Movies are a big game. If a studio gets things right, they can make a hefty sum, and the success can bring in dedicated cult followings. However, things may take a drastic turn upon a film’s failure. With an enormous number of movies entering the battlefield of blockbusters, a legion of cinematic corpses lay strewn about the ground. Many films fall prey to this phenomenon. Few movies stand atop all the blockbusters, similarly few make stand apart amongst the disasters. Few of these movies failed so hard that they forced their production houses to struggle for their existence. So here is our list of the top 5 “box office bombs” in film history that bankrupted their studio.
The Golden Compass (New Line Cinema)
The new line cinema has been a household name for a long time. The production house is known for the hits such as A Nightmare on Elm Street and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. But the real game-changer for the house is the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Released initially in 2003, the LOTR trilogy bagged a massive box office collection of around three billion dollars worldwide. But the 2007’s “The Golden Compass” turned the tables on the house. It was a $180 million adaptation of Phillip Pullman’s popular fantasy book series His Dark Materials. Despite its heavy budget, the film, unfortunately, did not perform quite as well as the producers hoped. New Line had sold off the movie’s international rights to fund the venture and merged with Warner Bros. Studios, thus closing its chapter of legacy.
Battlefield Earth (Franchise Pictures)
Battlefield Earth, the 2000 adaptation of L. Ron Hubbard’s pulp science-fiction tome, can be regarded as a synonym for the “box-office bomb”. After trying for a long time, Actor John Travolta finally in 1998 found a financial backer, “Franchise Pictures,” to make the movie that almost every Hollywood studio turned down. Travolta even put $5 million of his cash into the sci-fi epic. However, upon its release in 2000, the movie was critically followed. Every aspect, from the acting to the direction to the special effects, was torn to shreds. The film made only $29.7 million against a whopping $73 million budget resulting in the production house’s bankruptcy.
Mars Needs Moms (ImageMovers Digital)
Robert Zemeckis has well-regarded successes in his filmography career, such as Forrest Gump or Back to the Future. But you’ll also see more than a few misfires like What Lies Beneath or Welcome to Marwen. Above all, there’s a great significant recoil in his career which goes by the name of Mars Needs Moms. Though he didn’t direct the movie, he did make a mistake in one way or another. The film was produced by his company, ImageMovers, in collaboration with Disney. The odd motion capture animation of the movie did not just fail to lift the audience’s spirits but also looked pretty ugly. The film brought in only $39 million against its $150 million budget, leading to the closure of ImageMovers Digital. The failure cemented the movie as Disney’s biggest financial disaster ever.
Heaven’s Gate (United Artists)
United Artists was the flagship store for the golden age of cinema when Hollywood was a hotbed of experimentation. It was founded by legendary names such as Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, and DW Griffith. After a long legacy, it took one failure i.e. Heaven’s Gate to end the dynasty.
Released in 1980, Heaven’s Gate was derided by every industry publication as one of the worst movies ever made. The backlash for the movie even forced the makers to withdraw it after one week of its release. It performed horrendously that it only managed to bag a minuscule $3.5 million against its $44 million budget. Starting from here, the failing studio eventually became part of MGM.
Superman IV: The Quest For Peace (The Cannon Group)
We keep the best…I mean…the worst for the last. This place is occupied by none other than Superman IV. When it hit cinema screens in 1978, the first Superman film changed the landscape of cinema forever. The film was renowned for its ground-breaking use of special effects. So, unsurprisingly, the makers continued to bring in sequels for the film in an attempt to cash in as much as possible on this new franchise. However, the makers became the hapless victims of the disaster which was the film’s 4th sequel. The film looks noticeably cheap the whole way through, a result of its $36 million budget slashed in half. And guess what the final result was? Cannon Films eventually imploded in debt and killed the Superman series for almost twenty years.