Arts & Entertainment

The Biggest Summer Box Office Bombs of All Time

Belly flops
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As much as they pretend they do, massive Hollywood studios don't have a crystal ball. At the top, the movie business is just a bunch of suits sitting in a room thinking they know what people want. And history will show us that they have no idea a lot of the time. A remake of The Lone Ranger with Johnny Depp as Tonto? A $120-million live-action Speed Racer? A movie called R.I.P.D.? Turns out moviegoers didn't want any of these films. Summer movies are a time for big hits and big misses, and these are some of the season's biggest box-office flops.

The 13th Warrior (August 27, 1999)

Budget: $85-$160 million

Box Office: $61.7 million

Historically, films based on Michael Crichton novels are a pretty big success. That wasn’t the case here in The 13th Warrior, which unfortunately cast Antonio Banderas as a legendary Muslim wanderer Ahmad ibn Fadlan. The film did so badly, in fact, that Omar Sharif briefly retired from acting.

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Titan A.E. (June 16, 2000)

Budget: $75-$90 million

Box Office: $36.8 million

After a disastrous production, which included the closing of Fox Animation and firings and a mismanagement of budget, Titan A.E. was eventually released on June 16, 2000, two years after production began.

The Adventures of Pluto Nash (August 16, 2002)

Budget: $100 million

Box Office: $7.1 million

Among the biggest box office bombs in history, Nash stars Eddie Murphy as a club owner on the moon. Fittingly, it’s also considered one of the worst films of this century.

Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas (July 2, 2003)

Budget: $60 million

Box Office: $80.7 million

In some very unfortunate casting, Sinbad filmmakers cast Brad Pitt as a Middle Eastern character despite his Midwestern accent. Even though Pitt was worried his accent wouldn’t fit, the filmmakers insisted that his voice would lighten the mood. Oof.

Stealth (July 29, 2005)

Budget: $135 million

Box Office: $76.9 million

A movie so stealthy no one even saw it. Stealth stars Josh Lucas, Jamie Foxx, and Jessica Biel as fighter pilots who must fight a haywire jet that’s going to start WWIII.

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Speed Racer (May 9, 2008)

Budget: $120 million
Box Office: $93.9 million

In their first follow-up to the Matrix trilogy, the Wachowski siblings went absolutely bonkers with their budget on Speed Racer. The dizzying effects and the hallucinatory colors weren’t enough to save a movie that baffled critics and audiences alike.

R.I.P.D. (July 19, 2013)

Budget: $130 million

Box Office: $78.3 million

As its title would suggest, R.I.P.D. is about the “Rest In Peace Department,” law enforcement officers who are…dead. Not even Ryan Reynolds and Jeff Bridges were enough to save a supremely stupid premise and title.

The Lone Ranger (June 22, 2013)

Budget: $225 million

Box Office: $260 million

Though Johnny Depp and producer Jerry Bruckheimer tried to blame this flop on abysmal early critic reviews, but it might be because the many accusations of whitewashing for casting Johnny Depp as Tonto.

Ben-Hur (August 19, 2016)

Budget: $100 million

Box Office: $94.1 million

Thanks to bad reviews, shitty marketing, and a changed release date, this remake of Ben-Hur never caught on outside of its core Christian audience. That is unfortunate for MGM, who dumped an insane amount of money into a troubled production which included a 45-day shoot for a 10-minute chariot scene that was moved to a studio after Rome refused to allow filming in the colosseum.

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King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (May 8, 2017)

Budget: $175 million

Box Office: $148.7 million

Originally, Warner Bros. envisioned King Arthur: Legend of the Sword to be a cinematic universe similar to Marvel’s Avengers. But thanks to a troubled production and bad marketing, the film flopped and ideas for the shared universe were immediately dropped. Probably a good call.

This story originally appeared on Esquire.com.

* Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.

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Matt Miller
Matt Miller is the Associate Culture Editor for Esquire.com
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