worst movies The 13 Least Profitable Movies Ever Made  

Randolph Strauss
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Some movies fizzle, and then some just plain tank. The films here represent the A-bombs of the A-list: gargantuan-budget pictures that nobody seemed to want to sit through. While not all of these movies are necessarily bad, all of them turned into huge losses for their respective studios. Even the most marketable actors and elaborate sets could not drag in audiences to fill the theater seats.

There are also plenty of rumors in the world of cinematic failures; some fabled studio-bankrupting flicks actually turned profits. Waterworld, for example, did not make the roster below since it actually raked in around $264 million in global box office sales, far more than the $175 million that went into production. However, the epic went way over budget, earned less-than-glowing reviews and fared rather poorly in the American market (the bulk of revenue came from overseas), badly tarnishing actor/producer Kevin Costner's reputation. While Waterworld managed to escape this list, Costner's name still appears for other work.

What are the least successful movies? There are some realy clunkers on this list, and they are considered failures since they didn't make any money and were pretty to boot.

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Budget: $80 million
Box Office: $17.6 million

After the fiasco that was Waterworld, actor/director Kevin Costner decided to resurrect his floundering career with…another post-apocalyptic epic starring himself. The Postman (2007) tells the tale of an actor struggling to survive in what's left of America after a devastating nuclear war. Upon discovering a stash of undelivered mail in an abandoned post office, he sets out on a mission to provide other survivors with old letters from their loved ones, bringing new hope for civilization itself.

Critics didn't buy the story, and movie-goers didn't buy tickets. Instead of salvaging the wreckage from Waterworld's wake, The Postman only delivered another colossal failure for Costner, grossing far less than it's much-mocked predecessor.

Also Ranked

#47 on The Best Dystopian and Near Future Movies

#55 on The Best Movies of 1997

#34 on The Best Survival Movies

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Budget: $98 million
Box Office: $18.5 million

This 1995 action film from Renny Harlin stars Geena Davis as a lady pirate on a quest to save her father. The film was such a massive flop, it was a major factor in bringing down an entire production company. Carolco never released another movie after Cutthroat Island, and declared bankruptcy shortly after its debut. Did it also contribute to the divorce of star Geena Davis and director Renny Harlin a scant 3 years later? Who knows?

The net loss translates to $146,947,958 with today's inflation.

Davis did manage to redeem herself with the release of The Long Kiss Goodnight the following year. While not a smash hit, the film pulled in a respectable box office haul of over $89 million and received favorable reviews.

Also Ranked

#10 on The Best Pirate Movies

#9 on The Best Movies With Island in the Title

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Budget: $44 million
Box Office: $3.5 million

This big-budget Western about the Johnson County War seemed to have all of the elements necessary for success. Director Michael Cimino had just won an Academy Award for The Deer Hunter, and the follow-up starring Christopher Walken and Kris Kristofferson was slated to be his next smash hit. However, the production fell far behind schedule and wound up costing more than quadruple the estimated price tag.

Once the film was finally completed, critics drove audiences away with brutal pans. Vincent Canby of The New York Times likened the disaster to "a forced four-hour walking tour of one's own living room."

The total box office loss for Heaven's Gate equals over $104 million in today's market.

Also Ranked

#35 on The Best Movies of 1980

#70 on Martin Scorsese's Top 85 Must-See Films

#10 on The Best '80s Western Movies

#26 on The Best Historical Movies Released in the 1980s

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Budget: $55 million
Box Office: $14.4 million

There was no shortage of talent in this notorious bomb from 1980. Superstars Dustin Hoffman and Warren Beatty played two lofty-minded (but rather unskilled) singer/songwriters looking for gigs in Morocco who inadvertently become involved in Cold War strife.

The production was plagued by an ever-increasing budget paired with personality conflicts between Beatty and director Elaine May, among others. A switch in management during post-production caused further issues.

Upon release, lackluster performances and negative reviews helped contribute to the low box-office appeal of Ishtar. In the end, the movie lost what would amount to more than $80 million with adjustments for inflation.
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Budget: $100 million
Box Office: 7.1 Million

This exorbitantly-budgeted turkey from director Ron Underwood starred Eddie Murphy as smuggler-turned-entrepreneur Pluto Nash, who owns a nightclub on the moon. When his club is burned down, Nash sets out to find the arsonist who has ruined his livelihood.

Critics gave the 2002 flick a harsh reception, and it managed to make Rotten Tomatoes' list of the 100 worst movies of all time. Despite the huge amount of cash pumped into this disaster, the special effects were deemed primitive and the acting even worse. Nash managed to garner five Golden Raspberry nominations, including one in the Worst Picture category.
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Budget: $145 million
Box Office: $25.8 million

This 2004 depiction of the infamous Texas Revolution battle was helmed by director John Lee hancock and included the legendary Ron Howard among its roster of producers. Critics regarded the flop as draggy and uninspiring, with stars Billy Bob Thornton and Dennis Quaid failing to draw in an audience. The one thing that The Alamo may have going for it is historical accuracy. However, even this must be called into question as historians don't agree about what actually happened at the event.

Upon release, the film was trounced at the box office by The Passion of the Christ, which had already been in theaters for some time but was still pulling people in for second or third viewings.

Also Ranked

#86 on The Best Western Movies Ever Made

#7 on The Best '00s Western Movies

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Budget: $74 million
Box Office: $7.3 million

Given the tsunami of media attention that power-couple Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez garnered in 2003, it seemed that Gigli would be a sure-fire sensation. Writer/director Martin Brest commandeered this sinking ship, which starred Affleck as the title character, a mobster with a soft heart. When Gigli is ordered to conduct a kidnapping, Lopez is appointed to make sure he gets the job done right.

Reviewers slammed Gigli, and audiences seemed to have no interest in watching the two stars outside of the tabloid realm. Thus, the film was pulled from theaters after a pitiful three-week run.
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