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We’re all familiar with the latest Hollywood blockbusters, but for every James Cameron project that rakes in the cash, there’s also a film that tanks. The following list includes some of the biggest box office bombs in cinematic history, and they’ve been known to end careers and bring whole studios to their knees. The numbers for each entry have not been adjusted for inflation, and I’ve included the total cost of the film (including marketing) whenever possible.
Cutthroat Island (1995) – The cost of this flop was reportedly $115 million, and it only managed to take in a little over $10 million during its theatrical run. Adjusted for inflation, this Renny Harlin film about a female pirate (Geena Davis) in search of buried treasure is the biggest box office bomb of all time. In fact, it was such a disaster that it managed to drive Carolco Pictures out of business. It didn’t help Geena Davis’s career, either.
The Alamo (2004) – Depicting the legendary battle between Mexican and Texan forces at the famed San Antonio mission, The Alamo claimed to be the most accurate film on the subject ever made. That didn’t seem to make a difference to audiences, however, as the $145 million production only managed to make back a shade over $25 million at the box office. Those who like battle sequences should still come away happy, and the cast is brimming with recognizable faces such as Dennis Quaid (Sam Houston), Jason Patric (James Bowie), Billy Bob Thorton (Davy Crockett), and Patrick Wilson (William Travis).
The Adventures of Pluto Nash (2002) – Eddie Murphy’s ill-advised sci-fi/comedy cost a total of $120 million thanks to futuristic special effects and a special trailer to house co-star Randy Quaid’s paranoia. Murphy stars as a retired smuggler who opens a successful nightclub and finds himself trying to figure out why a competitor would destroy his business and attempt to kill him. Rosario Dawson, John Cleese, Pam Grier, and Joe Pantoliano co-starred, but their efforts only resulted in a $7,103,973 take at the box office. While rentals would boost this number to slightly more than $32 million, The Adventures of Pluto Nash still remains one of the biggest box office bombs ever made.
Sahara (2005) – Matthew McConaughey stars as a maritime relic hunter who saves a beautiful doctor (Penelope Cruz) and winds up being drawn into a potentially lethal conspiracy involving a disease that’s running rampant in Africa. While it made a respectable $119 million at the box office, it wasn’t nearly enough to cover the bloated total coast of well over $200 million.
Heaven’s Gate (1980) – A film whose name is synonymous with box office failure, Heaven’s Gate led to the financial ruin of United Artists and the fall from grace of director Michael Cimino. Set in the 1890s and detailing a violent dispute between European immigrants and Wyoming land barons, the film raked in a measly total of less than $4 million against a cost of $44 million. It didn’t help that critics labeled it everything from “an unqualified disaster” to “the most scandalous cinematic waste I have ever seen.”
Even if you manage to save some money on a movie ( AMC coupons, for example), viewing one of the biggest box office bombs in the history of filmmaking will usually result in your leaving the theatre in a state of shock and bewilderment. The home video market does offer a cheaper alternative if you want to give these stinkers a try, but even a reduced price can’t always hide poor direction and lackluster acting.
write by Abner