The Biggest Box Office Bombs of All Time

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The movies that Hollywood wishes it could forget. Newsweek

A Wrinkle in Time, the movie adaption of Madeleine L'Engle's much-loved science-fantasy novel, was released amid high expectations in 2018: Ava DuVernay's $100 million budget was the highest ever given to a female African-American director, and the cast—including Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling and Gugu Mbatha-Raw—was praised for being both diverse and A-list. 

But the film was greeted with poor reviews and an anemic box office, opening with a disappointing weekend gross of $33 million.  

Still, DuVernay shouldn't worry too much: A Wrinkle in Time is still far from being one of the biggest financial disasters in Hollywood history. In fact, as budgets have grown, flops are increasingly common: Even adjusted for inflation, a majority of the worst box-office disasters were made in the 21st century.

Read more: Every movie directed by the Coen brothers ranked from worst to best

Desperate to launch the next big franchise, studios are packing high-budget spectaculars with expensive stars and elaborate digital effects. Even with huge marketing campaigns, though, these mega-epics still sometimes flop on arrival.

Take the saga of 2012's John Carter: The expensive sci-fi epic starring Taylor Kitsch was judged unmemorable by critics, and its global box office fell far short of its lavish budget. With a total cost of $350 million and an estimated production budget of $263 million, it's considered one of the most expensive films ever made. Due to its poor performance, planned sequels were canceled and Rich Ross, the head of Walt Disney Studios, resigned.  

Read more: All of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson's movies, ranked from worst to best

Other movies that top the list of box office bombs include literary adaptations, war movies, animated fare and even a few comic-book adaptations.

Using data from Filmsite.org, we've ranked the biggest box office bombs in film history, diving deep into the projects the industry wishes it could forget. Hollywood studios are notoriously secretive about their balance sheets, so the budgets and losses are just estimates. But those losses are adjusted for inflation, so older flops didn't escape under the radar.

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Maroon Entertainment

74. Glitter (2001)
Production Budget (approx.): $22 million. Gross Revenue (Domestic): $4.3 million. Gross Revenue (Worldwide): $5.3 million. Estimated Loss: $23.7 million
Summary: The story of a gifted young singer, Billie Frank, who overcomes a turbulent childhood and struggles to find her true identity and voice. 
What the critics said: "This fails to convince on several levels: Carey's assumed edginess; Beesley's faltering Brooklyn accent; turns from such celebs as rapper Da Brat and soul vocalist Eric Benet; the half-hearted '80s references and the haphazard retro effects"—Time Out

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Columbia

73. Basic Instinct 2 (2006)
Production Budget (approx.): $70 million. Gross Revenue (Domestic): $6 million. Gross Revenue (Worldwide): $38.7 million. Estimated Loss: $39.1 million
Summary: Novelist Catherine Tramell is once again in trouble with the law, and Scotland Yard appoints psychiatrist Dr. Andrew Glass to evaluate her. 
What the critics said: "Even the ice pick looks like it really doesn't want to be there"—Toronto Star

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United Artists

72. Yes, Giorgio! (1982)
Production Budget (approx.): $19 million. Gross Revenue (Domestic): $2.3 million. Estimated Loss: $45.9 million
Summary: When touring Italian opera star Giorgio Fini (Luciano Pavarotti in his screen debut) mysteriously loses his voice before a performance in Boston, he goes to see throat specialist Dr. Pamela Taylor (Kathryn Harrold), and the two fall madly in love. 
What the critics said: "You know you're in trouble when a movie begins with nuns with a flat tire"—Roger Ebert

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Freestyle Releasing

71. Delgo (2008)
Production Budget (approx.): $40 million. Gross Revenue (Domestic): $694,782. Estimated Loss: $46 million
Summary: Freddie Prinze Jr., Jennifer Love Hewitt, Anne Bancroft, and Val Kilmer all lend their voices to this animated fantasy adventure set in a magical world divided by fear.
What the critics said: "A few magic rocks and tepid battle scenes do little to inspire interest in the goings-on as Malcolm McDowell and Eric Idle spout villainy and punch lines, respectively"—New York Post

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Warner Bros.

70. The Majestic (2001)
Production Budget (approx.): $72 million. Gross Revenue (Domestic): $27.8 million. Gross Revenue (Worldwide): $37.3 million. Estimated Loss: $49.4 million
Summary: Hollywood screenwriter Peter Appleton, a staff writer at HHS Studios in 1951, is an ambitious up-and-comer. Not only is Appleton enjoying professional success, he has a hot starlet girlfriend, Sandra Sinclair, the female lead in his big screen debut. However, life is full of 'what if's...'
What the critics said: "I staggered out of this shameless, interminable movie feeling as if I'd been force-fed a ton of mealy, artificially sweetened baby food"—Newsweek

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Paramount Pictures

69. Timeline (2003)
Production Budget (approx.): $80 million. Gross Revenue (Domestic): $19.5 million. Gross Revenue (Worldwide): $43.9 million. Estimated Loss: $49.4 million
Summary: A group of students from Yale are studying a medieval site, when their professor, played by Billy Connolly, mysteriously goes missing. 
What the critics said: "Yet another case of making time travel a messy ordeal rather than a load of fun, Timeline lacks the consistent tone, pace and point of view for either a science fiction thriller or medieval war adventure"—Variety

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Ross Hunter Productions

68. Lost Horizon (1973)
Production Budget (approx.): $12 million. $34.6 million. Gross Revenue (Worldwide): $3 million. Estimated Loss: $51 million
Summary: This film opens on a chaotic Chinese airfield. As hordes of bandits approach, hundreds of refugees scramble to board the last plane out.
What the critics said: "'I am Chang,' says John Gielgud, his eyes slightly taped for an Oriental effect, but you are not meant to snicker. 'Can this be the skin of a 100-year-old woman?' asks 20-year-old Olivia Hussey who plays the remarkably well-preserved Maria, whom we all wait to turn into an ancient peanut once she goes beyond the Shangri-La pass."

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Universal Studios

67. Man on the Moon (1999)
Production Budget (approx.): $82 million. Gross Revenue (Domestic): $34.6 million. Gross Revenue (Worldwide): $47.4 million. Estimated Loss: $52.3 million
Summary: Man on the Moon, starring Jim Carrey, as the late Andy Kaufman who was considered the most innovative, eccentric and enigmatic comic of his time.
What the critics said: "The movie offers no phony summing up. No dime-store analysis. Yet if it's too much to expect a film to explain what made a fellow tick, at least it should give us a sense of what Kaufman was like. Or else why bother? Man on the Moon can't. Screenwriters Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski try and come up empty"—San Francisco Chronicle

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New Line Cinema

66. Son of the Mask (2005)
Production Budget (approx.): $84 million. Gross Revenue (Domestic): $17 million. Gross Revenue (Worldwide): $57.6 million. Estimated Loss: $54.7 million
Summary: Just as aspiring cartoonist Tim Avery gets over his fear of parenthood with the birth of his new son Alvey, he quickly finds himself in over his head as his new baby is born with the magical Mask's spectacular powers.
What the critics said: "Everyone seems slightly embarrassed to be in the film and rightfully so because, above all else, the film just isn’t funny"—Slant Magazine

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EMI Films

65. Can't Stop the Music (1980)
Production Budget (approx.): $20 million. Gross Revenue (Worldwide): $2 million. Estimated Loss: $55 million
Summary: This musical chronicle purports to relate the legend of the formation of the disco group The Village People.
What the critics said: "A wretchedly sub-standard score from Jacques Morali and production numbers of exceptional tackiness round things off"—Time Out

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Columbia Tri-Star

64. Mary Reilly (1996)
Production Budget (approx.): $47 million. Gross Revenue (Domestic): $5.7 million. Gross Revenue (Worldwide): $12.4 million. Estimated Loss: $55.5 million
Summary: This reworking of Robert Louis Stevenson's horror story Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is told from the perspective of Jekyll's housekeeper Mary Reilly.
What the critics said: "This isn't dumb, but it plays out as academically as it sounds, without a shred of true terror and with only the most muted sexual charge. Solemn, portentous and curiously dull, there is simply no chemical charge between Roberts and Malkovich"—Newsweek