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The Summer's Biggest ROI Flops at the Box Office

By Dustin Rowles | Box Office Round-Ups | August 31, 2016 |


It’s around this time, at the tail end of each summer, that we — the Internet — look back at the season’s box office, and we typically measure a movie’s box-office based on expectations instead of reality. Suicide Squad didn’t make $800 million at the box office, and somehow that makes it a disappointment, even though it has made $640 million so far on on a $175 million budget. Even allowing for a huge marketing budget and splitting ticket sales 50/50 with theaters, in what world is that not a box office hit? Warcraft, likewise, was a huge critical disappointment, and perceived by American audiences as a box-office failure (it made only $47 million domestically), but it ultimately pulled off $433 million worldwide on a $160 million budget, which at least opens the possibility of a sequel.

Jason Bourne sucked, but it also made $350 million on a $120 million budget. The Legend of Tarzan had a meager $38 million opening, but it quietly put up $130 million domestic and $360 million worldwide on a $180 million budget. X-Men: Apocalypse was lousy, but it made $544 million on a $178 million budget, so that franchise isn’t going away anytime soon. Independence Day: Resurgence was completely forgettable, but still made $382 million on a $165 million. You’d think that on a $90 million budget, the $65 million domestic gross for Now You See Me 2 would make it a certain flop, but it made $325 million worldwide and there are plans for a Chinese-language spin-off. Domestically, Ice Age:Collision Course had a massive $100 million drop off from the previous installment ($61 million vs. $161 million), but even it made $370 million on a $110 million budget.

Thanks to the International market, it’s really hard to bomb at the box-office these days because there’s apparently an audience for most everything with a big budget. Most. That doesn’t mean there weren’t a few outright flops.

I don’t know how Hollywood does math anymore (somehow, these movies managed not to turn a profit), but for our purposes, a flop is any movie that doesn’t earn back double its investment. In that category, I count 10 films.

Here were the summer’s biggest ROI flops. It’s a mix of huge franchise films and smaller movies with budgets in over their heads. The parenthetical is the box-office loss, assuming a movie needs to make back twice its budget to account for marketing and ticket splits.

10. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles $242 million on a $135 million budget ($28 million)

9. Alice Through the Looking Glass $295 million on a $170 million budget ($45 million)

8. Pete’s Dragon $80 million on a $65 million budget ($50 million)

7. Nice Guys made $36 million on a $50 million budget ($64 million)

6. Ghostbusters $217 million on a $144 million budget ($71 million)

5. The Infiltrator: $15 million on a $45 million budget ($75 million)

4. Free State of Jones $20 million on a $50 million budget ($80 million)

3. BFG: $160 million on a $140 million budget ($120 million)

2. Star Trek Beyond made $243 million worldwide on $185 million budget ($127 million)

1. Ben Hur *$41 million on a $100 million budget ($159 million)

(Ben Hur hasn’t yet completed its international roll-out, but it has not performed well Internationally where it has been released, except in Bulgaria).

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here or follow him on Twitter.

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