10 BIG STINKING BOX OFFICE BOMBS -- some good, some baaad


Jun 15, 2006


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The Bottom Line Big budgeted box office bombs. Some are even worth watching !!!

Big Budgeted Movies that bombed at the box office. Some box office duds are worth seeing, some are jaw droppingly bad, others should be thrown away and forgotten.

ANSWERS TO THESE QUESTIONS ARE REVEALED BELOW:


1. NAME A HIGHLY REGARDED COMEDY CLASSIC THAT BOMBED AT THE BOX-OFFICE AND GOT IT’S STARS FIRED FROM THEIR STUDIO CONTRACT IN THE 1930’S ?

2. NAME THE LAST HIGHLY REGARDED FILM OF A RESPECTED FILMMAKER THAT WAS CUT DOWN BY 88 MINUTES INTO A 2 AND A HALF HOUR MOVIE BEFORE IT’S U.S. RELEASE AND CONSEQUENTLY BOMBED AT THE BOX OFFICE.

3. NAME AN EXCELLENT MANIC FAMILY FILM THAT WENT OVER BUDGET AND COMPLETELY BOMBED AT THE BOX OFFICE.

4. NAME A SUPPOSED FAMILY MOVIE FULL OF SO MANY REALLY GROSS, BODILY FUNCTION GAGS AND PUNS, MANY PARENTS AND KIDS WERE SICKENED

5. NAME A FILM THAT STARS A 70 PLUS YEAR OLD SEX SYMBOL, AN UNDER 30 YEAR OLD SEX SYMBOL, A FAMOUS FILM CRITIC, A FUTURE TELEVISION SEX SYMBOL ALONG WITH CLIPS FROM LAUREL AND HARDY, AND SHIRLEY TEMPLE MOVIES.

6. NAME THE WORST SEQUEL EVER MADE THAT STARS TWO BIG MONKEYS .

7. NAME THE WORST MOVIE AND BIGGEST BOX OFFICE MOVIE LOSER EVER MADE BY A FORMER SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE STAR (SO FAR).

8. NAME A MOVIE PRODUCED BY GEORGE LUCAS THAT LOST MORE MONEY AND WAS EVEN WORSE THAN HOWARD THE DUCK

9. NAME A LONG DELAYED VERY EXPENSIVE ROMANTIC COMEDY DUD FEATURING GOLDIE HAWN, DIANE KEATON, AND WARREN BEATTY.

10. NAME ONE OF THE MOST EXPENSIVE ANIMATED MOVIES THAT BOMBED BIG TIME AT THE BOX OFFICE


The answers revealed soon.


We’ve all heard about the big movie bombs that sunk their studios and/or backers into financial ruin. 1963’s CLEOPATRA—just to finish and release the film, the studio sold it’s backlots and then teetered on bankruptcy for the next decade. HEAVEN’S GATE cost about 45 million to make, was over a year late in being released and after bad reviews was yanked from theaters. It made less to 3 million total world-wide. There’s a great book about all this called Final Cut by Stephen Bach. It tells the whole story how what was originally going to an 11 million dollar budgeted movie, ballooned to 45 million with a mis-cast leading man (Kris Kristoferson) and a director who believed he was making an artistic masterpiece and nothing could stop him. Michael Cimino, the director had made the successful Deer Hunter. He would have a minor success with YEAR OF THE DRAGON a few years later, and then he would make another extremely expensive flop with the SICILIAN.

Let’s not talk about how Renny Harlin’s disasterous CUTTHROAT ISLAND film sank Carolco Pictures. By the way, it seems a lot of movies with the word ISLAND in their title are box-office poison. The recent ISLAND (Michael Bay’s CRONUS and Logan’s Run rip-off) did terrible business in the U.S. but will probably break even, thanks to good worldwide box office and home video revenues. There was another movie called THE ISLAND back in 1980 based on a book by Peter (Jaws, The Deep) Benchley starring Michael Caine. The plot involved pirates like Cutthroat did—but never mind it cost a lot to make, got terrible reviews, nobody saw it and it sunk quickly as deserved into relative obscurity. This was back in the days when Michael Caine seemed to be trying to be in as many bad movies as he possibly could, including Jaws 4:The Revenge, Beyond the Poseidon Adventure, Swarm, Harry and Walter Go To New York, etc. etc.

But before you scratch your heads over that one...

Consider the saga of the KEVINS. I'm referring to Kevin Costner and Kevin Reynolds. They became friends in the mid 1980's after they worked together on a movie. Reynolds impressed Steven Spielberg with a student film he had made called PROOF. Spielberg backed the expansion of PROOF into 1985’s FANDANGO which starred Costner. Some think it’s a pretty good movie. (Speilberg, however removed his name as one of the producers of the film because he didn't like how the film turned dark-- which hurt the film at the box-office).

Reynolds and Costner became friends. Speilberg by the way seemed to have no ill feelings for Reynolds and asked him to direct an episode of Amazing Stories (the cancelled T.V. show). Eventually Reynolds makes the big 1993 ROBIN HOOD:Prince of Thieves movie with Costner. He walks away from the movie before it is finished (while in post-production) over a dispute with Costner and the producers.

Costner co-produces director Reynolds' next movie which is 1994’s RAPA NUI –a huge box office bomb that no one saw. So the tussle isn't so serious I suppose.

The Kevins team up to work together again on the troubled WATERWORLD. Because of production problems—sets were built on WATER and then a monsoon came in and wiped out everything which had to be re-built (and this caused months of delays), the budget ballooned to nearly 200 million dollars. The movie world-wide took in a little more than half its budget, perhaps losing 30 or so percent—so you can say for all the press of it being a huge bomb.. there have been many worse fiascos. Kevin Reynolds left Waterworld while it was in post-production after another big argument with Costner and the producer and then worked on another box-office flop 187 that starred Samuel L. Jackson. After that one REYNOLDS took 5 years off returning with the new COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO IN 2001 which got mixed reviews but did reasonably well as the box-office.

And Costner? He talked the studio into letting him do ANOTHER large budget post apocalyptic science fiction (basically MAD MAX rip-off) movie. Costner directed the 80 million dollar POSTMAN which wound up making less than 20 million at the box office.

Kevin Reynolds recently directed Tristan and Isolde a pet project of Ridley and Tony Scott released in January of 2006 that got mixed to negative reviews and did poor box office.

Now the one that really gets me scratching my head is Sylvester Stallone's amazing career. No, no I don't mean how he was a struggling New York actor who showed up in bits parts in things like Woody Allen's Bananas, made a soft-core porno film, got some attention in the low budget gem called Lords of Flatbush.

I mean how he's been a triple threat in terms of being in so many box office duds. He will lose you money as a star, he’ll lose you money as a director, and he’ll lose you money as a writer-director and star too.

You know of course he was more less the architect of 4 very successful Rocky Movies and he’s been part of 3 Successful Rambo movies. Very, very successful. CliffHanger was a pretty big hit as and Lockup did okay as well. COBRA as bad as it was made a few bucks—though not what they expected, TANGO AND CASH also made a few dollars. One of his better movies, NIGHTHAWKS did decent business at the box-office.

But soon after the ROCKY success story, Stallone was busy doing VICTORY (the P.O.W. soccer movie that John Huston directed), F.I.S.T. (the wanna-be ON THE WATERFRONT movie), and his own vanity project PARADISE ALLEY (with his brother Frank that laid a huge egg at the box office). They did very little business at the box office.

One of best known fiasco’s was what turned out to be the most expensive movie low budget b-movie maker CANNON PICTURES ever made. It was a ridiculous movie about the semi-professional sport of ARM wrestling—yep arm wrestling and it was called OVER THE TOP. Stallone was reportedly given 10 million dollars (big bucks anytime but huge in 1987 to be sure) to write and star in this twist on the Rocky formula which sees Stallone as HAWK becoming a Arm Wrestler to impress his 12 year old son. The production company also attempted to shut-down a major Los Angeles Freeway to shoot a scene for the movie—they weren’t allowed to do this and instead shot the sequence on a part of the Simi Valley freeway that was still under construction. The movie did little business in the box-office when it was released..

Now when a guy who is in hits like ROCKY 2 and FIRST BLOOD wants to spread his wings a little bit… he gets to do that. Stallone decided to direct the sequel to Saturday Night Fever called STAYING ALIVE. It was an awful movie—but it wound up making a little money.

DEMOLITION MAN did better than break even

Remember when he starred in the so-bad-it’s funny action movie with Sharon Stone called THE SPECIALIST. You don't? Well for camp reasons you might want to watch that one. It lost quite a bit at the box-office.

Someone decided he should make a comedy back in 1984. Why? I don't know...folks on lots of cocaine and under tremendous stress have thought of worse ideas. Remember, RHINESTONE with Dolly Parton. Huge flop. Well they tried to make him Sly the funny man again in 1991 with the one –two splat of STOP OR MY MOM WILL SHOOT (with Golden Girl Estelle Getty) which didn't do much here in the U.S. but did pretty good business world-wide and almost broke even (believe it or not). His next movie was the gangster comedy called OSCAR (directed by John Animal House, Blue Brothers, Landis) that laid a big egg at the box office..

ROCKY 5 was bad but it raked in a few bucks anyway.

Since 1993’s Cliffhanger he’s only been in two successful project Spy Kids 3-D Game Over where he poked fun at himself playing the bad guy and ANTZ the animated hit where he was a starring voice, opposite WOODY ALLEN.

There was the terrible disaster flick DAYLIGHT that probably wound up breaking even because of good European business, the failed comic book action movie JUDGE DREDD lost a few bucks as did ASSASSINS with Antonio Banderos. The serious drama COPLAND was modestly budgeted, and Stallone got pretty good critical notices for his acting, but it didn’t do well as the box office.

Then you'll find on his resume one of the worst movies of all times, which very few people tried to sit through, even though it starred Eric Idle with Stallone, Jackie Chan and Whoopie Goldberg in supporting roles (1998’s AN ALAN SMITHEE FILM: BURN HOLLYWOOD BURN, the terrible 2000 remaked GET CARTER deservedly died at the box office, the racing dud- DRIVEN also lost everything, as did the almost straight to video EYE SEE YOU aka DETOX and SHADE.

In 2004/2005 he tried a reality t.v. series about boxer called THE CONTENDER. Ratings were only so-so and it was cancelled after one season.

Stallone is hoping that his next movie scheduled for release in December 2006 will turn around his box-office dump. Since America loves a come-back story he’s got a chance of course. Especially since he’s hedging his bets by making ROCKY BALBOA (ROCKY 6) to be followed by his RAMBO 4 project.


MOVIES THAT BOMBED AT THE BOX OFFICE THAT ARE VERY GOOD MOVIES:

THE NUMBERS CORRESPOND TO THE QUESTIONS ASKED AT THE TOP.

The answer to question Number 1 is :

1. DUCK SOUP

This Marx Brothers classic that wound up influencing Chaplin’s The Great Dictator and Stanley Kubrick’s DR. STRANGELOVE bombed at the box office when it was first released in 1933. It is true that the 4 Marx Brothers Groucho, Chico, Harpo and Zeppo were fired from their Paramount contract. (They would next work for Irving Thalberg at MGM on 1935’s A Night at the Opera, and 1937’s A Day at the Races). In this side-splittingly funny political satire Groucho is Rufus T. Firefly the newly elected president of Freedonia (HAIL FREEDONIA!!!) which declares war on bordering Sylvania. Hilarious musical numbers, classic routines and barely controlled inspired mayhem are packed into this unforgettable, hilarious classic. It would be the last time all 4 Marx Brothers worked together.




2. ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA

Sergio (The Good, The Bad, The Ugly & Once Upon a Time in the West) Leone’s brilliant 1984 epic saga of the rise and fall of a Jewish gangster in New York City was hacked to pieces by the studio. 90 minutes were cut and it was re-edited to the point, several sequences in the movie make little sense. It was finally restored to how Leone intended several years later minus a few violent minutes of a rape scene. On DVD it’s restored to it’s full 229 minutes. Leone tells the story jumping between 1922, 1933 and 1968 with meticulously detailed period production design of the rise and betrayal of David ‘Noodles’ Aaronson played by Robert DeNiro. The film also featured the return to the screen after a long absence of the radiant Tuesday Weld, a never better James Woods and Treat Williams, William Forsythe, Elizabeth McGovern and Jennifer Connelly. It’s an excellent film, some consider it a masterpiece.


3. THE ADVENTURES OF BARON MUNCHAUSEN

-- Terry Gilliam who won his hard fought battle with the studio over his movie BRAZIL, went way over budget and again didn’t have final cut on his inspired, manic 1989 family film. Despite a few lulls, it’s an inspired creative delight full of some stunning set pieces and wild innovative special effects. It’s based on the stories of a wild spinner of tall tales and also loosely based on the 1943 German Movie The Fabulous Baron Munchausen. It stars, John Neville, Eric Idle, Sarah Polley, Olifver Reed, Sting, Robin Williams, Jonathan Pryce and Uma Thurman. The movie cost around 40 million to make and did under 10 million at the box office.


BONUS
A LITTLE GEM OF A MOVIE FEW KNOW

OF UNKNOWN ORIGIN

This 1983 movie directed by George Cosmatos and starring PETER (ROBO-COP, 24) WELLER, didn’t cost that much to make, but almost no one saw it. That’s a shame, because this is the story of a corporate yuppie ladder climber (Weller) who has just bought an expensive house in the suburbs for his family. He has an impossible deadline to deal with at his job and he also has a rat problem. A rat the eludes capture and eventually becomes an obsession that takes over his entire life. He’ll alienate his family, his friends, to get the rat, even if he destroys his house and life doing it.

WHAT WERE THEY THINKING? PART 1. ENTERTAINING MISFIRES

You might put something like Oliver Stones box-office bust ALEXANDER in this category. Let me point you to:

4. OSMOSIS JONES

The Farrelly Brothers who created movies known for tasteless but funny gags like Dumb and Dumber and Something About Mary, decided to make a part animated, part live action family film in 2001. FAMILY FILM? Bill Murray’s body is being ravaged by a virus that is causing disgusting things to happen to him. And I mean they are pretty disgusting indeed. The live action segments as gross as they are, are very funny. The animated segments that feature the voice of Chris Rock as a white blood-cell cop who teams up with a pill (voiced by Frazer’s David Hyde Pierce) to stop the big bad virus (voiced by Lawrence Fishburne) aren’t as inspired. The film is loaded with enjoyable bad puns about bodily functions. If it doesn’t make you actually sick to stomach, you might laugh really hard at some of this. How they thought this would ever catch on with families enough to make back it 100 million plus budget is a big mystery. The movie did less than 20 million at the box office.


HOLY S*H*I*T What Were They Thinking Part 2: JAW DROPPERS


5. MYRA BRECKENRIDGE

I guess because it was 1970, someone thought it would be a good idea to take Gore Vidal’s novel—a scathing satire of male and female models, women’s lib and sexual identity and turn into a subversive movie. Michael Carne partially follows the unfilmable book which revolves around a sex change for Myron/Myra Breckenridge. Myron is played by famed movie critic Rex Reed (who can’t act) and Myra is played by Racquel Welch. Mae West plays a Hollywood Agent who has a four poster casting BED in her office and auditions studs to be represented with it. You’ll spot a young Tom Selleck as one of these studs. Also in the cast is a very young pre-Charlie Angels and Lee Majors, Farrah Fawcett, John Huston—the director has a big part and in smaller roles are Jim Backus, John Carradine and Andy Devine. Shortly before the premierre the director Michael Sarne re-edited the movie inserting old movie clips that serve as tasteless jokes Greek chorus style. An example: There was once a movie clip used... Right after a character has sex and climaxes the film cut to a clip of a very young and cute Shirley Temple getting hit in the face with a pie. Tasteless. This was removed from the film after a grown up Shirley Temple Black filed suit against the studio. But most of the movie clips remain in the movie.

There is nothing else out there like this movie. It’s difficult to describe how tasteless this you’ve got to see it to believe it spectacle of a movie truly is. It was more controversial and reviled than any film upon it release (surpassing even the reactions to movies like Caligula and the recent Irreverisble).


6. KING KONG LIVES

Although it was an awful campy mess of a movie, Dino De Laurentiis’ 1976 KING KONG was a success at the box office. So 10 years later comes this jaw-droppingly awful sequel. At the end of 1976’s KONG, after being shot up bullets making him more bloody than Bonnie and Clyde put together, King plunged off the World Trade Towers to the street below. BUT HE’S STILL ALIVE. He needs a new heart of course and a huge mechanical heart the size of a volkswagon is built and lowered by crane into the big lugs chest. There’s also the discovery of a Queen Kong on the Island where King came from. You haven’t lived until you have seen the giant apes making goo goo eyes at each other and putting their arms around each other. The Army of course wants to kill them.

The special effects guy Carlo R. who built the giant robot Kong that never worked right in the first film and then relied on Rick Baker’s guys in monkey suits returns with Rick Baker and his crew. The director of the 1976 film John Guillermin is also back. None of the cast were desperate enough, so Dino found Linda (Terminator, TV’s Beauty and the Beast) Hamilton to play the Vet who saves King, Brian Kerwin who finds the big busted Queen (who has a crush on Brian) in the jungle; and John (Beverly Hills Cop) Ashton.
Yes, the Kongs get pregnant. You’ll have to see it for yourself if you interested in finding out any more.


STINK BOMBS AWAY --
3 AWFUL EXPENSIVELY PRODUCED FIASCOS TO AVOID.



7. ADVENTURES OF PLUTO NASH

After 2 years sitting on the shelf they finally released this 100 million dollar Eddie Murphy comedy that only coughed up a little over 2 million at the box-office. Eddie plays club owner Pluto Nash He takes over a mediocre lounge singer’s (Jay Mohr) run-down club and proceeds to turn it into a popular jumping place.

I should mention the club is on the moon.

Seven years goes by and some mobsters decided they want to buy the club to turn it into a Casino. When Pluto won’t sell, the mobsters blow his club up.

So Pluto goes after them with the help of his robot bodyguard (played by Randy Quaid), a singing waitress (Rosario Dawson) and his mom (Pam Grier).

There’s lots of energy, but the humor is very loud and very flat and you keep waiting for something inspired, original or funny to happen and it never really does. You might keep watching it because it seems to be moving fairly quickly and there’s some passable special effects.
As it ends you realize it is not the worse thing you have ever seen but you’ll never get the time you wasted on it, back. So… don’t waste your time seeing it. Eddie dis-owned the movie refusing to do anything to promote it when it was released. He couldn’t be bothered telling you to see it.. so why see it?

8. RADIOLAND MURDERS

Once upon a time, George Lucas had an idea to do an old fashioned screw-ball comedy kind of period piece. Instead of realizing you need a good script to make it into something worth seeing, he started spending money building neat sets to recreate 1939 Chicago. Mary Stuart Masterson is a super efficient secretary who works for a big Chicago radio station about to go national with a big show. She is married to one of the writers of the show, Roger, but has decided to divorce him because she caught him in the sexy singing stars dressing room. Roger tries to explain he was framed, but then someone is murdered and it looks like Roger is behind that as well. As more people die, the show must go on and Roger must prove he’s innocent of murder, fooling around and win his wife back.
The same team who wrote HOWARD THE DUCK and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom , attempt to create the fast pace of a cracker-jack 30s screw-ball comedy (Bringing Up Baby, My Man Godfrey). Their script stinks. It feels forced and flat. You won’t believe from the way people talk they are living in the late 1930s. Roger is played by Brian Benben who was famous for 15 minutes as the star of a pretty good HBO adult comedy series called DREAM ON in the early 1990s. (In case you are wondering he recently did a Masters of Horror episode for Showtime and is voicing cartoon voices). Benben smiles a lot and has a manufactured sit-com kind of nervous energy, that lacks the grace and subtlety he would need to carry this thing— even if it had a decent script. An interesting cast has very little to do and people like Larry Miller, Christopher Lloydd, Ned Beatty, Robert Klein, Rosemary Clooney, Jeffrey Tambor, Corbin Benson, Anita Morris are wasted in this worthless movie that was expensive to make and did next to nothing at the box office. Mel Smith was the director.

Much was made that a lot of the period detail was computer generated. Lucas loves his toys and he’s made a lot of money with them. Don’t watch this experiment.


9. TOWN AND COUNTRY


105 million was spent and about 10 million was made back at the box office. That should tell you something about a movie that stars: Warren Beatty, Goldie Hawn, Diane Keaton Andie McDowell, Gary Shandling and Charlton Heston. .

Hopefully it tells you that this is a crass, unfunny romantic comedy with a message. The message is—if you cheat and fool around, you’ll hurt people and not really have much fun. Of course most of the movie shows cheating husbands trying to have fun by cheating on their spouses. Supposedly funny situations are strained and feel desperate. Few of the jokes work.

It begins as a bedroom farce set on Fifth Avenue and in the Hamptons with yuppie couples. Goldie Hawn, catches her hubby Gary Shandling going into a hotel with a redhead. The redhead is actually a guy in drag, but all of that is handled terribly.

Meanwhile it turns out that Warren Beatty is cheating on his wife Diane Keaton with Nastassia Kinski. There’s more complications when Beatty also jumps in the sack with Hawn. Later Beatty winds up with Andie McDowell and meeting her father Charlton Heston (trying to do comedy ala’ Leslie Nielsen, but it doesn’t work) and mom Marion Seldes. Jenna Elfman also shows up.

The screenplay is flat and you can tell the movie was a victim of several re-shoots and re-edits, because the energy to all of it is stilted, like a bad 10 minute television variety show sketch that isn’t working--- rather than improve and laugh and have fun, everyon just keeps going for about 90 minutes. YIKES. The Director Peter Chelsom got very upset when notorious control freak perfectionist Warren Beatty tries to act like he was just a paid actor in this disaster.

10. TREASURE PLANET

A lot of time, money and effort was spent on this 2002 Disney film which is probably the last mostly hand-drawn animated feature the studio will ever make.

Don’t be fooled or respectful of this dull, desperate attempt to update the story of Treasure Island by moving it into space and adding aliens and cutesie characters that were supposed to be parts of Happy Meals that kids would drag their parents to McDonalds to buy.

Oh this isn’t the worse animated movie ever made or anything like that. It’s just the people behind this obviously cynically believed they could sell more formula junk

In this re-telling Jim Hawkins lives with his mom who is an innkeeper. His father left to go off to exploring the sky (you know in a big SKY SHIP ) Jim is a bad boy getting into trouble on his skateboard, chased by robot police, he comes into possession of a cyber 3d treasure map and sets off on an adventure with his dog like companion. They get on board a space ship.. which has sails and a crows nest and is called the RLS LEGACY (get it? Robert Louis Stevenson—who wrote Treasure Island). Voices are done by folks like Emma Thompson, Brian Doyle Murray, David Hyde Pierce, and Martin Short.
They are off to find treasure and learn lessons about friendship and self-esteem and that whole thing. The animation tries to capture the feel of the Japanese Anime movies done by Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away etc) and there’s a couple of well drawn sequences.
Don’t waste your time with this one, few were fooled by it. It cost around 140 million and only took in around 40 million U.S. box office (about 130 million worldwide) but the marketing costs were estimated between 25 to 30 million and the film needed to take in about 250 million to break even.


There are certainly many more Box Office duds to choose from. I just felt like writing about these.

7 out of 10 movies lose money and that’s after world wide box office, home video sales, cable television sales and regular television sales are counted. Besides the cost to make a movie, you can add anywhere from 10 to 50 percent of a movies budget and figure they spent at least that much on it to promote, advertise and distribute it. But you can produce more than 15 big budgeted POSEIDON remakes that lose nearly 100 million dollars each, as long as you have produced a TITANIC, or LORD OF THE RINGS, HARRY POTTER, STAR WARS, movie that winds up raking in over 1.5 BILLION DOLLARS!!!!

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