19 Movies That Flopped Despite High Expectations

Not all movies become hits. These 19 films were expected to do well but ended up failing at the box office. Discover what went wrong with these unexpected flops.

1. “John Carter” (2012)

Image Credit: 2011 Disney

“John Carter,” a science fiction adventure, represents one of the most costly misfires in cinematic history. Adapted from Edgar Rice Burroughs’ novel, the film had an enormous budget exceeding $250 million. Despite its grand scale and special effects, “John Carter” struggled to connect with audiences, ultimately earning around $284 million worldwide. The gap between its production and marketing costs and its box office takings resulted in a loss estimated at around $200 million, making it a cautionary tale in Hollywood’s ledger.

2. “The Lone Ranger” (2013)

Image Credit: Peter Mountain Disney Enterprises Inc and Jerry Bruckheimer Inc

“The Lone Ranger,” featuring Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer, attempted to revitalize a classic American tale. Unfortunately, the film’s production was plagued with issues, including budget overruns and delays. The total cost soared to approximately $215 million. The film’s performance was underwhelming, grossing around $260 million globally. This shortfall, compounded by high marketing expenses, led to significant financial losses for Disney, questioning the viability of certain nostalgic reboots.

3. “Mars Needs Moms” (2011)

Image Credit: ImageMovers Digital LLC

In 2011, “Mars Needs Moms” highlighted the risks of high-budget animation. Produced by Disney and using motion-capture technology, the film cost around $150 million to make. However, its box office performance was dismal, earning only about $39 million worldwide. The film’s lackluster appeal to its target audience, coupled with its high production costs, resulted in one of the biggest losses for an animated film in history.

4. “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword” (2017)

Image Credit: 2017 Warner Bros Entertainment Inc Village Roadshow Films North America Inc Ratpac Dune Entertainment LLC.

“King Arthur: Legend of the Sword,” directed by Guy Ritchie, tried to present a fresh take on the Arthurian legend. The film’s production budget was roughly $175 million, but it struggled to make an impact at the box office, earning only around $148 million globally. The modernized portrayal of a classic tale failed to resonate with audiences, leading to a significant financial disappointment for Warner Bros.

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5. “Stealth” (2005)

Image Credit: 2005 ColumbiaTriStar.

“Stealth,” an action film about advanced fighter jets, took a nosedive at the box office. Despite a budget of $135 million and starring popular actors like Jamie Foxx, the film only grossed about $76 million worldwide. Its combination of unconvincing storyline and heavy reliance on visual effects failed to attract a substantial audience, marking it as one of the early 21st century’s notable flops.

6. “47 Ronin” (2013)

Image Credit: 2013 Universal PIctures.

“47 Ronin,” starring Keanu Reeves, was an ambitious attempt to blend Japanese folklore with Western-style action. The film’s production budget soared to around $175 million due to extensive reshoots and post-production work. However, it only managed to bring in approximately $151 million globally. The film’s struggle to find its cultural and cinematic identity contributed to its underwhelming box office performance.

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7. “Sahara” (2005)

Image Credit: 2005 Paramount Pictures

“Sahara,” an adventure-comedy starring Matthew McConaughey and Penélope Cruz, was mired in financial controversies. With a production budget of around $160 million, it only managed to gross about $119 million worldwide. The movie’s failure to captivate audiences, combined with legal disputes over its budget, made it a noteworthy misadventure in the film industry.

8. “The Adventures of Pluto Nash” (2002)

Image Credit: Warner Brothers

“The Adventures of Pluto Nash,” a sci-fi comedy featuring Eddie Murphy, is often cited as one of the biggest box office disasters. With a budget of about $100 million, the film earned a meager $7 million globally. Its poor critical reception and lack of audience interest rendered it a significant commercial failure.

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9. “Jack the Giant Slayer” (2013)

Image Credit: 2013 Warner Bros Entertainment Inc and Legendary Pictures Funding LLC.

Bryan Singer’s “Jack the Giant Slayer,” a reimagining of the classic beanstalk tale, struggled to climb to financial success. Its production budget was estimated at around $195 million. However, the film only managed to gross approximately $197 million worldwide, resulting in minimal profit when considering marketing and distribution costs.

10. “Tomorrowland” (2015)

Image Credit: 2015 Disney Enterprises Inc.

“Tomorrowland,” a Disney sci-fi adventure starring George Clooney, was surrounded by high expectations. With a budget of about $190 million, the film’s global earnings of approximately $209 million were seen as underwhelming. Its complex narrative and ambiguous marketing strategy contributed to its lukewarm reception.

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11. “Pan” (2015)

Image Credit: Warner Bros Entertainment Inc.

“Pan,” an attempt to retell the story of Peter Pan, failed to take flight. The film, starring Hugh Jackman, had a production budget of around $150 million but only earned about $128 million globally. Its deviation from the original story and mixed critical reviews led to its disappointing box office performance.

12. “The 13th Warrior” (1999)

Image Credit: IMDB

“The 13th Warrior,” an action film based on Michael Crichton’s novel, was one of the earliest notable flops. The film had a massive budget of $160 million but earned just over $61 million worldwide. Its production issues, re-shoots, and marketing problems contributed to its status as a financial disappointment.

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13. “Monster Trucks” (2016)

Image Credit: 2016 Paramount Pictures

“Monster Trucks,” a family-friendly action film, didn’t rev up much excitement at the box office. With a production budget of about $125 million, it only managed to earn around $65 million globally. The film’s lack of appeal to its intended audience and mixed reviews led to its underperformance.

14. “Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas” (2003)

Image Credit: 2016 Paramount Pictures

DreamWorks’ “Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas” faced rough waters in the box office. The animated film had a budget of approximately $60 million but earned only about $81 million worldwide. Its inability to compete with other popular animations of the time led to a significant write-down for the studio.

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15. “Gigli” (2003)

Image Credit: IMDB

“Gigli,” a romantic comedy starring Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck, became infamous for its poor box office performance. With a budget of around $54 million, it earned a mere $7 million globally. The film’s critical and commercial failure was attributed to its weak script and the negative publicity surrounding its lead actors.

16. “The Fall of the Roman Empire” (1964)

Image Credit: IMDB

“The Fall of the Roman Empire” was an early example of a historical epic that didn’t live up to its expectations. Despite a grand production and a star-studded cast, the film’s earnings were dismal compared to its estimated $20 million budget (a significant sum at the time). Its failure contributed to the decline of the epic film genre in the 1960s.

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17. “Heaven’s Gate” (1980)

Image Credit: IMDB

“Heaven’s Gate” is often remembered as a monumental financial disaster. The western, directed by Michael Cimino, had an inflated budget that ballooned to about $44 million. It earned less than $4 million at the box office, contributing to the bankruptcy of United Artists and reshaping the way Hollywood approached film production.

18. “Speed Racer” (2008)

Image Credit: IMDB

“Speed Racer,” an adaptation of the popular anime, faced a tough race at the box office. The film’s production budget was around $120 million, but it earned just over $93 million globally. Its unique visual style and narrative approach didn’t resonate with a wide audience, resulting in a financial loss.

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19. “Cutthroat Island” (1995)

Image Credit: IMDB

“Cutthroat Island,” a high-seas adventure, is often cited as one of the biggest box office bombs. With a budget of around $98 million, it earned only about $10 million globally. The film’s production was fraught with problems, and its failure contributed to the bankruptcy of Carolco Pictures, signaling a temporary downturn in the popularity of pirate-themed movies.

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