2018 was a great year for the box office, with plenty of record-breaking hits, but even a good year has its bombs. Here are ten of the most notable disappointments this year, including one from the biggest blockbuster franchise of all time.
“London Fields” — Budget: $8 million, Global gross: $295,435
This critically panned noir film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2015 and has spent the past three years mired in lawsuits between the producers and lead star Amber Heard and director Matthew Cullen. After the Heard lawsuit was resolved, the film was released in October and suffered the second-worst wide release opening in box office history.
“Nutcracker and the Four Realms” — Budget: $120 million, Global gross: $151.9 million so far
Two days after Halloween, Disney released this dark fantasy loosely based on the famous Russian ballet synonymous with Christmas. But critics weren’t impressed by much beyond the film’s dance sequences, and families saved their money to go see “The Grinch” and another Disney film, “Ralph Breaks the Internet,” later in the month. With a $20 million opening weekend, “Nutcracker” suffered Disney’s worst start since “The BFG” in 2016.
“Early Man” — Budget: $50 million, Global gross: $54 million
How far has stop-motion animation fallen? Nick Park and Aardman Studios, creators of “Wallace & Gromit,” earned praise from critics for this prehistoric comedy. But Lionsgate released it in the U.S. the same weekend as “Black Panther” and it was ignored in the U.S. with only $8.2 million grossed. The only country where the film made more than $10 million is Aardman’s homeland, the U.K., with $15 million.
“Annihilation” — Budget: $40 million, Global gross: $43 million
It was an intelligent sci-fi tale with profound existential themes. It had an all-star female cast led by Natalie Portman. It was made by the director of “Ex Machina.” And it failed to make its budget back with $32 million domestic and $10 million from China, with Paramount selling distribution rights for the rest of the world to Netflix. Maybe it will achieve “cult classic” status someday…
“The Darkest Minds” — Budget: $34 million, Global gross: $41 million
YA novel adaptations continue to fall flat in this post-“Hunger Games” world, as this tale of superpowered teens on the run got little marketing support from Fox and fell flat after being released in August.
“The Hurricane Heist” — Budget: $35 million, Global gross: $31 million
Some films are based on concepts the general public just has no interest in thanks to recent events. Take this disaster thriller from “The Fast and the Furious” director Rob Cohen about two brothers who are caught up in a heist to steal millions from a federal facility during a Category 5 hurricane. With hurricanes destroying entire towns in real life on an annual basis now thanks to climate change, this probably wasn’t many moviegoers’ idea of a fun time at the movies.
“Death Wish” — Budget: $30 million, Global gross: $48 million
Charles Bronson’s 1974 revenge film may have become a cult classic, but an Eli Roth-directed, Bruce Willis-starring remake is probably not what Americans are looking for at a time when deadly shootings are an almost daily occurrence. MGM moved the release date from November 2017 to March 2018 not long after last year’s Las Vegas shooting… only for it to come out three weeks after the Parkland High School massacre.
“Gotti” — Budget: $10 million, Global gross: $4.1 million.
The ill-fated mafia biopic started development in 2010 and weathered problems such as the replacement of lead Joe Pesci with John Travolta (sparkign a lawsuit), having Lionsgate drop the film two weeks before release, and getting picked up by the struggling MoviePass. The film was finally released in June to a unanimous critical drubbing. It failed to make back its budget, and MoviePass, a subscription service that pays for its users tickets, accounted for 40 percent of tickets sold.
“The Happytime Murders” — Budget: $40 million, Global gross: $27 million
Melissa McCarthy’s 2018 will be best remembered for her Oscar-contending performance in “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”, which is good, because she also starred in this panned crime parody of the Muppets, which failed to make back its budget and was one of several films that struggled for distributor STX
“Solo: A Star Wars Story” — Budget: $250 million, Global gross: $392 million
Disney broke box office records left and right this year, but it also had the most high-profile bomb of the year with this “Star Wars” anthology film that told the origins of Han Solo. Its release was preceded by a famously troubled production: original directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller were fired over creative differences with just under a month left in filming; they were replaced by Ron Howard; the budget inflated as roles were recast and much of the film was entirely re-shot. Upon release, “Solo” became the first “Star Wars” film ever to fail to gross $400 million worldwide. With “Episode IX” still a year away, Disney execs have said that they’re taking another look at how they handle future films in this hallowed series.