The Biggest Movie Flops of the 2010s–And Why

The biggest movie flops of the 2010s… A dubious honor if there ever was one.

These movies belong to an exclusive club of financial losers so big they put everyone else to shame. Some video game can bomb studios out of business. Some TV shows will get canned so hard they put huge crews out of work. Comics and books and Youtube channels can all lose companies a ton of cash. But none of it measures up to the sheer amount of money a big old disaster movie can annihilate off a studio’s profits.

Every year, there are literally dozens of films that lose tens of millions of dollars in their theatrical runs. Some don’t break even for years, even decades, no matter the TV runs or home video sales they try for. It’s tragic, and yet totally just how the business works. Somehow, the huge losses still help the cash flow for theaters and studios alike, I guess.

But sometimes a movie doesn’t just lose tens of millions. Sometimes it loses gargantuan, nation-killing, eye-popping sums. According to Wikipedia, twenty-five movies in the 2010s lost their studios at least $100 million, adjusted for 2022 inflation. (In the case of a loss range, I’m going with the smallest end, just to be conservative. If I took the higher end, it’d be even higher!)

Let’s just list those movies and rank the biggest movie flops of the 2010s… The results may surprise you. Some notorious flops are nowhere to be found (like Justice Leaguetheatrical cut), while other out-of-nowhere movies take the top ranks.

Here’s the list…

Biggest Movie Flops of the 2010s

Biggest Movie Flops of the 2010s – The List

  • The Nutcracker in 3D, 2010 – $102 million
    • What even IS this movie? Some independent, English-language, crappy European thing with baby Elle Fanning? How did this even get made?
  • Rise of the Guardians, 2011 – $103 million
    • Dreamworks’s attempt at a cool action franchise and Christmas movie in one. Succeeded only at attracting thirsty teens on Tumblr.
  • Tomorrowland, 2013, $103-171 million
    • Why’s the range so big for this movie? It’s a mystery to solve, just like the inscrutable mystery box marketing campaign that torpedoed its box office chances.
  • The Promise, 2016 – $105-$115 million
    • This movie was made to help promote awareness of the Armenian genocide, and is famous for getting review bombed massively by Turkey-aligned bots before its release. Did it work? I don’t know, though I’m glad it tried. But, uh, why did this movie cost $90 million to produce?????
  • R.I.P.D., 2013, $107 million
    • Remember when Jeff Bridges and Ryan Reynolds starred in a fantasy buddy cop movie? No, you don’t.
  • Missing Link, 2019, $107 million
    • A total travesty. Laika is the best of the best, and all their movies deserve to be smash hits. Missing Link was way better than Toy Story 4 which won the animated feature Oscar that year.
  • Jupiter Ascending, 2015, $109-137 million
    • Another travesty. It’s so sad that this bombed so badly, because it’s not-so-secretly the best thing ever. Oh well, at least Hollywood learned from its mistakes when Valerian  came out swinging and… Oh, that one lost $90 million too…
  • Hugo, 2011, $110 million
    • When this film was coming out, I kept getting this 3D kids’ movie period piece adventure confused with Adventures of Tintin, the CGI kids’ movie period piece adventure. I wonder if I was alone in that.
  • Transformers: The Last Knight, 2017, $111 million or more
    • I had no idea this movie even lost money, considering it made over $600 million! That’s what happens when budgets spiral so far out of control, I guess. And when you make a really shitty movie.
  • 47 Ronin, 2013, $112 million
    • One of a staggering number of 2013 blockbusters heavily featuring Japanese culture, I guess in order to appeal to the anime crowd or something. This one sure didn’t appeal to them.
  • Gemini Man, 2019, $118 million
    • Will Smith was the star of quite a few huge bombs of the 2010s, but few had the staggering budget of this ambitious Ang Lee sci-fi film. Why did they produce a film designed to be seen in 120 FPS 3D, when basically no theaters are designed to show that?
  • Terminator: Dark Fate, $119-140 million
    • Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice, I’ll never be fooled again. Those wise words led everyone to completely ignore the sixth Terminator movie, because “I swear, this one’s actually good this time!” just didn’t work. Too bad for everyone else, then. I’ll keep my immense Mackenzie Davis Robot thirst all to myself.
  • Jack the Giant Killer, 2013, $120 million
    • Some studio executive walked out of that Alice in Wonderland showing in 2010 and went, by golly, we gotta make more ugly 3D fairy tales! Crap, but we’re Warner Bros. and don’t have any IPs to mine for it. Eh, let’s just do some giants! Everyone likes that, right?
  • Mars Needs Moms, 2011, $120-173 million
    • Killed Robert Zemickis’s entire motion capture studio. This and those other two coming up soon probably changed the entire company of Disney.
  • Monster Trucks, 2016, $123 million
    • Apparently, Paramount’s President developed this idea with his toddler and set the entire studio onto making a movie where monster trucks are actually… monster trucks. You know, it just might have worked if they didn’t make a crappy film that got dumped in the January burying grounds.
    • Somehow, it’s really weird to me that this is one of the biggest movie flops of the 2010s. Why?
  • King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, $123-169 million
    • I legitimately forgot this one even existed. It was supposed to kickstart a big franchise. lol
  • Pan, 2015, $98-171 million
    • I know I said above $100 million at the lowest end, but this movie made $128 million on a $150 million budget. You cannot convince me that it only lost $98 million, because this was a heavily marketed tentpole release. I didn’t realize what a massive flop it was until now, but I’m pretty sure it deserves it.
  • How Do You Know, 2010, $129 million
    • What?????
    • ????????????
    • James L. Brooks, superstar producer of The Simpsons and director of lovely films like Broadcast News, made a romantic comedy about sports in 2010 and somehow it had a $120 million????? budget????
    • Apparently, the pay for Brooks, plus stars Reese Witherspoon, Owen Wilson, Paul Rudd, and Jack Nicholson (!!!) combined to over $50 million. I don’t know where the other half of the budget went, though???? Geez, what a flop, but only because the budget was absolutely gargantuan.
  • John Carter, $133-236 million
    • If we take the high end, this is actually , but I doubt it was THAT much. I… Hope. The film was visually stunning for the time, but had absolutely no reason to be costing that much when it was an obscure-to-modern-audiences IP and releasing in March of all times.
    • I remember seeing a commercial for the movie and having absolutely no clue what the movie was about. Not an idea about the characters, not a clue about why to bother watching it, because it moved so quickly I didn’t get a good look at it all. Only months later did I find out that it was a cool sci-fi retro throwback thing I totally enjoyed as a geeky teen.
  • A Wrinkle in Time, 2018, $141 million
    • I knew the movie didn’t do too well, but THIS big of a flop, I had no idea about. I’m pretty sure after this and Artemis Fowl that Disney is done with live-action movies that aren’t already a big IP. And all their other giant flops littering this list. Four so far, one more to go!
  • Battleship, 2012, $177 million
    • I saw this one on Father’s Day with my Dad at a matinee. It was exactly the movie we expected, and that was about that. For some reason, a movie that had no business trying to be franchise bait cost $200 million. Why?!
  • The Lone Ranger, 2013, $186-223 million
    • Holy cow, another movie you just DO NOT expect to have cost up to $250 million. That’s the entire GDP of the Marshall Islands, wasted on a bizarre franchise-bait western film starring Johnny Depp as a Native American. Disney did this.
    • It just doesn’t make sense to me that THIS was someone’s idea of the perfect film to blow a quarter billion on. Only a lumbering conglomerate can mess up so badly to do this.
    • If Disney hadn’t bought Marvel and released Avengers to such success, I can honestly see the company having to go through massive financial pains after that one-two-three punch of Mars Needs Moms, John Carter, and The Lone Ranger. That’s a lot of money lost for just three films.
  • Mortal Engines, 2018, $189 million
    • Gosh, this one hurts. I remember seeing this one going up against the other Christmas 2018 bigshots like Aquaman, Bumblebee, Spider-Verse, and Mary Poppins Returns, and was like, hmmmm I’m not so sure this weird cities on wheels movie should be here too, but OK, maybe it’ll do decently worldwide if they release it correctly.
    • They didn’t release it correctly, and this reasonably budgeted ($110 million) blockbuster became one of the biggest bombs ever. The biggest, if we’re being conservative with estimates.

So, what have we learned?

Well, we’ve learned for the most part that gigantic franchise-bait blockbusters get way too high of budgets for their first go-arounds.

The biggest movie flops of the 2010s, almost invariably, are franchise starters or other bloated four-quadrant nonsense. The budgets got so big, the marketing so grand, they NEEDED to do well. But they didn’t. And the sheer pressure on them to succeed and get a bunch of sequels tends to end up killing them even more.

Aside from random outliers like How Do You Know and Hugo, they’re almost all fantasy or sci-fi mega movies, the work of hundreds of people trying desperately to bring a huge vision to life. They failed, but they failed together, and provided countless jobs to creative professionals in the process.

The biggest movie flops of the 2010s all tried, some a lot harder than others. Some honestly good movies are in here, too, they were just way too expensive for what they needed to be.

I wonder what the biggest flops of the 2020s will be? Do you think we’ll get a movie that crosses the $300 million lost barrier? I hope not, but in a dark way I kind of hope so, too.

Don’t forget to read more of my box office blog posts:

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