We all know Hollywood is big, $10 billion of revenue a year during 2010-2015 big. With that much cash lying around, you’re bound to drop a couple hundred million to find the next roaring blockbuster. Pirates of the Caribbean: Stranger Tides, the most expensive film to date, boasts a ridiculous budget of $378 million. Luckily, the film was a smashing success which made back $1.046 billion even without Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom. Not everyone is lucky enough to have their own Jack Sparrow though. We’re left wondering if Hollywood can keep going with this Russian roulette of risky big-budget studio investments.
Imagine you’re a Hollywood Executive in Los Angeles, California. You find an entertaining idea, maybe even a promising screenplay. You get yourself a good director, a solid crew, maybe a big-name actor…or two…or five. You talk to your finance people. Yes, it’s going to be expensive, but it can’t fail now, right? You give it the best CGI team you can find for those heart-pumping big action scenes. You’re definitely going to make money now. Come opening weekend, you get the first signs that your grand summer flick might not be as grand as you thought. How bad could it be? For the people behind these films, pretty darn bad. In honour of the great blockbuster busts, here is a list of the biggest box office flops to hit the big screen. The creators and crew of these films might want to forget them, but we certainly don’t.
The Lone Ranger ($100M loss)
Between the critical acclaim of The Social Network and Call Me By Your Name, Armie Hammer was cursed with one failure after another with the likes of Mirror Mirror and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. None of them failed quite as hard as The Lone Ranger. The production was plagued with injured stuntmen and actors. Disney even considered scrapping the whole project. The outcries about Johnny Depp dressing up as a Native American didn’t help. Maybe they should have left the Cowboys and Indians thing in the past.
Green Lantern ($98M loss)
Before Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively were busy with fun social media shenanigans as one of Hollywood’s cutest couples, they were in the superhero shame Green Lantern. Reynolds was picked over the likes of Justin Timberlake (back when we thought he had an acting career), Jared Leto, and Bradley Cooper. The Hollywood Reporter said the film would have to make $500 million to be considered a good investment. The outcome was so tragic that Reynolds even made fun of it in Deadpool 2.
Ryan Reynolds really couldn’t catch a break, huh? R.I.P.D. had a lot going for it. The combined star power of Reynolds and the legendary Big Lebowski’s Jeff Bridges in a zany comedy about a deceased duo fighting crime. Critics slammed the film for the lack of laughs in an already questionable screenplay. TIME’s Richard Corliss named his review ‘R.I.P.D.: Too awful to review?’ Perhaps that’s a badge of honour considering how many middling films come out each year.
Fantastic Four ($80M-$100M loss)
It’s 2015, the success of The Avengers showed FOX that the people were hungry for a superhero team saving the world. Why not go for a reboot of Fantastic Four? That’s basically the same, right? What resulted was a shocking loss, along with a sad 9% on Rotton Tomatoes. At least Michael B Jordan, following Chris Evans, managed to be the second Human Torch to make it out alive from Fantastic Four and into the MCU. Maybe they should have named it Fantastic Flop instead.
Cutthroat Island ($89M loss)
Geena Davis starred in the notoriously disastrous pirate flick Cutthroat Island with her then-husband Renny Harlin sitting at the director’s helm. Delays sent the film into budget hell, a script rewrite of $1 million, and a notorious story of sewage leaking into the water the actors were swimming in. The loss bankrupted Carolco Pictures who made classics like Rambo, Total Recall, and Terminator 2. The disaster turned Hollywood off on the big pirate adventure until Pirates of the Caribbean. Unfortunately, Davis’s career never quite recovered.
The Mummy ($95M loss)
After the failure of Dracula Untold, Dark Universe was counting on The Mummy remake to be the start of a Horror Cinematic Universe following the success of Marvel. Are you seeing a pattern here? Even Tom Cruise reprising his 60th role as Military Man couldn’t save it. Critics and audiences alike hated the film. In fact, The Mummy reboot is the proud nominee of 8 Razzies. We’ll never know what The Mummy vs Frankenstein vs Dracula would have looked like, and the world is worse off for it.
Treasure Planet ($85M loss)
You can spot cult-classic Treasure Planet in most Underrated Disney Films lists. In 2002, it was a real oddity. A space adaptation of Treasure Island sounds ludicrous even now and it definitely did back then. The reality is that Treasure Planet was Ron Clements and John Musker’s baby. It was only greenlit after the success of their other little-known movie, The Little Mermaid. Disney knew the film would be a risky investment, and it was. Treasure Planet tanked hard. Told you! Pirates had a tough time until Johnny Depp, even space ones.