Solo might have been the lowest-grossing Star Wars film, but these pics bombed harder.
With 2018 winding down, it’s time to start reflecting on the year that was, including the winners… and today’s focus, the losers at the box office. First, though, let’s set a few ground rules.
First off, the movies on this list have all opened in wide release, at least over 1,000 theaters nationwide, so while Gotti ($4.3 million worldwide, $10 million budget) would certainly be considered a bomb, it also only opened in 503 theaters. While it’s numbers are dismal, a movie like Gotti doesn’t have a wide enough release to have the potential to make blockbuster numbers anyway, so it doesn’t really make much sense to include a movie like Gotti here, as far as I’m concerned.
I’m also not including movies that technically ‘made money,’ even though I’m fully aware that movie math isn’t quite the same as traditional math. In the eyes of many, Solo: A Star Wars Story ($213.8 million domestic, $392.9 million worldwide, rumored $300 million budget) could be considered a “bomb,” especially since it’s the lowest-grossing movie in Star Wars history…even though it’s still the ninth highest-grossing movie domestically this year. The “budget” doesn’t include publicity and advertising, which Variety reported last year can cost anywhere between $20 million and $150 million for each movie, but isn’t a commonly reported figure. The production budget also doesn’t include first-dollar gross points paid out to actors, directors, producers and writers and a myriad of other costs, and the most common metric is that a movie needs to at least double its production budget to truly break even.
Still, I’m not including Solo, or Disney’s other two bombs this year – A Wrinkle In Time ($100.5 million domestic, $132.7 million worldwide, rumored budget $103 million) and The Nutcracker and the Four Realms ($51.1 million domestic, $138.9 million worldwide, $120 million budget) or other middling films like Pacific Rim Uprising ($59.6 million domestic, $290.5 million worldwide, $150 million budget), The Spy Who Dumped Me ($33.6 million domestic, $75.3 million worldwide, $40 million budget), 12 Strong ($45.5 million domestic, $67.1 million worldwide, $35 million budget), First Man ($44.7 million domestic, $99.9 million worldwide, $59 million budget), Sherlock Gnomes ($43.2 million domestic, $90.3 million worldwide, $59 million budget), The 15:17 to Paris ($36.3 million domestic, $57.1 million worldwide, $30 million budget), Alpha ($35.9 million domestic, $80.4 million worldwide, $51 million budget) and The Darkest Minds ($12.7 million domestic, $41.1 million worldwide, $34 million budget), simply because these next 15 films bombed so much harder.
So, without further ado, here are the biggest box office bombs of 2018:
- Production Budget: $100 million
- Box Office: $14 million domestic, $47.9 million foreign for $61.9 million worldwide (as of Dec. 30)
While this big-budget fantasy epic is just starting its run, with a horrendous $7.5 million opening, it likely won’t stick around in theaters too long, especially given this competitive holiday landscape this season. The Exhibitor Relations Twitter didn’t pull any punches, stating, “Catastrophe. Calamity. Full stop,” adding Mortal Engines has secured its place as the “biggest domestic flop of the year,” adding that it will be “lucky” to be in theaters by New Year’s Eve. Yikes. It seems using producer Peter Jackson’s name to lure people to theaters didn’t work, opening in 3,103 theaters and taking in a dismal $2,417 per-screen average. While the movie is based on a popular novel series, it won’t be the first adaptation of an iconic book that failed to translate the magic on the page to the big screen (e.g., Eragon, The Mortal Instruments, etc).
- Production Budget: $40 million
- Box Office: $32.7 million (domestic and worldwide)
While this sci-fi drama from star Natalie Portman and writer-director Alex Garland was critically acclaimed (80% on Rotten Tomatoes), it couldn’t find a groove with audiences. It opened with a decent $11 million from 2,012 theaters, but it fell off rather quickly and was yanked after just eight weeks in theaters. To be fair, it did open a week after the year’s still-reigning highest-grossing movie of the year, Marvel’s Black Panther ($700 million domestic, $1.3 billion worldwide), and it still came in ahead of Garland’s critically-acclaimed 2015 directing debut, Ex Machina ($27.1 million domestic, $36.9 million worldwide, $15 million budget), but perhaps the director would be wise to stick to the $15 million budget range since that seems more in his wheelhouse. Rather than follow through on their plan to release the film overseas in theaters, Paramount struck a deal for Netflix to stream it internationally instead.
White Boy Rick
- Production Budget: $29 million
- Box Office: $24 million (domestic and worldwide)
With the recent exception of the blockbuster IT, which became the highest-grossing horror movie ever, September isn’t exactly an ideal time to release any movie, including, apparently, White Boy Rick. The true story adaptation starring Matthew McConaughey and newcomer Richie Merritt as the title character, a teenage FBI informant in the 1980s, was also only in theaters for eight weeks, getting lost in the shuffle among more high-profile fare such as The Predator and A Simple Favor which both opened on the same weekend. Critics also weren’t terribly fond of White Boy Rick, with a 58% score just below being considered “Fresh.” Even if it would have opened in a different weekend, though, it still might not have fared quite as well.
The Happytime Murders
- Production Budget: $40 million
- Box Office: $20.7 million domestic, $6.8 million foreign for $27.5 million worldwide
While the filmmakers behind The Happytime Murders would have loved to ride on the coattails of R-rated hits like Deadpool, Logan and Get Out, to name a few, this raunchy puppet movie starring Melissa McCarthy couldn’t find an audience. This outlandish comedy, following McCarthy as a human cop investigating a string of grisly puppet killings, got some buzz after the first trailer debuted, but that fizzled quickly and it opened with a paltry $9.5 million, behind holdovers Crazy Rich Asians and The Meg. Critics weren’t terribly fond of the movie either, giving it a paltry 23% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While audiences are definitely embracing R-rated stories more than ever these days, it seems raunchy puppet sex and puppet murders actually crosses a line, of some sort.
Bad Times at the El Royale
- Production Budget: $32 million
- Box Office: $17.8 million domestic, $13.5 foreign for $31.4 million worldwide
Just based on the cast alone (Chris Hemsworth, Jeff Bridges, Dakota Johnson, rising star Cynthia Erivo), Bad Times at the El Royale had the potential to be a hit, but it instead followed the trajectory of writer-director Drew Goddard’s last directorial effort, 2012’s The Cabin in the Woods. Both were critically acclaimed (92% for Cabin, 74% for Bad Times), but both failed to make a big dent at the box office ($42.1 million domestic, $66.5 million worldwide total for Cabin). This twisty R-rated thriller about a group of strangers who come together at a mysterious hotel on the border of California and Nevada, also had the misfortune of opening a week after Venom and A Star Is Born, which both retained the top two spots in their second weekends. It also came in well under its opening weekend competitors First Man ($16 million) and Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween ($15.8 million).
- Production Budget: $24 million
- Box Office: $17.6 million (domestic and worldwide total)
This true story adaptation, about the hunt for a notorious Nazi war criminal 15 years after World War II, managed to leave both critics and moviegoers unimpressed. The film drummed up just a 56% rating from the nation’s critics on Rotten Tomatoes, and it couldn’t find a foothold among audiences. Operation Finale debuted fifth with $6 million in the busy Labor Day weekend, outshined by holdovers Crazy Rich Asians ($21.9 million in its third weekend), The Meg ($10.5 million in its fourth weekend), Mission: Impossible – Fallout ($7 million in its sixth weekend) and the expanding Searching ($6.06 million in its second weekend). The thriller starring Oscar Isaac and Ben Kingsley simply couldn’t recover from the dismal debut, putting up per-screen averages that were less than $1,000 in the last nine weeks of its 11-week run.
Welcome to Marwen
- Production Budget: $40-49 million (reportedly)
- Box Office: $7.8 million domestic (as of Dec. 30), no worldwide numbers yet
Universal’s Welcome to Marwen already fell outside the Top 10 in its second weekend in theaters, and its disastrous debut already solidified its place among the big bombs of 2018. Marwen opened to just $2.3 million in ninth place, with a dismal $1,232 per-screen average from 1,911 theaters. Universal is expected to lose about $50 million on the Robert Zemeckis-directed film. Despite an all-star cast with Steve Carell, Eiza Gonzalez, Leslie Mann, Jannelle Monae and Diane Kruger, audiences just didn’t connect with this drama, and neither did critics with just a 27% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It seems unlikely that this will even be in theaters much longer, and even though it didn’t have too big a budget to overcome, its disastrous opening guarantees its status as one of the biggest bombs of the year.
- Production Budget: $34 million
- Box Office: $17.3 million domestic, $591,151 foreign for $17.8 million worldwide
Chappaquiddick is one of the few on the list that was embraced by critics (82% on Rotten Tomatoes), and it’s possible that this prestige pic could have fared much better in the fall, than in its early April frame. While April isn’t often known to house blockbuster fare, the first weekend of April, where Chappaquiddick opened, did house one of this year’s surprise hits, A Quiet Place, which opened with $50.2 million, nearly tripling its $17 million budget in its first three days in theaters. Chappaquiddick was only released in 1,560 theaters (compared to the 3,508 of A Quiet Place), and it didn’t exactly make the most of that rollout, with a $3,936 per-screen average. This true story adaptation, which delves into the notorious incident when Ted Kennedy (Jason Clarke) drove his car off a bridge and the drowning of campaign aide Mary Jo Kopechne (Kate Mara), who was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
- Production Budget: $100 million
- Box Office: $30.5 million domestic, $42.7 million international for $73.3 million worldwide (as of Dec. 30)
Lionsgate’s Robin Hood is the only movie I’ve included on this list that hasn’t concluded its theatrical run yet, but it would require a true box office miracle to save it from bomb-dom. The last version of this iconic archer to hit the big screen was from Universal in 2010, starring Russell Crowe, which earned $105.3 million domestic and $321.7 million worldwide, but from a whopping $200 million budget. This time around, Lionsgate decided to go younger with Taron Egerton as the title character while slashing the budget in half. While its domestic failure might not be so shocking, given that it opened in seventh place with $9.2 million, over a busy Thanksgiving frame against Ralph Breaks the Internet ($56.2 million) and Creed II ($35.6 million), its low international debut almost certainly cements its bomb status, especially since there are no plans for a Chinese release date in the works.
- Production Budget: $15 million
- Box Office: $6.7 million domestic, $5.9 foreign for $12.6 million total worldwide
Despite an all-star cast that includes Jodie Foster, Dave Bautista, Sterling K. Brown and Jeff Goldblum, Hotel Artemis was doomed from the start. The Global Road action-thriller opened the same weekend as Ocean’s Eleven franchise spin-off Ocean’s Eight ($41.6 million) and the surprise horror hit Hereditary ($13.6 million), with Hotel Artemis debuting in eighth place with $3.2 million. This one, following a doctor (Jodie Foster) who runs a members-only facility that patches up criminals,didn’t get much help from critics either, with a 57% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but with a rollout in just 2,407 theaters, posting a dreadful $1,343 per-screen average, it simply was in no position to give any of its competitors a serious run for its money, with its theatrical run ending after just six weeks.
The Hurricane Heist
- Production Budget: $35 million
- Box Office: $6.1 million (domestic and worldwide)
You may have noticed by now that many of these movies don’t have any international box office data, which isn’t surprising considering movies like White Boy Rick and The Hurricane Heist are such inherently American stories there just isn’t any demand for them across the pond. The Hurricane Heist is about as brazenly American as stories come, with a group of criminals planning the heist of a U.S. Mint facility as a Category 5 hurricane approaches. Toby Kebbell, Maggie Grace and Ryan Kwanten lead the cast for director Rob Cohen, who started The Fast and the Furious franchise back in 2001, but he couldn’t replicate the same kind of success that franchise has had with this action-thriller.
- Production Budget: $19 million
- Box Office: $5.1 million (domestic and worldwide)
While all of the Jackass movies have been modest hits with miniscule budgets, Action Point’s blend of Jackass-style stunts and star Johnny Knoxville leading a narrative story just didn’t work out. The story follows a renegade daredevil who designs a hard-knocks theme park with his friends, with Knoxville joined by another Jackass alum, Chris Pontius. It opened in ninth place with $2.4 million with a horrible $1,176 per-screen average from 2,032 theaters. It was even beaten, handily I might add, by another low-budget newcomer, Upgrade, which earned $4.7 million from 1,457 theaters for a $3,206 per-screen average. While this may have done better as a traditional, non-narrative Jackass movie, we’ll never know for sure.
- Production Budget: $30 million
- Box Office: $5.7 million domestic, $4.3 foreign for $10 million worldwide
Kin was another victim of the always-dreadful Labor Day weekend, traditionally considered one of the worst weekends of the year at the domestic box office, marking the end of the summer movie season. Despite opening in 2,141 theaters (a higher count than three films in the top 10 that weekend), Kin debuted in 12th place with just over $3 million, getting knocked out of theaters in just four short weeks. The cast was filled with a mixture of rising stars (Myles Truitt, Jack Reynor) and established actors (Dennis Quaid, James Franco), audiences and critics alike (31% rating on Rotten Tomatoes) couldn’t connect with Kin. The futuristic sci-fi thriller follows an ex-con (Reynor) and his adopted teenage brother (Truitt) who go on the run after finding a mysterious weapon of unknown origin. Despite a high-concept premise and a talented cast, the film, with little to no promotion and debuting in the worst weekend possible, was ultimately dead on arrival.
- Production Budget: $10 million
- Box Office: $4.1 million domestic, $1.1 million foreign for $5 million worldwide
This one made headlines after writer-director Dan Fogleman, creator of the hit NBC series This Is Us, clapped back at critics for bashing the movie, which got just a 13% rating on RT. Whether the critics were right or not, Life Itself was stillborn at the box office, debuting in 11th place with $2.1 million. The drama debuted in 2,609 theaters, a higher count than four other movies in the top 10, but its absolutely atrocious $814 per-screen average is the worst for a movie in wide release all year. It was yanked from theaters after just three weeks, dropping 69% in its second weekend and 94.2% in its third weekend after shedding 2,113 theaters. Surprisingly, they brought it back to theaters with a four-theater rollout in late October, where it earned just $1,064 for a $266 per-screen average, dropping to two theaters in the first weekend of November with $125, a $63 per-screen average. It’s usually never a good sign when you can’t even make a $10 million budget back.
Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero
- Production Budget: $25 million
- Box Office: $3.8 million (domestic and worldwide)
Like the previous entry Life Itself, the animated family movie Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero had the not-great distinction of never having a per-screen average over $1,000 throughout its run. Also like Life Itself, the studio pulled it from theaters, only to try again with a limited run a few months later, which, like Life Itself, didn’t work. Sgt. Stubby opened in 16th place with $1.1 million from 1,633 theaters, for a horrible $713 per-screen average. While it didn’t help that Rampage debuted in first place with $35.8 million that weekend, or that A Quiet Place dropped just 34% in second place, Stubby would have likely had this bad a weekend no matter when it opened. And it also doesn’t help that there was no international rollout as well.
The Sisters Brothers
- Production Budget: $38 million
- Box Office: $3.1 million domestic and worldwide
The final bomb on our list, the R-rated Western The Sisters Brothers from Annapurna Pictures, actually started out in rather good shape, with a strong limited debut and glowing reviews (85% on Rotten Tomatoes). The movie starring John C. Reilly as Eli Sisters and Joaquin Phoenix as Charlie Sisters, debuted in September with $115,575 from four theaters, for a strong $28,894 per-screen average. It continued to put up strong numbers while expanding slightly to 27 theaters in its second frame, 54 theaters in its third weekend and 129 theaters in its fourth, but when it expanded to 1,141 theaters in its fifth frame, in October, the bottom fell out. It earned $757,975 from 1,141 theaters for just a measly $664 per-screen average. The next four weekends it suffered drops of 63.3%, 76.1%, 58.1% and 76.5% before it was put out of its misery after roughly 10 weeks.
For more movies coverage, find out what the Top 10 box office hits of 2018 were, check out our predictions for the biggest hits of 2019, read up on what our best reviewed and worst reviewed movies of 2018 were, and dive into our 2019 movie preview.