A Look Back At The Glorious Failures That Were The Biggest Summer Movie Disasters Ever
From May to August every year, Hollywood studios take their shot like degenerate Vegas gamblers and go all-in on whatever blockbuster they’re betting on to pay everyone’s salaries for the next twelve months. Sometimes, this works out, the movie is a massive hit, sequels are commissioned for the next twenty summers and everyone wins. But sometimes, the movie completely bombs, jobs are lost, careers are ruined, and a 300 pound slab of muscle named Tiny breaks your legs in an alley.
It is these wretched summer movie disasters that we are here to celebrate today. Or at least make fun of. Same thing.
The following movies were all chosen based on a complex formula involving box-office results, money lost, film quality, whatever I feel like making fun of and eleven different secret herbs and spices. The result is this sad list, the worst of the worst, the nine biggest summer movie disasters ever.
Released in 2005 by Columbia Pictures, Stealth was an epic disaster. It’s not just that movie was horrible – which it was, and helped bury the film careers of stars Josh Lucas and Jessica Biel – or that it lost $116 million (adjusted for inflation), but also because Columbia was in the midst of a long line of summer flops and needed Stealth to hit big. It, uh… it didn’t.
The movie opened in as many theaters as Columbia could get it into, and it still only managed to make $13 million in its opening weekend, which placed it fourth, just behind the award-winning Sky High. It quickly fell from there and made only $32 million in the U.S. and Canada on a $135 million budget. On the plus side, critics hated it.
‘The 13th Warrior’
The 13th Warrior is not a horrible film. It’s actually kind of decent in a Sunday afternoon on SyFy I’m hungover and this is on kind of way. Unfortunately, it was meant to be more. Much more.
The problem with The 13th Warrior is that it was just good enough that the studio thought they could save it, and so even after filming was done, they sank millions into reshoots, and a movie whose original budget was around $80 million ended up costing up to $160 million. Yeah.
No one is sure exactly how much the movie cost, or exactly how much it lost, but estimates range from about $100 million to $183 million (again, adjusted for inflation, which you can assume going forward) and film legend Omar Sharif, who had a small role, was so disillusioned that he ended up temporarily retiring, saying “Let us stop this nonsense.” Well, okay then.
‘Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within’
Some movies are just too ambitious for their own good, and Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, definitely falls into that category. It was made during a time when ambitious adult animation was a big trend (more on that later) and its CGI animation was on the cutting edge of tech in 2001. Unfortunately, that meant that it was also expensive as hell.
The movie cost $137 million to make, which is kinda ridiculous given that it was literally all fake (calm down, nerds), and while it got decent reviews, the audience just wasn’t there for what was essentially a glorified video game cut-scene. After promotional expenses and hookers or whatever studios blow money on, the movie ended up losing $126 million, and caused the collapse of its studio, Square Pictures. Look, anytime you cause a company to go out of business, you know you fucked up.
You can pretty much copy everything I just wrote about Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within and paste it in here. Titan A.E. was an ambitious animated film that got middling reviews and ended up losing $137 million, and caused Fox to shut down its animation division along with a hyped video game that was planned to capitalize on the movie’s success. Yeah, that’s a disaster.
The numbers are bad enough – the movie lost $101 million – but they still don’t manage to properly convey just how epic a disaster Battlefield Earth really was. It’s widely considered one of the worst and most ridiculous movies ever, and served as the moment when L. Ron Hubbard and his wacky gang of Xenu enthusiasts became a national punchline for the first time. Oh, it also basically torpedoed John Travolta’s career – again – along with the career of rising star, Barry Pepper. Who? Exactly.