‘Mortdecai’: Johnny Depp chewed the scenery in this madcap action comedy, playing the art swindler of the title. A marmite cast (Ewan McGregor, Gwyneth Paltrow, Paul Bettany, Jeff Goldblum) and terrible, terrible reviews sealed its fate, as it scored a paltry £30 million, having cost £40 million to make. Don’t need a degree in maths to see the deficit there.
‘The Cobbler’: Nothing pleases the critics like an Adam Sandler flop. And this one was an absolute doozy. A lumpen fantasy in which Sandler’s character,
a cobbler, magically assumes the identity of his clients once he tries
on their shoes (IN THEIR SHOES, GEDDIT), everyone hated it. As such,
it was a financial catastrophe, making just £15,721. At a cost of £6.5
million. Unsurprisingly, it was one of the few projects the business-savvy Sandler didn’t self-produce.
‘Entourage’: The show of choice for frat-bros the world was a cameo bonanza.
Jessica Alba, Tom Brady, Jon Favreau, Kelsey Grammer, Mike Tyson,
Ronda Rousey and Piers Morgan (eww) featured, but it couldn’t pull
Vince, Ari and co. out of a box office funk. Costing £18 million (with
rumours of unseemly pay demands by its stars before film even began
rolling), it made back a dismal £29 million.
‘The Man From U.N.C.L.E.’: A remake no one really wanted, Clooney was in line for the lead role, but walked. Every leading man in Hollywood was then considered, even Tom Cruise, despite his Mission: Impossible gig. In the end, the underwhelming Armie Hammer, still with the stink of ‘The Lone Ranger’
on him, signed up, along with Henry Cavill, fresh from ‘Man of Steel’. The results, middling, with a box office of £69 million, and a production bill of £49 million.
‘By The Sea’: Though it’s not opened globally just yet, it would take a miracle for Brad and Angelina Jolie-Pitt’s ‘passion project’ set in 1970s France
to turn a profit. Stopping just short of singing the theme tune, the
Jolie-Pitts wrote, produced, directed and starred in this
beautiful-looking but critically-pounded drama, and will have to pray
to see the £6.5 million investment back. At the time of writing, it’s
only made £267,000.
‘Crimson Peak’: Some blame the studio marketing folk for misleadingly pitching this lavish Guillermo Del Toro period piece as a horror movie (it’s more
like a gothic, supernatural romance). Despite a superb cast featuring
Tom Hiddleston, Jessica Chastain, Charlie Hunnam and Mia Wasikowska,
things didn’t go well at the box office, with a £47.5 million haul
from a not insubstantial £36 million (plus marketing) budget.
‘Burnt’: Actors and directors like eating in expensive restaurants. So they
occasionally try to turn this rarified, sometimes volatile world
toward dramatic narratives, and it never really works. See Burnt, with
its cast featuring Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, Omar Sy, Daniel
Bruhl, Alicia Vikander, Uma Thurman combined with ladles overflowing
with cliches. It made £17 million from its £13 million budget.
‘Steve Jobs’: So much in the plus column, but so few in the cinemas to see it. Danny Boyle directing Michael Fassbender in an ensemble cast (see also Kate
Winslet, Seth Rogen and Jeff Daniels) in a movie about one of the
iconic men of the 20th and 21st century, and it totally tanked, making
an embarrassing £13 million on a budget of nearly £20 million. Though
critically raved about, the dreadful ‘Jobs’, starring Ashton Kutcher,
did better, making £23 million in 2013.
‘The Last Witch Hunter’: Showing that far from everything Vin Diesel touches turns to gold, this fantasy fluff in the vein of the considerably more profitable
‘Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters’ (crossed with a bit of Highlander for
good measure, and with a cameo for Sir Michael Caine) was a thorough
box office disaster to the tune of £64 million from its £60 million
‘Pan’: Another very high-profile flop, this time from ‘Atonement’s Joe
Wright. This was a hugely expensive reboot of the Peter Pan myth at
nearly £100 million, with Hugh Jackman’s Blackbeard leading the way.
After a critical pounding, and a general lack of interest, it made
around £80 million at the box office. But with ads and marketing
costing around that much again, it was a crushing blow for Warner
‘Tomorrowland’: Disney made much of this mystery project while it was in
pre-production, a movie inspired by secret boxes found in the vaults
of the Mouse House, and helmed by the peerless Brad Bird (who
reportedly had to turn down ‘Star Wars’ because of it). Lost’s Damon
Lindelof didn’t inspire with his story, and the Clooney-fronted movie
made just £137 million with a cost of £124 million. But it’s thought
that with its marketing costs, it could have lost Disney as much as
‘Fantastic Four’: A flop so very high-profile, it makes you wince. Josh Trank, a
director with a single, low-budget hit behind him, was given nearly
£80 million to bring Reed Richards and chums back to screens, and
blazing hot cast to do it with (Miles Teller, Jamie Bell, Kate Mara
and Michael B. Jordan). It was a dog’s dinner, hated by critics, comic
book fans and movie-goers, making only £110 million.
‘Jupiter Ascending’: Where to start. Channing Tatum with pixie ears, alien dynasties and a plot with some rather striking similarities to ‘The Matrix’, this
Wachowski-directed space opera was a valiantly preposterous disaster,
one which will give major studios serious pause for thought next time
the sibling moviemakers want a cheque for £115 million to make a film.
It made back £120 million.
‘Aloha’: Cameron Crowe is sentimental at the best of times, but ‘Aloha’ took
the biscuit. Smug and self-satisfied, its notable cast (Bradley Cooper, Rachel McAdams, Emma Stone, Bill Murray, Alex Baldwin) couldn’t hide the mess nor the critical derision. With a budget of £24 million – that’s a lot of stars after all – it tanked, making £17 million.
‘Seventh Son’: If it’s not a Peter Jackson-helmed fantasy, then best of luck.
‘Seventh Son’ went the way of so many other swords and sorcery movies
in recent years, its stars Jeff Bridges, Julianne Moore, Kit Harington
and Alicia Vikander unable to raise it from a critical mauling. At a
cost of £62 million, only £72 million came back.
‘Child 44′: Tom Rob Smith’s novel was an international best-seller. The movie,
produced by Ridley Scott with Tom Hardy and Gary Oldman as a Russian
security agent and his commander investigating child murders, was an
international disaster. It cost £32 million to make, for the sake of
an £8.5 million return.
‘Strange Magic’: Based on a story by George Lucas (uh-oh), itself inspired by ‘A
Midsummer Night’s Dream’, this unloved animation was a disaster with
its B-team voice cast (Alan Cumming, Evan Rachel Wood, Kristen
Chenoweth, Maya Rudolph) and its baleful £8 million box office
takings. No figures on its production budget, but let’s just say you
don’t get much cartoon for £8 million.
‘Hot Tub Time Machine 2′: John Cusack dropped out following the first movie, leaving Craig Robinson, Rob Corddry, Clark Duke and new boy Adam Scott the indignity of an £8 million box office from a production budget of £9 million.
Presumably a third movie is now on the back burner.
‘The Gunman’: Sean Penn’s gone terribly off the boil since ‘Milk’ in 2008. ‘The
Gunman’ was no exception, a rote assassin thriller which despite a
high-quality cast (Javier Bardem, Idris Elba, Mark Rylance, Ray
Winstone) did no business whatsoever. It scored £10 million at the box
office, having cost £26 million to make.
‘Unfinished Business’: A comedy about a European business conference starring Vince Vaughn and James Franco’s less popular brother Dave. What could possibly go wrong? Everything, as it happens. Critics called it ‘unfunny’, and moviegoers didn’t really call it anything. Having cost £23 million to
make, it made back a woeful £9.4 million.
‘The Walk’: The amazing true story of French high-wire artist Philippe Petit’s
walk between the twin towers of the World Trade Center in 1974 – with
Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the lead – wasn’t enough to drag people to see
Robert ‘Back To The Future’ Zemeckis’s movie. It cost £23 million, and
only made £27 million back.
‘Our Brand Is Crisis’: Political comedies aren’t known for their box office hauls.
Perpetuating this was the George Clooney-produced ‘Our Brand Is
Crisis’ with Sandra Bullock playing a campaign strategist hired to
help a Bolivian politician win the 2002 presidential election. It
tanked, badly, making £4.4 million with a production cost alone of £18
‘Jem And The Holograms’: This movie, based on the 80s cartoon series, did so badly that it broke records. It achieved the worst opening of 2015, with a gross of £919,000 over 2000 screens. That made it the fourth worst opening of
all time for a release of that size. After two weeks, and a gross of
£1.5 million from its admittedly tiny £3.2 million budget, Universal
pulled it from release.
‘Blackhat’: This Michael Mann hacker thriller starred ‘Avengers’ star Chris
Hemsworth, but the returns were far from Marvel-ous. It made just £11
million at the box office on a £45 million budget, with middling
reviews and a stupid title mostly to blame.