As the publication does every year, The Hollywood Reporter has made a list of the Top 15 box office bombs of 2011. The definition of “bomb” is based on a comparison of each movie’s budget versus its worldwide box office total. However, as we know, just because a movie didn’t make any money doesn’t mean it was bad. Did all of these movies deserve their sad fate? (Most of them, probably.)
The THR list can be found here. Please note that I’ve excluded ‘Happy Feet Two’ and ‘New Year’s Eve’, because both are still in theaters and earning money. ‘New Year’s Eve’ had only grossed $54.9 million at the time of the list, but is currently up to a solid $131.8 million, based on a budget of $59 million. ‘Happy Feet’ looks more like a bomb ($122.8 million gross based on a $130 million budget).
‘Mars Needs Moms‘ (Budget: $150 million, Worldwide Gross: $39 million) – After seeing how much of a domestic flop ‘A Christmas Carol’ was (earning $137.8 million on a $200 million budget), Disney was foolish to greenlight another creepy, dead-eyed Robert Zemeckis mo-cap movie. Yes, ‘Mars Needs Moms’ was far from great, but I personally didn’t think it was bad enough to become the biggest flop of the year. Considering how many half-assed kids’ movies are released each year now that they’re easy to pump out, studios need to go the extra mile to make sure that the content is audience friendly. ‘Mars Needs Moms’ may not be great, but it’s a helluva lot better than those ‘Hoodwinked’ movies.
‘The Thing‘ (Budget: $38 million, Worldwide Gross: $27.4 million) – This is one title that baffles me. I’ve read plenty of reviews and comments that completely bash ‘The Thing’ prequel, both from fans and haters of the John Carpenter’s ‘The Thing’. Yet I and everyone I know who saw it (including critics) all enjoyed this movie thoroughly. Personally, I believe the lack of marketing hurt any chance the film had at becoming a success. That, and audiences chose to see that damn third ‘Paranormal Activity’ movie over ‘The Thing’. But I don’t know why everyone online seems to hate it so much when everyone I know in real life found it entertaining. This is one that I simply don’t get.
‘The Big Year‘ (Budget: $41 million, Worldwide Gross: $7.4 million) – Because ‘The Big Year’ is a movie made for old folks, the worldwide gross gives us insight into one small fact: Old people only contribute $7.4 million to the worldwide box office.
‘The Rum Diary‘ (Budget: $45 million, Worldwide Gross: $21.6 million) – ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’ only grossed $10.6 million domestically on an $18.5 million budget. Why would another oddball Hunter S. Thompson adaptation be expected to do any better?
‘Anonymous‘ (Budget: $30 million, Worldwide Gross: $14.8 million) – I didn’t see ‘Anonymous’, so I can’t comment on it. But neither did the rest of the world. I believe the world was all on the same page with this one. Why would we want to watch a supposedly-factual film that exposes the brilliant William Shakespeare as a fraud from the guy who gave us ’10,000 B.C.’ and ’2012′?
‘Conan the Barbarian‘ (Budget: $90 million, Worldwide Gross: $48.8 million) – Not screened for press, I also didn’t see ‘Conan’. Considering that I gave up on ‘Dungeons & Dragons’ and ‘Magic the Gathering’ a long time ago, there was no need to relapse with this all-too-serious ‘Conan’ remake. The only ‘Conan’ I’m interested in is O’Brien. By the way, have you seen ‘Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop’ yet? You should.
‘Sucker Punch‘ (Budget: $82 million, Worldwide Gross: $89 million)
‘Arthur‘ (Budget: $40 million, Worldwide Gross: $45.7 million)
‘Green Lantern‘ (Budget: $200 million, Worldwide Gross: $219.9 million)
‘Cowboys & Aliens‘ (Budget: $163 million, Worldwide Gross: $178.8 million)
‘Glee: The 3D Concert Movie‘ (Budget: $9 million, Worldwide Gross: $18.7 million)
‘I Don’t Know How She Does It‘ (Budget: $24 million, Worldwide Gross: $30.5 million)
‘Tower Heist‘ (Budget: $75 million, Worldwide Gross: $126.3 million)
Strictly looking at the budget numbers, the movies in this group would appear to be in the green. However, the conventional Hollywood rule-of-thumb has it that a movie needs to gross about two-and-a-half to three times its budget to break even. [Ed: The official production budget doesn't account for marketing and distribution costs, the cut of the profits that theaters take, Mob payoffs and labor union bribes, or the countless shady back-end profit participation deals that inflate the cost of making any movie today. –JZ]
‘Sucker Punch’ is not a great film, but after the flop of ‘Watchmen’, why in the world would Warner Bros. give Zack Snyder so much money to work with? ‘Watchmen’ had a small and specific niche audience that would see the film no matter what, and it still bombed (domestic box office of $107 million, budget of $130 million). ‘Sucker Punch’ was an original piece of work from a director that had only seen success because he made movies based on already-established material (which is probably why he was handed his currently-filming project, the new ‘Superman’ movie, ‘Man of Steel’). I doubt the studio will make that mistake again.
‘Arthur’ was truly horrible and deserves to be on worst-of lists.
‘Green Lantern’ wasn’t great, but it couldn’t have been too much of a flop since Warner Bros. has already announced that a sequel was in the works.
‘Cowboys & Aliens’ wasn’t all that successful because it was pure mediocrity. It seems like the perfect example of a bunch of great minds all working on the same project, yet not a single one of them had any passion for it. The film was merely a job they had to do. It deserved what it earned – a mediocre box office return.
‘Glee’ sure didn’t do what Fox hoped it would, but what did the studio really expect? Why would your network television fan base, which doesn’t have to pay to watch your weekly show, all of a sudden want to race out to pay steep 3D ticket prices to see a staged version of that same show?
As I researched numbers on my own, I found a bunch of other flops that didn’t make the THR list:
‘The Dilemma‘ (Budget: $70 million, Worldwide Gross: $69.7 million)
‘Red State‘ (Budget: $4 million, Worldwide Gross: $1 million)
‘Take Me Home Tonight‘ (Budget: $19 million, Worldwide Gross: $6.9 million)
‘Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil‘ (Budget: $30 million, Worldwide Gross: $16.9 million)
‘Dylan Dog: Dead of Night‘ (Budget: $20 million, Worldwide Gross: $4.6 million)
‘The Conspirator‘ (Budget: $25 million, Worldwide Gross: $15.3 million)
‘Your Highness‘ (Budget: $49.9 million, Worldwide Gross: $24.8 million)
‘Passion Play‘ (Budget: $15 million, Worldwide Gross: $3,369 [not million])
‘The Beaver‘ (Budget: $21 million, Worldwide Gross: $6.3 million)
‘Judy Moody and the NOT Bummer Summer‘ (Budget: $20 million, Worldwide Gross: $15 million)
‘Dream House‘ (Budget: $50 million, Worldwide Gross: $38.5 million)
‘Killer Elite‘ (Budget: $70 million, Worldwide Gross: $52.9 million)
‘Straw Dogs‘ (Budget: $25 million, Worldwide Gross: $10.3 million)
‘Warrior‘ (Budget: $25 million, Worldwide Gross: $23 million)
‘Buck Larson: Born to be a Star‘ (Budget: $10 million, Worldwide Gross: $2.5 million)
[Source: The Hollywood Reporter]