The top 10 most expensive movie flops of all time

Cameron K McEwan
Photo credit: Universal / Warner Bros / Disney / Digitalspy.com

From Digital Spy

With the news that the recently-released superhero team-up Justice League is on course to lose up to £100 million, you might be wondering if the DC movie is set to be the biggest flop of all time.

Not quite. It's got some way to run before it can punch and truth-lasso its way to the bottom.

We should note that, while the production budget can sometimes appear to have been recouped in worldwide box-office receipts, marketing costs and "Hollywood accounting practices" add to the overall amount a film costs to produce.

Here are the top ten movies which not only bombed, but in some cases destroyed companies and careers...

10. The Adventures of Pluto Nash

Photo credit: Warner Bros.

Production budget: $100 million | Loss: $96 million

Eddie Murphy was once synonymous with success: the '80s gave us Beverly Hills Cop and Trading Places; the '90s, The Nutty Professor and Dr. Dolittle; and even in the '00s he had Shrek.

But 2002's The Adventures of Pluto Nash kickstarted a real dive into live-action family clunkers; see also, Norbit and Meet Dave (or rather don't).

It was simply a terrible movie. The sci-fi comedy (and we use the term loosely) didn't receive one breath of praise, with everyone lambasting the script, humour, acting and visual effects. Its 5% rating on Rotten Tomatoes says it all.

Which begs the question – just how did this movie cost so much to make?

9. Stealth

Production budget: $135 million | Loss: $96 million

You'd be forgiven for asking, Stealth?

This 2005 sci-fi Top Gun-esque tale boasted the early-'00s rising stars Josh Lucas, Jessica Biel and Jamie Foxx with The Fast and the Furious and xXx director Rob Cohen behind the camera. Sounds like a solid action film destined for a middling but profitable future.

With no real production problems to speak of, Stealth crashed and burned on its own terrible merits, beaten by the likes of Wedding Crashers and Sky High on its opening weekend.

8. 47 Ronin

Production budget: $175 million | Loss: $98 million

Giving a gargantuan budget to a first-time feature-film director is a risky move. But that's precisely what happened here when Universal Studios endowed Carl Rinsch with an eye-watering multi-million dollar cheque.

Rinsch had worked in commercials and "state of the art interactive technologies" (according to his website) when he was given the 2013 flick. Tellingly, he was removed from the project during the editing process and more footage featuring its star Keanu Reeves was shot.

But this couldn't save the samurai fantasy adventure that had critics and audiences alike seeking seppuku.

7. The Lone Ranger

Photo credit: Disney

Production budget: $225 million | Loss: $98 million

The 2013 western from Disney reunited the dream team of Gore Verbinski, Jerry Bruckheimer and Johnny Depp after numerous, highly profitable Pirates of the Caribbean instalments.

This should be box-office gold, right?

Not quite. The production ran into trouble, costs escalated and the whole thing was nearly shut down before it was completed. When it finally hit cinema screens, The Lone Ranger was slammed by critics and shunned by audiences.

The film wasn't a total wash-out though – it received two Oscar nominations (for 'Visual Effects' and 'Makeup and Hairstyling').

6. Titan A.E.

Production budget: $90 million | Loss: $100 million

An entry that killed a company, in this case Fox Animation Studios, which bravely ventured out into space but collapsed just ten days after Titan A.E.'s release in 2000.

The talent involved is impressive – directors Don Bluth and Gary Goldman (who'd just scored with Anastasia amongst many more animated films), writers Joss Whedon and John August, and the voices of Matt Damon, Bill Pullman and Drew Barrymore – but not enough to save Titan A.E from lukewarm reviews and and a debut opening of No. 5 at the box office.

5. Mars Needs Moms

Photo credit: ImageMovers Digital

Production budget: $150 million | Loss: $100 million

Disney should have known better than to return to Mars and computer-generated imagery but this is exactly what they did.

A year before the disastrous John Carter (more of which later), the house of Mouse adapted the Berkeley Breathed picture book of the same name with the mother of all production budgets (well, certainly very pricey anyway).

The reviews weren't great (though not Emoji Movie terrible) and its opening weekend ranks as one of the worst for a movie rolling out nationwide.

4. Monster Trucks

Photo credit: Paramount

Production budget: $125 million | Loss: $115 million

Kids are problematic for the film industry. The majority of this list is made up with failed children's movies and this one, based purely on a pun, is typical of its genre.

2016's Monster Trucks was to launch a new franchise from Paramount but, after the opening barely scraped over $10 million at the box office, the flimsy premise crashed.

3. John Carter

Production budget: $263 million | Loss: $122 million

There are only four films to top this slice of Disney sci-fi from 2012 in terms of costs: two instalments of Pirates of the Caribbean, Avengers: Age of Ultron and the recent Justice League.

John Carter's pedigree – solid cast (though its lead, Taylor Kitsch, was perhaps out of his depth), Oscar-winning Andrew Stanton (Wall-E, Finding Nemo) on directing duties and celebrated source material (from Edgar Rice Burroughs) – didn't save it from a critical pasting and poor audience turn-out.

The Mars-based franchise failed to happen for Disney, who then decided to look elsewhere for their science-fiction fix. By the end of the year, they owned Star Wars.

2. Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas

Production budget: $60 million | Loss: $125 million

The combined Hollywood weight and talent of Brad Pitt and Michelle Pfeiffer couldn't save this 2003 Dreamworks animated movie from drowning.

Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas wasn't received too poorly. In fact, it did garnish some positive comments but audiences weren't interested in old-fashioned cartoons after the massive ripples caused by Pixar's Finding Nemo, released just months previously.

As a result, Dreamworks Animation almost sank without trace. The company abandoned traditional hand-drawn films and sought safe harbour in computer-generated animation; their next offering was Shrek 2 and the Madagascar franchise began soon after.

1. King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

Production budget: $175 million | Loss: $150 million

Probably best known for featuring a woeful appearance from former footballer David Beckham, Guy Ritchie's turkey came with a surprisingly high budget.

Warner Bros were keen to kickstart a new franchise based on the Arthurian legend with actor Charlie Hunnam fronting, but this was not to be their sword-in-the-stone.

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword opened in the US to just $15 million and received a clunking 28% on Rotten Tomatoes. Maybe they should get Beckham to bend those figures.

And adjusted for inflation...

If we adjust for inflation, the list is very similar, except the number one and number two entries are switched.

The big difference is the inclusion of the 1995 pirate flick Cutthroat Island at number three.

Photo credit: MGM

Starring Geena Davis and Stranger Things' Matthew Modine, the production was already in trouble with spiralling costs and, upon its release, reviews weren't kind.

The film was bestowed the dubious honour of "largest box office loss" by Guinness World Records and lead to the demise of production company Carolco Pictures and the blockbuster future for lead actress Davis.

It would be almost ten years before the movie industry bravely flew the Jolly Roger with any pirate-related outings.

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