Top 10 Biggest Box Office Bombs of All Time

Last Updated on August 3, 2021

Guy Ritchie’s KING ARTHUR: LEGEND OF THE SWORD opened to an awful $14.7 million this past weekend and set up the $175 million budget to be wholly out of reach at the domestic box office. While the worldwide totals may balance things out a bit, KING ARTHUR is on track to be one of the biggest bombs of 2017. Looking at movie history, there have been some pretty hefty bombs at the box office. Adjusting for inflation, here are the biggest financial disasters from major studios since the invention of the movie. If you think we missed one, let us know in the talk backs below. Keep in mind that these numbers are estimates as studios don’t typically divulge how much money they lost, so these dollar amounts may be reported differently. I used the highest estimated loss numbers available online.

JOHN CARTER – $209 million lost

One of the biggest marketing blunders of all time, JOHN CARTER should have been a hit for Disney. But, when your production budget is close to $300 million, you have to spend more than $50 million on marketing. In the end, JOHN CARTER didn’t even crack the amount of it’s budget at the worldwide box office and resulted in a $200 million loss for Disney. Despite involvement from FINDING NEMO director Andrew Stanton and the support of Pixar, Disney botched the release of what should have been the start of a major franchise. With all factors taken into account, JOHN CARTER represents the biggest bomb of all time.

THE LONE RANGER – $195 million lost

The pairing of director Gore Verbinski and star Johnny Depp helped make Disney a ton of money with PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN, so it was shocking that the duo failed at the box office with THE LONE RANGER. Big budget westerns just haven’t had much luck in the last few decades, especially when audiences connect the genre with movies like WILD WILD WEST. Outcry from Johnny Depp playing a Native American didn’t help matters either. So, when critics ripped the film in advance, THE LONE RANGER was already dead on arrival. Grossing less than $100 million in North America and $160 million overseas may have been the nail in the coffin for Depp’s reign at the box office.

THE 13TH WARRIOR – $185 million lost

John McTiernan is a director we would kill to see new films from. Michael Crichton is the late author of classics like JURASSIC PARK and WESTWORLD. But, the pairing of these two creative minds to adapt the novel Eaters of the Dead into a Beowulf-inspired epic were met with strife behind the scenes. Crichton himself took over the director’s chair at one point, resulting in the big budget film languishing in post-production and needing a new edit, new ending, and all new score. Critics ravaged the film which has since gained a cult following but never recovered the massive budget loss.

47 RONIN – $154 million lost

What happens when you give a film with a budget of almost $200 million to a director (Carl Rinsch) who has never helmed a movie before. Did I mention it is based on a screenplay from the writer of FAST AND THE FURIOUS: TOKYO DRIFT? Yeah, 47 RONIN was a pretty cool movie but it was not nearly good enough to warrant the expense that Universal put into it. This movie single-handedly screwed their profit margin for 2013.

MARS NEEDS MOMS – $153 million lost

To this day, I do not understand why Robert Zemeckis or anyone in Hollywood think the creepy motion capture approach to filmmaking is in any way enjoyable. At least with THE POLAR EXPRESS and BEOWULF you could draw in audiences who are fans of Christmas and bloodshed, respectively. Many people had no idea what to make of the weird MARS NEEDS MOMS. Directed by Simon Wells, great-grandson of the author H.G. Wells, MARS NEEDS MOMS is just awful. Rest assured, Wells is back to working as a story artist on animated films. He cannot hurt you anymore.

PAN – $152 million lost

Would you be surprised to learn that PAN is estimated to have cost $275 million to make? While the movie looks pretty, it doesn’t look $275 million pretty. Worldwide, the Hugh Jackman led origin story grossed just $150 million. Maybe it is time to stop telling the Peter Pan story since the 2003 version of the tale lost almost $100 million, too.

TOMORROWLAND – $152 million lost

Disney took a big risk with the original property TOMORROWLAND. But, coming from the co-creator of Lost and the director of some of Pixar’s biggest hits (as well as MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE GHOST PROTOCOL) and starring George Clooney, how could they go wrong? Despite decent reviews, audiences just didn’t connect with the mysterious story that they couldn’t wrap their heads around. Disney dumped a lot into marketing the film (almost doubling the $190 million production budget) which left the film a dud.

CUTTHROAT ISLAND – $140 million lost

When you think of the pairing of Renny Harlin and Geena Davis, you likely think fondly of THE LONG KISS GOODNIGHT or about the abysmal failure of CUTTHROAT ISLAND. Pirate movies didn’t make a comeback in Hollywoood until PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN thanks to this movie which balanced comedy and romance alongside the swashbuckling action. Still, Matthew Modine and Geena Davis were not enough to help this movie gross more than $18 million at the box office.

TITAN A.E. – $139 million lost

Due to the bombing of this film, Fox closed their entire animation studio. That is a pretty substantial failure. After breaking with Disney in the 1990s, director Don Bluth had a bunch of hits like ALL DOGS GO TO HEAVEN and AN AMERICAN TAIL. But, this $100 million animated science fiction epic featuring the voice of Matt Damon in the lead never managed to gain any traction with audiences despite some pretty impressive 2D animation. We can probably thank the rise of CGI feature films for this movie failing.

THE ADVENTURES OF PLUTO NASH – $128 million lost

Eddie Murphy began making a string of comedies in the late 90s like THE NUTTY PROFESSOR and DOCTOR DOLITTLE that briefly put him at the top of the box office. But, then Murphy began starring in crap like PLUTO NASH. Somehow, this movie was greenlit for a $100 million budget and got a cast that included Randy Quaid, Rosario Dawson, Joe Pantoliano, Jay Mohr, Luis Guzmán, James Rebhorn, Peter Boyle, Pam Grier, and John Cleese. Worldwide, it managed to only gross $7 million and is recognized as one of the biggest studio failures of all time.


About the Author

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Alex Maidy has been a editor, columnist, and critic since 2012. A Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic and a member of Chicago Indie Critics, Alex has been's primary TV critic and ran columns including Top Ten and The UnPopular Opinion. When not riling up fans with his hot takes, Alex is an avid reader and aspiring novelist.