What Were the Biggest "Flops" of the Year?

What Were the Biggest "Flops" of the Year?

Dec 27, 2011

In movie terminology, a "flop" is a film that loses money -- usually a lot of it. I offer this somewhat obvious clarification because I often see people on the twitter using "flop" to describe a film generally accepted as terrible. And while we can all agree that Transformers 2 (and 3) (and probably 1) are all terrible films, they've each made a bajillion dollars. That's an actual figure. But thanks to The Hollywood Reporter, we can now point to about 15 flicks that fared pretty poorly at the box office.

As THR semi-explains, it's not nearly enough for a film's alleged budget to match its reported box office haul. When you consider the profit share with the exhibitors, the back-end deals, and the outrageous costs of "prints," advertising, and marketing, a film needs to "make" about 2.5 times its budget to break even. Yeah, it's a tough business. We'll save some of the surprises for the THR piece (it was their idea first), but here are a few relative surprises:

Green Lantern -- There were four big superhero movies last summer, and one was obviously bound to finish "last." THR puts the Green Lantern budget at $200 million, but that seems a rather low estimate, and the film has barely grossed $220 million worldwide. Here's hoping the sequel turns out a little less messy (I didn't hate this movie) and we focus a little less on the budget.

Cowboys & Aliens -- There are always a few big-big-budget casualties each summer, and unfortunately this one seemed semi-doomed from the start. Sci-fi westerns might work well for Joss Whedon, but they rarely (if ever) translate into big box office. Tonally askew and not all that much fun as a whole, C&A didn't earn much in the "word of mouth" department, and ended up with about $180 million worldwide on a budget slightly lower (?) than that.

Conan the Barbarian -- Apparently I'm the only movie nut who had a good time with this unnecessary but amusing revisit with everyone's favorite sword-swinger. I certainly didn't expect this flick to be a smash hit, but less than $50 million worldwide on a budget of about $90 million? Ouch.

Somehow The Big Year, starring Owen Wilson, Steve Martin, and Jack Black cost over $40 million to produce. So far it has made about $8 million worldwide. Yikes.

Are sequels in trouble? Probably not. But Happy Feet 2 made about $115 million worldwide -- after the first movie made $384 million.

Are remakes in trouble? The Thing made about $28 million. (Still, probably not.)

For the rest of the leading money-losers, check out the full article here. They don't mention the ridiculously disappointing numbers for Warrior, but there's a movie that deserved better than $23 million worldwide. And yowch, check out the numbers on the #1 title.

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