Sometimes, you have that one brilliant film idea that should by all means awe everybody. If you also manage to attract a star-studded cast and spend millions on marketing the film-to-be, cash should flow right in, right? Wrong. So many times everything looks perfectly fine on paper, but the result is quite different from expectations. What causes each such failure is down to luck and the smallest details, and can only be assessed on a case-by-case basis. We’re not here to do that, but would prefer just showing you a few of last year’s failed products in terms of their box office performance.
1. King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
The Arthurian legend has delighted many audiences through different formats along the ages, so it should always be a safe bet in terms of earnings. Starring David Beckham, Jude Law and Eric Bana and representing the first installment in what was planned as a six-film series, the movie gathered $148 million from a $175 million budget, failing to draw even.
2. The Dark Tower
Stephen King adaptations have almost always made lots of money – the most recent such project being It, which drew $695 million from a budget of $35 million – and it happened last year. Why then couldn’t The Dark Tower, starring Matthew McConaghey and Idris Elba and starting from a far more interesting premise compete with its fellow Stephen Kind inspired production? Admittedly, it didn’t perform as bad as King Arthur did, totaling $111 million earnings from a $60 million budget, but there’s no question that it still seriously underperformed.
I was really sad to learn about the commercial failure of Darren Aronofsky’s latest film, particularly because I can easily place it in my top 3 favourite films of last year. Despite having both Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem as the main characters, the violent and intellectual nature of the project spelled its downfall for mainstream audiences, which resulted in a modest figure of $45 million from a $33 million budget.
4. The Promise
Despite the very promising choice of subject – the final days of the Ottoman Empire – and a star-studded cast including Oscar Isaac and Christian Bale, this film takes the crown for the worst performer of the year in terms of box office – earnings ratio. Only $8 million were recouped from a $90 million investment, and while the film is certainly no masterpiece, it’s certainly way better than a lot of more fortunate projects.
5. Patriots Day
Despite using a key word that would normally guarantee success in the US, and despite being centred around the Boston Marathon bombings of 2013 – a very headlined topic in recent years – it just wasn’t Patriots Day’s day. Or month. Or year. Even with Mark Wahlberg, John Goodman, Michelle Monaghan and J.K. Simmons on board, and despite positive reviews, it ended up grossing $48 million, only $3 million more than its box office of $45 million.
6. The Snowman
I was really excited about this one, being a fan of both Nesbo’s writing and Fassbender’s acting. However, poor plot adaptation, poor setting decisions and poor direction made this a complete mess of a film – I haven’t yet met anything who at least had one good word to say about it. Word must have spread quickly, because what initially seemed to be a promising marketing campaign only ended up with earnings of $43 million from a production budget of $35 million.