January 3 2016

Biggest box office flops of 2015

It’s that time of year where we see which films were the biggest box office flops of 2015.

2015 has come to a close, so now we can see what films were sure to have gotten at least a few executives yelled at.

A few notes on the table, the vast majority of those listed are obvious to have not turned a profit, but those that appear to have a total higher than their budget doesn’t mean they made any money. The rule of thumb is take the global gross, divide it by two and then subtract the budget to figure out if a film made a profit. This takes into account marketing costs, the higher percentage distributors take overseas and so on.

Domestic Box Office
Foreign Box Office
Production Budget
American Ultra$14,440,985$1,000,000$15,440,985$28,000,000
By the Sea$538,460$2,017,065$2,555,525$10,000,000
Crimson Peak$31,090,320$42,957,902$74,048,222$55,000,000
The D Train$669,688$101,629$771,317$3,000,000
Fantastic Four$56,117,548$111,860,048$167,977,596 $120,000,000
The Good Dinosaur$105,350,933$109,000,000 $214,350,933 $200,000,000
The Green Inferno$7,192,291$0$7,192,291$5,000,000
The Gunman$10,664,749$0$10,664,749$40,000,000
Hot Pursuit$34,580,201$16,900,000$51,480,201$35,000,000
Hot Tub Time Machine 2$12,314,651$767,000$13,081,651$14,000,000
Jem and the Holograms$2,184,640$70,571$2,255,211$5,000,000
Jupiter Ascending$47,387,723$136,500,000 $183,887,723 $176,000,000
The Last Witch Hunter$27,339,631$80,965,305$108,304,936$90,000,000
The Loft$6,002,684$4,074,106$10,076,790$14,000,000
The Man From U.N.C.L.E.$45,445,109$64,000,000$109,445,109 $75,000,000
Our Brand is Crisis$7,002,261$0$7,002,261 $28,000,000
Point Break$15,585,000$43,190,987$58,775,987$105,000,000
Rock The Kasbah$3,020,664$0$3,020,664$15,000,000
Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse$3,703,046$11,157,720$14,860,766$15,000,000
Seventh Son$17,223,265$96,955,348$114,178,613$95,000,000
Steve Jobs$17,766,658$6,955,172$24,721,830$30,000,000
Tomorrowland$93,436,322$115,599,346$209,035,668 $190,000,000
Unfinished Business$10,219,501$4,211,752$14,431,253$35,000,000
The Walk$10,137,502$32,211,489$42,348,991$35,000,000
We Are Your Friends$3,591,417$0$3,591,417$6,000,000

Considering this was a year of numerous records at the box office, and a record total of over $11B, there was a surprising number of flops. The number jumped from 16 last year to 30 this year. I wondered if the studios were figuring things out last year, but it’s clear that they aren’t.

This year’s list is truly a mix of different genres, styles, studios and so on. Unlike in year’s past where you could see a trend, 2015 is missing that. There doesn’t seem to be any connecting thread this year in topics, settings, genres or even actors.

Here’s hoping that 2016 sees the number of flops drop again, but somehow I think we’re going to see a similar sized list.

A few movies, such as Point Break, are still in release, but they have little to no hope of breaking even.

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  • Erik Tyler

    How are some of these “flops” if they made a healthy profit? The Last Witch Hunter, Man From U.N.C.L.E., etc.

    • As I stated in the article it has to make double its budget to consider it profitable.

  • Ponta Vedra

    There’s a Hollywood accounting rule of thumb which says that marketing a movie costs as much as the total budget, so if a film does not make double its budget it’s considered a flop.

    I call BS on that, though, along with so many other Hollywood accounting tricks. I seriously doubt that Disney spent $190 million publicizing “Tomorrowland.” Not to mention the fact that the box office is only that, and does not reflect video sales (DVD, Blu-Ray, or digital), or income from distribution rights on television/other media nor from merchandising.

    Not to mention the fact that a great deal of the budget “costs” are monies paid to parts of the studio itself for rentals and services, meaning that the studio simply had money changing from one pocket to another, but in a way that saves them a great deal of money when it comes to paying taxes and, let’s not forget, pretending that profits are not being made so that people who negotiated a cut of the net profit get shafted. This was famously demonstrated when Forrest Gump made $680 million in ticket sales alone, off of a $55 million budget, and yet still claimed the film made no profits, much to the chagrin of the book’s author, who had negotiated 3% of the net.

    I would not be the least bit surprised if the studios made an actual net profit off of most of the movies on the list above.

    • In general I completely agree with you that the accounting is BS. I will say, though, marketing is not the only other part of the double rule. It also takes into account prints, payment to foreign distributors (Only 25% of a ticket price in China goes back to the studio under State laws) etc. But yes, I completely agree this is the most simplified accounting ever.