In alphabetical order…
Universal and Elliot Inc.’s $175 million budgeted samurai film took a $175 million write down, losing all but the marketing spend for one of the biggest flops not only of 2013, but of all time. 47 Ronin was a troubled production that was originally scheduled for release on November 21, 2012 but was delayed until February 8, 2013 and then delayed again because of a late ill fated decision to add 3D and additional reshoots, which sent its budget into the stratosphere. Budgets estimates go as high as $225 million, though Universal insists its closer to $175 million. First time director Carl Rinsch was canned during post production and a slew of editors tried their hand at salvaging the film.
The film’s rollout began in Japan and did poorly with a $1,022,721 opening weekend and closed with under $3 million, but while that stirred a lot of negative buzz about a samurai film tanking in Japan, their market is not very welcoming to foreign films, as they have a strong local market of movies. More troubling was the mediocre to poor numbers 47 Ronin posted everywhere else, with the exception of a strong $26,058,135 gross from Russia. 47 Ronin pulled in $113.3 million overseas.
47 Ronin opened in the US over a crowded christmas frame and bowed against The Wolf of Wall Street, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Believe and Grudge Match. 47 Ronin was tracking very poorly and received awful reviews. It pulled in a troubling $9,910,310 and placed #9 for the weekend. 47 Ronin fell 49% in its second weekend over the New Years’ frame to $5,057,215 and sank 67.5% in its third weekend to $1,644,310 and promptly lost most of its theater count. The domestic run closed with $38,362,475. The worldwide total was $151.6 million, returning about $83.3 million to Universal after theaters take their percentage of the gross — covering most of the P&A expenses, but leaving a giant red gap of $175 million.
Battleship cost Universal a gargantuan $209 million, though most estimates have the budget significantly higher. This turkey staring Taylor Kitsch of the record breaking money loser John Carter (released just two months earlier), opened overseas before its domestic bow and Battleship pulled in a healthy $239 million. The US release was originally set for the Memorial Day frame, but it was pushed forward to May 18. Despite bad buzz trailing the picture into release, Universal gave Battleship an expensive marketing blitz, which never made the movie look like anything more than a derivative Transformers knockoff. In addition to the traditional ad spend, Universal partnered with dozens of corporations including Coca-Cola, Kraft, Subway, Nestle, etc. — where the companies spent over $50 million tying in their crappy products with this crappy movie.
Audience awareness of Battleship was at very high levels, but the opening projections were around $40 million — which were troubling numbers for a film of this expense and plans to franchise this property. Reviews were poor and Battleship bowed against The Dictator and What to Expect When You’re Expecting and would see direct competition from The Avengers in its third weekend. The film came in way below expectations at $25,534,825 — placing #2 for the frame led by The Avengers. It declined a steep 56.7% in its second frame to $11,050,470, when Men In Black 3 opened and continued to post large weekly drops. The domestic run closed with just $65,422,625. In its quarter filing report Comcast reported that its Universal Pictures division posted an $83 million loss, mostly attributed to the poor box office performance of Battleship.
Director Peter Berg would find box office redemption the following year with Lone Survivor and was quoted by The Hollywood Reporter as saying that the less expensive Lone Survivor would allow him to “buy back my reputation.”
Blackhat was financed by Legendary Pictures and the expensive marketing spend was also covered by Legendary which distributed through Universal and the studio received a fee for use of their distribution resources. After a new 30% tax rebate for filming in Malaysia and other tax incentive friendly locations, the budget was reported at $70 million. Blackhat was dated for January 16, 2015 and it was reported in mid 2014 that it might land a limited Oscar qualifying release at the end of the year, before expanding wide. The Oscar qualifying bow was scrapped and Legendary gave the pic a pricey marketing push, spending $20.4 million just on TV spots going into release and millions more after its opening, plus millions spent on print, online, radio, etc — with a domestic P&A spend far north of $30 million.
Blackhat opened against The Wedding Ringer, Paddington and the wide expansion of American Sniper and received mixed to poor reviews. It had a disastrous opening at $3,901,815 — placing #10 for the weekend led by American Sniper. Audiences gave the pic a terrible C- cinemascore and Blackhat sank 57.3% in its second frame to $1,667,975 and was pulled out of all but 236 theaters going into its third weekend. It was quickly out of release with just $8,005,980.
After the poor domestic total, Legendary pulled the Australian theatrical release and dumped it straight to video. The overseas release cumed just $11.6 million and most markets saw numbers well under $1 million. After the costly P&A spend and theaters percentage of the gross, Blackhat‘s box office numbers would lead to a $90 million write down on the $70 million film. Legendary had a rough start in 2015 between the $90 million loss on Blackhat and an $85 million loss on Seventh Son. In January 2016, the Chinese company Wanda acquired Legendary for $3.5 billion and in their financial statements, which were attained by the hollywoodreporter, Legendary lost $555.6 million in 2015. Blackhat, Seventh Son, Steve Jobs and Crimson Peak contributed to the loss.
Cowboys & Aliens was co-financed by DreamWorks, which covered 50% of the costs, Universal covered 25% and Relativity Media also covered 25% for the huge $163 million budget. The long in development project never found a good marketing hook for the genre mashup, even with high levels of audience awareness and after an expensive marketing spend Universal released the film in the US to less than blockbuster numbers. Dreamworks and Universal split the marketing costs and partnered with Nestle, 7-Eleven, Comcast, Sprint, Hilton, Nascar and more to sell the film. Months before release, Cowboys & Aliens were plastered all over popcorn bags/buckets and soda at movie theaters, but even with all that exposure, the pic opened with $36,431,290 — coming in far below its $45 million expectations and just edging ahead of The Smurfs. The film proved to have weak legs and dropped 56.8% in its second frame to $15,729,455 when Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes opened, killing its chances at breaking out. The pic did manage to hit $100,240,551 at the domestic box office, but a weak overseas total of $74.5 million left the financiers with huge losses. With a $174 million worldwide total, UIP (joint distribution between Universal and Paramount) released the film in most territories and the companies would see back about $95 million after theaters take their percentage of the gross, which would not even cover the huge worldwide ad spend. Universal president Ron Meyer was quoted as saying, “Cowboys & Aliens was a big loss.” “Certainly you couldn’t have more talented people involved in Cowboys and Aliens, but it took, you know, ten smart and talented people to come up with a mediocre movie. It just happens.”
Originally to be financed between Sony and Universal, Sony pulled out when Evan Almighty was to be budgeted at a costly $140 million and Relativity Media agreed to finance half of the budget. Relativity recently set up a second hedge fund for investors to finance films through Sony and Universal called Gun Hill Road II, which had $700 million in equity and Evan Almighty was one of the first to dip into those funds. Relativity capped their investment at the initial budget when the film was going massively over budget and Universal had to foot the added expense. The reported budget by Universal was $175 million, though most speculation has the budget north of $210 million, turning the film into the most expensive comedy ever made. Universal also spent an estimated $50 million on domestic marketing for the oversized film and Universal’s parent company General Electric contributed an additional $25 million in marketing support for a green initiative. GE set up a Get on Board eco-awareness campaign to show audiences ways to slow down global warming and at the same time letting people know Evan Almighty is opening soon in theaters — and also promoting how responsible the filmmakers were by recycling materials and bike riding on set instead of driving cars. Not included in the GE green initiative was that they are one of the largest corporate producers of air pollution in the United States, releasing millions of pounds of toxic chemicals into the air every year. Director Tom Shadyac had an abusive temper tantrum at a Universal marketing meeting, enraged that the studio was capping the domestic P&A costs at $50 million, when he demanded an $80 million marketing blitz. Universal was also targeting religious groups and churches throughout their marketing push, previewing the pic in 50 cities to spread word of mouth amongst the faithful. Evan Almighty was tracking near a $50 million opening and Universal’s expectations were closer to $40 million, but it came in with a troubling $31,192,615 opening weekend. Any sign of the film reaching profit was killed off when it fell 51.5% in its second weekend to $15,143,945 — when it lost most family auds to Ratatouille. Evan Almighty had enough legs to push the domestic total to $100,462,298 which would only cover the ad spend in the US, after theaters take their percentage of the gross. The overseas gross was a disastrous $72.9 million. After the film bled red ink, Universal canceled the Japan release and it was dumped straight to video, which was the final market left to open. The worldwide total was $173.4 million, leaving Universal with about $95.3 million after theaters take their cut.
Flushed Away was financed by DreamWorks Animation for $149 million and released through their distribution deal with Paramount. Flushed Away opened in the US against The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause and the two films competing for family audiences, cannibalized each other. Paramount stated that they were contractually required to keep the release date after corporate deals were locked in with promotional tie-ins two years prior. Flushed Away opened slightly behind Santa with $18,814,323 — placing #3 for the weekend led by the surprise hit Borat. The pic had a great second weekend hold, declining only 11.7% to $16,606,526 but it sank 60.3% in its third frame when the animated Happy Feet opened. It closed its US run with a troubling $64,665,672. The overseas cume was a soft $113.4 million, which was inline with most of Aarman’s previous stop-motion features that cost a fraction of this expensive CG toon. A solid $22 million from the UK was the strongest market. After an expensive worldwide ad spend, Flushed Away ended as one of the biggest flops on record with DreamWorks Animation taking a massive $109 million write down on the film. DreamWorks Animation and Aardman severed their relationship after the film posted the huge loss.
Sony financed this $120 million fiasco that went over an already high budget when director James L. Brooks decided to reshoot the beginning and the end of the film. With a budget that high and a pricey marketing spend to follow, the film would have to pull in unrealistic numbers to just break even. Sony positioned the film during a very crowded end of the year market with well reviewed adult fare The Fighter and Black Swan expanding and competing for similar auds. How Do You Know was tracking very poorly going into release and was estimated to pull in just $10 million, but was a huge disaster, opening to $7,484,696 — placing #8 for the weekend led by Tron Legacy and Yogi Bear. Audiences did not like How Do You Know any more than critics and it earned a toxic C- cinemascore and it declined 52.6% in its second weekend to $3,548,965. It posted a 28.1% gain over the New Year frame to $4,547,420 but it was too little too late. It vanished quickly from US theaters with $30,212,620 and Sony would see back about $16.6 million after theaters take their percentage of the gross, which would not even cover the P&A costs. Sony released the film overseas to even worse numbers and racked up a sizable marketing spend that just added to the loss. It pulled in a dismal $18.4 million and was Sony’s biggest flop of 2010. James L. Brooks’ Gracie Films had a home at Sony since 1990 and after How Do You Know flopped, Sony declined to renew their deal with the filmmaker.
Graham King’s GK Films financed the film for what was originally a $100m budget, until it went over budget with estimates as high as $180m. Paramount distributed in the US and despite 11 Oscar nominations and critical acclaim, the film struggled at the box office. Hugo opened with $11,364,505 at 1,277 theaters, with the hopes that word of mouth would help sell the film which had a difficult time connecting with audiences through weak marketing. Hugo did have legs and grossed $73,864,507 at the US box office, which would cover the ad spend after theaters take their percentage of the gross, but that would not put a dent in the colossal budget. Overseas, Paramount distributed in some territories and put the film out mostly through UIP (joint distribution between Paramount and Universal) and the film pulled in $111m, which while a decent number, was again not nearly enough to cover the budget that spiraled out of control. GK Films would take an $80m loss on the project and Hugo caused a rift and then departure in their financial partnership with Texas oilman billionaire Tim Headington, who was a main line of support for Graham King’s company. The financial loss would also create a rift between King and director Scorsese, who had provided capital for the director’s films for decades.
Jack The Giant Slayer was co-financed by Warner Bros’ New Line division and Legendary and expensive reshoots ballooned an already monstrous budget to over $200 million. The picture was originally set to be released on June 15, 2012 but post production was slowed down from the ever troubled visual effects company Digital Domain. The cash stressed VFX house foolishly underbid to get the vfx heavy film and then found themselves in over their head and barely able to pay most of their employees to work on it, which the vfx artists aptly named ‘Jack the Company Killer‘. Digital Domain also used new software and techniques on the Jack The Giant Slayer, which ended up not working and many scenes had to be redone. The vfx mess caused the picture to be pushed back to March 22, 2013. Digital Domain would continue bad ideas and worse management in 2013 when they contributed to the budget of the flop Ender’s Game and found themselves ruined and sold off.
Warner Bros then pushed the pic forward to March 1, 2013 which was just one week before Oz The Great And Powerful opened and the Oz movie was tracking strong and competing for the same auds as Jack The Giant Slayer. Reviews were mixed and tracking was pointing to a troubling mid to high $20 million weekend. It was booked into 3,525 theaters and bowed against 21 And Over, The Last Exorcism Part II and Phantom. It pulled in $27,202,226 — winning the weekend at the box office. Predictably, Oz The Great And Powerful siphoned much of Jack‘s audience and it sank 63.8% to $9,839,135. Jack The Giant Slayer closed its domestic run with $65,187,603.
Overseas, the film pulled in mediocre numbers in most territories and grossed $132.5 million. The worldwide cume was $197.6 million, which would return about $108.6 million after theaters take their percentage of the gross — which would likely cover most of the P&A expenses, but the theatrical receipts would not put a dent in the budget. Director Brian Singer would find box office redemption the following year with X-Men: Days of Future Past.
John Carter is the reigning champion of financial loss, with Disney taking a $200 million write down on the box office disaster. Director Andrew Stanton treated the live action film like his or any other Pixar production — scrapping previously filmed footage and reshooting and reworking the movie until this fiscally irresponsible film had a budget that ballooned into excess at $306.6 million. The British tax authority issued a tax rebate to Disney for $42.9 million, bringing Disney’s exposure to the budget to $263.7 million. On top of the exorbitant production expense, the mouse house invested north of $100 million into an unfocused marketing campaign. Originally titled John Carter of Mars, it was shortened to just John Carter after Disney didn’t want any association of their expensive film with their turkey Mars Needs Moms. The generic and not very telling title wasn’t the cause of the $200 million loss, but it’s one of many bad decisions that led to the film’s box office demise. The trailers and the ad material were confused at best and fell flat with not only spectacle, but never made it clear who this John Carter guy really is and the ads never connected with audiences. There was plenty of finger pointing and blaming about who was responsible for the wretched marketing, but it’s director Andrew Stanton that had creative control of the initial marketing campaign and the dull first trailers.
The film was tracking very poorly for months up to release and a last minute effort to make a more focused ad spend, was too little too late. Disney continued to throw cash at an ad spend that wasn’t doing anything for audiences but clogging up the TV airwaves. Throwing good money at a big problem, without addressing the problem was just creating a giant money suck. The mouse house opened John Carter in the US against Silent House and A Thousand Words and it pulled in a soft $30,180,188 — placing #2 for the weekend behind Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax in its second frame. John Carter proved front loaded and fell 55% in its second weekend to $13,569,795 killing its chances at breaking out. The pic continued to post large declines and when the gross sputtered out at $69 million, Disney paired John Carter as a double feature with The Avengers in its first weekend in over 150 drive-ins, which helped boost its final gross to $73,078,100. The picture fared a bit better overseas with a $211 million cume, bringing the worldwide gross to $284 million — which after theaters take their percentage of the gross, left Disney with the biggest movie flop of all time.
Jupiter Ascending was co-financed by Warner Bros (40% of the production costs), Village Roadshow (40%) and Rat-Pac Dune Entertainment (20%) for a huge $179 million. Jupiter Ascending underwent reshoots in January 2014 and had more reshoots three months later and WB originally scheduled the release for July 18, 2014 but just 6 weeks before it was to open they delayed the pic to February 6, 2015. Warner Bros claimed that the vfx were incomplete and needed additional work, but the picture was also tracking very poorly. WB re-scheduled the pic on the same date as the long delayed Seventh Son, which Warner Bros was previously scheduled to distribute before their divorce with Legendary Pictures. Warner Bros spent about $50+ million on US advertising with over $30 million just in TV advertisements leading up to the film’s release. Despite the full weight and support of the WB marketing machine, Jupiter Ascending was still tracking poorly and was surrounded by bad buzz.
The expensive pic opened against The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water and Seventh Son and struggled with $18,372,372 in 3,181 theaters — placing #3 for the weekend led by The SpongeBob Movie and the Warner Bros holdover American Sniper. The film’s marketing never seemed to click with audiences and Warner Bros upped their ad spend when the film pulled in its poor opening numbers and they spent an additional $9.8 million in television ads, throwing away good cash at a marketing campaign that was clogging up the airwaves and not connecting with people. Jupiter Ascending declined 49.6% to $9,254,019 in its second weekend, ending its chances at breaking out and it fell a steep 58.9% in its third frame to $3,805,317. The film ended its domestic run with a less than blockbuster $47,387,723.
Overseas, Jupiter Ascending pulled in troubling numbers as well, opening in 65 markets to $32.5 million and it fell 54% in its second weekend to $58.9 million. Warner Bros distributed in most territories and Australian based Village Roadshow distributed in their home country to a poor $4,049,140. Jupiter Ascending pulled in mediocre to poor numbers in most markets, with the exception of a solid $44,620,000 from China (though China pays out just 25% of the gross to foreign films and 45% to domestic films) and its overseas total pulled in $136.5 million and its worldwide cume is $183.8 million — leaving its financiers with about $87 million after theaters take their percentage of the gross, which would not even cover the worldwide P&A spend and leave the budget in the red. It is estimated that Jupiter Ascending ended as a loss over $100 million. Warner Bros also had two other high profile disasters in 2015, Pan and In The Heart Of the Sea.
This $150 million budgeted box office train-wreck was financed by Disney, with an estimated $60 million additional in marketing costs and ended as one of the biggest flops of all time. Apparently, after executives viewed a rough cut of the picture a year earlier, they decided to close down ImageMovers Digital, which was working on another mo-cap feature The Yellow Submarine, which resulted in a $96 million write down and another $80 million in severances and restructuring. This was also the first film from director Simon Wells, since he was removed from his directing duties on the 2002 flop The Time Machine. Mars Needs Moms opened in the US a week after the animated Rango and Disney booked it in 3,117 theaters to a predictably awful $6,914,488. The pic placed #5 for the weekend led by Battle: Los Angeles and Rango. Mars Needs Moms tanked with a total of $21,392,758. Deciding to cut some inevitable losses after the horrible US opening, Disney sent the film straight to video in a handful of markets, including France. Mars Needs Moms did predictably awful in every territory and its overseas total would come to a dismal $18.1 million. The home video market was not any kinder to the film, as it pulled in $6.4 million in the US before falling off the charts and was no longer reported. Disney took a $70 million write down on Mars Needs Moms. Disney’s following year release of what was originally titled John Carter Of Mars, would lose the ‘of Mars’ to distance the expensive project from this turkey, only to become the biggest flop of all time.
Pan was budgeted at a massive $150 million by Warner Bros and RatPac Dune and Pan was envisioned by the studio as a potential franchise akin to Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings. It was dated for July 24 and in April, WB pushed the July release to October 9, giving the filmmakers the time to complete the extensive visual effects — which is the usual PR code for retooling and throwing more money at a film that doesn’t work. Reshoots commenced with a new cinematographer and additional vfx were added and the film certainly cost more than its reported price tag. Pan was tracking poorly in the weeks going into release and a whitewashing debate erupted over the casting of Rooney Mara as Tiger Lily. Despite the lack of interest, WB invested in a huge international marketing blitz. On top of traditional means of marketing the studio spent a fortune in London, as they turned Leicester Square into Neverland; in Tokyo, the Keyakizaka Complex was turned into Neverland; there were events and exhibitions in Hong Kong and Mexico City; there were also exhibits throughout Asia, Europe, Latin America and the US displaying the film’s costumes; an airship with the Jolly Roger was in multiple airshows in Germany; and there were other no expense spared Pan activities and madness.
Despite all the effort of the WB marketing machine and an unholy amount of money spent, audiences just didn’t care. Pan received poor reviews and opened way below its low expectations at $15,315,435 (which is the same number the 2003 Peter Pan opened with adjusted for inflation and without 3D price gouging). It placed #3 for the weekend led by The Martian in its second frame and Pan even opened behind Hotel Transylvania 2 in its third weekend, also competing for family auds. Showing poor legs, Pan tumbled 61.7% in its second weekend to $5,863,128 and continued to post steep weekly declines and closed with just $35,088,320. Warner Bros rushed this massive flop onto home video just two months after its US opening, days before Christmas.
Pan’s international numbers came in at an underwhelming $25.2 million during its first weekend in 54 territories and stalled with a less than blockbuster cume of $93.3 million. Warner/RatPac saw their biggest box office misfire since Jupiter Ascending earlier in 2015. It is estimated that Pan‘s losses are at least $100 million.
DreamWorks Animation financed Rise Of The Guardians for $145 million and the pic marked the final release through Paramount, which the animation company was in contract with for the last seven years for distribution. Rise Of The Guardians opened over the Thanksgiving frame and faced competition with Wreck-It Ralph, which was still going strong in its fourth weekend in release. Rise Of The Guardians came in far below expectations with $23,773,465 — placing #4 for the weekend led by The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2, Skyfall and the DreamWorks co-production Lincoln and Rise came in slightly ahead of Wreck-It Ralph. The pic posted a 43.7% second frame decline to $13,388,852 and it leveled off the following weekend, posting a 22.3% drop. Rise Of The Guardians continued to post modest weekly declines and it managed to climb to $103,412,758. The film took in a decent sized overseas cume at $203,528,912 bringing the worldwide total to $306.9 million — but after the massive worldwide P&A spend, DreamWorks Animation took an $87 million write down on the picture and laid off more than 350 employees because of its box office failure
Bristol Bay, which was formerly Crusader Entertainment, which is the sister company to Walden Media, financed this infamous flop, which has since been audited with its staggering losses and numerous instances of bribery in Morocco made public. Sahara has spent it’s post theatrical life in and out of the courts for almost a decade. Before production began, Summit Entertainment pre-sold overseas territories to numerous distributors and Paramount signed on as US distributor with their first look deal with Bristol Bay. The production was as fiscally irresponsible as filmmaking gets, with the original $80 million budget doubling to $160 million and distribution costs added $81.1 million to the already out of control spend. Novelist Clive Cussler sued the producers and attempted to block the film’s release, claiming he had contractual control over the script, but was not granted it. Bristol Bay countersued, claiming the author inflated book sales by as much as $50 million to drive up the costs of the rights. After the film flopped, Bristol Bay sued for $50 million claiming fraud against the publishers and the literary agent to Cussler. This went in and out of the courts until 2013 when the Colorado Supreme Court threw out the case against the publishers. Sahara opened in the US against the rom-com Fever Pitch and it won the weekend with a soft $18,068,372. Sahara saw a modest 27.7% second weekend decline and continued to post small weekly drops, but closed its run with a less than blockbuster $68,671,925. Overseas, the film pulled in a weak $50.5 million, across numerous distributors. Sahara cost Bristol Bay $105 million in losses at the end of 2006 and their write down of $78.3 million is projected over a 10 year period with continued ancillary sales — and then there is the millions they spent on litigation, which after 8 years went nowhere.
Seventh Son was financed by Legendary for $95 million and filming completed back in 2012 when the pic was set up for distribution through Warner Bros. The original release date was set for February 15, 2013 but was delayed after the vfx house Rhythm & Hues declared bankruptcy and set back the post production schedule. The vfx house bust cost Legendary an additional $4.9 million in post costs. It was rescheduled for October 18, 2013 but the partnership between Legendary and Warner Bros ended and it was bumped to January 17, 2014 and then delayed again until February 6, 2015. After the WB and Legendary split, Warners scheduled their troubled and delayed Jupiter Ascending on the same date as the troubled and delayed Seventh Son.
CEO of Legendary Thomas Tull expected that Seventh Son was heading for disaster and took an $85 million write down for the pic back in 2013. Despite taking a preemptive impairment charge on the movie, in April 2014 China Film Co. invested an undisclosed eight figure amount into the project and took China distribution rights. After the WB/Legendary divorce, Legendary found a new home at Universal and Seventh Son finally saw a release through the studio, with all P&A costs covered by Legendary.
Seventh Son opened against The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water and Jupiter Ascending and pulled in a terrible $7,217,640 — placing #4 for the weekend led by SpongeBob. The film declined 42.5% in its second weekend to $4,151,780 but sank 76.7% in its third weekend to $967,700 and promptly lost most of its theater count. The domestic run closed with just $17,223,265. Legendary would see returned about $9.4 million after theaters take their percentage of the gross, which leaves much of the P&A expenses in the red.
Overseas, the film pulled in a decent $27.5 million from China and $14.9 from Russia, but posted soft numbers in most markets and its overseas total came to $96.9 million. Legendary had a rough start to 2015 between The Seventh Son‘s $85 million loss and the Michael Mann fiasco Blackhat posting a $90 million loss. In January 2016, the Chinese company Wanda acquired Legendary for $3.5 billion and in their financial statements, which were attained by the hollywoodreporter, Legendary lost $555.6 million in 2015. Seventh Son, Blackhat, Steve Jobs and Crimson Peak contributed to the loss.
Germany’s Federal Film Fund contributed $13 million of the estimated $125 million budget (some sources are as high as $185 million) that was financed by Warner Bros and Village Roadshow and WB launched one of their most expensive ad campaigns leaving WB and Village Roadshow’s investment well over $200 million. In addition to the Warner Bros marketing campaign, $80 million more was spent from global tie-ins with companies like General Mills, McDonald’s, Hot Wheels, Lego and more. With a marketing blitz impossible to ignore, audiences ignored the film when it opened to a soft $18,561,337 — coming in far below the $30+ million the studio expected Speed Racer to open with. The pic placed #3 for the weekend led by Iron Man in its second weekend and What Happens In Vegas. After bad buzz, bad reviews and a 135 minute running time, the family skewing movie was crushed the following weekend when The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian opened and it sank 56.3% to $8,117,459. After large weekly declines, Speed Racer closed with a disastrous $43,945,766 at the US box office. Warner Bros released the film overseas in most territories and Village Roadshow released in a handful. Australian based Roadshow saw the film tank in their home country with only $2.2 million. Speed Racer flopped in the UK with $3.2 million and the highest gross was $6.1 million from Mexico. The overseas total was a terrible $49.4 million. It has been estimated that Speed Racer lost Warner Bros and Village Roadshow $114.5 million and is one of the costliest flops on record.
The Lone Ranger was set to go before the cameras in the fall of 2011, but Disney stopped the project from moving forward when the budget escalated to an estimated $260 – $275 million. Parts of the screenplay were scaled back, some expensive vfx sequences removed and salaries cut and deferred. Disney then greenlit the production with a reduced, but still gargantuan $215 million budget. Costs began to rise again, when production went over schedule from weather related damage to sets, injured stuntmen and a fatality from a crew member drowning — which resulted in the Cal OSHA fining Disney $60,000 for safety violations. The estimated budget grew to at least $250 million.
Along with the irresponsible budget, Disney threw more cash away at a global marketing blitz reported to be $150 million. Additional exposure came from numerous cross promotional tie-ins, from Subway, Lego, NECA, Theodora & Callum, Will Leather Goods, Kawasaki and many more. And for The Lone Ranger completist, you can waste your money on a Sterling Silver Lone Ranger Star Sherriff Badge Cufflinks by Robin Rotenier for about $500.
Disney positioned the hopeful new franchise over the July 4th holiday and it was expected to pull in over $60 million during the 5-day frame. The Lone Ranger bowed against Despicable Me 2 and the modest wide release of Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain. Critics were very unkind to the picture and it came in below expectations with $29,210,849 for the weekend and $48,715,010 over the 5-day frame — miles behind Despicable Me 2 which led the charts. The Lone Ranger plummeted 60.6% in its second weekend to $11,506,100 which ended its chances at breaking out. It declined 61.9% in its third weekend to $4,380,047 and continued to post large weekly declines. The domestic run ended with $89,302,115.
Overseas numbers were $171.2 million, solid numbers for a western, but deadly numbers for a western with about $400 million in production costs and marketing behind it. In its quarter financial report, Disney expected to take a $190 million write-down on The Lone Ranger. The potential franchise was killed off and star in grooming Armie Hammer suffered a major setback. A few months after The Lone Ranger flopped, Disney ended its long term relationship with producer Jerry Bruckheimer after a string of expensive duds like Prince of Persia, Sorcerer’s Apprentice and G-Force.
“One of the worst movies we ever made was Wolfman. Wolfmanand Babe 2 are two of the shittiest movies we put out.”
-Ron Meyer, Universal Studios President
The Wolfman never had a chance at the box office after Universal executives interfered to the point where you have to wonder if 16 year old interns at the studio had more creative input to the film than director Joe Johnston. Originally filmed in 2008, the film would be ordered into reshoots numerous times where the budget exceeded $150 million. The Wolfman was originally planned as a $100 million production with a 15% UK tax break bringing the budget in at $85 million. Financiers Universal and Relativity would find themselves on the line for a film that became too expensive to realistically break even. Universal released in the US over the Valentine’s Day frame with a decent enough start at $31,479,235 but the film received a poor C+ cinemascore from audiences and also had competition from Shutter Island the following weekend which took most of its audience. The Wolfman sank 68.6% in its second frame to $9,895,105 and continued to post large weekly drops and closed out its run with $61,979,680. Overseas, Universal split territories with their UIP branch (joint distribution between Universal and Paramount) and the film took in $77.8 million, bringing the worldwide total to $139.7 million. Universal/Relativity would see about $76.8 million after theaters take their percentage of the gross, which would only cover P&A expenses and barely put a dent in the budget. Decent numbers for a gory monster film, but dreadful numbers for a $150 million film with a huge worldwide ad spend. The Wolfman was yet another massive flop from fired Universal Chairman Marc Shmuger, which the next administration also inherited the out of control budgets for flops Green Zone and Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World.
Tomorrowland was financed by Disney for $190 million and the project was shrouded in secrecy and was to be the mouse house’s big end of year release in 2014. It was first dated for December 19th, 2014 and then pushed up a week to December 12 and then delayed until May 22nd, 2015. Disney spent more than $150 million to market the picture worldwide and launched a vague marketing campaign that tried to keep the premise a secret and it clearly worked against the commercial potential. It was not clear if Tomorrowland was aimed at children or older audiences and mixed reviews only added to the ambivalence surrounding the picture.
After the marketing blitz, which included a seven minute sneak preview before IMAX screenings of Avengers: Age Of Ultron, Tomorrowland opened in the US over the Memorial Day frame, against the Poltergeist remake. It pulled in $33,028,165 for the weekend and $42,679,200 over the 4-day holiday — placing #1 at the box office, but coming in way under expectations. There were no family targeting movies opening for another month, until Disney’s Inside Out and Tomorrowland was expected to play well over the upcoming weeks, but its attendance dropped a steep 56.7% in its second frame to $14,303,679 ending its chance at breaking out. Tomorrowland closed its North American run with a very disappointing $93,436,322.
Overseas, the film pulled in a less than blockbuster $115.7 million, with China posting the highest gross at $19.2 million. The worldwide cume was $209.1 million, which would leave the mouse house with about $109.4 million after theaters take their percentage of the gross, leaving part of the P&A costs in the red and the budget as all red ink — making Tomorrowland one of the biggest box office bombs on record.
SPECIAL UNDERACHIEVING AWARD
Made for a cheap $1.2m, Zyzzyx Road staring Tom Sizemore and a not yet bankable Katherine Heigl, is notable for being the lowest grossing film of all time at the box office with a grand total of $30. The film was released in one theater in Dallas, which the producers rented for $1,000, for one week with one showing per day at noon, to fulfill a Screen Actors Guild clause that reduces actor’s rates if the film is not direct to video. The film found a straight to video release overseas in some markets, but it took until 2012 to arrive on DVD in the US.
THE WORST MOVIE EVER!
It cost $1,100 to make and notable for making the lowest amount of money ever opening weekend at $11 which this no budget film wears like a badge of honor – for without that record, nobody would have a clue about its existence. It is unknown who the single person was who purchased a ticket. If you have proof, show yourself!