The Biggest Box Office Flops of 2018

The film industry looked healthy in 2018, with box office numbers up about nine per cent from last year. It’s a promising sign that traditional cinemas still have an edge over the home comfort of Netflix and Prime Video, but Hollywood still saw its fair share of expensive clunkers.

The list compiled below has been devised using the long-standing rule of thumb that a film typically needs to make about two-and-a-half times its budget in order to break-even (accounting for advertising costs and the portion of the gross claimed by cinemas). With that in mind, these are the movies that fell short of expectations this year.

Death Wish

Estimated break-even point: $75 million
Worldwide gross: $34 million

Critics savaged this remake of the Charles Bronson cult favourite, taking particular issue with the half-hearted lead performance from fading star Bruce Willis. Audiences were similarly disinterested, resulting in a dismal $13 million opening weekend and a swift exit from cinemas. It is possible that Death Wish may do some damage control in the home media market, where smaller action films often find a profitable niche.

Death Wish

A Wrinkle in Time

Estimated break-even point: $300 million
Worldwide gross: $132 million

One of three expensive mistakes made by the Walt Disney Company this year, A Wrinkle in Time was greeted with a mixed response from critics and audiences alike. Generally, the consensus was that Ava DuVernay’s blockbuster adaptation wasn’t up to snuff with her previous work. Saddled with such bad word-of-mouth, it was able to crawl just past the century mark in the United States but completely failed in almost every other territory. Disney is expected to lose about $100 million on this one, but of course the Mouse House has more than enough money to take the hit.

Wrinkle in Time

Pacific Rim: Uprising

Estimated break-even point: $375 million
Worldwide gross: $290 million

While the first Pacific Rim made just enough money to recoup its gargantuan budget, this long-awaited sequel had no such luck. Hoped to be another major franchise for Legendary Pictures, the series is now very unlikely to return for a third outing. This is also damaging for John Boyega who failed to prove himself as a box office commodity outside of the Star Wars franchise.

Pacific Rim

Solo: A Star Wars Story

Estimated break-even point: $500 million
Worldwide gross: $392 million

It’s still quite difficult to believe that the biggest flop of the year was a Star Wars movie. Released in a whirlwind of negative press following the firing of directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, Solo faced an uphill battle from the very start of its theatrical run. In addition, the film came just a few months after the controversial eighth episode and was a prequel that general audiences simply weren’t interested in. There is a huge amount of pressure resting on next year’s Episode IX to breathe new life into what appears to be an ailing property.

Solo

Mile 22

Estimated break-even point: $110 million
Worldwide gross: $66 million

Mark Wahlberg had hoped action flick Mile 22 would be the start of a new franchise, but with these box office returns that doesn’t seem likely. The film is the fourth collaboration between Wahlberg and director Peter Berg, who haven’t produced a genuine hit together since their very first project Lone Survivor back in 2013. With a modest $50 million price tag, Mile 22 isn’t the biggest bomb on this list but certainly can be considered a casualty of the summer movie season.

Mile 212

The Happytime Murders

Estimated break-even point: $90 million
Worldwide gross: $27 million

The critically-reviled puppet comedy was dead on arrival, opening with a meager $9 million in the United States. Melissa McCarthy is rumoured to have been paid a whopping $17 million for starring in this film, but that huge pay cheque comes at the cost of her reputation. The Happytime Murders is the latest in a string of lame comedies the actress has put her name on, as the Golden Globe nominee comes dangerously close to becoming the new Adam Sandler. With a $40 million budget and a significant advertising campaign, this movie didn’t even come close to the numbers it needed to succeed.

Happytime Murders

The Predator

Estimated break-even point: $220 million
Worldwide gross: $160 million

Fox attempted to give Predator the soft-reboot treatment and failed miserably. Shane Black’s reinterpretation of the iconic movie monster received a frosty reception from critics and a shrug of indifference from audiences. The film opened with a feeble $24 million and dropped like a rock in the weeks that followed. It’s the second flop in a row for Black, whose previous film The Nice Guys was criminally overlooked back in 2016.

The Predator

Bad Times at the El Royale

Estimated break-even point: $80 million
Worldwide gross: $31 million

Despite having an A-list cast, the mystery thriller from writer-director Drew Goddard couldn’t find an audience when it hit cinemas in October. It’s another big miss for star Chris Hemsworth who has routinely failed to draw in movie-goers when he isn’t playing the God of Thunder. Although Goddard encouraged people to know as little as possible about the film before watching, it appears he and the studio may have played things a bit too close to the vest. Bad Times at the El Royale struggled to about $30 million worldwide, less than half of Goddard’s previous directorial effort: The Cabin in the Woods.

Bad Times

First Man

Estimated break-even point: $140 million
Worldwide gross: $100 million

Damien Chazelle’s latest offering received some warm praise from critics, but unfortunately that didn’t translate to ticket sales (or awards nominations). It’s yet another stumble for Ryan Gosling, an actor whose hits can be counted far quicker than his misses. If the film can wrangle a handful of Oscar nominations that could be a much-needed boost, but it seems as if it has largely fallen out of consideration.

First Man

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms

Estimated break-even point: $260 million
Worldwide gross: $161 million

Arguably, releasing a festive movie at the beginning of November isn’t exactly sensible scheduling, but the flood of bad reviews for The Nutcracker suggest that was the least of its problems. The film cost $120 million to make, but scraped together an underwhelming $20 million on its stateside opening weekend. The film fared better overseas, but still fell well short of expectations.

Nutcracker.png

Overlord

Estimated break-even point: $90 million
Worldwide gross: $41 million

It was a bad year for producer J.J. Abrams, beginning with the critical mauling of The Cloverfield Paradox in February and ending with the box office woes of Overlord in November. The science-fiction period piece couldn’t make a dent on the winter box office, bringing in just $20 million in North America across its six-week theatrical run. It’s the lowest-grossing wide release ever to come from Abrams’ Bad Robot production company.

Overlord

The Girl in the Spider’s Web

Estimated break-even point: $90 million
Worldwide gross: $34 million

The second attempt at an English-language adaptation of the popular Swedish crime series failed to match the gross of 2011’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. This sequel/soft-reboot had a much cheaper price tag, but lacked the prestige names of its precursor. After the one-two punch of Steven Soderbergh flop Unsane and Girl in the Spider’s Web, Claire Foy’s career on the big screen can be considered a complete non-starter.

Girl

Robin Hood

Estimated break-even point: $220 million
Worldwide gross: $73 million

Hollywood’s latest attempt at modernising the Robin Hood legend was yet another abysmal failure. This latest interpretation cost $100 million, half the budget of the 2010 film starring Russell Crowe, but fared much worse at the box office. The film couldn’t even crack double digits on its opening weekend, bringing in a mere $9 million and settling for a spot at number seven. It’s a tough blow for Taron Egerton whose career was already suffering after Eddie the Eagle flopped and Kingsman: The Golden Circle underperformed. He takes the lead role in next year’s Elton John biopic Rocketman which needs to be a hit lest his film career go on life support.

Robin Hood.png

Mortal Engines

Estimated break-even point: $250 million
Worldwide gross: $45 million (still in cinemas)

At the time of writing, Mortal Engines has only been out for a week-and-a-half, but industry experts have already declared it dead. The $100 million adaptation was produced by Peter Jackson and the marketing attempted to sell it as this generation’s Lord of the Rings. Needless to say, few people were convinced. The fact that the film lacks any major star power and was riddled with negative reviews upon release only made matters worse. Universal is expecting to lose upwards of $100 million on the picture.

Mortal Engines

One response to “The Biggest Box Office Flops of 2018

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