10 Major Box-Office Bombs That Were Actually Good Movies
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10 Major Box-Office Bombs That Were Actually Good Movies

By Dustin Rowles | Seriously Random Lists | July 5, 2015 | Comments ()


10. Cloud Atlas ( Tom Tykwer and the Wachowskis) -- Box Office Loss (Adjusted for Inflation): $38 million.

Rotten Tomatoes: 67 percent. Roger Ebert gave it four out of four stars, noting that it was " "one of the most ambitious films ever made," while the Daily Beast called it "one of the year's most important movies."


9. Ride With the Devil (Ang Lee) -- Box Office Loss (Adjusted for Inflation): $51 million.

Rotten Tomatoes: 63 percent. The San Francisco Chronicle wrote that "Lee's approach mixes an unsettling grittiness with an appealing, often luminous elegance in picturing a patch of America at war with itself," while WashPo called it "terrific," and the San Francisco Examiner extolled it for being "downright hot-blooded in the nameless violence going on west of marquee Civil War battles. Never has this war been filmed with such ragged glory."

Ride with the Devil4.jpg

8. Bringing Out the Dead (Martin Scorsese) -- Box Office Loss (Adjusted for Inflation): $52 million.

Rotten Tomatoes: 71 percent. Roger Ebert gave it four stars, writing: "To look at Bringing Out the Dead -- to look, indeed, at almost any Scorsese film -- is to be reminded that film can touch us urgently and deeply." The Washington Post noted, "If you enjoy redemptions drenched in rhapsodic agony, religious mysticism and the bloody ick of emergency room chaos, that journey will be bliss for you."


7. Hudsucker Proxy (Coen Brothers) -- Box Office Loss (Adjusted for Inflation): $57 million.

Rotten Tomatoes: 57 percent. Described by Variety as "one of the most inspired and technically stunning pastiches of old Hollywood pictures ever to come out of the New Hollywood" while James Berardinelli complimented it for skewering "Big Business on the same shaft that Robert Altman ran Hollywood through with The Player. From the Brazil-like scenes in the cavernous mail room to the convoluted machinations in the board room, this film is pure satire of the nastiest and most enjoyable sort."


6. Iron Giant (Brad Bird) -- Box Office Loss (Adjusted for Inflation): $57 million.

Rotten Tomatoes: 97 percent. Roger Ebert said of The Iron Giant that it "is not just a cute romp but an involving story that has something to say" while IGN called it, at the time, "the best non-Disney animated film." It's also my personal favorite kid's movie of all time.


5. The Cotton Club (Francis Ford Coppola) -- Box Office Loss (Adjusted for Inflation): $70 million.

Rotten Tomatoes: 75 percent. Roger Ebert said of The Cotton Club that "Whatever it took to do it, Coppola has extracted a very special film out of the checkered history of this project," and the Chicago Reader wrote that "it was the most assured film Coppola had made in a decade, full of casual wit and visual invention."


4. The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (Terry Gilliam) -- Box Office Loss (Adjusted for Inflation): $74 million.

Rotten Tomatoes: 89 percent. Roger Ebert wrote of Munchausen that it was "told with a cheerfulness and a light touch that never betray the time and money it took to create them," extolling "the sly wit and satire that sneaks in here and there from director Terry Gilliam and his collaborators, who were mostly forged in the mill of Monty Python."


3. Lolita (1997, Adrian Lyne) -- Box Office Loss (Adjusted for Inflation): $87 million.

Rotten Tomatoes: 67 percent. Considered by critic James Toback as one of the ten best films ever made, and described by the New York Times as "Rich beyond what anyone could have expected, the film repays repeated viewings...it turns Humbert's madness into art."


2. Treasure Planet (Ron Clements and John Musker) -- Box Office Loss (Adjusted for Inflation): $89 million.

Rotten Tomatoes: 70 percent. The Washington Post wrote of it that it "boasts the purest of Disney raptures: It unites the generations, rather than driving them apart" while USA Today called it "a capable and diverting holiday season adventure for a family audience."


1. The Fall of the Roman Empire (Anthony Mann, 1964) -- Box Office Loss (Adjusted for Inflation): $105 million.

Rotten Tomatoes: 100 percent. Turner Classic Movies calls it "surely the most magnificent period piece of its era."


Author's Note: Before you say anything, I know that some of you like Waterworld (me too!), but it was not actually a box-office bomb. Also, I know some of you liked Speed Racer and John Carter (not me!), but critics would not agree with you.

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • JimNauseam

    You had me at the "Iron Giant" image. Wonderful film.

  • MrNobody

    Heaven's Gate (Michael Cimino) was an excellent movie, yet hardly anyone rates it. I have seen it multiple times and loved it every time. Jeff Bridges, Christopher Walken, Isabelle Huppert and Sam Waterston, in particular, were spectacularly good and who could not enjoy the roller-skating barn dance?

  • Archthel_brandt

    Hated Cloud Atlas...and it most certainly may have deserved to tank for being extremely boring, if not also frequently losing the attention span of the viewers with it's many narratives and story lines. Sometimes I get angry for having spent a dime on a movie, this one I was sad having seen at all. Red Box worthy only.

  • RRuin

    Cloud Atlas is a great movie. It's too bad more people didn't go to see it.

  • L. Nicole

    Treasure Planet is one of my favorite movies! And hello....LOVE the song by the lead singer of Goo Goo Dolls!!

  • MarvelDCwoman

    I loved LOVED Treasure Planet. If this list had included more recent movies, DreamWorks' Rise of the Guardians would be another animated movie I would suggest for this list.

  • James

    I agree with this whole list. Except Hudsocker Proxy. That movie was just awful on so many levels. Which is shocking with the amount of talent in it.

  • Nathan McMahan

    Excellent article. I especiailly agree with
    6. Iron Giant (Brad Bird) -
    4. The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (Terry Gilliam)
    wonderful, glorious pieces of whimsy.

  • Kyle

    Ha ha, I like Waterworld, Speed Racer, AND John Carter.

  • Animated nerd

    I'm sorry. Treasure planet was not good.

  • since you included CLOUD ATLAS you'll have to redefine "actually good" for me.

  • Peter

    True Romance?

  • Tenacious_EJ

    Hudsucker Proxy and Baron Munchausen are terrific films. Treasure Planet is an OK film. Cloud Atlas is trash littered over shit. Worst film I've seen in quite a while.

  • splinter

    i notice how often you quote ebert. i miss him too.

  • I've been saying that about Bringing out the Dead for years, but nobody believes me. And I didn't know The Fall of the Roman Empire was a flop, but I saw it on TV when I was a lad and loved the Hades out of it.

    I feel like a regular hipster. Go me!

  • Treasure Planet is so beautifully animated. Yeah, some of the dialogue is clunky and the attempts at humor are kind of embarrassing sometimes, but it's a good movie. The mix of hand-drawn and CGI animation really works, and the concept (treasure island! in space! Spaceships that look like ships!) is just very cool.

  • BlackRabbit

    You want a good time? Watch that and Atlantis: The Lost Empire back to back. Animation nirvana.

  • I've never watched Atlantis, so that sounds like a plan!

  • googergieger

    Iron Giant is the only thing that has ever made me cry for an emotional reason. I mean sniffled, but considering I'm more or less a sociopath without the ambition, should say something about it.

  • HAW HAW!

  • pajiba



  • Fabius_Maximus

    "The Hudsucker Proxy" has only 57% on RottenTomatoes? What's wrong with people?

    I also remember that my parents took me and my younger sister to the movies to see Münchausen when I was about 12. The probably thought it was a kid's movie. I only remember being rather confused.

  • Greg!

    I really like your username!

  • Fabius_Maximus

    Thanks, Greg!

  • Conor


    I lost a massive chunk of my faith in humanity when that bombed and a Grown Ups sequel was announced.

  • cgthegeek


    (and it's "The Hudsucker Proxy")

  • Robert

    For a minute there back in 2003, I thought Treasure Planet could have won Best Animated Feature at the Oscars. It's really good and I still had hope that maybe a Disney (not Pixar, but Disney) film could take the top prize. Miyazaki instead bolstered the foreign language animation contingent in the category and we're all the better for it. Which would you rather: Disney and Pixar trading off victories or guarantee wide releases for films like A Cat in Paris, Triplets of Belleville, and The Illusionist?

  • RilesSD

    Waterworld, people. Much better than the negative hype let on.

  • Clancys_Daddy

    No, it wasn't.

  • It's a very polished turd, though.

  • Jerce

    I've seen Nos. 6 through 8 on this list, and agree about all of them except The Cotton Club, which was just okay (a bit slight IMO).

    Now you've got me curious about the ones I haven't seen, especially Ride With the Devil 'cause I luvs me some Skeet Ulrich. To Netflix!

  • craigopolis

    "Adjusted for inflation" numbers were be even more useful if you listed the year the movies came out.

  • craigopolis


  • sean

    Iron Giant almost certainly made its money back in home video. Every kid on Earth has a copy of it.

  • evie

    Mine don't!


  • sean

    Why not?

  • evie

    A whole day later... sorry about that.

    Until this article, I was unaware of its existence.

  • Fuzzy

    Cotton Club, Munchausen and Bringing Out the Dead are three of my favorite films. So glad they are all on here.

  • Fuzzy

    Oh and Hudsucker, too! I love bombs, apparently.

  • crispin

    "John Carter" is better than you'd be brought to believe.

  • Idle Primate

    i adored John Carter. I really thought it would be the star wars for this generation of youth. i could never understand the foaming-at-the-mouth hatred that film generated.

  • crispin

    Agreed. If you go back and look at reviews and articles they're mostly about the budget and not the film itself. Although, Disney really did screw itself when it came to the advertising. It took a fan to put a decent trailer together and only then, a week or two before the movie, did Disney copy the fan's formula.

  • Suber Morio

    I think people were unduly harsh on John Carter when you consider the source material is 100 years old. They took some liberties with the story, but much of it was true to the book A Princess of Mars.

  • kinoumenthe

    …Once you've passed the three starts to get to the story.

  • crispin

    Seeing as that everything in the beginning ties into everything else afterward, I'd say it's just all part of the story.

  • opiejuankenopie

    The three beginnings could have been more elegantly incorporated into the story.

  • kinoumenthe

    Sure. Let me rephrase. I've seen it a few times already and the beginning always seems to me somewhat clunky. Like it's trying to get it's legs. It's just a minor peeve, mind you.

    That's one movie I would have liked to see a sequel to.

  • crispin

    Damn straight!

  • mslewis

    "Bringing Out the Dead" and "Ride With the Devil" are both streaming on Netflix so I'll watch them on my Kindle this weekend while I'm traveling out of town. The rest of them I have already seen or attempted to sit through and was not nearly as impressed as some of you seem to be. Movies bomb for a reason, usually because they are a mess or perhaps a bit over the head of someone who just wants to watch a damn movie and have fun!!

  • Slash

    OK, sorry, it's the name of one of the characters. Who dies early on, apparently. Still...

  • Slash

    It's "Hudsucker" - 2 U's. It's the name of the main character.

    No, I haven't seen it, I just remember when it came out.

    Seriously, y'all, just a little proofreading. Just hit the headers and subheaders, at least.

  • Who pays for proofreading these days?

  • toblerone

    Speed Racer.

    *Yeah I know only 39% R.T.

  • Dennis Albert Ramirez

    Oh man, The Iron Giant! "Superman." gets me every single time.

  • The Iron Giant is a goddamned fantastic movie that is both gorgeous and heartbreaking. It is a "must" for anybody with kids and most everybody who doesn't.

  • Fredo

    "Hogarth...you stay...I go.....No following..."

    You're probably tearing up right now.

  • psemophile

    "Superman" is where I lose my shit.

  • BAM

    Treasure Planet is a personal favorite of mine, even if it is a little dark and a very blatant rip-off of Treasure Island. Probably didn't do well because of the lack of female characters and musical numbers.

  • Jakk Frost

    You do comprehend the difference between a "rip-off" and "based on...", right?

    I mean that's kinda like saying Man of Steel is a rip-off of Superman...

  • BAM

    Of course I understand the difference, but it was stream of consciousness and I have a general rule of not going back and editing every single piece of text I post online. My intention was to express the fact that they didn't stray very far from the original story, except to put it in space. Sort of how most films are "inspired by" something but generally don't adhere to anything remotely resembling the original work (World War Z comes to mind), but in this case Disney did the opposite and didn't stray far enough.

  • B.F.D.

    Treasure Planet was meant to be a "modern" version/retelling of Treasure Island, hence the similarities.

  • BAM

    Thank you, master of the obvious.

  • This is the nexus of the universe, huh?

    Pretty disappointing.

  • B.F.D.

    Perhaps "updated" would have been a better word choice.

    But I'm fluent in flatula, so maybe I'm just ahead of the times.

  • nosio

    Cloud Atlas was ambitious, yes, but it was also a hot mess of a film with a hefty dose of actressin' from Halle Berry in like, 80% of its scenes. And some truly awful dialogue delivered by everyone.
    (But: I LOVE how hard Hanx tried, Jim Broadbent is always delightful, and the Hugo Weaving/Ben Whishaw storyline was beautiful and sad and the actors were perfect.)

  • sean

    I thought the same sitting in the theater. Wondering why they didn't just make that movie. Everything else was tedious at best. Perhaps the old folks breaking out of the home. That might make a decent movie too.

  • nosio

    Gah, James D'Arcy, not Weaving. I'm tired.
    Stupid guest posting not letting me edit.

  • Tinkerville

    Iron Giant is one of my favorite movies of all time, not even just in the animated/kids film genre.

  • Suber Morio

    Nice avatar. When I read "It's also my personal favorite kid's movie of all time.", I couldn't help but wonder if he's seen My Neighbor Totoro.

  • elenaran

    Adventures of Baron von Munchausen! One of my favorite movies of all time, yet most people I know have never even heard of it...

  • shadowcrossing

    It was one of my all time favourite films as a kid, I remember watching it over and again. It sadden's me that very few of my friends have ever seen or heard of it.

  • Why would anyone down-vote this? Do you hate bliss that much?

  • emmalita

    I know! It's weird how little love it gets.

  • freetickles

    I liked Cloud Atlas the book, but the movie sucked. I kept thinking to myself during the movie, "Wow, this sucks". That's how you know a movie sucks.

  • Tenacious_EJ

    I saw Cloud Atlas 2 weeks ago, and warned my wife not to watch it the next day. She ignored me, so its her own damn fault. By far the worst movie I saw this year.

  • doctormaybe

    It already has a sequel?


  • AudioSuede

    That's actually one of the only movie adaptations I liked more than the book.

  • IngridToday

    I liked both.

    Although some of the racial special effects were awful (Halle Berry's blonde hair/blue eyes didn't look natural and wasn't necessary) I thought (having seen the movies first) the Korean characters in Neo Soel portrayed by white actors were suppose to be some genetically engineered species, which would explain why they looked slightly off.

    Some of the make-up was bad, but, it was an interesting idea to have all these characters keep intersecting throughout time.

    I'm still don't get the connection between the 1970s report and the guy imprisoned in the retirement home. Every story is the main (aside from the one in the future) a reincarnation. Wouldn't the report and book editor have been alive at the same time?

  • Michelle

    Yes. I liked both as well, but for ENTIRELY different reasons.

    The book spoke to a certain part of me and the movie spoke to the part of me that's less smart but likes things that pretend to be smart.

  • raulclement

    I thought it was about as good an adaptation as the book could have possibly had. Great movie.

  • kinoumenthe

    I haven't read the book, saw the film recently and loved it. But it doesn't seem to me it was about reincarnation… More about archetypes and connectivity, maybe ? (… with a strong sub-trend of cannibalism… :D)
    I dunno, I just loved it. I'll probably read the book later, too, just to see how different it is.

  • Serag Mahmoud

    It was actually a reincarnation ,all the stories dealt with themes of escape, self-proving, overcoming evil and the main theme of freedom.But in different genres ; period sea adventure, musical drama, 70s exploitation crime, british dramedy, sci-fi action and a survival adventure.Next time you see it try to think of it that way and you'll get my point.

  • dizzylucy

    I always see so much love for the Iron Giant, I'm surprised they never tried a re-release. They could probably easily erase that loss with it.

  • But that would admit defeat.

  • PDamian

    Bringing Out the Dead was just about the last time I could bear to watch Tom Sizemore in any role or movie. Fantastic performance in an amazing film. For someone so amazingly talented to piss his gift away on drugs and booze ... damn. Sure hope he pulls himself together someday.

  • crispin

    That begs the question... Why should an artist's private life be considered when watching their work?

    I can't STAND Tarantino and Polanski but that doesn't stop me from enjoying their films.

  • PDamian

    Actually, Sizemore's addictions have affected his ability to act. Compare some of his early work with recent films (most of which have gone straight to video, and rightly so), and you'll see. My comment was not so much about his private life as about the deterioration of his gift due to the vagaries of his private life.

    I know little about Tarantino's private life, so it has no bearing on my enjoyment of his films (and I do enjoy them). Polanski, on the other hand ... ugh. The genius is undeniable. So is the crime.

  • All you need to know about Sizemore is his performance in Heart and Souls compared to any of his recent work.

  • msjennijennjenn

    I love The Cotton Club. Excellent story with an amazing cast.

    As for Iron Giant, that robot looks a little too much like the creepy Cybermen from Dr. Who.

  • semiotheque

    You will fall in love with that robot and his giant robot heart. Seriously, you will.

  • Jerce

    'S damn right. You will cry. You WILL. Cancel your plans for this weekend and watch The Iron Giant and you can thank us on Monday.

  • James

    You said it! That was an incredible movie that blew me away.

  • Tinkerville


  • DeaconG

    You beat me to it!

  • STOP THAT! I can't even picture that scene in my mind anymore before...stuff gets in my eye!

  • Dave Dorris

    Vin Diesel nailed it with that one line. Fantastic movie.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    Ride with the Devil is very good. You understand that Jim Caviezel has genuine charisma & talent from it. He's amazing in that movie.

  • klingonfree

    Sara, yet again we agree on, uh, stuff. This made me love Ang Lee even before S&S did. It's probably the only time I liked Toby Maguire. Beautiful movie in a beautiful part of the country and Jonathan Rhys Meyers plays insane very effectively.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    You know, I look at Ang Lee's record, and I'm just blown away. (haven't seen The Hulk, so let's ignore that.) Ride With the Devil, Sense & Sensibility, and the absolutely staggering Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon which is probably in my Top Ten movie list.

  • crispin

    You shouldn't ignore The Hulk. It's a pretty damn unique superhero movie.

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