While 2017 turned out to be a very good year in terms of the overall quality of films released, it was one of the worst in terms of box office performance. According to Box Office Mojo, 2017 ticket sales were the lowest in 25 years, as you’d have to go all the way back to 1992 to find a worst year. According to Exhibitor Relations senior analyst Jeff Bock, much of the blame for this drop off can be attributed to a mix of poorly-received remakes/reboots and increasing competition from streaming services such as Netflix.
Superhero movies and pretty much everything put out by Disney continued to generate big business in 2017 but even the success of Star Wars: The Last Jedi hasn’t been enough to change the year from being an especially bad one financially for most of the major studios. And as with any year, there were some films that were hit harder than others and totally bombed at the box office. The following films represent 2017’s biggest box office flops.
25. Justice League
Justice League should have been a slam dunk for Warner Bros. and DC’s superhero cinematic universe. Marvel’s Avengers crossover films have been some of the studio’s most successful outings both commercially and critically, so one would expect that bringing together characters such as Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash and the rest of DC’s massively popular superheroes would generate similar results. Well, DC put out two live action superhero films in 2017 and only one of them was a big box office draw … and it wasn’t Justice League. While Wonder Woman was one of the year’s biggest success stories, Justice League came and went with seemingly little fanfare. In terms of critical consensus, the film was much better received than 2016’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad but ironically, Justice League fell well short of both films’ strong box office showings.
Whereas BvS and Suicide Squad proved to be largely review-proof, Justice League may very well be the highest-grossing box office bomb of all time. That may sound like an oxymoron but when you consider that Justice League made more than $200 million less worldwide than its direct predecessor, Batman v Superman, it’s hard not to see this Zack Snyder/Joss Whedon joint as anything other than a flop. Sure, the film may very well still break even but a film that cost an estimated $300 million to made should be in the $1 billion earning territory and Justice League only managed to hit the $650 million mark. The DC cinematic universe is by no means finished but expect Warner Bros. and DC to take a massive course correction after this one. After all, if a film featuring all of your best, most popular characters isn’t enough to stave off box office failure, something needs to change.
Dwayne Johnson is typically a sure bet when it comes to box office success, but even The Rock couldn’t keep this sinking ship afloat. Now, Baywatch was by no means a bomb, as it still managed to earn $176 million worldwide but for a comedy that cost a hefty $69 million (was that budget figure intentional?) to produce, it’s fair to say that Baywatch was one of the summer’s biggest under-performers.
The main problem for Baywatch was that its stacked cast of beautiful people couldn’t shake off poor reviews and word-of-mouth, as the film saw its fortunes steadily decline after an already disappointing opening weekend. This represents another misfire for Paramount/Viacom, which had an especially disastrous summer at the box office and had the film cost about $20 million less to make, Baywatch would have been considered a modest hit. As things stand, it’s highly unlikely we’ll see a sequel.
23. Blade Runner 2049
The fact that Blade Runner 2049 exists at all is a small miracle and that it’s not only a worthy successor to Ridley Scott’s original groundbreaking 1982 sci-fi film but an arguably superior film is simply too good to be true. Unfortunately, a “Certified Fresh” Rotten Tomatoes score didn’t translate to box office gold for this heady genre film, which could well lose Alcon Entertainment $80 million due to its poor domestic performance. While director Denis Villeneuve has expressed puzzlement over the film’s failure, there are at least a few key reasons that help explain why Blade Runner 2049 was a flop.
For one thing, cerebral science-fiction thrillers have never been a particularly lucrative genre and 2049′s huge $155 million budget meant that it had to earn over $300 million just to break even. There’s also the fact that the original Blade Runner wasn’t a box office hit either and even though it would go on to become a beloved cult classic, there was never any guarantee that a sequel would play well with audiences, especially 35 years removed from the original’s release. As things stand, this is probably the end of the road for the franchise, at least on the silver screen but considering that a Blade Runner sequel probably shouldn’t even exist (or be this good) in the first place, the fact that we’ll likely never see a third installment isn’t as devastating a realization as it should be.
22. Daddy’s Home 2
The original Daddy’s Home was by no means a great comedy but that didn’t stop it from being a major box office success. Two years later, Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg return for another go in a sequel that really should have been a guaranteed hit. For whatever reason, Daddy’s Home 2 failed to even match its predecessor’s earnings, generating $102 million worldwide as of Jan. 1, 2018. With an estimated $69 million production budget (given the film’s A-list cast, most of that cost is surely salary-related), Daddy’s Home 2 wasn’t a disaster by any means but Paramount must have safely assumed it would earn more than double its budget back instead of barely breaking even (though even that’s debatable given that the break even point for most movies is double the budget once marketing and other costs are factored in).
Perhaps the presence of Mel Gibson, who remains a controversial figure despite Hollywood continuing to give him work, was enough to keep families away? Whatever the case, it’s clear this comedic franchise is already experiencing diminishing returns two movies in, so it’s hard to imagine we’ll see a third.
21. Ghost in the Shell
Another big-budget genre movie that failed to generate much box office action, Ghost in the Shell’s failure is more surprising than Blade Runner 2049’s given the popularity of its source material. Ghost in the Shell is one of the most popular and beloved manga/anime franchises in the world and millions of fans have been waiting decades for a live action adaptation. The $110 million production was released in March and landed flat on its face, earning a paltry $40 million domestically.
Ghost in the Shell did considerably better overseas with close to $130 million in box office receipts but with total revenue amounting to less than $170 million, this was a considerable money loser for Paramount, the first of many flops for the studio in 2017. Of course, Ghost in the Shell got off on the wrong foot long before it was ever released with the controversial casting of Scarlett Johansson as the lead, prompting many to claim the film was needlessly whitewashing the source material. Factor in a tepid critical response and Ghost in the Shell stands as one of 2017’s more substantial blockbuster failures.
20. The Lego Ninjago Movie
Based on the enormous success of The Lego Movie and The Lego Batman Movie before it, The Lego Ninjago Movie looked like a surefire win for Warner Bros. and Vertigo Entertainment. Unfortunately, WB overestimated the brand appeal of the Ninjago name, with the movie opening in over 4,000 North American theaters in September. Projected to earn $30-45 million in its opening weekend, Ninjago came in well below that target with a disappointing $20.4 million. The movie would go on to earn approximately $123 million worldwide — far short of the $300+ and $400+ million grosses enjoyed by The Lego Batman Movie and The Lego Movie, respectively.
Even with the Lego name behind it, Ninjago was unable to attract enough of an audience to break even on its $70 million budget and though WB still has at least two Lego movies in the works, Ninjago’s failure may cause the studio to hesitate before assuming that all of its properties can be surefire box office hits in the future.
19. The Dark Tower
Sony’s The Dark Tower had a tough job from the outset, in that it had to appeal to both fans of Stephen King’s mammoth fantasy series and moviegoers just looking for an entertaining summer blockbuster. Given how hard a time The Dark Tower had even getting to screen, it really shouldn’t come as a surprise that it failed on pretty much every level, including commercially. With negative reviews amounting to a dismal 16% score on Rotten Tomatoes, many Tower fans chose to stay home rather than sit through a poor adaptation of their beloved series.
The same thing seemed to happen with the masses as well, as not even the combined star power of Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey could make The Dark Tower a modest August hit. With just over $100 million earned worldwide on a $60 million budget, Sony didn’t lose as much money on The Dark Tower as they could have, but it’s safe to say that those trilogy plans have well and truly been scrapped.
18. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
Director Luc Besson is well known for directing the 1997 sci fi classic The Fifth Element, but it still boggles the mind that he was able to convince STX Entertainment to give him anywhere from $175-200 million to make an adaptation of a French comic book he read when he was a kid. Yet somehow, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets got made and was released this summer to mixed reviews and anemic box office returns.
Seemingly destined to become a space opera cult classic, Valerian may have cool visuals and eye-popping special effects, but that still wasn’t enough to convince audiences to check out this confusingly-titled film. While Valerian was able to earn back its production costs with a worldwide gross of $211 million, it’s estimated that the film would need to earn around $500 million just to turn a profit. Ouch.
17. Power Rangers
The Power Rangers franchise has remained popular for a quarter century thanks to countless iterations and a lucrative toy business. The 2017 Power Rangers film was designed as a reboot of the original (and most popular) Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers TV series, so all things considered it looked like Lionsgate was taking the right steps to establish the Power Rangers brand as a lucrative blockbuster movie franchise as well. It was surprising then to see the film earn only $85 million domestically, thus failing to make back its $100 million production budget.
Power Rangers fared even worse internationally, generating only $56.9 million in ticket sales in foreign markets, which is simply unacceptable in an era where international box office success is increasingly important, especially for films like Power Rangers that tend to perform better overseas than domestically. Prior to the film’s release, Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer teased anywhere from four to six sequels but thanks to its dismal international numbers, it looks like we’ll be lucky to even get Power Rangers 2.
Bringing back Flatliners — a decent but forgettable psychological horror film from 1990 starring Kiefer Sutherland, Julia Roberts, and Kevin Bacon — was never a great idea to begin with but when Sony Pictures started cancelling press screenings and pulling promo material for the 2017 remake, it was clear everyone knew what they had on their hands. Sure enough, director Niels Arden Oplev’s new edition of Flatliners flatlined on arrival and stood no chance of being resuscitated (sorry, the bombing puns were just too easy to resist on this one).
The film proved not only to be one of the worst reviewed of the year, garnering an embarrassing 5% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but only managed to earn a dismal $16 million domestically on a $19 million production budget. The one silver lining is that Flatliners managed to pull in around $44 million worldwide, so Sony may end up breaking even on it but no studio wants to just earn back what they put into a movie, especially when said movie is regarded as one of the worst of the year.
15. The Nut Job 2
The original Nut Job was an unremarkable animated film produced on a modest budget and released in the January dumping ground. No doubt thinking the original’s respectable box office take of $120 million would only increase if they released the sequel during the summer, Open Road Films made the decision to put out The Nut Job 2: Nutty By Nature during a week with little competition.
The plan backfired spectacularly.
Barely scraping together $8 million in its opening weekend, The Nut Job 2 now holds the unfortunate distinction of having the worst performance of a film released on more than 4,000 screens. To date, it has yet to pass the $30 million mark in earnings, which is made all the worse by the fact the film cost $40 million to produce (and that’s not even factoring in marketing costs). If Open Road is to release a third Nut Job, it will probably either be another January release or even direct-to-DVD.
14. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul
Moviegoers of a certain age (read: anyone who’s not a kid or a parent with young children) probably never noticed that the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series went past one movie but it’s actually pretty successful. Based on the series of books of the same name, the first three Diary of a Wimpy Kid movies all performed very well at the box office, so one would assume that the fourth installment would follow suit.
Unfortunately, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul is essentially a direct-to-video sequel mistakenly released in theaters, as none of the original cast is present and the film itself takes a noticeable dip in quality compared to its predecessors. Apparently, audiences got wise to this and decided to simply skip this one, as The Long Haul didn’t even earn enough domestically to make its $21 million budget back and fared even worse worldwide, translating to a disappointing $40 million in total. At this rate, if there is a fifth Diary of a Wimpy Kid movie, it’s almost guaranteed to be an actual direct-to-video release.
Darren Aronofsky has built his career on making deeply unsettling, expressionistic films and in 2017 he delivered arguably his most polarizing work yet with mother! — a film that has seemingly divided the critical community into those that loved its audaciousness or absolutely despised it. Unfortunately for Aronofsky and everyone else involved in the making of mother!, there can be no debate about its dismal box office performance.
The failure of mother! can be attributed to many factors — confusing marketing, mixed reviews, debuting alongside the most successful R-rated movie of all time — but unlike most, if not all of the other films on this list, it feels like the film’s box office failure has only added to mother!’s mystique. Yes, Paramount surely isn’t happy about it only earning $17 million domestically on a $30 million budget but few other films in 2017 were dissected, discussed, or outright hated as much as mother! was and you just know that cult status is right around the corner.
12. The Circle
You would think that someone would have noticed if a film starring Emma Watson and Tom Hanks was released to over 3,000 North American theaters, but The Circle came and went so fast that you’d be forgiven for not knowing it even exists. Released right at the beginning of the summer movie season, The Circle is a thriller that thoroughly wastes the talents of its star-studded cast, which also features Karen Gillan (Guardians of the Galaxy) and John Boyega (Star Wars: The Force Awakens). With an embarrassing 17% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, it’s little surprise that audiences stayed away from The Circle in droves, driving the film to a worldwide gross of $20.5 million on a $18 million budget.
Now let us never speak of it again.
It could be argued that 2017 was the year when we saw the “old 80s/90s TV show remade as a movie” genre bubble burst, as we saw both Baywatch and CHiPs fail to adopt the successful model of 21 Jump Street. Like 21 Jump Street, CHiPs is also an irreverent adaptation that doesn’t so much honor the source material as blows it up, as the film abandons the endearing tone of the TV series in favor of more aggressive gags and comedy. The important difference between 21 Jump Street and CHiPs is one of quality, as the latter movie takes the low brow humor approach as opposed to the intelligent genre deconstruction that made 21 Jump Street and its sequel so entertaining and most importantly, funny.
The only good thing that can be said for CHiPs and its poor showing at the box office is that its relatively modest $25 million budget prevented it from being an absolute disaster, though with a worldwide gross of just over $26 million, this was still a huge money loser for Warner Bros. On the bright side, CHiPs‘ failure may turn into everyone’s gain, as studios will probably be a bit more reluctant to turn old TV shows into trash movies going forward (or so we hope).
10. The House
Summer 2017 was not kind to R-rated comedies, but both Rough Nightand Snatched look like runaway success stories compared to the poor performance of The House. Starring Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler as a married couple who start a casino in their basement in order to payback their daughter’s college fund, The House absolutely squanders the talents of its two leads and is aggressively unfunny, which might explain why this is the first time you’ve even heard of its existence.
Somehow, this thing cost $40 million to make and the most embarrassing part is that it wasn’t even able to recoup that cost, achieving a worldwide gross of only $33 million. On the bright side, at least very few people made the decision to waste money on this tedious mess, proving that audiences are much more discerning when it comes to comedy filmmaking than Hollywood gives them credit for.
9. Thank You For Your Service
Released the weekend before Halloween, Jason Hall’s biographical war film Thank You For Your Service came in well below expectations with a $3.7 million opening take. Granted, that wasn’t so bad when you consider the stiff competition it was facing from Jigsaw that same weekend but the film would go on to only gross $9.47 million on a $20 million budget.
While it represented yet another box office disappointment for star Miles Teller, whose Only the Brave had under-performed just two weeks prior (more on that one a little later in this list), Thank You For Your Service was at least well received from a critical standpoint, garnering a 77% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
8. A Cure For Wellness
Dane DeHaan did not have a good year at the box office, having starred in two of 2017’s biggest flops: the aforementioned Valerian and A Cure For Wellness, a psychological-horror drama from Gore Verbinski (The Ring) released in February to mixed reviews and a complete lack of interest from the public.
A Cure For Wellness bombed hard, managing to earn only $26.5 million worldwide against a $40 million production budget. As a mid-tier studio release from an auteur director, the failure of A Cure For Wellness could very well have major repercussions going forward as studios increasingly invest in more franchises and less in new, standalone pictures.
7. Only the Brave
The dominance of superhero movies at the multiplex proves that moviegoers adore heroic stories but movies based on real-life heroism seem to have a more difficult time registering with audiences, at least if the poor box office performance of Only the Brave is any indication.
A biographical drama detailing the elite crew of firemen who fought the Yarnell Hill Fire in June 2013, Only the Brave was adored by critics and featured a star-studded cast that included names such as Miles Teller, Josh Brolin, Jennifer Connelly, and Jeff Bridges. Unfortunately, these strengths failed to translate into financial success, with the film earning only $23 million worldwide — far short of its reported $38 million production budget.
6. The Space Between Us
Following a pair of star-crossed young lovers living on a Martian colony, The Space Between Us is the kind of schmaltzy dreck that tends to perform well at the box office but for whatever reason, audiences stayed away from this one in droves. It probably didn’t help that the film was absolutely roasted by critics, garnering a meager 16% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
By sci-fi movie standards, The Space Between Us could be labelled a budget flick, having only cost $30 million to produce. Unfortunately, STX Entertainment failed to recoup even that cost, with the film only earning $14.7 million worldwide.
A film starring Matt Damon and Juliance Moore, written by the Coen Brothers, and directed by George Clooney? Sounds like a recipe for commercial and critical success right? Apparently not. Suburbicon was one of 2017’s biggest flops, a film so bad that it now carries the unfortunate distinction of being Matt Damon and Paramount’s worst wide release debut ever.
The film only earned $2.8 million in its opening weekend and ended its run at $5.7 million, nearly $20 million shy of its estimated $25 million budget. While Suburbicon’s failure is unlikely to affect the reputation of the big names involved, it’s a rare sight indeed to see so much talent translate into a truly awful movie.
4. King Arthur
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword will go down not only as one of the biggest bombs of 2017 but possibly of all time, as Guy Ritchie’s hyper-stylized take on the Arthurian legend was not only panned by critics but missed its earnings projections by a massive margin. Released in May well before the summer season really kicked off in earnest, Legend of the Sword had an abysmal opening weekend, to the point where Warner Bros. had to scale back its projections by $25 million — and then the film proceeded to fall $10 million short of that mark.
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword’s total worldwide gross ended up being nearly $30 million less than its whopping $175 million production budget and when you consider that the film likely would have needed to earn double that amount just to break even, it’s safe to assume that WB’s plans for a six-movie franchise have been thoroughly scrapped.
3. Rock Dog
Be honest: you didn’t even know there was a movie called Rock Dog released in 2017 until you read this. Yes, joining the ranks of such animated misfires as Hoodwinked Too! Hood Vs Evil and Space Chimps 2: Zartog Strikes Back (okay, it actually isn’t as bad as either of those) is Rock Dog, arguably the most forgettable animated movie released in 2017. This is a film that absolutely wastes the talents of its voice cast, including Academy Award-winner J.K. Simmons, who for some reason turns up here as a talking Tibetan Mastiff named Khampa and has “budget film” written all over it (yet still cost around $60 million to make).
By animation standards, a $60 million budget is on the lower side but that didn’t stop Lionsgate/Summit from only recouping a fraction of it, as Rock Dog earned less than $10 million worldwide. Much like with Poochie the rockin’ dog, audiences just couldn’t contend with the overall crumminess of Rock Dog.
2. The Promise
Released in the spring and quickly forgotten about, The Promise could have been something special if it had fallen in better hands. Unfortunately, director Terry George wastes an incredible lead cast that includes Christian Bale, Charlotte Le Bon, and Oscar Isaac and a powerful real-life story on a mediocre love triangle. Set amid the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, The Promise has impressive production values and some standout dramatic moments but ultimately failed to make much of an impact on critics or audiences.
It’s the latter group that really stings though, as hardly anyone showed up to see The Promise. The film managed only managed to rake in around $8 million globally on a $90 million, representing a huge loss for Open Road Films and establishing The Promise as one of the year’s biggest flops.
1. Monster Trucks
The biggest box office bomb of the year was Monster Trucks, a film that seemingly had failure written all of it even before its release. Consider this: in September 2016, Viacom announced that it was taking “a programming impairment charge” of $115 million due to losses from this Paramount-produced film — four months before it even opened in theaters. Paramount first announced Monster Trucks back in 2013, framing it as the beginning of a new franchise.
Mixing CGI monsters and truck action (imagine that!), Monster Trucks failed to catch on with audiences despite releasing at the beginning of the year with no competition from other family-friendly movies. Monster Trucks is estimated to have cost $125 million to produce and managed to earn back just a little over half of that budget back with a worldwide gross of $64 million. Something tells us that Paramount won’t be playing the franchise game with Monster Trucks after a poor performance like that!