20 Successful Movies That Didn’t Do Well When They Were Released

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Various factors contribute to a film’s financial success, including the production budget, marketing and distribution costs, and gross box office revenue. Despite all those factors, it’s still impossible to predict when a movie will do well, and when it’s going to flop.

Besides that, some really great films were actually failures at the box office to begin with. So stay tuned; we might just name some of your favorite movies here!

Here is a look at some of the biggest box office bombs of all time. When comparing box office earnings, we adjusted all revenue loss for inflation. Earnings were calculated according to information gathered from Box Office Mojo by IMDb.

1. Wonder Woman 1984 (2020)

Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

Following the success of Wonder Woman (2017), Wonder Woman 1984 follows the superhero of the same name from the DC comics. The film grossed around $170 million at the worldwide box office against a production budget of around $200 million. Factoring in marketing and distribution fees, The Hollywood Reporter estimated that Wonder Woman 1984 lost more than $100 million. However, the movie was released amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which may have contributed to the film’s failure (McClintock, 2021).

Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures, DC Films

2. Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (2001)

Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures.

Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within follows several scientists fighting to save the world from an alien race threatening to overtake the planet. Their only weapon is a cannon that could take out most of Earth’s population as well. But then, one of them discovers that there may just be another way forward. Overall, the movie cost around $137 million to make. When adjusted for inflation, it lost an equivalent of $155 million in today’s earnings.

Studio: Columbia Pictures, Square Pictures

3. Dark Phoenix (2019)

Photo Credit: Marvel Entertainment.

Set within the X-men universe, Dark Phoenix follows Jean Grey after she gets hit in the head by a cosmic blast, causing her to relive past traumas. At the same time, her telekinetic powers begin to increase beyond her ability to control them. If she could manage her telekinesis, she’d be powerful beyond what anyone can imagine, but as long as she’s reliving old traumas, her strengths remain her weaknesses. While grossing $252.4 million worldwide, the film is still estimated to have lost the studio $133 million after production, marketing, and distribution costs.

Studio: 20th Century Fox, Marvel Entertainment

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4. The Adventures of Pluto Nash (2002)

Photo Credit: Castle Rock Entertainment.

The Adventures of Pluto Nash is a unique film about a casino and club in space. When an unknown businessman and his henchmen want to buy it, they’ll stop at nothing in their attempt to defeat the owner. This film stars Eddie Murphy, and had an estimated budget of around $100 million. However, the movie only grossed $7.1 million at the box office, which critics attribute to poor direction and audiences’ general disinterest in sci-fi comedies.

Studio: Castle Rock Entertainment, Village Roadshow Pictures

5. Mulan (2020)

Photo Credit: Walt Disney Pictures.

Mulan (2020) is a live-action remake of the original animated movie released in 1998. With a budget of $200 million, Mulan only grossed $69.9 million at the box office. While this could be another result of the pandemic, or of a musical being remade without any of the songs, it could also be indicative of society’s attitude towards remakes overall.

Studio: Walt Disney Pictures

6. Jungle Cruise (2021)

Photo Credit: Walt Disney Pictures.

Starring Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt, Jungle Cruise, based on the popular Disney theme park ride, follows travelers as they venture on a riverboat throughout the jungle. The film took over $200 million to make – and another $100 million to market – and is among the top four biggest Disney movie flops of all time. This list also includes Turning Red, Mars Needs Moms, and Mulan.

Studio: Walt Disney Pictures

7. Turning Red (2022)

Photo Credit: Walt Disney Pictures.

Turning Red follows a 13-year-old girl searching for independence during a tumultuous adolescence. Upon its initial release during the COVID-19 pandemic, Turning Red was put directly onto Disney+. However, the film was re-released in 2024 and only grossed about $1.4 million upon its theatrical release. It is estimated to have lost around $168 million.

Studio: Walt Disney Pictures, Pixar Animation Studios

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8. Titan A.E. (2000)

Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox.

Titan A.E. is a sci-fi film that combines traditional animation with CGI. After Earth is defeated by aliens, it’s up to a young man and his friends to find humanity a new home. It reportedly cost Fox around $80 million to make. Upon release, the film grossed $36.8 million worldwide, resulting in an estimated loss of $170 million for the studio.

Studio: 20th Century Fox, Fox Animation Studios

9. King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (2017)

Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

This movie, which depicts Arthur’s rise from poverty to his journey to reclaim his family’s throne, had an estimated production budget of $175 million. This film was initially meant to be a six-movie series, but after the first one flopped, the later movies were all canceled. When factoring in all expenses, Deadline Hollywood estimated that King Arthur: Legend of the Sword lost about $153.2 million.

Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures

10. Tomorrowland (2015)

Photo Credit: Walt Disney Pictures.

Starring George Clooney and Britt Robertson, Tomorrowland follows a scientist named Frank Walker and a girl named Casey Newton as they venture to Tomorrowland to uncover the mysterious secrets of the alternate universe. This other universe also seems to be a place where the future of earth can be dreamed of and planned for, but there are still real-world consequences. The film reportedly cost $280 million to produce and market and lost between $120 and $150 million upon its release.

Studio: Walt Disney Pictures

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11. Pan (2015)

Photo Credit: Berlanti Productions.

Based on the popular children’s story Peter Pan, Pan is a film about the origins of Peter Pan, Captain Hook and the Lost Boys, among others. Half human and half fairy, Peter realizes he may be able to unite the fairy world against the evil pirate Blackbeard. The film cost an estimated $275 million to make and market. The film’s loss is believed to be between $130 and $150 million.

Studio: Berlanti Productions

12. Mars Needs Moms (2011)

Photo Credit: Walt Disney Pictures.

Mars Needs Moms centers on 9-year-old Milo, who ventures to Mars to rescue his mom after aliens abduct her. The Martians are beginning to question their own decision to raise their children under the care of robotic nannys, who are unable to show love. Milo and his mother are desperate to get home, but the Martians are eager to learn what makes the mother-and-son duo so unique. The film lost an estimated $144 million and is deemed one of the worst financial losses for any Disney production ever.

Studio: Walt Disney Pictures

13. Battleship (2012)

Photo Credit: Hasbro Studios, LLC.

Based on the board game of the same name, Battleship centers on the U.S. Navy and Japanese military as they work together to stop invading alien forces threatening to overtake the planet. Alex Hopper is a delinquent sailor about to face disciplinary action when his ship is attacked, and after several others are killed, he’s suddenly the highest ranking sailor on board, and finds himself not only in command of a ship, but of a fight to destroy the aliens. With a production budget of $209 million, The Hollywood Reporter estimated the studio lost around $150 million on this movie.

Studio: Hasbro Studios, LLC

14. Strange World (2022)

Photo Credit: Walt Disney Pictures.

A Disney animation film, Strange World follows a family of explorers attempting to save the world from a mysterious ecological threat. Along they way, they face the challenges of differing opinions and ideologies which threaten their family unity. But eventually, larger questions arise: what is the ecological threat? What, in fact, is the world? With an estimated loss of $197 million, this movie was deemed the worst box office loss of 2022.

Studio: Walt Disney Pictures, Walt Disney Animation Studios

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15. Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas (2003)

Photo Credit: Dreamworks Pictures.

Released in 2003, Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas reportedly lost $199 million in today’s earnings. Starring Brad Pitt, Michelle Pfieffer, and Catherine Zeta-Jones, the movie focuses on a sailor named Sinbad, who must return the Book of Peace to the goddess, Eris. According to one critic, the lack of success of Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas could be attributed to a general tonal disconnect between audiences and studio executives meddling in the film’s distribution and release (Radulovic, 2020).

Studio: DreamWorks Pictures

16. Cutthroat Island (1995)

Photo Credit: Carolco Entertainment.

In Cutthroat Island, two pirates race against the clock to find hidden treasure on a deserted island before others. The island is only to be found by a map, split into three pieces and distributed amongst three brothers. As Morgan acquires one piece of the map after another, she’s beset with betrayal, mutiny, and even romance. According to IMDb, Cutthroat Island is one of the biggest box office bombs of all time, with a reported loss of approximately $202 million (when adjusted for inflation).

Studio: Carolco Pictures

17. Mortal Engines (2018)

Photo Credit: Universal Pictures.

After its release in 2018, Mortal Engines lost Universal an estimated $175 million. This futuristic sci-fi depicts a post-apocalyptic world where cities on wheels fight against each other for survival. Weapons range from small and minimal to literally earth-shattering, and characters Hester and Tom will have to confront  a villain who’s willing to compromise an entire city of millions in his attempt to conquer other civilizations. Despite the unique concept, this film missed its mark with audiences.

Studio: Universal Pictures

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18. The 13th Warrior (1999)

Photo Credit: Touchstone Stone Pictures.

Starring Antonio Banderas, The 13th Warrior was the biggest box office bomb of 1999, despite being based on a Michael Crichton book. The movie lost $129 million, and many critics cited its thin plot as the reason why. The film follows Ahmad, who is sent away from his native city of Baghdad as an ambassador to the Vikings. He is forced to join them on a quest with twelve other warriors, and after their victory, he simply returns to his own home. 

Studio: Touchstone Pictures

19. The Lone Ranger (2013)

Photo Credit: Walt Disney Pictures.

A western starring Johnny Depp, Armie Hammer, and Helena Bonham Carter, The Lone Ranger is full of wild-west antics, like train fights, large deposits of silver, betrayals, kidnappings, and rescues. And of course, the lone ranger. lost an estimated $190 million after its release in 2013. During its opening weekend, many critics began comparing the movie to that of John Carter, which had flopped at the box office the previous year.

Studio: Walt Disney Pictures, Jerry Bruckheimer Films

20. John Carter (2012)

Photo Credit: Walt Disney Pictures.

John Carter carries a little bit of controversy with it. It wasn’t successful at the box office, but it did develop a bit of a cult following after its release. This film tells the story of a man who was buried in a tomb that could only be opened from the inside. In a flashback, it’s revealed that he traveled to Mars by accident several years before his death, and fell in love with a Martian woman. But in order to stay on mars, he had to complete a mission on Earth, and now that mission is almost complete… With over $200 million lost, John Carter is one of the biggest box office bombs of all time. At an estimated $350 million, it is also one of the most expensive movies ever made, resulting in the film needing to gain high enough revenue to break even (which did not happen).

Studio: Walt Disney Pictures

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Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

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