Forbes just released their list of the year’s 10 biggest flops (defining loss here as a percentage of budget, rather than total loss), which you can see below. The year is almost over, so there aren’t many films left that can out-bomb these bombs. All that’s left are Anna Karenina, Life of Pi, Twilight, Red Dawn, Rise of the Guardians, Silver Linings Playbook, Hitchcock, Killing Them Softly, Lay the Favorite, Playing for Keeps, The Hobbit, Hyde Park on the Hudson, The Guilt Trip, Zero Dark Thirty, Jack Reacher, Les Mis, Django, and Promised Land. Phew, okay, that’s actually a lot. But I believe in you, Red Dawn.
We used data from Box Office Mojo to see which films earned the smallest percentage of their budgets at the box office. Keep in mind that to begin to even imagine breaking even a film needs to earn at least twice its production budget at the box office. These 10 films didn’t come close. [Cloud Atlas is still in theaters, so it doesn't technically count yet, but I included it anyway.]
1. “The Oogieloves,” (Box office: $1 million; production budget: $20 million)
3. “Dredd” (Box office: $28 million; production budget: $50 million)
4. “Big Miracle” (Box office: $25 million: production budget: $40 million)
5. “Wanderlust” (Box office: $21 million; production budget: $30 million)
6. “Rock of Ages” (Box office: $56 million; production budget: $74 million)
7. “People Like Us” (Box office: $12 million; production budget: $16 million)
8. “That’s My Boy” (Box office: $57 million; production budget: $70 million)
9. “Premium Rush” (Box Office: $29 million; prodcution budet: $35 million)
Sort of a mixture of schadenfreude and disappointment. Rock of Ages looked like weaponized AIDs and I haven’t seen That’s My Boy, but people I trust claim it’s less funny than Dinner for Schmucks, which would be an achievement. And of course Flop King Eddie Murphy makes the list, that guy wastes more investor money than a third world despot. That said, I actually liked Dredd, and as my commenters never tire of telling me, I’m kind of a snobby prick. But it’s easy to blame that one on the negative name recognition it had for anyone but the dandruffiest of neckbeards, and I don’t think you’d be wrong. Cloud Atlas was kind of dumb, but still an entertaining good time – they marketed it as a critical darling when it was more of a multiplex crowd pleaser, and a lot of people were probably scared off by the three-hour running time.
On a general note, how the hell do some of these cost so much? That’s My Boy cost $70 million? That has to be a deliberate accounting fudge. There’s no way a dumb comedy set in contemporary New England cost $20 million more than a futuristic action movie set in a high-rise, shot in 3D where the drug in the movie made everything move in super slow-motion. No way That’s My Boy should cost more than $10 million, and that’s allocating at least a million for Rex Ryan’s food and hooker budget. “Gash Services,” he calls it.