Seven out of ten movies lose money, and that’s after worldwide box office, DVD sales, internet downloads, and cable & television sales are counted. So why do the studios continue to churn out movies if financial success is not probable? Answer: scoring the big one. All it takes is a monster hit – Titanic, Lord of the Rings, Toy Story – for a studio to cover it’s losses and stay afloat. Avatar has grossed $2.73 BILLION and counting. Trust me, Twentieth Century Fox is doing just fine.
With that said though, there are a plethora of sunken film vessels at the bottom of the cinema ocean, and this list at TSL is dedicated to the top ten biggest box office bombs of all time. But we have one simple rule: these bad boys are selected, not based upon total losses, but instead upon percentage of worldwide gross compared to the cost of the film, not including inflation. Why so specific? Because numbers can lie, but percentages are truth.
Take the 2005 action adventure film Sahara, for example. The total cost of the production and marketing of the film was $241 million and ranks #4 all time in net losses at $119 million ($133 million inflation adjusted). But this blockbuster bomb doesn’t make our list. Anyone can see that losing $119 million on a film is a disaster, but if we look at the percentages, Sahara still grossed 49.5% of what it cost to make. Still horrible, but not as bad as bad can be.
So take a look at our Top 10 Biggest Box Office Bombs, note the percentage of gross earnings from the film's total cost following each movie title, and use this key to do the math if you so choose: TC = Total Cost, WG = Worldwide Gross, G/TC = Percent of Gross Earnings from Total Cost. All dollar amounts are in USD.