The summer blockbuster has a long tradition of doing just that: busting the block. But what happens when one of these bloated, CGI-laden, multi-million-dollar summer flicks underperforms? We saw that board game adaptations might not catch on with this summer's Battleship, but what other recent summer blockbusters bombed at the box office?
To a Hollywood executive, Battleship conjures thoughts of an established brand, potential explosions and an opportunity to monetize nostalgia. To the general public, it's a fairly dull board game with no story or characters. Though Universal was hoping to draw in the Transformers audience with this toy-to-film adaptation, it turns out that Aircraft Carrier and Submarine aren't quite as beloved as robot protector Optimus Prime. The film's failure doesn't bode well for Monopoly, Candyland, Risk, Ouija, Stretch Armstrong, or the remake of Clue, all of which are quite soberingly real projects in development.
John Carter (2012)
The first big warning sign for Disney's John Carter came when the company focus-tested its original title, John Carter of Mars, and opted to avoid scaring off sci-fi-shy audiences by reducing it to its boringly inoffensive core. The second big warning came when the film's joyless marketing campaign revealed an equally risk-averse, generic visual style and an innocuously blank protagonist. While the film's 1912 source material is widely regarded as a pioneering landmark of its genre, Disney's John Carter is so safe that it's dangerous.
Mars Needs Moms (2011)
Where John Carter erred on the catastrophically safe side, it's hard to imagine a more alienatingly lame title than Mars Needs Moms. Seriously, just try to picture a group of Mountain Dew-swilling CoD-playing 11-year-old boys talking excitedly about the latest blockbuster mommy movie. If there's one good thing to be said about this animated family movie, it's that it bankrupted producer Robert Zemeckis's creepy, uncanny valley motion capture studio.
The Adventures of Pluto Nash (2002)
This notorious 2002 sci-fi comedy was developed and marketed on the theory that star Eddie Murphy could sell anything, a theory that Pluto Nash swiftly debunked. Originally conceived in 1985, the film underwent numerous revisions before sitting on the shelf for two years. When it finally arrived in theaters, it recouped only $5 million of its $100 million budget.
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010)
While most famous flops are a chore to watch, Edgar Wright's kinetic adaptation of the Scott Pilgrim comics was simply too strange, bombastic and fast-paced to catch on in the mainstream. The film's visual creativity and innovative comedic sensibility have since gained it a devoted cult following on DVD, but not before it lost roughly $50 million in its theatrical run.
Green Lantern (2011)
While the best superhero movies combine flashy spectacle with thoughtful, personal creative vision--Joss Whedon's Avengers, Chris Nolan's Batman, Brian Singer's X-Men, etc.--the worst seem to exist simply because they're expected to. The Green Lantern falls squarely in the latter camp, plugging a hole in Warner's 2011 schedule by dredging up the DC second-stringer and giving him a derivative, ham-fisted learning-to-be-responsible origin story.
Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist (2005)
While the original 1973 Exorcist film is widely regarded as a horror movie masterpiece, its four other attempted franchise entries are far less fondly-remembered. Dominion marks the second attempt at a 21st century Exorcist prequel, sharing the exact same premise and lead actor as 2004's The Exorcist: The Beginning. While The Beginning is accepted as the inferior film, Dominion was a bigger disaster financially: the film lost a staggering 99.16% of its budget.