Town & Country, 2001
Warren Beatty’s last movie appearance to date is also his most ignominious. His infidelity rom-com Town & Country took three years to film and took just eight per cent of its $100 million plus costs from box office receipts.
The Wizard Of Oz, 1939 Strange to think that this glorious golden oldie was a flop, but the film lost a gigantic-for-the-time $1.14 million in 1939 and only began making money 20 years later as a kitsch Christmas TV classic.
47 Ronin, 2013 Released in the Chinese Year Of The Turkey, Keanu Reeves’ medieval samurai flick full of witches and giants was always going to be laughable, but studio bosses certainly didn’t find a loss of $152 million very funny. Arguably the biggest box office bomb in history.
Mars Needs Moms, 2011 Except apparently it didn’t. Motion capture technology pushed the budget of this story of a nine-year-old rescuing his mother from Martian abductors to $150 million, but the film scored the worst box office take of any Disney film ever made, grossing just $39 million worldwide.
The 13th Warrior, 1999 Antonio Banderas as a middle eastern version of Beowolf? Pass the frickin’ popcorn, right? Wrong – of its $160 million costs, this stone cold stinker recouped a pitiful $61 million, barely enough to cover Banderas’ rider.
The Lone Ranger, 2013 Who’d release a blockbuster in 2013, huh? Gore Verbinski’s overlong swashbuckling lame duck starred Johnny Depp as a Kiss-alike Tonto but haemorrhaged $150 million at the box office after critics called it a “bloated, misshapen mess, a stillborn franchise”.
John Carter, 2012 Sounded like a gritty detective flick; actually a sci-fi fantasy adventure about a superhuman US Civil War captain on Mars. A confusion which may have contributed to the movie losing around $150 million, although its costs were such that it would’ve had to gross $600 million to break even.
RIPD, 2013 Robert Schwentke’s tale of an afterlife police department hunting ‘deados’, starring Jeff Bridges as an undead Wild West sheriff, went down like a knackered lift, losing half its $130 million budget. “For a movie that so strenuously rips off Ghostbusters and Men In Black,” wrote the New York Post, “RIPD manages to come up with fresh new ways of being absolutely terrible.”
Jack The Giant Slayer, 2013 The kid from About A Boy as Jack And The Beanstalk? How could that possibly fail? Yet it did, losing between $125 million and $140 million for Legendary Pictures, arguably due to director Bryan Singer’s dark vision for the film clashing with the story’s essential family appeal.
Ishtar, 1987 A comedy tribute to the Road To… movies, this time starring Warren Beatty and Dustin Hoffman, Ishtar lost $40 million due first-time director Elaine May’s elaborate demands on the Moroccan set (at one point a square mile of desert had to be levelled) and power struggles between May and Beatty meaning every scene had to be shot twice, once to each of their specifications.
Heaven’s Gate, 1980 Star-studded wartime Western Heaven’s Gate was one of the first major bombs. With director Michael Cimino’s grand perfectionist vision causing so many delays that John Hurt had time to make The Elephant Man between scenes, it’s considered among the worst films ever and earned back just $3.5 million of its $44 million budget in the US.
Waterworld, 1995 The ambitious, hurricane-decimated sets of Kevin Costner’s grandest folly (at least until 1997’s The Postman, which stiffed like a retiring cop) made Waterworld the most expensive film ever in 1995, incapable of recouping despite making Number One at the box office. It’s since broken even, however, due to home video sales, TV broadcast rights and theme park versions.
The Adventures Of Baron Munchausen, 1989 A critical success, Terry Gilliam’s expensive surrealist masterpiece was the victim of studio politics, when incoming chiefs of Columbia Pictures restricted the number of prints of the film released as it had been commissioned by the exiting David Puttnam regime.
The Huntsman: Winter’s War, 2016 Cinema goers gave a collective middle-finger to Universal’s Snow White origin story by shunning the dull fairytale remake earlier this year, leaving the studio with a $70 million hole in their pocket. An unwanted prequel are always a recipe for disaster – did they not get the memo?