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The Biggest Box-Office Busts of 2010 (Revised)

By Dustin Rowles | Box Office Round-Ups | December 19, 2010 |

By Dustin Rowles | Box Office Round-Ups | December 19, 2010 |

Looks like I spoke to soon last week in ranking the top 10 busts of the year. Not only is there a new entry, with only one true opening weekend left of the year, but it looks like How Do You Know, the inexplicable $120 million romantic comedy, will land at number three on the busts lists. And truly, folks, there is no evidence of that $120 million in the movie. Even taking the $40 million for cast into account (and Paul Rudd, easily the only decent part of the film, only made $3 million, compared to Owen Wilson’s shocking $10 million, and Nicholson’s $12 million for what didn’t amount to more than six scenes), it’s completely baffling. Apparently, James Brooks took another $10 million for writing and directing, so where’s the other $70 million? From what I understand, it was because of meticulous filming (evidence of which doesn’t exist on screen) and because Brooks re-shot both the beginning and the end of the movie, which does seem obvious, as How Do You Know often felt like two movies cobbled together awkwardly.

And so, How Do You Know looks like to go down as the biggest romantic comedy bust of all time. Awesome.

Meanwhile, there was a moderately successful opening this weekend, Tron: Legacy survived its weak script and put up $43 million. That’s not likely enough to turn the sequel into a profitable one, at least domestically. Assuming a 2.9 multiplier (which is on the high end, given the holiday), Tron: Legacy is looking at a $125 - $150 million, on a $170 million budget (plus $150 million in marketing). It’s probably a front-loaded opening, too, as the hard-core Tron enthusiasts probably came out opening weekend, and True Grit may peel off a few Jeff Bridges fans next week. Another sequel seems unlikely (but not out of the question, if it performs well internationally).

In second place behind Tron: Legacy was the Yogi Bear travesty, which opened with a modest $16.7 million, 90 percent of which came from mental institution field trips. The short buses were out on full force this weekend.

What did do well this weekend? The phenomenal The Fighter, which boosted its screen count to 2500 and put up $12 million. It’s likely to have a lot of legs, too, considering all the awards nominations it’s already received. The King’s Speech also performed well in only 43 theaters, adding $1 million to its gross, bringing it to $3 million. It will add about 550 screens on Christmas Day.

And here is the revised lists of the ten biggest busts of the year, and with How Do You Know entering the top ten, Johah Hex miraculously drops off.

10. Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore $43 million

Budget: $85 million

Loss: $42 million

9. The Tourist: $17 million (final estimated gross $55 million)

Budget: $100 million.

Loss: $45 million (estimated)

8. Green Zone: $35 million

Budget: $100 million

Loss: $65 million

7. The Chronicles of Narnia $24 million (final estimated gross $70 million)

Budget: $155 million

Loss: $85 million (estimated)

6. The Sorcerer’s Apprentice: $63 million

Budget: $150 million

Loss: $87 million

5. Robin Hood: $105 million

Budget: $200 million

Loss: $95 million

4. The Wolfman $62 million

Budget: $150 million

Loss: $88 million

3. How Do You Know $19 million estimated

Budget: $120 million

Loss: $101 million

2. Tangled: $115 million (final estimated gross $155 million)

Budget: $260 million

Loss: $105 million (estimated)

1. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time: $90 million

Budget: $200 million

Loss: $110 million

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.

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