We’ve reached the halfway mark of 2018 and so far, this year has provided us with a handful of big success stories at the box office. The massive superhero crossover event Avengers: Infinity War cost at least $300 million to produce, making it one of the most expensive movies ever made, but the film easily earned back its huge budget and then some. The Marvel Studios production has earned over $2 billion worldwide and now sits just behind Star Wars: The Force Awakens as the fourth-highest grossing film of all time.
In fact, 2018 has proven to be another lucrative year for superhero filmmaking. Despite claims of fatigue setting in, the four biggest moneymakers of the year — Infinity War, Black Panther, Deadpool 2, and Incredibles 2 — are all superhero-related. Unfortunately, outside of that genre, box office success stories have been few and far between in the first half of the year, to the point where the fifth biggest earner, Solo: A Star Wars Story, is in fact one of 2018’s financial failures once you factor in production costs and the like. However, the latest Star Wars movie isn’t the only box office flop we’ve seen this year …
So far, the following 11 movies represent the biggest box office disappointments of 2018:
11. Proud Mary
Domestic Box Office: $20.87 million
Foreign Box Office: $0.876 million
Budget: $14 million
Quietly released in early January, Sony’s Proud Mary was sold as an action flick starring Taraji P. Henson, the breakout star of the TV series Empire. What viewers got instead was less John Wick re-imagined with a black female lead but rather a messy, mediocre crime drama with very few big action moments.
As such, negative review scores and word of mouth convinced audiences to stay away from Proud Mary and the film, which seemed to have “surprise early year hit” written all over it, sputtered out at the box office, failing to break even by close to $8 million.
10. Death Wish
Domestic Box Office: $34.017 million
Foreign Box Office: $14.6 million
Budget: $30 million
Despite getting off to a decent start with a domestic opening weekend haul of $13 million, Eli Roth’s remake of the 1974 vigilante action movie Death Wish failed to have the legs required to recoup its production and marketing costs. Written by Joe Carnahan (The Grey) and starring Bruce Willis, Death Wish was aimed squarely at the same audience that helped a number of action movies released in the first quarter find success in recent years (many of which starred Liam Neeson).
However, whether due to the presence of Willis – who has not been much of a box office draw for a long time – or being quite run-of-the-mill, Death Proof fell about $12 million short of the $60 million it needed to break even.
9. Sherlock Gnomes
Domestic Box Office: $43.2 million
Foreign $43.6 million
Budget: $59 million
No studio has struggled quite as much as Paramount Pictures has over the last few years; in fact, it’s finished no better than sixth among all studios since 2012 (right around the time it lost its remaining Marvel Studios properties to Disney). Unfortunately, outside of the surprise success of breakout horror hit A Quiet Place, Paramount is having another miserable year in 2018. The studio was counting on Sherlock Gnomes, the sequel to the 2011 animated hit Gnomeo and Juliet, to be a repeat success but the film had a lackluster showing when it was released in late March.
Receiving a below average CinemaScore of B+, Sherlock Gnomes failed to click with audiences and this was reflected in its box office haul, which currently sits at $86.8 million globally. This is over $100 million less than what Gnomeo and Juliet made seven years ago and with a $59 million budget, Sherlock Gnomes represents yet another big box office disappointment for Paramount.
8. Action Point
Domestic Box Office: $5.059 million
Foreign Box Office: N/A
Budget: $19 million
Considering Johnny Knoxville’s four Jackass films helped Paramount make half a billion dollars worldwide, it’s hardly surprising that the studio financed the prankster’s amusement park comedy Action Point for close to $20 million. Unfortunately, that investment backfired significantly, as Action Point has grossed just over $5 million to date.
When you factor in marketing and other costs, Paramount will likely end up losing north of $30 million on the film, representing Knoxville’s first misfire for the studio (his last hit, Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa, was a worldwide hit, earning over $150 million on a $15 million budget).
In terms of where Action Point went wrong, low CinemaScore and critical reviews, as well as the fact that most of the Jackass cast wasn’t in it seem to be the biggest contributing factors for the film being a big flop.
Domestic Box Office: $32.73 million
Foreign Box Office: $10.2 million (China)
Budget: $40 million
Another significant misfire for Paramount, Annihilation’s failure only further demonstrates how difficult it is for heady, big-budget science fiction to find box office success. On paper, Annihilation is the kind of movie that mature audiences have been complaining about for years that Hollywood doesn’t make anymore: a concept-driven, mid-tier studio production with a smart script, great ensemble cast, and visionary director.
But with so much prestige content available on-demand through streaming services like Netflix, adult-targeted filmmaking is having a hard time getting viewers out to the multiplexes, so even though Annihilation got overwhelmingly positive reviews from critics, it wasn’t enough to keep the film from being one of 2018’s earliest and biggest financial disappointments.
6. Early Man
Domestic Box Office: $8.26 million
Foreign Box Office: $45.16 million
Budget: $50 million
The latest film to come out of Britain’s Aardman Animations, Early Man now holds the unfortunate distinction of being the only feature film from the studio to not cross the $100 million mark worldwide. To date, the film has earned just over $53 million, which wouldn’t be so bad if it hadn’t also cost an estimated $50 million to make (though that figure should be doubled to account for marketing and other associated costs).
Overwhelmingly strong competition from Marvel Studios’ Black Panther certainly didn’t do Early Man any favors and though the film was critically well-received much like other Aardman productions like Shaun the Sheep! and The Pirates! Band of Misfits, it was another big flop for Lionsgate, a studio that just can’t seem to catch a break in the animation space as of late.
5. Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero
Domestic Box Office: $3.14 million
Foreign Box Office: N/A
Budget: $25 million
An animated film based on the life of the real life Sergeant Stubby, a heroic dog that helped save his regiment from a mustard gas attack during World War I, Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero sadly hit theaters with a whimper when it was released in April. Despite being one of the better animated movies to come out this year (it currently holds an 82% rating on Rotten Tomatoes), An American Hero simply failed to find an audience.
The film only managed to gross a meager $3.14 million against a $25 million budget, making Sgt. Stubby one of 2018’s biggest flops. Perhaps this heroic dog would have been better served with a direct-to-video release?
4. The Hurricane Heist
Domestic Box Office: $6.1 million
Foreign Box Office: $6.2 million
Budget: $35 million
Rob Cohen’s weather-related action thriller blew into theaters in early March hoping to satiate viewers with appetites for well-executed B-movie nonsense. Instead, The Hurricane Heist ended up becoming one of the year’s biggest flops, with an absolutely atrocious worldwide gross of just $12.3 million. Bear in mind that this film about bank robbers using a Category 5 hurricane to cover their tracks cost $35 million to make.
Add in marketing costs and you’re looking at a loss in the $50 million range, which means that we can probably rule out any further weather-related Heist sequels showing up on Entertainment Studios’ production forecasts.
3. Pacific Rim Uprising
Domestic Box Office: $59.18 million
Foreign Box Office: $230.8 million
Budget: $150 million
The fact that Pacific Rim Uprising even exists is rather surprising, as the original film was a box office failure in North America and only managed to recoup its costs thanks to a strong showing overseas, particularly in China. As such, the sequel was pretty much developed with the Chinese market in mind, with the hope that the cult following Guillermo del Toro’s original robots vs. aliens slugfest had gained in the interim would be enough to boost domestic ticket sales as well.
Pacific Rim Uprising ended up failing on both fronts, earning significantly less domestically and internationally than its predecessor. If Uprising had managed to cross the $100 million mark in North America, the film may have stood a chance of meeting its break-even point (estimated to be around the $350 million mark). Instead, Uprising didn’t even hit $300 million worldwide, over $100 million less than what the original Pacific Rim made. The lesson here: don’t make a sequel to a box office failure and also don’t take a half decade to do it.
2. Solo: A Star Wars Story
Domestic Box Office: $196.2 million
Foreign Box Office: $147.1 million
Budget: $275 million (estimated)
At this point, Solo: A Star Wars Story’s disappointing box office run has been well documented. The Star Wars prequel’s troubled production, which saw its production costs balloon to nearly $300 million, performed well below expectation when it opened in late May and has failed to find its footing ever since.
Though Solo is still in the midst of its theatrical run at the time of this writing, the Ron Howard-directed film is expected to finish well shy of the $500 million and even if it reached that mark, it would still place well behind the three previous Disney-produced Star Wars films, which all earned over $1 billion.
As things stand, Disney is expected to lose anywhere from $50-80 million on Solo, making it the first Star Wars film in history to flop. Unsurprisingly, early reports are already indicating that Lucasfilm is changing its plans for future Star Wars spin-offs in the wake of Solo’s failure (though Lucasfilm has since denied those reports).
1. A Wrinkle In Time
Domestic Box Office: $100.1 million
Foreign Box Office: $32.15 million
Budget: $103 million
While it would be all too easy to pin the blame for A Wrinkle in Time’s box office failure on its bid for inclusiveness (a female African-American director, diverse cast, etc.), the Disney-produced film’s problems go much deeper and are part of a larger trend of young adult adaptations having a difficult time finding an audience. As noted by comScore analyst Paul Dergarabedian, fantasy adventures like A Wrinkle in Time have struggled as of late because they’re “not sequel-based and don’t fall easily into clearly defined categorization,” so viewers are reluctant to spend money going to a theater to see them.
It also didn’t help that A Wrinkle in Time got a mixed reception from critics and a disappointing B Cinemascore from those who did see it. With a budget of $103 million, Disney’s break-even point for A Wrinkle in Time was somewhere north of the $200 million mark but with just over $132 million grossed worldwide, the film instead stands as the biggest box office bust of 2018.