10 box-office bombs they really should have seen coming

Hollywood is big business. With films now scraping, or downright flying by, the billion-dollar mark in generated revenue, it’s understandable that studios are going to pump cash into projects they think will net them a profit. Quite often, however, they appear to have absolutely no idea that a film is going to bomb. Here are a few examples of when studios should have absolutely known beforehand that a project was doomed.


One of the biggest flops of all time (a lot of them are surprisingly recent) was R.I.P.D., but if someone came to me with the idea of Ryan Reynolds and Jeff Bridges shooting ghosts, I probably would have given it the green light too.

The films on this list aren’t chosen because they lost a lot of money – although most of them did – they’re on here because if any sane producer was given the initial pitch on these films they should have laughed them out the office. But, alas, they made it all the way to the silver screen.


Evan Almighty

Pitch – “I’m thinking of a sequel to Bruce Almighty, but without any of the same principle actors, except for that March of the Penguins guy, this time featuring a poorly-CGI’d Biblical flood. Also, great idea for the ending, let’s just have everyone dancing to Gonna Make You Sweat by C+C Music Factory. That shouldn’t alienate both the religious and non-religious audiences, right?”

Rational Response – “Get out of my office.”

Estimated loss: $88 million

The Adventures of Pluto Nash

Pitch – “I know Eddie Murphy hasn’t been a box office draw since Beverly Hills Cop II, but this is a great vehicle for him, and besides the public have forgotten all about that prostitute-malarkay from 1997. This is just like Star Wars, except that Randy Quaid is C-3PO. Also, it’s down in his contract that we have to pay Murphy twice because he’s also playing his own evil clone.”

Rational Response – “Get out of my office.”

Estimated loss: $96 million. Shockingly, Eddie Murphy's career was revived with Shrek


Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within

Pitch – “Final Fantasy is one of the biggest computer game franchises in the world! There’s no way this film can lose. All we have to do is invent some ground-breaking technology that will cost the annual GDP of a small country so that we can code in some realistic-looking hair. Also, make sure that the only person who survives is a white guy, and replace anything that has to do with the Final Fantasy games with some vague message about environmentalism.”

Rational Response – “Get out of my office.”

Estimated loss: $100 million. They could have made 100 great Final Fantasy games with that money.


Green Lantern

Pitch – “Ryan Reynolds is hot stuff, and Green Lantern is one of the most beloved DC characters of the past 50 years. We can make it look good by making everything, and I mean everything, out of CGI so that it looks like a shiny mess. Let’s just be careful not to let the budget spiral wildly out of control. Also, throw Tim Robbins in there somewhere, people love that guy.”

Rational Response – “Get out of my office.”

Estimated loss: $90 million. They're still thinking of rebooting the character for The Justice League movie



Pitch – “A stealth bomber becomes sentient and attacks people. Wait, put down the gun, we’ve got some big names attached! Jamie Foxx? Not, he’s not the main character, we plough him into a cliff at the 60-minute mark. Josh Lucas is carrying the entire film, you may remember him from Ang Lee’s Hulk. No? Well let’s throw in Jessica Biel in a bathing suit for good measure, that’ll smooth over the plot holes surrounding a plane that likes listening to Muse.”

Rational Response – “Get out of my office.”

Estimated loss: $97 million. We probably could have actually created a sentient plane for that amount



Battlefield Earth

Pitch – “There’s these really cool guys called the Scientologists! I’m totally not one of them, I objectively think it’s a good idea to have John Travolta in dreadlocks talking in a weird faux-English accent. We’ve also hired a relatively unknown talent called Forrest Whitaker, who definitely won’t rue this film for the rest of this career. Also, this will be the start of an epic trilogy that will definitely get made.”

Rational Response – “Get out of my office.”

Estimated loss: $43 million.


Pitch – “Ben Affleck and Jenny-From-The-Block are the world’s hottest couple, in a loving relationship that will undoubtedly last forever. J-Lo plays a lesbian who gets turned into a heterosexual in a matter of minutes thanks to a sex scene with Ben. We also have a character with severe learning disabilities which is routinely mocked, and Al Pacino has agreed to come down and do a couple of minutes filming with no retakes, which is super generous of him.”

Rational Response – “Get out of my office.”

Estimated loss: $72 million. On the bright side "Bennifer" is a term we no longer have to see in magazines

The Number 23

Pitch – “Remember how awesome Jim Carrey was in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind? He’s ready for some serious roles. That being said, we’ve teamed him up with director Joel Schumacher again, since we all miss Carrey as the Riddler in Batman Forever, and think they can bring some of the magic back. Let’s have Carrey talk in a monotonous voiceover about how he’s seeing a number everywhere, and have a twist so telegraphed that Stevie Wonder could have seen it coming.”

Rational Response – “Get out of my office.”

Estimated loss: actually this film made about $47 million. That's a lot of disappointed cinema-goers



Pitch – “Kevin Costner, hot off Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, in a rip-roaring sea-faring adventure! All we need to do is build an island out of metal for one of our sets that will use up all the available steel in the Hawaiian Islands in the middle of tropical storm season! Don’t worry, we have Joss Whedon on stand-by to fly out for last-minute script revisions if anything goes wrong, like the director walking off set or Costner being served divorce papers mid-filming.”

Rational Response – “Get out of my office.”

Estimated Loss: Again, this film made about $90 million, but let's face it, it's tainted money now


The Postman

Pitch – “Three hours of Kevin Costner, line dancing and horse battles.”

Rational Response – “You had me at Kevin Costner.”

Estimated loss: £71 million