Films tend to either skyrocket the profits of a studio or send it down into ruin and bankruptcy. Even if a movie equals its production budget it’s still losing out. Big box office flops are summer blockbusters which are quite expensive and have to face stiff competition. There are reasons for a film to bomb at box office; lack of promotion is a major cause, negative word of mouth or external factors like bad release timing or economic problems in society.
One of the biggest flops of 2015, Aloha got poor reviews, stirred up race-related controversy and all of this came together to create an expected loss of approximately $65 million for the folks at Sony and Fox. Warner Bros. had a handful of regrets this past summer with Hot Pursuit, Entourage and others making less than expected but the numbers suggest that The Man From U.N.C.L.E. will be the biggest disappointment of all. According to The Hollywood Reporter’s figures, the film is looking at a loss of around $80 million which becomes worse when you realize that number is higher than the reported budget of the movie. Marvel’s First Family and Fantastic Four never really stood a chance due to reviews and terrible buzz. The movie hardly made only a little over $50 million in US, and it looks like Fox may lose $100 million on the investment. The studio has not yet announced what they plan to do with the future of the series, but things definitely don’t look good for a sequel.
“Warner Bros. had a handful of regrets this past summer with Hot Pursuit, Entourage and others making less than expected but the numbers suggest that The Man From U.N.C.L.E.”
But on the flip side, some flops made it big post-cinema-release, achieving cult status. Take Donnie Darko – it might have helped launch the acting career of Jake Gyllenhaal, but it miserably flopped when it came out in theaters. After its DVD release back in 2002, it started to play as midnight movie for over 2 years at New York’s Pioneer Theater and became a cult classic. When Fight Club first hit cinemas in 1999, it performed poorly, also receiving mixed review from critics. It was not until the DVD release that sold over 6 million copies that Fight Club reached a wider audience and became a cult classic. The Shawshank Redemption, impossible to change channel from, struggled at first, going up against other classics of ‘94 like Forrest Gump and Pulp Fiction. Shawshank eventually found its audience, and today it tops IMDb’s greatest 250 films of all time and is one of Warner Bros’ most cherished assets.
“Take Donnie Darko – it might have helped launch the acting career of Jake Gyllenhaal, but it miserably flopped when it came out in theaters.”
This year marks the 76th anniversary of Wizard of Oz, but audiences weren’t too keen to follow Dorothy when she first took her trip down the yellow brick road. The film made around $3m, but considering cost $2.7m to make, it wasn’t seen as a success, in turn racking up a $1.1m loss for MGM. However, the re-release and endless TV broadcasts helped make The Wizard of Oz the classic it is today.
In the end, what makes a movie flop and what can resurrect a flop as a classic masterpiece? The answer is YOU, the audience. In the words of Steven Spielberg ‘They (audience) are the custodians of these visual memories, these stories. And by holding onto a film, or a fragment from a film, that marks a time in your life that will always be a part of your life.”