Plenty of awful movies make tonnes of money; just look at how Michael Bay keeps getting work, and how the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise is currently weighing up its fifth, sixth and seventh entries. Studios likely don’t give a damn about how good their movie is if it’s raking in a billion dollars – and to them, that is itself a measure of film quality no doubt – yet it must be a real kick in the teeth for them when things go the other way, and a film isn’t just total garbage, but audiences en masse know it, too.
How galling must it be to see a litany of scathing reviews and at least not be able to pride oneself on the fact that, well, lots of people must’ve liked it because they went to see it? Better still, how much must it suck when a film is so awful that it ends up bankrupting the studio that created it? These 9 films were so offensively awful to audiences that they reaped paltry box office receipts and essentially poisoned the very construct that allowed them to exist in the first place…
9. Heaven’s Gate (United Artists)
Michael Cimino had just come fresh off Academy Award success with the masterful The Deer Hunter, and so studios were keen to invest in his projects, given his confident ability to craft complex, epic cinema.
His next work was the highly ambitious western Heaven’s Gate, starring Kris Kristoffersen and Christopher Walken, which is noted for its troubled production history, such as Cimino’s dictatorial mood on set, and the fact that the production ran wildly over both the allotted time and budget.
The four-hour epic – later trimmed to 149 minutes – was a box office bomb, making only $3.4 million against a whopping $44 million budget, and causing distributor United Artists to post massive losses solely because of this. UA was rendered bankrupt by the film, causing the studio to cut their production schedule down hugely, while being saved by a merger with MGM. UA only returned to its former glory when Tom Cruise resurrected it back in 2006.
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