Disclaimer: This article contains discussions/references on slavery
With movies like Top Gun: Maverick making waves at the box office, it’s easy to overlook the big-budget stinkers that didn’t do as well. Cinema history is filled with movies that completely bombed theaters, but not all of the flops are remembered.
War epics like The Alamo to literary dramas like Beloved, some of cinema’s greatest disasters have escaped popular memory. Although many movies were box office bombs, only the worst of the worst were so bad that fans pushed them out of their minds and tried to forget about it all.
1. Town and Country (2001) – $10 million
Some movies are huge flops because they’re stuffed with so much money they can’t make enough. City and countryside was one example and is a story that follows a middle-aged couple, who find their marital bliss interrupted by infidelity issues.
With a cast of older stars like Warren Beatty and Diane Keaton, the film might have been a moderate success despite its terrible reviews. It was light and harmless enough to appeal to almost anyone, but it ended up being a terrible fail because it was done so opulently. Mid-road comedies usually disappear as they are, but the box office disaster that was City and countryside has all but faded from memory after earning just $10 million (via Box Office Mojo).
2. Cold Factor (1999) – $11 million
Much like a 1999 movie, Chill Factor combined two actors whose careers wouldn’t last long into the new millennium. The film follows two men who must save a pair of heat-sensitive bombs from falling into the hands of terrorists.
Cuba Gooding Jr. and Skeet Ulrich were tapped to carry the film, and while they do useful work, the whole experience feels like a rip-off. The rapidity. Lacking the suspense of the aforementioned film, Chill factor was just a box office bomb because it was made for a ridiculously large sum of money ($70 million – via Box Office Mojo) that it couldn’t recoup.
3. Zoom (2006) – $12.5 million
Before the MCU, there were a few years when superhero movies dominated the summer movie calendar. Zoom attempted to fit into this trend and was the story of a former superhero who is called back into battle to form a group of young heroes.
Incredibly cheesy and without a clear audience, the film was resoundingly rejected because viewers didn’t need a family-friendly alternative to superhero movies. Tim Allen had passed his prime drawing at the box office, and the film’s cynicism about money caused audiences to choose something else at the cinema, which helped the film earn $12.5 million at the box. -office (via Box Office Mojo) and the studio to lose a lot of money.
4. Ishtar (1987) – $14.3 million
The ’80s were a decade of box office expansion, and it seemed like any movie with a decent budget could turn a profit. However, the buddy comedy Ishtar somehow failed to ride that wave. When two gruesome lounge singers book a gig in Morocco, they find themselves in the middle of a plot to overthrow the government.
Despite featuring Warren Beatty and Dustin Hoffman in the lead roles, the film’s launch completely flopped, grossing just $14.3 million at the box office (where the budget was $55 million – via Box Office Mojo ). Director Elaine May had been successful with her brilliant films before, but her talents didn’t seem to translate into a breakthrough film. Ishtar failed to recoup its bloated budget and ended up costing far more than it earned.
5. Hudson Hawk (1991) – $17.2 million
Although Bruce Willis starred in blockbuster films in the 80s, in the 90s he began to find himself in a series of flops. Hudson’s Falcon is the story of a world famous art thief who must steal a series of DaVinci works as part of an international conspiracy.
Unlike the gritty action roles of its heyday, Hudson’s Falcon opted for a more silly tone which turned out cartoonish. The cast was box office gold, but fans didn’t seem interested in another goofy action flick that already seemed dated 1991. Although it wasn’t the biggest flop of them all, earning over 17 million at the box office (via Box Office Mojo), it certainly cost the studio a wad of cash.
6. Ballistics: Ecks Vs. Sever (2002) – $20 million
As if the odd title wasn’t enough to scare people off, the obvious copycat nature of Ballistics: Ecks vs. Sever doomed him from the start. Two warring agents must work together to stop a dangerous device that can be implanted in someone and kill them at will.
The matrix was not only one of the highest-grossing movies of the 90s, but it had a clear influence on the visual style of action movies for a few years after. Ballistic was clearly trying to get in on the trend, but in 2002 the public wasn’t buying it. Its mammoth budget (via $70 million) made it doomed, and the actual product was so poorly priced that no one bought.
7. Beloved (1998) – $22 million
The works of author Toni Morrison are among the greatest novels in American history, but Beloved proved they weren’t necessarily box office gold, earning $22 million at the box office (via Box Office Mojo). The story concerns a former slave who is visited by the spirit of a young woman, who may have something to do with her dead daughter.
Lacking the lyrical nature of Morrison’s writing, Beloved was far from one of the best book-movie adaptations of all time. Even stars Oprah Winfrey and Danny Glover’s star power weren’t enough to lure audiences into seats, and the nearly three-hour film was a box office bomb with plenty of missed potential.
8. The Alamo (2004) – $25 million
Accuracy isn’t always the recipe for a great movie, because The Alamo can attest. The film dramatizes the events of the clash at the Alamo in 1836 between American settlers in Texas and government forces in Santa Anna.
The movie was well done and an obvious labor of love, but the story wasn’t quite what audiences were looking for in 2004. After war movies, like Pear Harbor, failed to live up to expectations, it’s likely the audience probably wanted to avoid the same pseudo-historical drudgery with The Alamo. Naturally, a film about a historic event was bound to cost a lot ($107 million via Box Office Mojo), and the film’s meager returns saw it plummet dramatically ($25 million).
9. The 13th Warrior (1999) – $61.6 million
The late 90s was a box office feast or famine and movies broke records or bombed. The 13th warrior is the story of a former soldier from the Middle East sent by the sultan on a special mission who finds him involved in the conflicts of a Viking village.
Although mostly skillfully done and with a massive budget to boot ($160 million via Box Office Mojo), the action epic failed to move the needle with fans. It wasn’t sunk by bad reviews, but it seems no one was particularly interested in seeing it. Even though it grossed a respectable amount of money (over $61 million), it still came out a loser due to its gigantic production budget.
10. Windtalkers (2002) – $77 million
Nicolas Cage’s career has had its ups and downs, and Windtalkers was definitely one of his difficult times. During World War II, two Marines are assigned to protect a squadron of Navajo soldiers.
The early 2000s was a peak period for war movies, but Windtalkers something was missing that could have put him on top. Although considered one of Cage’s most underrated films, it pales in comparison to films like Saving Private Ryan. War films are expensive undertakings and Windtalkers was far from a triumphant box office win, earning just $77 million at the box office (via Box Office Mojo).
NEXT: 10 Best Box Office Bombshells, According To IMDb