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

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From Ear to Eternity: When Mike Tyson Bit Evander Holyfield

Evander Holyfield (L) and Mike Tyson (R) compete in their rematch in Las Vegas on June 28, 1997. The bout would make sports history.
Evander Holyfield (L) and Mike Tyson (R) compete in their rematch in Las Vegas on June 28, 1997. The bout would make sports history.
Focus On Sport/Getty Images

As the 16,000 spectators began filing out of the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, following a night of fights on June 28, 1997, MGM employee Mitch Libonati noticed something strange on the floor of the boxing ring. He later described it as being roughly the size of a fingernail, with the texture of a piece of hot dog or sausage.

It was no concession stand remnant. It was a piece of Evander Holyfield’s ear.

Wrapping the morsel of flesh in a latex glove, Libonati hurried backstage, where Holyfield was conferring with officials and doctors after his opponent, Mike Tyson, had been disqualified for biting him on the left ear. In all the commotion, Libonati wasn't allowed inside the room. But Michael Grant, one of Holyfield’s training partners, accepted the ear fragment on Holyfield’s behalf.

Libonati’s discovery was the climax to one of boxing’s most controversial and bizarre evenings, one in which "Iron" Mike Tyson—the most famous fighter of his era—meted out a savage reprimand for what he perceived was dirty fighting on the part of Holyfield. The ear-biting far exceeded the brutal underpinnings of boxing and added to Tyson's reputation as a frenzied combatant both in and out of the ring.

 

Mike Tyson’s collision with Evander Holyfield had started when the two were just teenagers. On the amateur circuit, they had sparred together—not quite knowing the heights each would achieve, but understanding the other would be a formidable obstacle if they were to ever meet as professionals.

Evander Holyfield (L) had success against Mike Tyson (R) early on.Focus On Sport/Getty Images

Tyson was a prodigy, having won the heavyweight championship of the world in 1986 at the age of 19 and dominating the division up until an upset loss to James “Buster” Douglas in Tokyo, Japan, in 1990. Holyfield was the lighter fighter at cruiserweight (190 pounds), moving up to the heavyweight division in 1988 and gaining respect for his trilogy with Riddick Bowe.

Long before that fateful night in 1997, Tyson's personal life had started to overshadow his accomplishments inside the ring: An allegedly abusive marriage to actress Robin Givens darkened his image in the media and ended in a very public divorce after just one year. In 1992, a rape conviction sidelined the fighter for more than three years while he served out his prison sentence.

When Tyson returned to the ring, he rattled off a string of wins against fighters not quite at his level, including Peter McNeeley, Buster Mathis Jr., Frank Bruno, and Bruce Seldon. Holyfield had stepped away from competition in 1994, but as Tyson knocked off inferior opponents, talk of a bout with Holyfield intensified. Finally, the two met in Las Vegas on November 9, 1996, with Tyson a 17-1 favorite over the semi-retired Holyfield.

Holyfield would prove his doubters wrong. Through 11 rounds of action, he outmaneuvered and outclassed Tyson by negating his opponent's power with movement and volume. Holyfield also landed headbutts that were declared unintentional, but to Tyson seemed deliberate. Before the fight could see a 12th round, Holyfield knocked Tyson down and earned a technical knockout victory.

 

While it was an undoubtedly disappointing moment for Tyson, an upset in boxing virtually guarantees a lucrative rematch deal. Both men agreed to meet a second time, with Holyfield earning $35 million and Tyson getting $30 million. Tyson’s camp, however, insisted that the referee from the first bout, Mitch Halpern, not be booked for the second, because Tyson felt he failed to call the illegal headbutts. The Nevada State Athletic Commission didn’t want to be seen capitulating to Tyson’s demands, but Halpern stepped aside voluntarily. So referee Mills Lane took his place.

Evander Holyfield (L) and Mike Tyson (R) first met as amateurs.Focus On Sport/Getty Images

Before a huge crowd full of A-list celebrities like Sylvester Stallone and a then-record 1.99 million households that had purchased the event on pay-per-view, Tyson and Holyfield met for a second time at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on June 28, 1997. While Holyfield took the first round, Tyson appeared fit and adaptive, and came out blazing in round two. Then, just as Tyson had feared, Holyfield’s headbutt struck him again.

The clash of heads opened a cut over Tyson’s right eye, which threatened to obscure his vision as the fight went on. It also opened a reservoir of frustration in the fighter that would manifest in a spectacularly violent way.

Coming out for the third round, Tyson had forgotten his mouthpiece and had to go back and retrieve it—a foreshadowing of things to come. His aggression was working against Holyfield, but with 40 seconds left in the round, the two clinched up. Tyson moved his mouth so it was near Holyfield’s right ear. With his mouthpiece still in place, he clamped down on the ear, ripped the top off, and spat it along with his mouthguard onto the canvas.

Holyfield jumped up in the air in shock and pain. Referee Mills Lane was initially confused by what had happened until Holyfield’s trainers, Don Turner and Tommy Brooks, yelled out what Tyson had done. Lane called for a doctor then told Marc Ratner, the executive director of the athletic commission, that he was going to end the fight. Ratner asked if he was sure. Seeing Holyfield was bleeding from his ear but otherwise ready to fight, Lane waved the two men back into competition.

Incredibly, Tyson bit Holyfield a second time, this time on the left ear, before the round ended. This time, Lane was aware of what was happening and had seen enough. Before the start of the fourth round, he disqualified Tyson.

 

That was far from the end of it. Realizing he had lost the fight, Tyson grew incensed, shoving Holyfield from behind and pawing at the security guards who had stormed the ring in an attempt to restore order.

After the bout, Tyson didn’t appear to be overly contrite. He explained that he was frustrated at Holyfield headbutting him without being penalized, and said he had lost control.

An emotional Mike Tyson reacts to his disqualification loss to Evander Holyfield.Focus On Sport/Getty Images

“Listen,” Tyson said. “Holyfield is not the tough warrior everyone says he is. He got a nick on his ear and he quit.”

Tyson believed his retaliation was justified. “This is my career," he said. "I’ve got children to raise and this guy keeps butting me, trying to cut me and get me stopped on cuts. I’ve got to retaliate. What else could I do? He didn’t want to fight. I’m ready to fight right now. Regardless of what I did, he’s been butting me for two fights. I got one eye. He’s not impaired. He’s got ears. I’ve got to go home and my kids will be scared of me. Look at me, look at me, look at me!”

Two days later, Tyson issued a tempered apology in an effort to minimize the consequences, but it was too late. In addition to losing his boxing license in the state of Nevada, Tyson was fined 10 percent of his purse, or $3 million, which was thought to be the largest fine in sports at the time.

 

Tyson could never entirely shake the stigma of his actions. When a lucrative bout with Lennox Lewis was being planned in 2002, the fight ultimately ended up taking place in Memphis, Tennessee; Nevada refused to restore Tyson's license following a press conference brawl between the two men.

Tyson ultimately continued competing through 2005, when he lost his last bout to Kevin McBride. Holyfield retired in 2011. Earlier this year, the 54-year-old Tyson expressed a desire to return to the ring. The fighter once known as "The Baddest Man on the Planet" is scheduled to fight Roy Jones Jr. on November 28, 2020. Yet Holyfield, now 57 years old, remains a possible future opponent.

The two have occasionally interacted in public in interviews, with Tyson expressing remorse and Holyfield admitting he briefly thought about biting Tyson on his face right back. The pair even filmed a spot for Foot Locker in which Tyson “gave” Holyfield the missing piece of his ear.

In reality, Holyfield never did get his ear back. After Mitch Libonati handed it over to Michael Grant, the piece somehow fell out of the latex glove while being transported to the hospital.

Many fighters talk about leaving a little piece of themselves in the ring. It’s usually metaphorical. For Evander Holyfield, it was simply the truth.