The Biggest Box-Office Flops

Maddie Dinnage

Despite its blindingly star-studded cast and $80 million budget, historical drama-comedy Amsterdam faces some rather ego-crushing reviews at the box office and stands to lose $60 million after a disappointing opening weekend. Audiences worldwide seem to agree that the highly anticipated feature film, directed and written by David O. Russell, falls short of its potential, with many remarking that the convoluted plot is hard to follow. This is by no means the first time in Hollywood history that a highly awaited film has failed to live up to its hype. Maddie Dinnage looks back at some of the biggest box office bombs.

  1. Cats (2019) – estimated $24.5 million loss

This cinematic adaption, based on the Tony award-winning musical of the same name, failed to impress audiences with its interesting use of special effects. Even with an all-star cast of the biggest names in film and music, including Taylor Swift, Dame Judi Dench and Idris Elba, fans were left disturbed by the CGI cat outfits, with twitter users joking that this “cursed” adaption triggered the Covid-19 pandemic.

  1. West Side Story (2021) – estimated $27 million loss

Fans weren’t exactly singing their praises for this Steven Spielberg adaption of the beloved Broadway musical. The romantic drama starring Ansel Elgort and Rachel Zegler managed to nab seven Oscar nominations, but couldn’t seem to dance its way into the hearts of audiences. It’s important to note the existing sexual-assault allegations made against Elgort by a seventeen-year-old girl in 2020. Perhaps these accusations are a partial explanation for audience’s reluctance to support the film.

  1. Mars Needs Moms (2011) – estimated $110.5 million loss

This animated feature film met backlash upon its release due to its use of motion capture technology, a lesser-used means of animation at this time which enables characters to move with a life-like fluidity. Many audience members deemed this effect creepy, with one News of the World critic quipping that “Mars needs to work out how to animate humans so they don’t look like possessed shop window dummies”. Perhaps Mars Needs Moms would receive a warmer response from today’s audiences, as motion capture technology accounts for a majority of modern 3D animations.

Are theatres dying a death at the hands of streaming services?

  1. The Suicide Squad (2021) – estimated $120 million loss

Considered a victim of the pandemic era of cinema, this reboot of the 2016 supervillain film Suicide Squad fell very short of the success acquired by its predecessor. Perhaps this underwhelming response is resultant of Warner Bros. decision to stream the film on HBO Max alongside its theatre release. Are theatres dying a death at the hands of streaming services? Or are audiences just confused about the relevance of this movie in relation to the original?

  1. Mulan (2020) – estimated $140.8 million loss

Many of Disney’s most recent projects involve the live-action adaption of beloved animated classics. Successful examples of these modern remakes include The Lion King (2019), Maleficent (2014), and Beauty and the Beast (2017).

Among those which have fallen short of expectations is Mulan, which features the story of Hua Mulan, a courageous young girl who disguises herself as a man and takes her father’s place in the army. There are many possible reasons as to why this film was met with such a mediocre response. Initial plans for a 2020 theatre release were cancelled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which lead to its subsequent release on Disney+. Additionally, the film’s lead actor Liu Yifei garnered overwhelmingly negative criticism following her declaration of support for the police during Hong Kong’s anti-police brutality protests of 2019. Twitter users worldwide took to the social media platform to speak out against Yifei’s comments, hence causing the #BoycottMulan trend. Critics also took issue with the film’s offensive, whitewashed, cultural inaccuracies, which left Chinese audiences feeling misrepresented and disrespected. It is also important to note the racist, xenophobic discourse that was extremely prevalent during the time of the film’s release, of which portrayed Chinese people as being responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic.

Could this be further evidence that we should just leave the classics alone? 

  1. The Matrix Resurrections (2021) – estimated $133.79 million loss

It’s perhaps unsurprising to see a sequel on this list, as most sequels fail to compare to the original, especially when attempting to replicate the success of one of the biggest movies of all time. Not even a sense of nostalgia was enough to resurrect a positive response. It must be noted that this latest instalment arrives eighteen years after what was believed to be the third and final Matrix film. Could this be further evidence that we should just leave the classics alone?

  1. Biggest Flop of all Time! – John Carter (2012) – estimated $200 million loss

Taking the top spot is Disney’s John Carter, a perfect example of a project which possessed all the components necessary to create a masterpiece but nonetheless failed upon execution. Alongside an impressive cast, renowned director Andrew Stanton took on the role of bringing this sci-fi action-adventure to life. With a promising total budget of $306.6 million, this film was seemingly headed for the Disney hall of fame. However, critics and viewers alike agreed upon their overall disappointment, resulting in a $200 million loss. Well, at least it’ll be remembered for being the greatest money loser?

Maddie Dinnage

Featured image courtesy of Denise Jans via Unsplash. Image license found here. No changes were made to this image. 

In article trailer 1 courtesy of Rotten Tomatoes Trailers via youtube.com. No changes were made to this video. 

In article trailer 2 courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures via youtube.com. No changes were made to this video. 

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