In Introduction to Mass Communication class at Flagler College, we discussed box-office bombs on Sept. 23, 2011, and again on Feb. 8, 2012.
Notes from our discussion are below:
Box Office Bombs
Xyzzyx Road (Xyzzyx rhymes with Issac’s)
• Produced in 2006. Opened in only one theater. Highland Village Park Theater in Dallas, Texas.
• Producers rented theater for $1,000
• Movie ran for six days. Only six people went to see it. They paid $5 each. But the director refunded $10 to a make-up artist and her friend. So the total domestic gross was only $20!
• The movie’s budget was reported to be at least $1.2 million. So it lost 99.9985 percent of its production costs.
• Xyxxyx was released internationally – in 23 countries – and did much better, earning $368,000 by the end of 2006. But it was a huge domestic bomb.
• Plot: A bunch of tellers rob a bank.
• Woody Harrelson, Alicia Silverstone couldn’t save it.
• The movie had riveting dialogue. A sample:
“I eat cheese.”
“I know you do. I’ve seen you.”
• Budget: $7 million
• Domestic gross: $8,000.
• It earned just .11 percent of its production cost.
My Big Fat Independent Movie
• Released in 2005
• A spoof on independent movies. Film critic Chris Gore directed and co-wrote the movie. It was a bomb. It backfired and instead of making people laugh, it offended people. Its opening scene: A stereotypical looking African American rapes a white mentally disabled man.
• The Sundance film festival rejected the movie. Some die-hard independent film fans considered it to be blasphemous.
• $3 million budget
• domestic gross: $4,655
• .16 percent
D-Tox, 2002 (known as Eye See You on its DVD release)
• Sylvester Stallone is FBI agent Jake Malloy. He becomes deeply depressed after a killer brutally murders Malloy’s fiancée and his friend. His FBI supervisor tells him to check in to a police rehab clinic in the Wyoming mountains. A blizzard hits and Malloy can’t leave the clinic. By then, he finds out that the killer is disguised as one of the patients in the clinic, and naturally the killer begins knocking off patients one by one.
• Universal Studios released the movie three years after it was completed. It sat around because the studio didn’t know what to do with the movie, a 10-ton turkey.
• $55 million budget
• domestic gross: $79,161
• .14 percent of budget
What is a bomb?
• Two ways to measure whether a movie is a bomb
1 – Production costs versus profits
2 – Total losses
Some movies are flops domestically, but make money through DVD sales.
Impact of a bomb on movie studios
• In extreme cases, a bomb can push a movie studio into financial ruin
United Artists – Heaven’s Gate
Carolco Pictures – Cutthroat Island
Flops can’t bankrupt a studio, but they don’t necessarily destroy an actor’s career
• Waterworld had a $175 million budget and a spectacular aquatic film set, but it barely broke even
• Kevin Costner followed up in 1997 with The Postman, which also struggled. But Costner survived
Another bomb: Town and Country, 2001
• A romantic comedy.
• Warren Beatty is a New York City architect.
• Also stars Garry Shandling.
• Went into production without a script.
• Multiple rewrites.
• Director Peter Chelsom shot 1.3 million feet of film.
• Release date bumped 13 times.
• What critics wondered: How can you spend $95 million on a romantic comedy? There are no explosions or special effects.
Pluto Nash, 2002
• Pluto Nash is a retired smuggler and owner of a lunar nightclub in the year 2080. He investigates an arson fire that destroyed his club.
• Estimated budget of $100 million, including a marketing budget of $20 million
• Worldwide box office receipts of about $7 million
• DVD rental revenues: $25 million
• It still lost money
Eddie Murphy told Barbara Walters: “I know two or three people that liked this movie.”
Cuttthroat Island, 1995
• Budget of around $100 million. Domestic box office gross of only $10 million. Drove Carolco Pictures into bankruptcy.
• Listed as biggest box office flop of all time in Guinness Book of World Records (which movie is the biggest flop is disputed. It depends on how you measure it)
• Movie starred Geena Davis. She and her slave go on a quest to recover pieces of a treasure map.
• Many other actors turned down offers to play the lead role in the movie. Michael Douglas refused a $15 million offer. Keanu Reeves was busy playing Hamlet. Others refusing the role include: Tom Cruise, Daniel Day Lewis, Jeff Bridges, Michael Keaton, Charlie Sheen, Liam Neeson and Tim Robbins. Finally, Carolco gave Matthew Modine to play opposite of Geena Davis.
• Signs of waste during the movie: As filming wrapped up, the crew discovered a truck full of V8 juice. Davis and director Renny Harlin were fans of V8.
There have been many other Hollywood bombs. Among them:
• A Sound of Thunder
• The Alamo
• The 13th Warrior
• Osmosis Jones
• Heaven’s Gate
• Howard the Duck
• Hudson Hawk