Top 10 Movie Flops of the Last Decade

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Top 10 Movie Flops of the Last Decade

VOICE OVER: Phoebe de Jeu WRITTEN BY: Nick Spake
You gotta spend money to make money… and sometimes lose money. For this list, we'll be looking at films released from 2010 to 2019 that flopped spectacularly at the box office. Our countdown includes films such as “Dark Phoenix” (2019), “Fantastic Four” (2015), “Cats” (2019) and more!
Transcript
Script written by Nick Spake

Top 10 Movie Flops of the Last Decade


You gotta spend money to make money… and sometimes lose money. Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Biggest Movie Flops of the Last Decade. For this list, we’ll be looking at films released from 2010 to 2019 that flopped spectacularly at the box office. While the numbers are important, note that we’re actually basing our ranking on a mix of how high financial expectations were, how much they failed to meet these as well as how much dough they reportedly lost studios. We’re not saying that these are the worst movies of the decade per se, as quality doesn’t always translate into financial success.

#10: “Dark Phoenix” (2019)

While the previous “X-Men” movies had been critically hit-and-miss, all of them were financially successful. So, when Fox gave “Dark Phoenix” the go-ahead, it seemed like another guaranteed blockbuster. Unfortunately, the film faced a storm of unforeseen obstacles. What was originally supposed to be a two-part movie suddenly had to be squeezed into one. Reshoots were ordered due to negative test screenings and tweaks were allegedly also made to avoid comparison to an MCU movie. Meanwhile, Disney was in the midst of acquiring Fox, which was partially blamed for the film’s poor marketing. Horrible reviews were the final nail in the coffin for “Dark Phoenix,” which made roughly $250 million on a $200 million budget. Reportedly losing $100 million, it’s currently the lowest-grossing “X-Men” movie to date.


#9: “Green Lantern” (2011)

Coming out the same year as “Thor” and “Captain America: The First Avenger,” “Green Lantern” was seen as a potential laughing point for a DC cinematic universe. Given the film’s abysmal box office returns, it’s not surprising that DC decided to start fresh with “Man of Steel” two years later. Plans for a “Green Lantern” trilogy were also quickly scrapped. With a $200 million production budget and another $100 million going towards marketing, the film reportedly needed to bring in $500 million to be deemed a worthwhile investment. Unfortunately for the studio, “Green Lantern” made just under $220 million worldwide, losing more than what it cost to produce “Deadpool.” How ironic that a film about a superhero draped in green couldn’t bring in the green.

#8 “Fantastic Four” (2015)

A couple years before Disney came along with $71 billion to burn, Fox made a last-ditch effort to prove that they could make a watchable “Fantastic Four” movie. Did audiences embrace Fox’s gritty take on the colorful superhero team? Well, by the end of its opening weekend, the film came in second at the domestic box office to “Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation”... which had already been out for over a week. In North America, “Fantastic Four” grossed $56.1 million, which is about how much its 2005 predecessor made in its opening weekend alone. With an overall intake of $167.9 million, the film lost nearly $100 million on a budget of no less than $120 million. We guess their loss was the MCU’s gain.

#7: “Monster Trucks” (2017)

A film about monster trucks that are literally monsters living inside trucks doesn’t exactly scream, “bonafide hit!” Nevertheless, we guess the idea offers a few possibilities for tie-in merchandise. Maybe this could’ve actually turned a respectable profit with a modest budget of $25 million. The studio unwisely decided to throw $125 million at “Monster Trucks,” however. We can only assume one of the studio heads thought that this was going to be the next “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.” Where “Ninja Turtles” built a fanbase with comics, toys, and a cartoon, though, “Monster Trucks” went blindly charging into the fast lane without any driving experience. Grossing $64.5 million worldwide, what was intended to jumpstart a franchise instead lost an estimated $123.1 million.

#6 “John Carter” (2012)

Disney’s broken one box office record after another in recent years, but the company has also produced some of the past decade’s biggest bombs. The Mouse House seemingly had high hopes that this adaption of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ classic sci-fi novel would be another “Pirates of the Caribbean.” Why else would they have invested $350 million into its production and marketing? You could take a trip to outer space just for a fraction of the film’s budget! All that money couldn’t pack theaters, though, as “John Carter” only made $73 million domestically and $284.1 million overall. Although “John Carter” led to a $200 million write-down, Disney bought Lucasfilm only a few months later. So, it wasn’t the end of the world for them.

#5: “The BFG” (2016)

On paper, “The BFG” appeared to be too big to fail. It was being distributed by Disney, it was based on a cherished book by literary legend Roald Dahl, and it marked director Steven Spielberg’s return to family-friendly entertainment. Unlike some of the other films on this list, “The BFG” also had mostly positive reviews on its side. For whatever reason, though, more people went to see “The Purge: Election Year” and “The Legend of Tarzan” over the Fourth of July weekend. Making just over $55 million in North America and $183.3 million in total, “The BFG” had much smaller returns than expected. Like “Willy Wonka,” “BFG” could become a cult classic someday, but it likely won’t recoup its $140 million budget anytime soon.

#4: “Mars Needs Moms” (2011)

Motion capture animation can really rack up a film’s budget, but with the right source material, i.e. “The Polar Express” or “A Christmas Carol,” it can result in high financial rewards. A quirky children’s book like “Mars Needs Moms” wasn’t especially well-suited for such uncanny valley technology, however. A project like this should’ve gone for a bright, cartoony look with a budget no bigger than $30 million, a la “Jimmy Neutron.” Instead, somebody wrote a $150 million check for an inevitable bomb. “Mars Needs Moms” made $39 million… and yes, that was the film’s worldwide gross! Not only was this Disney’s biggest dud to date, but it spelled the end for ImageMovers Digital. Between “John Carter” and this, Disney should just stay away from Mars.

#3: “47 Ronin” (2013)

We’re so happy Keanu Reeves made a comeback in the late 2010s because “47 Ronin” looked like a certified career killer. This action samurai fantasy was apparently a production nightmare, as first-time director Carl Rinsch received a $175 million budget and, following reshoots, was excluded from the editing process. One source claimed that the film’s budget rose to $225 million, meaning it’d have to bring in $500 million just to break even. While a Universal executive contested those numbers, “47 Ronin” still needed to make much more than $38 million domestically. It didn’t do much better in Japan where the film opened with $1.3 million US. With a final gross of $151.8 million, Reeves is lucky that “John Wick” was less than a year away.

#2: “Cats” (2019)

The stage version of “Cats” made almost $4 billion worldwide, breathing new life into the Broadway musical. The cinematic version of “Cats” was such a catastrophic flop that it probably would’ve killed the movie musical if “Frozen 2” hadn’t come out a month earlier. That said, “Cats” was completely overshadowed by the “Frozen” sequel not to mention “Rise of Skywalker.” “Cats” is already developing a “so bad it’s good” reputation, not unlike “The Room.” Where “The Room” cost just $6 million to make, however, “Cats” had a $95 million budget. So, it’s going to take A LOT of late-night screenings and home media sales for this thing to ever show a profit. At the beginning of 2020, Universal is looking at an estimated loss somewhere between $71-$100 million. Me-ouch!

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

“Gotti” (2018)

“Transcendence” (2014)

“Downsizing” (2017)

“The Goldfinch” (2019)

“Blackhat” (2015)

#1: “Mortal Engines” (2018)

With a production budget somewhere between $100 and $150 million, “Mortal Engines” was a risky venture for Universal. When Peter Jackson is attached as a screenwriter and producer, though, a risk can start to seem like a sure thing. Plus, the film was based on a beloved YA novel by Philip Reeve, inviting plenty of franchise potential. The studio knew it was in trouble when “Mortal Engines” only brought in $7.5 million over its opening weekend. Things only went downhill from there as the film plummeted 77% during its second weekend. Grossing just $83.7 million worldwide, “Mortal Engines” crashed and burned thanks to unenthusiastic reviews and a crowded holiday season. High post-production costs further contributed to the studio’s monumental loss of $174.8M.
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