The 50 Biggest Box Office Flops of All Time

Sophie Turner stars in Dark Phoenix (2018).
Sophie Turner stars in Dark Phoenix (2018).
20th Century Fox

Considering the convenience of streaming services—not to mention the unconscionably high price of movie tickets these days—it’s a wonder anybody still makes the trek to the movie theater. But, as Avengers: Endgame proved earlier this year, some flicks still have the power to lure us off our couches and into the cinema.

Others, however, perform so abysmally at the box office that they end up costing their producers millions of dollars. To find out which films had the highest losses, musicMagpie compared production budgets with worldwide box office stats for more than 1000 films on Numbers.com, and created a list of the 50 biggest flops of all time.

The biggest loser was 2011’s Mars Needs Moms, which cost $150 million to make and only earned back about $39.5 million at the box office. If you’re quick with math (or you looked ahead to the chart below), that’s a staggering loss of more than $110 million. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Mars Needs Moms featured expensive 3D image-capture technology produced by Robert Zemeckis’s company ImageMovers.

An innovative, high-tech filmmaking process is one of many reasons a movie might have a hefty production budget. Another, of course, is A-list actors’ salaries. Case in point: 2019’s Dark Phoenix, which finished just behind Mars Needs Moms with almost $104 million in losses. The X-Men film starred Game of Thrones's Sophie Turner, along with Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, and Jennifer Lawrence, to name a few.

Also on the list are the Reese Witherspoon-led romantic comedy How Do You Know? from 2010, the 1995 swashbuckling epic Cutthroat Island with Geena Davis and Matthew Modine, and 2004’s The Alamo, which Dennis Quaid, Patrick Wilson, and Billy Bob Thornton would probably rather not remember.

Just because people weren’t willing to go see a certain movie in theaters doesn’t necessarily mean that the movie itself was bad—maybe it had some serious competition during its opening weekend, or maybe it’s just not the type of movie people are clamoring to watch on a giant screen. If this list of highest-grossing films is any indication, a franchise action movie is much more likely to draw a crowd than pretty much any other genre. Having said that, the dreadful Rotten Tomatoes scores for most of the biggest flops suggests that there’s at least some correlation between the quality of a movie and its audience turnout.

Read on to find out how many of Hollywood’s biggest box office disappointments you’ve seen in theaters (or at all), and explore musicMagpie’s study here.

1. Mars Needs Moms (2011)

Production budget: $150,000,000
Worldwide gross: $39,549,758
Total loss: -$110,450,242

2. Dark Phoenix (2019)

Production budget: $350,000,000
Worldwide gross: $246,356,895
Total loss: -$103,643,105

3. Town & Country (2001)

Production budget: $105,000,000
Worldwide gross: $10,364,769
Total loss: -$94,635,231

4. The Adventures of Pluto Nash (2002)

Production budget: $100,000,000
Worldwide gross: $7,094,995
Total loss: -$92,905,005

5. The Promise (2016)

Production budget: $90,000,000
Worldwide gross: $10,551,417
Total loss: -$79,448,583

6. Renegades (2019)

Production budget: $77,500,000
Worldwide gross: $1,521,672
Total loss: -$75,978,328

7. A Sound of Thunder (2005)

Production budget: $80,000,000
Worldwide gross: $6,300,451
Total loss: -$73,699,549

8. Cutthroat Island (1995)

Production budget: $92,000,000
Worldwide gross: $18,517,322
Total loss: -$73,482,678

9. How Do You Know? (2010)

Production budget: $120,000,000
Worldwide gross: $49,628,177
Total loss: -$70,371,823

10. Monkeybone (2001)

Production budget: $75,000,000
Worldwide gross: $5,409,517
Total loss: -$69,590,483

11. The Nutcracker in 3D (2010)

Production budget: $90,000,000
Worldwide gross: $20,466,016
Total loss: -$69,533,984

12. The Alamo (2004)

Production budget: $92,000,000
Worldwide gross: $23,911,362
Total loss: -$68,088,638

13. Air Strike (2018)

Production budget: $65,000,000
Worldwide gross: $516,279
Total loss: -$64,483,721

14. Monster Trucks (2017)

Production budget: $125,000,000
Worldwide gross: $61,642,798
Total loss: -$63,357,202

15. The 13th Warrior (1999)

Production budget: $125,000,000
Worldwide gross: $61,698,899
Total loss: -$63,301,101

16. Stealth (2005)

Production budget: $138,000,000
Worldwide gross: $76,416,746
Total loss: -$61,583,254

17. Soldier (1998)

Production budget: $75,000,000
Worldwide gross: $14,623,082
Total loss: -$60,376,918

18. The Postman (1997)

Production budget: $80,000,000
Worldwide gross: $20,841,123
Total loss: -$59,158,877

19. Osmosis Jones (2001)

Production budget: $70,000,000
Worldwide gross: $13,596,911
Total loss: -$56,403,089

20. Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever (2002)

Production budget: $70,000,000
Worldwide gross: $14,294,842
Total loss: -$55,705,158

21. Lucky Numbers (2000)

Production budget: $ 65,000,000
Worldwide gross: $10,014,234
Total loss: -$54,985,766

22. Timeline (2003)

Production budget: $80,000,000
Worldwide gross: $26,703,184
Total loss: -$53,296,816

23. Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (2001)

Production budget: $137,000,000
Worldwide gross: $85,131,830
Total loss: -$51,868,170

24. R.I.P.D. (2013)

Production budget: $130,000,000
Worldwide gross: $79,076,678
Total loss: -$50,923,322

25. Blackhat (2015)

Production budget: $70,000,000
Worldwide gross: $19,665,004
Total loss: -$50,334,996

26. Battlefield Earth: A Saga of the Year 3000 (2000)

Production budget: $80,000,000
Worldwide gross: $29,725,663
Total loss: -$50,274,337

27. Hard Rain (1998)

Production budget: $70,000,000
Worldwide gross: $19,870,567
Total loss: -$50,129,433

28. Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return (2014)

Production budget: $70,000,000
Worldwide gross: $20,107,933
Total loss: -$49,892,067

29. The Great Raid (2005)

Production budget: $60,000,000
Worldwide gross: $10,597,070
Total loss: -$49,402,930

30. Father’s Day (1997)

Production budget: $85,000,000
Worldwide gross: $35,681,080
Total loss: -$49,318,920

31. Last Man Standing (1996)

Production budget: $67,000,000
Worldwide gross: $18,115,927
Total loss: -$48,884,073

32. Beyond Borders (2003)

Production budget: $60,000,000
Worldwide gross: $11,427,090
Total loss: -$48,572,910

33. Holy Man (1998)

Production budget: $60,000,000
Worldwide gross: $12,069,719
Total loss: -$47,930,281

34. Hudson Hawk (1991)

Production budget: $65,000,000
Worldwide gross: $17,218,916
Total loss: -$47,781,084

35. In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale (2008)

Production budget: $60,000,000
Worldwide gross: $13,233,220
Total loss: -$46,766,780

36. Red Planet (2000)

Production budget: $80,000,000
Worldwide gross: $33,463,969
Total loss: -$46,536,031

37. Flyboys (2006)

Production budget: $60,000,000
Worldwide gross: $14,816,379
Total loss: -$45,183,621

38. Supernova (2000)

Production budget: $60,000,000
Worldwide gross: $14,816,494
Total loss: -$45,183,506

39. Virus (1999)

Production budget: $75,000,000
Worldwide gross: $30,626,690
Total loss: -$44,373,310

40. Rollerball (2002)

Production budget: $70,000,000
Worldwide gross: $25,852,508
Total loss: -$44,147,492

41. 3000 Miles to Graceland (2001)

Production budget: $62,000,000
Worldwide gross: $18,708,848
Total loss: -$43,291,152

42. Live by Night (2006)

Production budget: $65,000,000
Worldwide gross: $21,774,432
Total loss: -$43,225,568

43. The Last Legion (2007)

Production budget: $67,000,000
Worldwide gross: $25,357,771
Total loss: -$41,642,229

44. Flight of the Phoenix (2004)

Production budget: $75,000,000
Worldwide gross: $34,009,180
Total loss: -$40,990,820

45. The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle (2000)

Production budget: $76,000,000
Worldwide gross: $35,129,610
Total loss: -$40,870,390

46. Meet Joe Black (1998)

Production budget: $85,000,000
Worldwide gross: $44,650,003
Total loss: -$40,349,997

47. Son of the Mask (2005)

Production budget: $100,000,000
Worldwide gross: $59,918,422
Total loss: -$40,081,578

48. The Invasion (2007)

Production budget: $80,000,000
Worldwide gross: $40,147,042
Total loss: -$39,852,958

49. The Last Castle (2001)

Production budget: $60,000,000
Worldwide gross: $20,541,668
Total loss: -$39,458,332

50. Oliver Twist (2005)

Production budget: $65,000,000
Worldwide gross: $26,670,920
Total loss: -$38,329,080

Welcome to the Party, Pal: A Die Hard Board Game Exists

USAOPOLY/Amazon
USAOPOLY/Amazon

On the heels of the 30th anniversary of the classic Bruce Willis action film Die Hard last year, tabletop board game company The OP has created a game that will see John McClane once again battle his way through Nakatomi Plaza. Die Hard: The Nakatomi Heist is a board game officially licensed by Fox Consumer Products that drops players into a setting familiar to anyone who has seen the film: As New York cop McClane tries to reconcile with his estranged wife, he must navigate a team of cutthroat thieves set on overtaking a Los Angeles high-rise.

The game has a one-against-many format, with one player assuming the role of McClane and the other players conspiring as the thieves to eliminate him from the Plaza.

The OP, also known as USAOpoly, has previously created games based on Avengers: Infinity War and the Harry Potter franchise. Die Hard has spawned four sequels, the most recent being 2013’s A Good Day to Die Hard. Willis will likely return as McClane for a sixth installment that will alternate between the present day and his rookie years in the NYPD. That film has no release date set.

The board game is available for purchase on Amazon now for $40.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we choose all products independently and only get commission on items you buy and don't return, so we're only happy if you're happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

12 Good Ol' Facts About The Dukes of Hazzard

Getty Images
Getty Images

When The Dukes of Hazzard premiered on January 26, 1979, it was intended to be a temporary patch in CBS’s primetime schedule until The Incredible Hulk returned. Only nine episodes were ordered, and few executives at the network had any expectation that the series—about two amiable brothers at odds with the corrupt law enforcement of Hazzard County—would become both a ratings powerhouse and a merchandising bonanza. Check out some of these lesser-known facts about the Duke boys, their extended family, and the gravity-defying General Lee.

1. CBS's chairman hated The Dukes of Hazzard.

CBS chairman William Paley never quite bought into the idea of spinning his opinion to match the company line. Having built CBS from a radio station to one of the “Big Three” television networks, he had harvested talent as diverse as Norman Lear and Lucille Ball, a marked contrast to the Southern-fried humor of The Dukes of Hazzard. In his 80s when it became a top 10 series and seeing no reason to censor himself, Paley repeatedly and publicly described the show as “lousy.”

2. The Dukes of Hazzard's General Lee got 35,000 fan letters a month.


Getty Images

While John Schneider and Tom Wopat were the ostensible stars of the show, both the actors and the show's producers quickly found out that the main attraction was the 1969 Dodge Charger—dubbed the General Lee—that trafficked brothers Bo and Luke Duke from one caper to another. Of the 60,000 letters the series was receiving every month in 1981, 35,000 wanted more information on or pictures of the car.

3. Dennis Quaid wanted to be The Dukes of Hazzard's Luke Duke—on one condition.

When the show began casting in 1978, producers threw out a wide net searching for the leads. Dennis Quaid was among those interested in the role of Luke Duke—which eventually went to Wopat—but he had a condition: he would only agree to the show if his then-wife, P.J. Soles, was cast at the Dukes’ cousin, Daisy. Soles wasn’t a proper fit for the supporting part, which put Quaid off; Catherine Bach was eventually cast as Daisy.

4. John Schneider pretended to be a redneck for his Dukes of Hazzard audition.

New York native Schneider was only 18 years old when he went in to read for the role of Bo Duke. The problem: producers wanted someone 24 to 30 years old. Schneider lied about his age and passed himself off as a Southern archetype, strutting in wearing a cowboy hat, drinking a beer, and spitting tobacco. He also told them he could do stunt driving. It was a good enough performance to land him the show.

5. The Dukes of Hazzard co-stars John Schneider and Tom Wopat met while taking a poop.

After Schneider was cast, the show needed to locate an actor who could complement Bo. Stage actor Wopat was flown in for a screen test; Schneider happened to be in the bathroom when Wopat walked in after him. The two began talking about music—Schneider had seen a guitar under the stall door—and found they had an easy camaraderie. After flushing, the two did a scene. Wopat was hired immediately.

6. Daisy's Dukes needed a tweak on The Dukes of Hazzard.

Bach’s omnipresent jean shorts were such a hit that any kind of cutoffs quickly became known as “Daisy Dukes,” after her character. But they were so skimpy that the network was concerned censors wouldn’t allow them. A negotiation began, and it was eventually decided that Bach would wear some extremely sheer pantyhose to make sure there were no clothing malfunctions.

7. Nancy Reagan was fan of The Dukes of Hazzard's Daisy.

Shirley Moore, Bach’s former grade school teacher, went on to work in the White House. After Bach sent her a poster, she was surprised to hear back that then-First Lady Nancy Reagan was enamored with it. “I’m the envy of the White House and I’m having your poster framed,” Moore wrote in a letter. “Mrs. Reagan saw the picture and fell in love with it.” Bach sent more posters, which presumably became part of the decor during the Reagan administration.

8. The Dukes of Hazzard's stars had some very bizarre contract demands.

Wopat and Schneider famously walked off the series in 1982 after demanding a cut of the show’s massive merchandising revenue—which was, by one estimate, more than $190 million in 1981 alone. They were replaced with Byron Cherry and Christopher Mayer, “cousins” of the Duke boys, who were reviled by fans for being scabs. The two leads eventually came back, but it wasn’t the only time Warner Bros. had to deal with irate actors. James Best, who portrayed crooked sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane, refused to film five episodes because he had no private dressing room in which to change his clothes; the production just hosed him down when he got dirty. Ben Jones, who played “Cooter” the mechanic, briefly left because he wanted his character to sport a beard and producers preferred he be clean-shaven.

9. A miniature car was used for some stunts in The Dukes of Hazzard.

As established, the General Lee was a primary attraction for viewers of the series. For years, the show wrecked dozens of Chargers by jumping, crashing, and otherwise abusing them, which created some terrific footage. For its seventh and final season in 1985, the show turned to a miniature effects team in an effort to save on production costs: it was cheaper to mangle a Hot Wheels-sized model than the real thing. “It was a source of embarrassment to all of us on the show,” Wopat told E!.

10. The Dukes of Hazzard's famous "hood slide" was an accident.

A staple—and, eventually, cliché—of action films everywhere, the slide over the hood was popularized by Tom Wopat. While it may have been tempting to take credit, Wopat said it was unintentional and that the first time he tried clearing the hood, the car’s antenna wound up injuring him.

11. The Dukes of Hazzard cartoon went international.


YouTube

Warner Bros. capitalized on the show’s phenomenal popularity with an animated series, The Dukes, which was produced by Hanna-Barbera and aired in 1983. Taking advantage of the form, the Duke boys traveled internationally, racing Boss Hogg through Greece or Hong Kong. Perhaps owing to the fact that the live-action series was already considered enough of a cartoon, the animated series only lasted 20 episodes.

12. In 2015, Warner Bros. banned the Confederate flag from The Dukes of Hazzard merchandising.

At the time the series originally aired, little was made of the General Lee sporting a Confederate flag on its hood. In 2015, after then-South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley spoke out against the depiction of the flag in popular culture, Warner Bros. elected to stop licensing products with the original roof. The company announced that all future Dukes merchandise would drop the design element. Schneider disagreed with the decision, telling The Hollywood Reporter, “Is the flag used as such in other applications? Yes, but certainly not on the Dukes ... Labeling anyone who has the flag a ‘racist’ seems unfair to those who are clearly ‘never meanin’ no harm.'”

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