When it comes to the blockbuster movie business, there is no such thing as guaranteed success. However, one genre that has consistently proven lucrative over the last decade – even in the face of a year like 2017, one of the worst box office years in a quarter century – is comic book adaptations. The one-two punch of Iron Man and The Dark Knight in 2008 kicked off a new era of comic book movies defined by better quality movies and gargantuan box office hauls. In fact, a quarter of the top 20 all-time domestic and worldwide grosses are comic book movies released since 2008. But outside of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and, to a lesser extent, the DC Extended Universe, comic book adaptations can still be a pretty big gamble and the genre is littered with the corpses of movies that failed to catch on with audiences.
Here are some of the biggest box office disasters in comic book movie history.
16. Fantastic Four (2015)
Domestic Box Office: $56.1 million
Foreign Box Office: $111.8 million
Budget: $120 million
It’s hard not to feel bad for the Fantastic Four (and especially fans of the series), as Marvel’s “First Family” has yet to have a big screen adaptation worthy of their name. But whereas 2005’s Fantastic Four and its 2007 sequel Rise of the Silver Surfer came close in some regards to doing the Fantastic Four justice, the 2015 reboot was so bad that it makes those previous movies look like genre-defining spectacles by comparison.
Like many of the other films on this list, many of Fantastic Four’s problems seem to stem from behind-the-scenes turmoil, with some sources reporting that 20th Century Fox and director Josh Trank butted heads throughout production and that Fox ordered reshoots behind Trank’s back, while other sources claim that it was Trank’s “erratic behavior” on set that led to Fox’s dismissive attitude towards the filmmaker. Whatever happened, it’s clear that none of this turmoil resulted in a quality film being produced, as Fantastic Four is plagued with numerous problems, most prominent of which is that the whole enterprise feels wholly unnecessary.
Evidently, audiences marched right in step with critics on this one, as Fantastic Four had a poor showing at the box office. Although the film managed to earn back its budget and then some with a worldwide haul of $167.9 million, Fox still lost money on this one when you factor in marketing and other costs. It’s unclear what the future holds for the franchise now, but it’s looking like joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe may be the best hope for everyone involved.