Top 10 Biggest Box Office Bombs Since 2010

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Sometimes what we celebrate on the big screen, is not necessarily financial victories for the studios. They may bankrupt studios, doom actors and sink the writing career of scriptwriters. Truth is, some of these award winners have been economic disasters known as box office bombs.

However, some movie studios may find ways to recover their investment or even make a profit. For example, Cleopatra (1963), with a $44 million production budget, pushed Twenty Century Fox to the brink of bankruptcy. However, the film recovered when Fox successfully sold it to ABC in 1966.

The List considers all current box office bombs that are yet to recover, despite efforts by the producers. To date, it seems like there are no effective marketing techniques that can trigger a possible rebound. After all, once exploded it is hard to fit the pieces of a bomb back together. The movies are selected from releases dating between 2010 and 2020.

#10: A Wrinkle in Time (2018)

Estimated Loss: $141 million
The science fantasy adventure film started its development way back in 2010. Producers Walt Disney Pictures and Whitaker Entertainment wanted to do a remake, not a sequel to a 2003 TV movie. Costs piled up quickly and at the end of shooting, the movie left a $141 million wrinkle.

The write-down was due to the poor reception at the box office, amassing mostly negative reviews. Critics were somewhat disappointed and discouraged the viewing of the film. The average voting was less than 3 out of seven. The movie went on to win the ST. Luis Critics Award for the worst film of 2018. 

#9: Wonder Woman 1984 (2020)

Estimated Loss: $143 million
With showers of accolades including winning two of its 17 nominations, Wonder Woman 1984 should not be on this list. However, it was released during the COVID-19 pandemic and the theatres had limited seating capacity or were completely closed. The timing was unfortunate and the movie made the most sales it could.

The second factor contributing to the film’s losses was the high piracy level, making it the eighth most pirated movie that year. Maybe that’s why it won the Nickelodeon Favorite Movie Award 2021. People were unable to watch the movie at the theatres and Warner Bros dragged its feet on CD releases. So, pirating was unleashed to fill the gap.

Wonder Woman 1984 was produced by Warner Bros. Picture, DC Films, Atlas Entertainment, and Stone Quarry. 

#8: Mulan (2020)

Estimated Loss: $148 million
In 2020 Walt Disney Pictures produced the fantasy action drama film, Mulan. After almost a decade of unproductive in-house battles, the film finally started filming in 2018 (eight years later). It finally premiered on March 9, 2020.

The production took place in China and New Zealand with an estimated budget of US$200 million.

However, due to several setbacks related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the film was not released until September 04, 2020. Due to limited theatre presentation, the film rolled in a box office of US$70 million. Like most movies released at that time, the box office was undersold due to the quarantine laws.

Mulan won the People’s Choice Awards among others and held favorite ratings of B+ and 73% favorable votes. 

#7: Titan A.E (2000)

Estimated Loss: $157 million
There is a saying that Titan A.E. placed the final nail in the coffin of Fox Animation Studios. Becoming the last work produced by the studio. The movie was released by Twentieth Century Fox on June 20, 2000, and was a box-office bomb.

Titan A.E wrapped up production with a cost of $170 million. The movie initiated production in 1998, spending over $30 million before firing script writer Art Vitello. The original live-action film was then passed to Fox Animation Studio with a budget of US$75 million. However, the production failed due to major hurdles including the studio’s closure. 

The movie grossed US$36.7 million worldwide, making it the lowest movie grosser at the time.

#6: King Author: Legend of The Sword (2017)

Estimated Loss: $169 million
King Author: Legend of The Sword was originally planned to be the first in a six-part series. Yet the box office performance was poor. This led Warner Bros. and Village Road Show to cancel further shootings. 

The production budget was set at $150 million but the cost staggered to a high of $175 million. A poor worldwide box office haul of just $148 million, made it one of the top write-downs for Village Road Show. No one is exactly sure how close they came to bankruptcy, but it was not too far. 

#5: Pan (2015)

Estimated Loss: $171 million
In 2013, the screenplay made the Hollywood Blacklist and Warner Bros Studio financed the prequel to Peter and Wendy.  It was written by the Scottish author J.M. Barrie and directed by Joe Wright. The fantasy film Pan ran a production budget of $128 million.

The film premiered in London on September 20, 2015, and was a financial plunge for the studio. It received negative views from the critics and collided with the Indian community over Tiger Lily. The film produced only $128 million. After including marketing costs, it scored a record loss of US$171 million.

Pan has received one of the lowest fan scores of all time, a 27% on Rotten Tomatoes. 

#4: Tomorrowland (2015)

Estimated Loss: $171 million
Walt Disney Pictures renamed one of its upcoming productions, 1952, in honor of the Theme Parks, Tomorrowland. The film was produced with an estimated budget of $280 million without including marketing costs.

Tomorrowland received mixed reactions at the box office but only grossed $209 million. While some praised its music and acting, others were cautious of the action sequence. Many critics blamed its failure on the marketing team, which used different titles to advertise the film. Some titles included:

  • Project T
  • A World Beyond
  • Tomorrowland

The movie received a 50% mixed review on Rotten Tomatoes, was rated B+, and garnered 5 nominations, winning the Best Soundtrack of the Year award.

#3: Mars Needs Moms (2011)

Estimated Loss: $173 million
A 3D animation remake of the original film, Mars Needs Moms (1958), is a science fiction movie produced by ImageMovers Digital. The movie was released by Walt Disney Pictures in 2011. It was met with mostly negative reviews and the fans avoided the film which grossed only $39 million worldwide.

Rated the fourth largest box office bomb of all time, Mars Needs Moms received a 37% positive review from Rotten Tomatoes. There are not many accolades for this film even though it was nominated by MovieGuide for Best Film for Family. The fans were descriptive of the lack of action and a difficult-to-follow story set.

#2: Mortal Engines (2018)

Estimated Loss: $189 million
On November 27, 2018, tons of English rushed to the Mortal Engine premiere. The director, Peter Jackson known for popular success such as King Kong, promised another fan stealer. The fans were disappointed, thrashing the movie’s lack of personality and direction.

The film made a spectacular place in history as one of the biggest box office bombs of all time. Mortal Engine raised $86.3 million at the worldwide box office, handing Universal Studios an estimated $189 million in losses. The biggest in its history, and the cruncher of its finances, just before the onslaught of the pandemic year.

The film has the lowest fan score of the box office bombs, with a 26% favorable rating. Even so, the film won an award from the Visual Effect Society in 2019. 

#1: John Carter (2012)

Estimated Loss: $236 million
Walt Disney invested over US$360 million to create the science fiction action, John Carter. The movie which had its debut in 2012, failed on the US market premiere. Even though it made historic records in Russia, became the biggest box office bomb ever. The loss still has ripple effects on the studio.

The film was based on the novel (1912), Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burrough, the first book of the Barsoom series. So were three other movies, Star Wars, Dune, and Avatar, dooming the film from the start.  Modern audiences saw John Carter as unoriginal. There was no jumping that Carter could do to get the fan votes up. 

The making of movies is one of the largest industries in the world.  California is one of the largest economies in the world. Studios invest hundreds of millions to create modern films, and they are great at returning revenue. However, now and then, these movies fail to generate sales and become economic disasters or box office bombs.





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