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