would’ve pulled even, thanks to DVD sales and such.

DMark writes:

> How can you forget Showgirls?

Showgirls wasn’t that big a money-loser:

I agree that the issue of success and failure have been made more complex by the video market. Films The Nightmare Before Christmas and The Big Lebowski are going to be making money for the studios for years to come, despite the fact that they were only lukewarmly recieved in their inital release.