January 3 2012

Biggest Box Office Flops of 2011

cinemaIt wasn’t a very happy year at the box office in 2011, and while the total for the year dropping was bad enough, some movies suffered more than others.

While there are always certain to be films each year that don’t fare well at the box office, some did spectacularly bad this year. Even bankable stars like Johnny Depp showed that not everything he touches is guaranteed to turn to gold.

As you look over this chart, keep in mind that a movie is considered successful when it doubles its production budget domestically to account for marketing costs.  Foreign box office loses a larger chunk due to international distribution deals, so even though some films have a higher total gross than their budget, it still doesn’t mean they made money.

 Domestic Box OfficeForeign Box OfficeTotalProduction Budget
Mars Needs Moms$21,392,758$17,600,000$38,992,758$150 million
Sucker Punch$36,392,502$53,400,000$89,792,502$82 million
Arthur$33,035,397$12,700,000$45,735,397$40 million
Green Lantern$116,601,172$103,250,000$219,851,172$200 million
Cowboys & Aliens$100,240,551$74,581,774$174,822,325$163 million
Conan the Barbarian$21,295,021$27,500,000$48,795,021$90 million
I Don't Know How She Does It$9,662,284$20,889,211$30,551,495$24 million
The Thing$16,928,670$10,500,000$27,428,670$38 million
The Big Year$7,166,399$244,247$7,410,646$41 million
The Rum Diary$13,109,815$8,482,023$21,591,838$45 million
Anonymous$4,463,292$10,308,400$14,771,692$30 million
Tower Heist$76,756,000$57,500,000$134,256,000$75 million
Happy Feet Two $60,817,000$61,500,000$122,317,000$135 million
New Year's Eve$46,372,000$45,400,000$91,772,000$56 million
Glee: The 3D Concert Movie$11,862,398$6,800,840$18,663,238 $9 million

Even though Mars Needs Moms was the biggest loser by dollar amount, I’m really focused on The Big Year.  The latter crashed and burned in such a way that it is mind boggling.  When you factor in it wasn’t even that large of a budget, to see it bring in just over $7 million worldwide, you really have to wonder how it went so horribly wrong.  We’re talking nearly art house film money here it did so badly, and its widest release point in the U.S. it had 2,150 screens.  True, huge films now come in at over 3,000 screens, but 2,150 isn’t exactly small and that means total per screen average domestically was $3,333.20.  That, by Hollywood standards, is a total disaster.

The list of films definitely has some large budget disasters, it’s also interesting to see how “modestly” budgeted films also didn’t fare all that well.  The Rum Diary was probably risky to begin with, but seeing it not even bring in its $40 million dollar budget is surprising when Depp has more billion dollar movies under his belt than anyone else.  I Don’t Know How She Does It has probably shown that the love affair with Sarah Jessica Parker has definitely come to an end.

When you add in how Happy Feet Two performed with Mars Needs Moms catastrophic failure, it also looks like the age of animated films being easy hits is quickly drawing to a close.  There was a time where every animated film brought in just insane amounts of money, but their performance has been dropping more and more lately, and these two have definitely set a new bar.

I’ll try not to laugh at how Conan the Barbarian performed, but it’s difficult to not to.  And Green Lantern … for having the biggest budget, this may actually end up being the flop that sticks in most people’s minds when they think back on 2011.

It’s obvious that even after all these years that the film studios don’t have a clue as to what they’re doing, and when a film is a “hit,” it really just has to be pure luck.

One note: New Year’s Eve is still in release, but it doesn’t look like it’s going to do a lot more.

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