San Andreas may feature one of the worst natural disasters yet committed to celluloid, but it’s already apparent that the film’s anything but a disaster.
The critical reception has been middling at best but the people have spoken, and the people love The Rock. Dwayne Johnson’s latest grossed $113 million over the course of its opening weekend, all but assuring San Andreas a healthy profit margin in an unprecedented pile-up of summer blockbusters.
In fact, the first high-profile victim has already emerged in the shape of Tomorrowland; the unapologetically optimistic message of Brad Bird’s movie failing to translate into cold hard cash. A global take of $133 million in its first ten days on release means Disney will almost certainly take a big hit on the $190 million budget, and several studios will fear their marquee releases are destined to follow suit.
Then again, Hollywood history is littered with the corpses of big-money gambles gone awry, and the high-risk, quick-sprint model that typifies the modern movie business ensures that the list of big-budget botches can only grow longer.
Although production budgets can be difficult to pinpoint with absolute certainty and marketing costs are even more mysterious, a little number crunching is all that’s required to determine Tinseltown’s most spectacular backfires. Read on for an in-depth look at the silly season’s most notorious flops*.
*Figures based on box office performance alone and not adjusted for inflation, marketing costs taken into account wherever possible.
20. Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within
Budget: $137 million (marketing included)
Box office: $85.1 million
Loss: $51.9 million
There’s still just over a year to go until Duncan Jones’ Warcraft arrives in movie theatres, and all concerned will hope the adaptation of the famed MMORPG has more success than other video game-inspired films. Which shouldn’t be too difficult.
Exhibit A – Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within.
Released in July 2001, The Spirits Within splashed the cash – $137 million or more – to reimagine the role-playing series of Final Fantasy video games for the big screen, with the computer animation required to render its characters in a photoreal way eating up most of the budget.
Alas, the cutting-edge design and visual spectacle drifted into uncanny valley territory, and the film’s plot was a confusing slog. So it was that a four-year labour of love tanked on such a scale as to bankrupt Tokyo-based subsidiary Square Pictures. Some sources post the eventual financial loss as high as $80-90 million, but whatever the final figure Final Fantasy lost enough money to make many a blockbuster flops list.