2017 is officially half over and while some movies like Logan, Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2, Get Out and Wonder Woman (See a theme?) have done amazingly well at the North American box office, others have not. While the domestic box office isn’t as important as it used to be, it can still be used to determine whether or not a film ends up getting a sequel, even if it does well enough internationally. So, while a few films on this list were “saved” by the international box office, at least in terms of recouping the production and perhaps marketing budget(s), they still vastly underperformed and were gigantic disappointments. But, that’s the film industry for you and it goes to show you why they’ve latched onto properties like the above mentioned comic book films and sequels in general. When there’s a built-in audience there’s less chance that the film will bomb. So while there’s no sure thing in Hollywood (outside of the films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe), it’s about as close as you can get. With that said, here are the 10 biggest box office bombs of 2017… So Far…
Katherine Heigl seemed like Hollywood’s next big star after she landed a role in 2007’s Knocked Up, after Anne Hathaway jumped ship as she disagreed with one of the scenes in the movie (guess which one?). The film was a box office success and after leaving Grey’s Anatomy for the Silver Screen it appeared as if the world was her oyster. That was until she said that she thought that Knocked Up was sexist in a magazine interview. Despite the fact that she’s since apologized (because she sort of had to) to both Seth Rogen and Judd Apatow, the public perception of her was changed forever and she’s struggled to find films that do well and work in general ever since (she’s literally starred in kitty litter commercials as of late to pay the bills). So, it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that this erotic thriller that costars Rosario Dawson and a bunch of other people whose names you wouldn’t recognize ended up being a bomb. The film made less than $12 million dollars at the domestic box office, but the saving grace is that it cost just $12 million dollars to make (which makes sense considering Heigl is making cat litter money these days). But still, that is one of the lowest domestic box office returns of the year and another nail in the coffin for Heigl’s career.
9. Rough Night
Rough Night was basically the antithesis of Unforgettable in that it essentially had everything going for it. It had one of the most bankable (until this year, anyway) female stars with Scarlett Johansson as the lead and a group of other female comedic actors that are about as hot as one can be right now in Kate McKinnon of SNL, Ilana Glazer of the much beloved Broad City and Jilian Bell whose been in many great comedies the past few years including The Night Before and 22 Jump Street. On top of that, films that are marketing to and about women have fared relatively well in recent years when you ignore the disaster that was the all-female Ghostbusters reboot. For some reason, though, the R-rated comedy that was essentially a rip off of the 1998 black comedy Very Bad Things couldn’t find an audience and continued Johansson’s down year after the disappointment/sure thing that was The Ghost in the Shell. The $20 million dollar film has only made $32 million dollars at the global box office and $20 million dollars domestically. The fact that it’s only made $11 million dollars at the global box office is the extra gut punch to a film that should’ve been the course correction for Johansson. Luckily for her, she’s just got finished filming her scenes for Avengers: Infinity War so her per dollar return on investment should return to normal in 2018.
CHiPs should’ve been the red-flag to the people marketing Baywatch to try something drastically different to market their film, which was like CHiPs, a modern re-telling of a classic television show. The films are essentially the same, take the premise of a show from before the turn of the millennium, and “update” it with “modern” jokes (modern meaning crass and R-rated). This film wasn’t necessarily expected to break the bank, as it had a couple of B-list (at best) stars in Dax Shepherd and Michael Pena cast as two California Highway Patrolmen. Pena was the breakout star of 2015’s Ant-Man, so perhaps people’s expectations were inflated when he was chosen to star in this $25 million dollar movie. As of the writing of this article, however, the film has yet to recoup it’s budget as has just barely reached $18 million dollars domestically, with a paltry $6 million dollars internationally. That shouldn’t come as a surprise as CHiPs the show wasn’t as well known internationally, just as the faces of Dax Shepherd (who is most known for his TV commercials with his wife Kristen Bell) and Michael Pena aren’t as well known. Either way, with the limited number of films that get green-lit for non-comic book properties these days, you have to wonder why a movie like CHiPs was given a $25 million dollar budget when there has to be a ton of other great scripts out there for these studios to choose from. Sure, studios like making films with built-in audiences but it’s not like the 18-35 demo that they strive for was super excited for a remake of the show best known for giving the world Erik Estrada.
Life is perhaps the most surprising entry on this list as there was a lot of hype building up towards it and it had a lot of A-list stars. Considering the massive success that was 2016’s Deadpool, the fact that Ryan Reynolds was starring in his Alien-esque film alongside the likes of Jake Gyllenhaal, you’d think that this film would’ve easily at least made it’s money back (and then some). The rumors that preceded this film, were that this was a prequel of sorts to Spider-Man: Homecoming or at least 2018’s Venom, should’ve also helped this movie as people were talking about the movie a lot on social media in the week’s leading up to it. Perhaps it was the coy nature of the response from Sony that turned people off (as to whether or not this film was about the symbiote that eventually latches onto Peter Parker, Eddie Brock and then Flash Thompson). Either way, this has cult classic written all over it, as it seems to be a genuinely good movie with a great cast and regardless of whether or not it’s part of Sony’s planned Spider-Verse (it isn’t), it’s $30 million dollar domestic intake (against a nearly $60 million dollar budget) means that it’ll probably double it’s budget when all is said and done thanks to international markets, but that’s a gigantic let down for a film of this pedigree.
6. Smurfs: The Lost Village
2011’s The Smurfs grossed nearly $600 million dollars at the box office thanks to a modern retelling of The Smurfs story that everyone knows and loves. It was the fact that the CGI Smurfs existed in the real world that made the movie such a hit, and so it’s not surprising that the studio made a sequel… Six years later… That is actually a reboot… And no longer in the real world. This film represents the best example of how movie studios can screw up a sure thing by being completely tone deaf. If there’s one thing movie going audiences don’t want in 2017 it’s another reboot (Spider-Man: Homecoming notwithstanding) and the decision to reboot The Smurfs six years after what was an objectively great, entertaining and profitable movie makes no sense. Perhaps the studio didn’t want to pay the actors that were in the first movie? But considering the fact that Neil Patrick Harris is no longer getting a steady sitcom paycheck and really doesn’t seem to have a lot of projects lined up, you’d think that he’d return for a reasonable chunk of change. Either way, the gamble to reboot failed and this film is struggling to break the $200 million dollar mark globally. I know what you’re thinking, $200 million dollars is a lot of money! While that may be true, considering the fact that it’s more than $400 million dollars less than the 2011 version made, you’d think that paying NPH around $5 million dollars would’ve been worth it.
5. Monster Trucks
Speaking of movies that no one asked for, can someone explain how a movie like Monster Trucks gets made? The movie, starring Lucas Till (who is probably most well known for his role as Havoc in X-Men: First Class and X-Men: Apocalypse), had a $125 million dollar budget. Let that sink in. While this movie was released in 2016, it was four days before X-Mas and so the vast majority of its small box office gross was made in 2017. This film was supposed to start a franchise. So, while that’s the reason for it’s inflated budget, it still is amazing (not to get repetitive) that there are so many actors and writers complaining about their inability to get their projects green lit while studios throw $125 million dollars (plus another $100 million or so in marketing) towards a film about a car with a monster inside of it, starring Havoc from X-Men. The film is one of those rare double flops, where it did equally bad in North America and the rest of the world (for a film this size, other films double flop on this list but they’re not massive tentpoles), hitting $30 million in both for a grand total of about $60 million against it’s massive budget. That’s too bad as I really wanted to see what the sequel was going to bring… Said no one, anywhere.
4. Ghost in the Shell
Ghost in the Shell was plagued with issues from the start. The anime that this film was based on is considered to be one of, if not the, best anime films ever made. Had this film been made five years ago it probably would’ve succeeded, but the fact that race in film is such a hot button issue this year, especially when it comes to the whitewashing of Asian characters in traditionally Asian roles or films (we’re looking at you The Great Wall) and the casting of Scarlett Johansson in the role of what was a Japanese woman was just the wrong move to make. Outside of that, the film had the impossible task of somehow recreating things that, even with CGI, seem impossible in film while also trying to find a balance between bringing something new and making a shot for shot remake. Apparently, they didn’t find that balance as both critics and fans weren’t too high on the movie. And, despite the fact that actual Japanese people didn’t care about Scarlett Johansson’s skin color, the fact is that the film wasn’t that good. The film had a big budget of $110 million and just recently cracked the $40 million dollar mark domestically, while the foreign box office salvaged what could’ve been a disaster, this film was expected to gross at least more than Lucy did (in the $500 million range), so this was a massive disappointment in what has been a bad year for Johansson professionally and personally.
3. King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
While we here at BabbleTop enjoy fantasy epics set in olden times, at some point Hollywood has to understand that outside of movies based on the books by J.R.R Tolkien, there just isn’t a market for these types of films. King Arthur seemed like a film that no one asked for and that multiple people lost their jobs over. Guy Ritchie, best known for his low(er) budget crime films like Snatch and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, felt out of his element in this film that combined the faux-Arthurian legend (that is becoming less and less omnipresent in children’s lives) with his modern filming style (that seems strangely out of place in this film). The fact that someone green-lit a $175 million dollar budget for a film that starred the guy from Sons of Anarchy, is as mind boggling as the fact that the film has only grossed $38 million dollars domestically. While it’s got a combined worldwide gross of $140 million, it won’t reach it’s production budget. When you (again) factor in the marketing costs, it’s easy to see why this film was being talked about as one of the biggest bombs in Hollywood history before the international market began to bail it out. Perhaps Hunnam should’ve starred in Fifty Shades of Grey after all.
Baywatch had everything going for it. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has been Hollywood’s highest grossing actor for the past few years and he’s the type of guy who has a squeaky clean reputation that is loved by everyone. Because of that, outside of some of his earlier films like Doom, he hasn’t suffered a box office disappointment since he became the force that he is today. So, it was really interesting to see Baywatch bomb when it was expected to do so much better. There are countless theories as to why the film underperformed at the box office: from the lack of Millenial knowledge or care about Baywatch as a franchise to the terrible, terrible reviews. What was interesting though, was Johnson’s reaction to the failure of the film. While he was mostly a heel while he wrestled (wrestling speak for a bad guy), he’s known as a really nice guy. So, it was sort of sad to see him angrily respond to some of the critics who bashed the film. It was as if he couldn’t admit that he made a bad choice by starring in a movie that couldn’t figure out if it was a parody (like Starsky and Hutch), a gross-out comedy or an homage. Either way, Baywatch‘s $57 million dollar gross (as of the writing of this article) against it’s $69 million dollar budget means that it’ll end up being a decent loss once marketing dollars are accounted for and perhaps the last time we see the family friendly Johnson in an R-rated comedy.
1. The Mummy
While the Mummy is fairing pretty well overseas, where big names like Tom Cruise still hold a lot of weight, it’s been a complete disaster both domestically and critically. The reason it tops this list isn’t so much solely because of its underperforming box office numbers, but because it was meant to be the Iron Man (2008) of Universal’s Dark Universe. Universal is the studio that is responsible for “classic movie monsters” like The Mummy, Frankenstein’s Monster, The Invisible Man, etc. They’ve long been planning a shared universe and have stopped and started this universe multiple times now (Dracula Untold, The Wolfman) and they thought they had a sure thing with this Tom Cruise vehicle. An opening weekend of $31.7 million, which for a film that cost $125 million to make (not including marketing), clearly wasn’t what Universal was looking for. Stories were immediately leaked to the press placing blame on Tom Cruise for micromanaging the entire film from the script all the way to how the scenes were filmed, which added further drama to a film that was supposed to launch multiple other films. Despite all of that and the fact that it’s only amassed around $70 million in North America, it still has nearly a $400 million dollar worldwide gross, again, thanks to Tom Cruise’s pull in international markets. That amount, against that budget, will definitely mean that the Dark Universe will continue. And as the DC Extended Universe has shown, twice, you can start out with a bad film or two before you really hit your stride. So here’s hoping that the Johnny Depp The Invisible Man fares better because for this Universe to really take off it needs to not tank in North America.