Top 10 Biggest Disney Movie Flops

Written by Nick Spake

Disney, one of the largest and most successful movie studios in the world and is known for making blockbusters, and they flop and bomb and just make terribly bad movies. WatchMojo presents the Worst Disney Movies that completely flopped at the box office. But what will take the top spot on our list? John Carter, The Black Cauldron, or Mars Needs Moms? Watch to find out!

Big thanks to Andrew A. Dennison for suggesting this idea, and to see how WatchMojo users voted, check out the suggest page here: http://WatchMojo.comsuggest/Top+10+Biggest+Disney+Movie+Flops

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Not every Disney movie translates to box office gold. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Biggest Disney Movie Flops.

For this list, we’re taking a look at Disney movies that didn’t reach the level of financial gain they were hoping for.

#10: “Mr. Magoo” (1997)

When people think of the worst movies based on classic cartoons, “Mr. Magoo” is a title that instantly comes to mind. This bumbling comedy is essentially one joke stretched out to 91-minutes: the title character has poor eyesight… that’s it! The film’s depiction of the visually impaired left many blind and near-sighted people offended, causing Disney to add a disclaimer. Meanwhile, everyone else was offended that the film wasn’t funny, not to mention a waste of Leslie Nielsen’s talent. It wasn’t at all surprising when the studio pulled “Mr. Magoo” from theaters after only two weeks. The movie grossed a mere $21 million during its short-lived theatrical run, failing to match its relatively low budget of $30 million.

#9: “Home on the Range” (2004)

Back in the early 2000s, Disney’s traditional animated features just weren’t connecting with audiences like they used to. If the studio wanted to bounce back from their previous financial flops, investing over $100 million in a musical about talking cows probably wasn’t the best idea. In an age that gave us numerous sophisticated animated movies with mass appeal, “Home on the Range” seemed like the biggest step backwards Disney could take. The public showed little interest in seeing this corny flick, resulting in a hefty write-down. The film’s box office returns were so disappointing that the Mouse House gave up on 2D animated features until “The Princess and the Frog”.

#8: “The Country Bears” (2002)

If “Pirates of the Caribbean” proved anything, it’s that movies based on theme park attractions can work. A year before Disney struck gold with Jack Sparrow, though, they brought the Country Bear Jamboree to the big screen. “The Country Bears” is far from the most expensive film on this list, costing $35 million to make. Yet, even with a modest budget, it still couldn’t turn a profit. Grossing roughly $18 million overall, “The Country Bears” proved too weird for kids, too juvenile for adults, and too dopey for modern audiences in general. To be fair, Christopher Walken’s bizarre performance was beyond priceless though.

#7: “Newsies” (1992)

In 1992, composer Alan Menken took part in one of Disney’s biggest hits ever: “Aladdin.” That same year, however, Menken also contributed to one of Disney’s lowest-grossing live-action movies ever: “Newsies.” A musical about the Newsboys Strike of 1899, “Newsies” made under $3 million on a $15 million budget. Despite being a failure upon initial release, the film would gain a dedicated following on home media. It even inspired an acclaimed Broadway show, which resulted in Menken and Jack Feldman taking home their first Tony Awards. The moral of the story: just because something doesn’t succeed at first doesn’t mean it’ll never amount to anything.

#6: “Treasure Planet” (2002)

Another early 2000s animated feature that crashed and burned, “Treasure Planet” made $109.6 million on a $140 million budget. Unlike “Home on the Range,” though, this science fiction adventure actually had critical praise and an Oscar nomination on its side. So why did the film leave such a small impression at the box office? Maybe the idea of “Treasure Island” in outer space was too out-there for mainstream audiences. The fact that it had to compete with Harry Potter probably didn’t help either. In any case, “Treasure Planet” was sunk, ultimately losing an estimated $85 million.

#5: “The Lone Ranger” (2013)

Disney had high hopes that “The Lone Ranger” would be their next “Pirates of the Caribbean.” Heck, they even enlisted the same director and star behind that blockbuster franchise. Unfortunately for the studio, this western was a bomb of epic proportions. You wouldn’t think that Disney would throw too much money at a movie based on an old-school radio show. For some reason, though, they decided to spend $225 million on production costs, as well as $150 million on marketing. Grossing $260.5 million overall, “The Lone Ranger” alienated audiences with its relentless runtime, muddled plot, and the controversial casting of Johnny Depp as Native American Tonto.

#4: “Tomorrowland” (2015)

On paper, “Tomorrowland” seemed like a surefire success. George Clooney is one of the most charming actors in the business and director Brad Bird has made one classic after another. Despite all the talent involved, however, this futuristic mystery just didn’t entice audiences. What’s worse, Disney spent an estimated $330 million on the film’s production and marketing campaign. On a visual level, you can certainly see where most of that money went. In terms of storytelling, though, many felt the film failed to take flight. By the end of its box office run, “Tomorrowland” brought in just over $200 million, losing the studio somewhere between $120 million and $140 million. Ouch.

#3: “The Black Cauldron” (1985)

Following Walt Disney’s death in 1966, the animation studio entered one of its darkest eras financially. But this fantasy adventure was Disney’s biggest box office letdown yet. At the time of its release, “The Black Cauldron” was the most expensive animated feature ever with a price tag of $44 million. The film didn’t even make back half of its substantial budget, accumulating a total of $21.3 million. As if that’s not bad enough, it actually made less money than “The Care Bears Movie,” which came out that same year. Although it has a somewhat infamous reputation, “The Black Cauldron” has also achieved a cult following in recent years. So perhaps audiences missed out back in the ‘80s.

#2: “John Carter” (2012)

Over the years, Disney has taken countless risks that have paid off. Alas, for every film that succeeds against all odds, there’s a gamble that simply wasn’t worth taking. “John Carter” is one of the most notorious examples of the latter in the company’s history. On the whole, Disney spent $350 million producing and advertising this adaptation of “A Princess of Mars.” However, all the money in the world couldn’t save “John Carter” from generic characters, a clunky story, and a severe lack of originality. The film not only amounted to a $200 million write-down, but also caused Rich Ross to resign as head of the studio.

Before we get to our top pick, here are a few honorable, or in this case dishonorable, mentions:
- “Around the World in 80 Days” (2004)

- “Meet the Deedles” (1998)

- “Return to Oz” (1985)


#1: “Mars Needs Moms” (2011)

People are generally divided when it comes to motion-captured animated films. Some find them visually stunning while others find them creepy. Either way, we can all agree that the style feels out of place in a wacky space comedy like “Mars Needs Moms.” Audiences could immediately sense that this movie was going to blow, leading to a dismal opening weekend. It didn’t do much better in the weeks to come, ultimately making $39 million on a massive budget of $150 million. Reaching an all time low, the film stands out as the Disney brand’s biggest financial dud to date. It also motivated Disney to close down ImageMovers Digital, a joint venture they had established back in 2007 with the film studio known as ImageMovers.

Do you agree with our list? What do you think is Disney’s biggest flop? For more entertaining Top 10s published every day, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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