Our Ten’s Lists: Biggest Flops of 2016
With (at least) one flop already in the bag for 2017, we take a look at all the movies in 2016 that whiffed hard at the box office.
The definition of a Hollywood flop has been in flux recently. With many movies getting a second life in international (read: Chinese) theaters, a bad opening in the US has not been the kiss of death it used to be. Reporting a movie’s demise used to be fairly easy: if it didn’t make a bunch of money on the opening week, or if it had a short US run, you could pronounce that movie dead. Now you have to wait months if not longer before a coroner will even touch a film. Some “flop” movies (cough*WarCraft*cough) even end up being near-blockbusters thanks to the foreign infusion of cash.
The final hurdle is that a movie’s production costs are the only costs that you can usually find a firm number for. While the cost is usually secreted away in seprerate studio accounting, massively rising ad costs mean a movie that on its face looked healthy could actually be a dead man walking. The number I kept seeing was that in 2007, a blockbuster movie (anything costing more than 100 Million to make) was costing about 40 million to market. Some estimates have worldwide marketing these days anywhere from 100 to 200 Million! Total marketing scales inversely to the total cost, however. Blockbusters generally add around 50% to the budget, while indie films see marketing at rates around 150% of their budget.
That being said, many sources came out with their lists of the biggest flops of 2016. Some figured in foreign takes, others did not. A few tried to estimate non-production costs with various formulae. Others even let critical success tint the picture. I’m going with the Wikipedia, The Numbers, and Box Office Mojo estimates to get a chimera.
We give you: Ten flops, how hard they flopped in the US vs. International theaters, and commentary on how much joy their flopping gave me!
Biggest Flops of 2016
All Totals are in US Dollars. Marketing wasn’t added into the budget, but moderate guesstimates were assumed when assigning rank.
Full-on Belly Flops.
10. Pop Star: Never Stop Never Stopping
Domestic: 9.6 Million. Total:??? Million. Budget: 20 Million (we think?)
We start this list off with an enigma. No, not why this movie was even made, although that’s a fair question too. I can’t find any foreign data for this film. The only site that has a production budget listed was IMDB and even they wouldn’t even commit to a firm number. What we do know for certain is that this movie sucks. Andy Samberg and his friends from the Lonely Island are very funny in very small doses. Pop Star was an overdose. The pathetic kind where they find you on the toilet.
9. The Huntsman: Winter’s War
Domestic: 48.4. Total: 165 Million. Budget: 115 Million.
This movie cleared it’s production budget, but definitely slammed face first into it’s marketing costs. Even with the generous 2007 marketing budget estimate of 40 Million this movie barely treads water. I can’t imagine them trotting out a third movie for what might only be a few million dollars profit. Sorry Chris #2, but consider this Hunter officially retired.
Domestic: 40 Million. Total: 119.5 Million. Budget: 85 Million.
I haven’t sworn yet in this article, so let me assure my readers that this isn’t a ghost writer by telling you about a phenomenon called Bitch Eating Crackers. BEC is where you find someone so annoying that even the normal, not annoying things they do get you upset. Such as eating the eponymous crackers. I’m that way with Marion Cotillard. Something about her ticked me off in Inception. The Dark Knight Rises added to it. Now I can’t see her smile without wishing her ill. Add a Brad Pitt that looks like he’s decided to phone it in from here on out and just do “smug military guy”, and I’m thoroughly thrilled this movie tanked.
7. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.
Domestic: 10.9 Million. Total: 16.3 Million. Budget: 28 Million.
Talk about snake bit. China has some funky standards regarding the dead and their use in film. Being a culture very concerned with filial piety, I guess I can kinda get it. As such, this movie was straight up banned in China. The same happened to Ghostbusters, but they at least had the UK/Japan/US trifecta helping them. P&P&Z did not. It decided to release on the week of the SUPERB*WL, guaranteeing it was going to be roundly ignored in the states. Being based on a book that was a viral marketing phenom wasn’t enough to get anyone to care, and this film went to its grave “unhous’led, disappointed, unanel’d, no reckoning made”.
6. The Brother’s Grimsby.
Domestic: 6.9 Million. Total: 25.2 Million. Budget: 35 Million.
I can’t explain Sacha Baron Cohen. In the beginning that was good. His unpredictability was his calling card, a modern day Andy Kaufman. Just raunchier. I actually liked Borat. I can’t say I’ve liked anything else he’s done since. He seems to notice that he was being lined up as a one trick (Punk’d meets Jackass) pony, and has branched out. I think it’s smart he tried to avoid the pitfall that shelves many comedians. But I still don’t know what he is, and I’ve tired of chewing on this mystery meat.
5. God’s of Egypt.
Domestic: 31.2 Million. Total: 150.7 Million. Budget: 140 Million.
Good… Good! Let the schadenfreude flow through you! We are now into the section of the list where I’m positively giddy that these turds got flushed. While the Grimsbys might have lost money outright, I’m positive this movie made their marketing outlay look like pocket change. They constantly rubbed this movie in my face. On the internet. At the theater. On YouTube. I’m surprised it didn’t preempt my porn playlist. To experience this movie streaking at me like the Flaming Guitar Doof only to immediately drive off a cliff felt good. It felt right.
4. Deepwater Horizon.
Domestic: 61.4 Million. Total: 121.1 Million. Budget: 110 Million.
Yay! Two things I’m sick to death of. Jingoist tales of American Exceptionalism and Marky Mark. Depp, Pitt and Wahlberg all started out as actors I really liked. They’ve all burnt up that good will by becoming the acting equivalents of Coca-Cola. Same flavor every movie, just a different design on the can. You can do better than this, Melvin J. Smiley!
Domestic: 26.4 Million. Total: 94 Million. Budget: 100 Million.
This movie tried to have all the spectacle of the original, but none of the fun. There’s a difference between pathos and being a bunch of brooding dicks, folks. This movie reminds me less of the Charlton Heston original and more of The Fall of the Roman Empire, a 1964 sword and sandal fiasco that lost the 60’s equivalent of 100 million dollars.
2. The Finest Hours.
Domestic: 27.5 Million. Total: 52.1 Million. Budget: 70 Million.
OK, enough of the shade. We finish up on to two odd ducks. First up is The Finest Hours, a Disney live action epic about a daring high seas rescue. Purposefully written and directed to resemble old school disaster movies (like The Poseidon Adventure), it ended up being a financial disaster instead. It got average critical and movie-goer responses, but ran into Jack Black’s wushu buzzsaw when it released on the same day as Kung-Fu Panda 3.
1. Monster Trucks.
Domestic: 33.4 Million. Total: 64.5 Million. Budget: 125 Million.
I can’t think of a single reason why this film should exist. Film-goers (and Neil) agreed. What about an alien possessed truck stopping some generic robber baron got movie execs salivating? This movie flopped so hard that I didn’t even have to do the marketing math to crown this movie King of Shit Island. The King is dead, long live the King (at a Redbox, knowing my luck)!
Dishonorable Mentions: Saved By China.
Alice Through the Looking Glass.
Domestic: 77 Million. Total: 299.5 Million. Budget: 170 Million.
Man, did I want this movie to show up further down. I am so over Johnny Depp’s shtick. The movie isn’t even ostensibly about his dumb character! While American audiences seemed to feel me, China has yet to inoculate itself from Deppitis. Maybe they will by Pirates of the Caribbean 12.
- TMNT: Out of the Shadows.
Domestic. 82 Million. Total: 245.6 Million. Budget: 135 Million.
I’m rather ambivalent about this film. I’m glad it has a solid chance of killing the franchise, but it’s a shame that they might have started to figure out what kind of Ninja Turtles stories they wanted to tell just as the viewers gave up on them. Seeing as this film got a bump draft from China that barely put them in the black (I’d assume that 100 million on marketing would be a realistic guess, anything less would be generous), these turtles may be toast.
The UK and Japan Answer the Call.
Ghostbusters: Answer the Call.
Domestic: 128.4 Million. Total: 229.1 Million. Budget: 144 Million.
OK, I’m going to go out on a limb here. Here’s the hypothesis: If your country enjoys giant monsters destroying your biggest cities, you loved Ghostbusters. Between Godzilla’s dual Japanese/American citizenship and the UK’s infamous clock climbing ape, a tale that boils down to a kaiju-scale Marshmallow whomping buildings is just what the Doctors of paranormal phenomenon ordered.