2016 was like any other year at the box office: there were some huge hits, some solid performers, and a handful of gargantuan bombs. While films like Deadpool and The Jungle Book were unexpected successes, some surefire studio bets failed to pay off. Big investments like Warcraft, Alice: Through The Looking Glass, and Independence Day: Resurgence fell short of expectations, as did X-Men: Apocalypse and Star Trek Beyond.
However, this list is for the box office duds which crashed and burned like nothing else in 2016. The films on this list failed to recoup their costs, and no amount of creative Hollywood accounting can change that fact. This list is not a judgement on the quality of these movies (though there is certainly some crossover with Screen Rant’s Worst Films of 2016…), just a report on the fact that they all lost money for their studios, based on their reported budget, unreported marketing budgets, and worldwide box office grosses. Here are The Biggest Box Office Bombs Of 2016.
From the jump, most people could have figured that the ill-advised Ben-Hur remake was destined for box-office obscurity. Jack Huston and Toby Kebbell are hunky enough, but they can’t hold a candle to the likes of Charlton Heston and Stephen Boyd from the 1959 version. At least, this was the consensus of audiences, who avoided Ben-Hur like the plague.
Despite the rise of Christian faith-based flicks in recent years (Jesus plays a small but pivotal role in the events of the film), the writing was on the wall, and the critical skewering it received certainly did nothing to bolster the film’s box office ambitions. Ben-Hur could only manage to bring in a mere $26 million domestic and $94 million worldwide, coming in well below its budget of $100 million. Keep in mind, that $100 million figure does not include money spent marketing a tentpole summer release, the cost of which is estimated to be in excess of $100 million for would-be blockbusters like Ben-Hur.
14. The Divergent Series: Allegiant
In 2014, Divergent grossed $150 million at the domestic box office, and it seemed like a successful YA film franchise had been born. The second film, Insurgent, failed to build upon the original’s audience, but the results were still more-or-less satisfactory. However, Lionsgate made the poor decision to, as had been done with Twilight, Harry Potter, and The Hunger Games, split the final book in the series into two movies, in an effort to ultimately bring in more money.
However, their plan backfired when The Divergent Series: Allegiant tanked at the box office. Domestically, the film could only bring in $66 million, or just over half of its reported budget of $110 million. With worldwide grosses included, Allegiant stalled out at just $179 million, well short of the standards set by its predecessors. The situation is so bad that much talk has circulated of the series reaching its conclusion on the small screen in a made-for-television film, a shallow grave for a series which once had such high hopes.
13. Assassin’s Creed
Creating a film studio is a risky endeavor. After years of licensing out its biggest names, Marvel created its own film studio and launched the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It was a risky venture, but it paid off, and the MCU movies are among the biggest hits in Hollywood today. Popular video game publisher Ubisoft attempted the same thing, creating its own film studio to make movies based on its most popular games, but it seems Ubisoft is losing that bet.
After nearly two weeks in wide release, Assassin’s Creed has only grossed around $40 million, and will likely close well below $80 million domestically, a far cry from its budget of $125 million. Its worldwide numbers aren’t much better, and Assassin’s Creed seems poised to join the ever-growing pile of failed video game movies. Despite being in-continuity with the games upon which it is based, Assassin’s Creed simply could not connect with fans of the game, and its esoteric marketing failed to attract casual viewers. What was once viewed as a surefire franchise in the making looks to be dead in the water.
12. The Huntsman: Winter’s War
The Huntsman: Winter’s War is a brain-dead sequel that nobody asked for, to a middling non-entity of a film which few truly enjoyed. It should come as no surprise, then, that Winter’s War’s box office saw a sharp decline from the (not quite) original.
While the first Snow White film brought in a respectable $396 million worldwide, no such fortunes awaited this prequel/sequel, which inexplicably dropped the Snow White character in favor of focusing on the hollow hunk of meat and muscle played by Chris Hemsworth. Despite having a reported price tag of just $115 million (a full $60 million less than its predecessor), Winter’s War fell way short of Snow White’s box office take, bringing in less than $50 million domestically and only $164 million worldwide. Considering marketing costs, it’s highly unlikely that Winter War turned a profit at the box office. Ultimately, Winter’s War was an attempt at a (relatively) cheap cash-in which ended in abject failure.
11. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was actually a pretty good idea on paper; literally. As a novel which cleverly inserted zombies and undead-themed storylines into the Jane Austen classic, P&P&Z was a fabulous success, a best-seller which earned strong reviews. As a film, however, P&P&Z was a disappointment. Not authentic enough for Austen aficionados, or bloody enough for fans of undead antics, this PG-13 horror/romance hybrid simply failed to find an audience, even with former Doctor Who Matt Smith stealing every scene in which he appeared.
Despite having a modest reported budget of just $28 million, P&P&Z failed to reach that number at the worldwide box office. It stalled out at just $10 million domestically, and only reached a global total of just $16 million. Though it may be too early to tell, the film is currently failing to develop any kind of cult following. Maybe an unrated release could give the film a second life as a midnight movie classic, but who knows if such a development is in the cards for Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.
10. The Finest Hours
Despite being based on the true story of the 1952 sinking of the SS Pendleton, audiences just weren’t interested in seeing The Finest Hours, an inspirational tale of danger and heroism. Sometimes these movies hit the mark (like Sully, for instance) but sometimes, they simply don’t connect with moviegoers. Despite being part of the Disney marketing machine, the ad campaign for The Finest Hours was muddled and bland, making the movie seem more akin to Deadliest Catch than The Perfect Storm. This failure to communicate the message of the film led to an ugly box office performance.
Even with the combined star power of fairly popular actors like Chris Pine, Ben Foster, Casey Affleck, and Eric Bana, The Finest Hours could only scrape up $52 million worldwide against a budget of $80 million. While Disney didn’t open 2016 with much fanfare, it certainly regained its composure by the end, churning out critically-adored hits like Zootopia, Finding Dory, Captain America: Civil War, and Rogue One.
Like Assassin’s Creed, Passengers opened on December 21st (just five days after mega-hit Rogue One stormed into theaters) and was met with poor reviews and modest audience interest. Despite a charming marketing campaign which placed its A-list stars, Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt, front and center, Passengers simply failed to inspire much interest from casual viewers.
After nearly two weeks, Passengers has barely grossed over $50 million dollars, or little more than half of its budget, a none-too-cheap $110 million. When the dust settles on this one, Passengers will likely fall way short of the vaunted $100 million dollar mark. Maybe its international prospects will eventually be enough to drag this one into the realm of profitability, but even that seems like a long shot at this point. Chris Pratt will be fine, as he has the highly-anticipated Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 coming up this summer, and Jennifer Lawrence is still one of the biggest movie stars on the planet, but it’s hard to see Passengers as anything other than a critical and commercial disappointment.
8. The Brothers Grimsby
Budgeted at $35 million, this would-be spy comedy stars Sacha Baron Cohen as the idiot brother of Mark Strong, a dangerous super-spy. Unfortunately, The Brothers Grimsby chose to substitute comedy for vulgar displays of cringe-worthy crassness. Audiences weren’t impressed, and the film died a quick death at the box office, earning just $25 million worldwide.
Rather than the jolly antics of something like Austin Powers, The Brothers Grimsby was more along the lines of Tom Green’s Freddy Got Fingered, mean-spirited and borderline unwatchable due to its completely lopsided view of humor. In fact, if the would-be comic elements had been stripped out, maybe the flick would have been better served as a straight-up spy movie.
At the end of the day, The Brothers Grimsby is only memorable for its role in facilitating what may be the most bizarre sentence ever written on Screen Rant: “Daniel Radcliffe gives AIDS to Donald Trump.” Whether one thinks that is weird, gross, hilarious, or in heinously poor taste, it’s certainly audacious.
7. Deepwater Horizon
The first collaboration between director Peter Berg and star “Marky” Mark Wahlberg was 2013’s poignant Lone Survivor, a brutal real-life tale of hatred and redemption told through the eyes of boots on the ground soldiers in Afghanistan. The film earned strong reviews and proved to be an unexpected box office hit; its worldwide haul, of $154 million, was nearly four times its budget of $40 million.
Their second collaboration, however, didn’t fare nearly as well. For an adult-oriented drama, Deepwater Horizon was budgeted at an irresponsibly high $110 million, but only managed to bring in $61 million at the domestic box office. Worldwide, the film finished at just $118 million, a far cry from a profit-turning total.
Time will tell if the third Berg/Wahlberg joint, Patriots Day, will manage to turn things around for the pair. It is currently performing adequately in limited release, but the true test will come when it opens wide on January 13th.
6. Jane Got A Gun
Released on January 29th, the same day as The Finest Hours, this solidly unspectacular western was one of the first box office bombs of 2016. Releasing in over 1200 theaters, Jane Got A Gun could only gross $835,000 in its opening weekend, a disastrous start. By the end of its meager 4-week run, the movie had only managed to bring in $1.5 million. Considering the film’s budget of $25 million, Jane Got A Gun can be seen as nothing but one of the worst-performing movies of the year, and a box office bomb on a nuclear scale.
A myriad of behind-the-scenes drama may have hurt the film’s public profile, though the final film turned out to be better-than-expected, with breathtaking views of the New Mexico landscape and an excellent cast. Perhaps by coincidence, the three leads were all played by alums of the Star Wars prequel trilogy: Natalie Portman, Joel Edgerton, and Ewan McGregor. For that reason alone, Jane Got A Gun is worth a viewing, if only for curiosity’s sake. It may prove to be pleasantly surprising.
5. Max Steel
This attempt to turn a C-grade children’s cartoon into a Hollywood movie franchise failed with a resounding thud. Max Steel had a budget of just $10 million, but finished its worldwide box office run with just over $6 million. Needless to say, this one won’t be getting a sequel.
That Max Steel even got a theatrical release is something of a miracle, and one which didn’t pay off. The film would have been better served as a straight-to-video release, or, better yet, a Netflix original. That way, it would be a mystery to all but the bored elementary school boys who accidentally stumble upon it and regret their decision to give it a shot.
As it is, Max Steel is one of the biggest punchlines in Hollywood. Not only is it one of the worst films of the year, but it’s also one of the worst box office performers. What’s next, an Action Man movie? Mighty Max? No thanks.
4. Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping
The Lonely Island are a comedy troupe/musical act consisting of Akiva Schaffer, Jorma Taccone, and Saturday Night Live alum Andy Samberg. Occasionally, they make movies. Their first film, Hot Rod, was a financial failure, but has since earned a decent cult following. Hopes were high for Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping, but, alas, the new film seems destined for the same fate as their previous attempt.
Against a budget of $20 million, Popstar only grossed $9 million in its domestic release, and didn’t receive a theatrical run in most international territories. It’s especially tragic in this case, since Popstar is one of the funniest movies of the year, an irreverent mock rockumentary in the vein of Spinal Tap. Andy Samberg shines as Connor4real, and the cameos range from the expected (SNL alums like Kevin Nealon and Will Forte) to the insane (Ringo Starr?!?!). As always, Lonely Island’s surreal brand of comedy steals the show. Hopefully, this one lives a long and prosperous life on cable and home video.
Ghostbusters was fighting an uphill battle during every step of its production. After waiting decades for a third Ghostbusters film (the excellent PS3 video game notwithstanding), fans of the series were disappointed and offended when they learned that Sony was going for a reboot instead of a sequel. Then, the more sexist and lizard-brained Ghostbusters fans raged themselves into a stupor with the news that the new film was going to be headlined by a quartet of female leads. Meanwhile, more open-minded fans decided to wait and see what this new Ghostbusters had in store for both newcomers to the series and old-school fans.
When the film finally released in July, the reception was lukewarm; it was generally seen as decent enough, but wholly unremarkable, save for jolly performances from Leslie Jones and Kate “DeBarge” McKinnon. Though some have argued that the film did strong business — to the tune of $229 million worldwide — it just wasn’t enough, considering its inflated budget of $144 million and the decades of pent-up hype and demand. While the film was intended to be a relaunch of the Ghostbusters brand, it ultimately failed to inspire confidence in the franchise. Due to the underwhelming box office returns of this ill-fated reboot, a direct sequel seems very unlikely for the time being.
2. The BFG
For many film fans, Steven Spielberg can do no wrong, and to his credit, The BFG, based on the book by Roald Dahl, earned mostly positive reviews and sits at a tidy 75% approval on Rotten Tomatoes. Unfortunately, audiences simply were not interested in coming along on this whimsical tale of adventure and child-like wonder. The BFG only made $55 million on domestic shores; while it made up some ground with a worldwide haul of $178 million, it just wasn’t enough. For a film with such a large budget ($140 million) and a prestigious director, the box office should have been twice as strong, at least.
Don’t shed any tears for Disney, though. While The BFG, as well as The Finest Hours and Alice Through The Looking Glass, failed to recoup its costs, the studio ultimately enjoyed a record-breaking year, bringing in an unprecedented $2.7 billion dollars domestically, and a downright insane $7 billion worldwide. They’re on top of the world, and even a major box office dud here and there has little effect on the Disney money machine.
1. Gods of Egypt
In hindsight, the biggest misfire on this list just has to be Gods of Egypt. In 2016, whitewashing controversies are more and more prevalent as audiences demand that Hollywood show proper respect to global cultures; casting Scottish Gerard Butler as the Egyptian God-King Set, among a plethora of other white actors, was a downright bone-headed decision by the studio and director. Even worse was the decision to relegate the non-white actors almost exclusively to non-speaking extras (Chadwick Boseman notwithstanding).
Gods of Egypt was a punchline by the time its first trailer dropped out, with its tone-deaf racial sensibilities and ham-handed acting from Butler; in his defense, the rest of the cast are obviously phoning it in as well. At the end of its domestic run, Gods of Egypt brought in an anemic $30 million, and its worldwide haul was just $150 million. With its excessive budget of $140 million and many tens of millions (at least) spent on marketing this stinker, Gods of Egypt is easily the most high-profile box office bomb of 2016.
What do you think? Are any of these movies deserving of a larger audience, or did they all get what they deserved? Sound off in the comments!
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