10 Big-Budget Movies That Were Doomed From The Start

Destined for failure.

Super Mario Bros
Buena Vista Pictures

Success can be an incredibly tricky and financially risky thing to come by in Hollywood, especially for a blockbuster movie that isn't already part of a popular and established franchise.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe, Star Wars, Fast and Furious, Pixar and Disney's live-action updates of their animated classics are among the only brands in the industry that are guaranteed box office success. Even the previously-reliable likes of the DCEU and Transformers have stumbled recently.

Yet, some movies are seemingly destined to fail a long time before they get anywhere near your local multiplex. In many cases, its blatantly obvious and almost incredible that those in a position of power can't see it for themselves.

With such a high volume of studio blockbusters getting released on an annual basis, not all of them are going to be good. However, there are a worryingly high number of expensive projects that everybody knows are going to be a disaster both critically and commercially, but that doesn't stop the studios pumping hundreds of millions of dollars into them regardless.

10. John Carter

Super Mario Bros

John Carter is by no means a terrible movie. It features plenty of ambitious world-building, some fantastic visuals, a decent score and a couple of strong action sequences. However, the entire endeavor just seemed destined to fail from the minute is was announced.

It appeared as though Andrew Stanton had bitten off far more than he could chew for his first foray into live-action filmmaking. It takes a confident person to dive in at the deep end on a $263m effects-heavy Disney blockbuster and while the director did his best, a number of factors severely harmed John Carter's chances of success.

Neither Stanton, Disney chairman Rich Ross or the production and marketing teams had much experience in the way of managing and controlling mega-budget productions, and it showed. In the wake of the Mars Needs Moms debacle the previous year, the movie was blandly re-titled as plain old John Carter, which told casual audiences absolutely nothing about the content.

The marketing campaign cost over $100m but was incredibly poor, and made the project look like Derivative Sci-Fi Movie No. 317, and failed to play up the significance of Edgar Rice Burroughs' source material had on the genre itself. To the surprise of virtually nobody, John Carter tanked at the box office.

Despite just about scraping back its budget, the project ended up losing an eye-watering $200m for Disney, directly led to Rich Ross' resignation and virtually killed Stanton's hopes of a live-action career, sending him back to Pixar with his tail between his legs.


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