It's a sad fact of the movie biz that a lot of movies flop at the box office. But a few flicks fail so completely, so utterly at the box office that they derail careers and drive studios to bankruptcy.
See below list of the most disastrous box-office flops in history.
BATTLEFIELD EARTH (2000)
Budget: $73 million, US Box Office: $21 million
John Travolta's two-decade long quest to put L. Ron Hubbard's tome on the silver screen ended with intergalactic failure. A perfect storm of hammy acting, bad direction, and ridiculous storytelling converged to make "Battlefield Earth" the worst reviewed film of 2000. It also won seven Razzies, a feat only matched by another famous box-office bomb, Showgirls.
Photo by Morgan Greek/Kobal, WireImage
THE ADVENTURES OF PLUTO NASH (2002)
Budget: $100 million, US Box Office: $4.4 million
In terms of sheer numbers, this flick is one of the biggest box-office flops in cinema history. Eddie Murphy was apparently so embarrassed by the end result that he refused to do any publicity for the movie.
Photo by Warner Brothers, Everett Collection
HEAVEN'S GATE (1980)
Budget: $40 million, US Box Office: $3.5 million
In the annals of filmmaking, few movies reach the height of epic fiasco like "Heaven's Gate." This film -- about European cattle-rustlers, rich WASP ranch owners, and roller-skating (really) -- lost millions upon millions of dollars, destroyed the career of director Michael Cimino, and drove the hallowed United Artist studio out of business. It failed, and it failed big.
Photo by United Artist, Everett Collection
TOWN AND COUNTRY (2001)
Budget: $90 million, US Box Office: $6.7 million
What started as a light, frothy romantic comedy about married life -- starring Diane Keaton and Warren Beatty -- spiraled into one of the biggest money losers in the history of Hollywood. Production problems, scheduling issues, and constant script rewrites conspired to stretch the film's production time to almost three years, ballooning the budget to a size usually found in summer blockbusters.
Photo by New Line Cinema, Everett Collection
Budget: $44 million, US Box Office: $26 million
Though the box-office draw of "Cleopatra" was quite respectable, it paled next to its monstrous cost. Originally set to cost a mere $2 million, the film's budget soon spiraled out of control because of production delays, ailing actresses, and mythically lavish sets. Adjusted for inflation, the movie remains one of the most expensive flicks that ever graced the silver screen. The price tag proved to be so great that the production threatened to put 20th Century Fox out of business.
Photo by 20 Century Fox, Everett Collection
HUDSON HAWK (1991)
Budget: $65 million, US Box Office: $17 million
This overstuffed caper comedy dumped ice water on Bruce Willis' formerly red-hot career. Perhaps one of the reasons the film proved to be so expensive was that Willis -- who was increasingly sensitive over his thinning hair -- demanded that a special effects firm go through the film and airbrush out his bald spot.
Photo by TriStar, Everett Collection
CUTTHROAT ISLAND (1995)
Budget: $98 million, US Box Office: $10 million
Director Renny Harlin convinced Carolco Pictures that his then-wife Geena Davis could be turned into an action-adventure star for this swashbuckling pirate yarn. The problem was that Michael Douglas pulled out of the film in spite of a $15 million paycheck. The part was then offered to Keanu Reeves who turned it down. As did Tom Cruise, Daniel Day-Lewis, Jeff Bridges, Michael Keaton, Charlie Sheen, Liam Neeson, and Tim Robbins. In the end, Harlin settled for Matthew Modine, who did little to open the movie. "Cutthroat Island" proved to be one of the biggest box-office losses in history, derailing Geena Davis' career, and sinking Carolco Pictures.
Photo by MGM, Everett Collection
Budget: $55 million, US Box Office: $14 million
An example of how bad buzz can kill a movie. When the production for Elaine May's comedy -- about two lousy lounge singers who get caught up in Cold War politics -- ran over budget, negative anecdotes started getting leaked to the press. In spite of positive reviews from the "New York Times" among others, the media brouhaha over the film spiraled out of control. The film died at the box office and soon "Ishtar" became short-hand for box-office bomb.
Photo by Columbia, Everett Collection
THE ADVENTURES OF BARON MUNCHAUSEN (1988)
Budget: $47 million, US Box Office: $8 million
For a director whose career has been famously plagued with production fiasco, Terry Gilliam's "The Adventures of Baron Munchausen" stands out as being his most expensive flop. Dogged by lawsuits, duplicitous producers and furious financiers, the production dragged on at a snail's pace as the budget ballooned to gargantuan proportions. Though the film earned peanuts on its initial release, the film soon developed some serious legs on video and DVD.
Photo by Columbia Pictures, Everett Collection
HOWARD THE DUCK (1986)
Budget: $38 million, US Box Office: $16 million
Who would have thought that a movie about a cigar-chomping duck stuck in Cleveland would have been such a bomb? George Lucas produced this film which featured a budget as big as Lea Thompson's hair -- including a $2 million duck suit -- and more special effects than you can shake a stick at. Yet when the film came out, it was quickly and almost universally hailed as one of the worst films ever made.
Photo by Universal/Kobal, WireImage
THE POSTMAN (1997)
Budget: $80 million, US Box Office $17.6 million
In spite of the terrible press, Kevin Costner's Waterworld actually made money. "The Postman" -- dubbed "Dirtworld" by the crew -- most certainly didn't. It was slammed by critics as being a mawkish vanity project and it flopped at the box office. For better or worse, "The Postman" also derailed Costner's career as a director.
Photo by Warner Bros, Everett Collection
ZYZZYX ROAD (2005)
Budget: $2 million, US Box Office: $30 (Yes, you read that right.)
There are a lot of indie films that don't make money. But few can boast a box-office draw less than the cost of a tank of gas. To satisfy a Screen Actors Guild's requirement, director John Penney -- who was holding out for a DVD deal -- screened the flick in a Texas theater for a week where it earned a mere thirty bucks. The meager box-office draw landed the film in the "Guinness Book of Records" as the lowest grossing film of all time. To make matters worse, Penney had to return 1/3 of the gross, as two of the six paying ticket-goers were also crew members.
MEET DAVE (2008)
Budget: $60 million, US Box Office: $11.6 million
SPEED RACER (2008)
Budget: $120 million, US Box Office: $44 million
These two flicks are the biggest losers for the summer. While "Meet Dave" -- which was given almost no publicity by its studio -- lost more money in relation to its budget, "Speed Racer" -- which was hugely hyped but failed to find an audience -- lost more money overall. In either case, you probably won't be seeing any more movies about alien Eddie Murphy clones or lollipop-hued race car drivers in the near future.
Photo by 20th Century Fox/Warner Bros.
Source: Yahoo! Movies