This site will work and look better in a browser that supports web standards, but it is accessible to any browser or Internet device.

Whedonesque - a community weblog about Joss Whedon
"His penis got diseases From a Chumash tribe."
11970 members | you are not logged in | 26 January 2021


November 23 2009

The Top 10 Best Box Office Bombs of the Decade. Serenity makes it to number 8 of this Seattle Movie Examiner list.

I've only seen four of these, but they were all superior: The Fountain, Master & Commander, Zodiac and something else.
Hrm, that's a pretty diverse range of movies which I ought to check out since it seems like some pretty good recommendations. I actually did like the Marie Antoinette biopic quite a bit even if the arc felt a little incomplete. But I did see The New World and wasn't particularly too enraptured with that one, even if there were some occasionally stand out moments of cinematography like they suggest....

Where are these numbers they're pulling out though? I haven't actually seen Funny People yet but I don't get how that movie could nearly be twice the cost of Serenity. and box office receipts...

Wow, I guess they're going with US total BO numbers (which randomly sampling matches up with the wiki numbers) which in hindsight I find kind of surprising in light of how something like New Moon can make 140 million in one weekend.
Glad to see Sunshine on there. If there was ever a more depressing, dark alter-ego of Serenity, that movie was it.
'Sunshine' is an incredibly uplifting film IMO not depressing at all, one of the few recent sci-fi efforts with a genuine "sense of wonder" that celebrates the beauty of the natural world (mainly, obviously, the Sun, mother of all life on Earth). You could make a case that, like 'Serenity', it's partly about faith I guess.

Some good entries on there though I question a) the basic premise and b) the tone - I doubt Soderbergh sees 'Solaris' or 'Che' as duds for instance, they're just less commercial films than e.g. the Ocean's movies that he probably didn't make with huge box-office in mind (George Clooney once described 'Solaris' as a $40 million art-house movie and that seems the right way to see it to me).

And as to the premise, though the article says it only includes US box-office it doesn't point out that in some cases, if the international box-office is also counted the movie in question goes into profit (at least as far as production budget is concerned) or is at least far from "a box-office bomb". 'Master and Commander' for instance (great film) made $93 million in the US and $115 million internationally, putting it at about $208 million, quite handily over its $135 million production budget (according to The Numbers). Counting international takings, 'Funny People' made around $71 million, just edging over its production budget of $70 million. And 'Serenity' itself came close to covering its production costs. All of these are before DVD sales/rentals, TV deals etc. are taken into account. So a fair bit of cherry picking of data to make a point methinks.
If it weren't for internet buzz, I would never have known the movie Serenity even existed. I don't remember seeing a single ad for it. And having the movie open in the early fall, a big portion of the audience was starting school, so I'm not surprised they missed out on those summer grosses. That's just a bad time to premiere an action movie.

Point is that if I wasn't an internet junkie, there's a good chance that I never would have heard of the movie even today. I think a chance was missed, with the date they chose to premiere the movie and the advertising.
Some surprises on that list, for me. I knew that "The Assination of Jesse James ....." wasn't a big hit, but I was shocked at how little it made. I generally don't like westerns, but this was an excellent film.
Another demonstration of the short attention span syndrome - no one who say the trailers could have expected some standard issue shot-em-up. Taking nothing away from Casey Aflec, who certainly deserved all the accolades (& the Oscar nom), I don't get why Brad Pitt didn't get more recognition for an amazing performance.

The New World is one of my favorite movies ever, I wasn't aware it was such a box office flop. This is the only movie I've ever seen about the early English settlers that captured something that felt totally right about how surreal the experience must have been, for both the invaders and the invaded.
This is easily my favorite on the list (along with Serenity, of course).

Also loved Solaris. If Steven Soderbergh has to make Oceans 15, in order to finance his serious films, then he should go for it. And once in a while you get to hit big on both the artistic and financial fronts (Traffic).


[ edited by Shey on 2009-11-24 09:26 ]
There's definitely no shame in being a part of the same list as these movies. Haven't seen all of them but out of the once I have seen they are all various degrees of excellent.
I liked most of these films, didn't like a couple (Fountain and Marie Antionette), but I don't really see the point of this list. Most of these are art films with a capital "a," so judging them on not succeeding financially seems to miss the point and reduce their worth even as they are being celebrated. I long for the days when it was only the studio executives who cared about how successful a film was.

Anyway, er, Serenity is awesome!
I despised Sunshine. I watched it a second time recently as it was so highly regarded I thought maybe I missed something first time, but no it still sucked. The fate of the planet left in the hands of those assholes. Only one crew member trained to deliver the payload? That's just poor planning.
Most of the films I haven't seen on that list (Funny People, Che, and Assassination of Jesse James) are on my "must" list. Although she did great with The Virgin Suicides (I think I even read the book for that, way back when) and Lost in Translation, the poor reviews put me off Marie Antoinette (despite liking the cast and thinking the anachronisms/artsyness in the trailer looked like they might be fun).

Of those I have seen on the list (The Fountain, Sunshine, Serenity, Zodiac), love 'em all for one reason or another. I had been anticipating The Fountain for a long time because it took Darren Aronofsky a while to make a follow-up to Requiem For a Dream (production delays for The Fountain--originally it was meant to be a much bigger budgeted film and star Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett). That article points out that Weisz is the major draw (I agree that she's great, but moreso the standout in other films), but it was the first time I stood up and took notice of Jackman's talent (aside from embodying a convincing Wolverine). He does anguish real well. Score was awesome and it was visually compelling too.

Have seen bits and pieces of The New World and it looks beautiful (and Colin Farrel tends to be in good films for the most part). I vaguely remember one scene where John Smith is accepted in Pocahontas' camp and is playing with them or observing them doing something fun/communal and it was probably one of the most devoid-of-cheese, pure, genuine moments of joyfulness acted and captured on film I've seen. Really need to get around to seeing the full thing (plus more of that director's films).

Just saw Master & Commander earlier this year after it had been on my list for a long while (got it brand new for $4, couldn't pass it up). Thought it was incredible and epic in scope and film-maker's ambition (haven't read the books, likely won't get around to 'em).
I love most of those; The Fountain is one of my favourites of all time, and Jesse James, The New World and Marie Antoinette are among my favourites of the decade. All beautiful stuff. Didn't really like Sunshine, but Danny Boyle's films rarely make much of an impression on me.
Aside from Serenity, I'd include Igor, A Bunch of Amateurs and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang as my favourite box office bombs of the decade.
No 'Stealth' love Simon ? ;)

'Kiss Kiss Bang Bang' is a really excellent little film, one of my favourite buddy movies. Hard to say for me really (apart from the ones on this list I mean), don't normally pay much attention to how a film does at the box-office. It's not from the past decade but 'The Adventures of Baron Munchausen' is a famous turkey that i've always had a soft-spot for, arguably a failure but if so a magnificent one IMO.
Need to see most of those, had 2 on my list: and then there's one I saw as soon as I could and watched the weekend numbers fastidiously. Guess which? ;)
I thought Master and Commander was superb. Funny thing is, the books are boring, and the translation into film brought everything into focus.
Interesting how many good films there are on the list.
Apart from Serenity, for me the Assasination of Jesse James... is the best here, I absolutely loved every (really not so long) two and a half hours of it.
Funny thing is, the books are boring...

Bzzt. Wrong. Thanks for playing.


(the books create an amazingly accurate sense of time and place as well as featuring two of the better realised evolving characters in any series i've read. Plot wise they're often meandering and sometimes contrived but that's by the by, the excitement is in experiencing the world itself. Oh and they've got a great sense of humour too. All just IMO, course)

[ edited by Saje on 2009-11-24 13:58 ]
Wow, there are some very good movies on that list - Serenity of course, Zodiac, Sunshine, The New World, Master and Commander, The Assasination of Jesse James.... These are great, GREAT movies. Too bad they didn't get their due.
I'm also glad to see Sunshine included - it was truly an amazing film, though I will readily admit it scared the piss out of me. Do not watch while alone. That film is wayyy too heavy to handle alone.
I've seen most of those movies, and the only one that I actually liked was Serenity. And if I hadn't seen all of Firefly before watching it, I probably wouldn't be that enamored with it, either.
It also looked like, of those on the list, Serenity was the *closest* to making back its budget at the Box Office, which is interesting.
I love to see Sereniy next to The Fountain and Assassination of Jesse James.
AMAZING movies!
A few really good movies there. Serenity, obviously, but I also loved 'Sunshine' to bits for its pure atmospheric genius (although I do understand the people who are put off by the 'sudden' gear-change halfway through), 'The Fountain' because it was weird (very weird), but also extremely moving and incredibly well-acted, 'TAOJJBTCRF' for the break-through of Casey Affleck (what has he been up to since this and 'Gone Baby Gone' anyway?) and 'Master and Commander' for its engaging epic scope. All the others are on my to-watch list. In fact, I'll probably be watching 'Zodiac' this week, as I got it from the video rental store a few days ago :).

Also: 'Kiss Kiss Bang Bang' did poorly? That's just incredible. It's smart, funny and one of the best times I've had watching a movie in recent years. I've already seen it about 5/6 times with several friends, because it's a great way to spend an evening :).
Nice to see Marie Antoinette on a list like this. It's entirely underrated and written off as just a 'fluffy girl film' I feel. Have yet to see Sunshine but it's on Channel 4 here in the UK sometime this week I think so I may have to check it out.
I think the style threw me, saje. But I've read 'em all, despite. :-) And the movie really was very very good.
Hated Sunshine, wish someone had warned me it was a slasher pic in the guise of a Scifi movie.
Loved Master & Commander:

Captain Aubrey: "Do you see those two weevils, Doctor?...Which would you choose?"
Dr. Maturin: "Neither. There's not a scrap of difference between them. They're the same species of Curculio."
Captain Aubrey: "If you had to choose. If you were forced to make a choice. If there were no other option."
Dr. Maturin: "Well, then, if you're going to push me. I would choose the right-hand weevil. It has significant advantage in both length and breadth."
Captain Aubrey: "There, I have you!...Do you not know that in the Service, one must always choose the lesser of two weevils?"

I totally disagree, Serenity was great movie esp the fight scenes with River Tan. The movie had a great plot a great villain Joss did an exceptional job.
Obviously loved Serenity.
Have seen Marie Antoinette and found it quite boring. As for Funny People, that was a terrible film - my friends and I thought it was such a waste of time. It dragged on for ages.
I think the style threw me, saje. But I've read 'em all, despite. :-)

Man, that's staying power Dana5140, you read 20 books that bored you ?! ;) It's fair comment in some respects, you have to kind of settle into the world, go with the flow (i'm only on book 11 so far, trying to avoid reading them all in succession).

Captain Aubrey: "There, I have you!...Do you not know that in the Service, one must always choose the lesser of two weevils?"

Heh, kazzmere ;). Paul Bettany pretty much pulls it off BTW but in the book the more explicit extra "layer" to it is that Maturin laughs as much out of enjoyment of Jack's simple pleasure at what is, if we're honest, a pretty terrible pun. It's moments like that that show (rather than "tell") how these two very different men are such good friends - they both have something the other's missing.
Hmm, I should see more of these. However, I don't think it's completely honest to say Serenity only made 25.5 Million, and therefor lost 13.5 Million. I mean, that's in the US. Worldwide, it made $38,869,464, so it basically broke even. Although the 39. Million budget doesn't include advertising and the like, I know for a fact that the Dvd sales for the one disc and two disc were fantastic, and the film broke even WITH the ads and even made some money. Was it a flop? Absolutly. Barely breaking even after dvd sales isn't very good. Is the list greatly exagerated? Definetly. If it included the $ Made from dvds, the worldwide gross, and the advertising costs worldwide I'd prefer it. I have a friend in the movie buisness who tells me Funny People's actually been pre-ordered alot on DVD and is expected to really sell.
Such a great list of films there. Of course I enjoyed Serenity very much, although I must admit to finding it inferior to the series. It was a little too much Mal and River, and felt a little light weight on the other characters. May have just been a byproduct of being a two hour film, but was still a little disappointing in that regard on first viewing.

Have to side with those that really like Sunshine. I only saw it a week or two ago on DVD and thought it was a very well crafted film. I also agree with Saje that it is an uplifting film. I was a little worried at first that it would take the "man is weaker than nature" route, but in those final moments I felt as if the film became a nice response to Tower of Babel-esque stories. I imagine it is film that Joss himself would appreciate, with its rather Humanist message.

My only disappoint was not seeing it in the cinema, as I am certain some of it would have come across fantastically. In particular, shots of the blinding sun whilst you were sitting in the darkened cinema would have really carried the awe that the crew had. @fiorire - Yes, I believe Sunshine is on this Sunday on C4. Would certainly recommend you watch.

Jesse James was another fantastic film of real Shakespearian proportions. I must admit though, through no fault of the film itself, I did find some of the dialogue quite hard to hear. I think it was probably a combination of watching the film on fairly poor computer speaks and the dialect of the characters being one I was not very familiar with, but I still found the film to be very enjoyable and it also gives me good reason to rewatch. The DVD also came with a really good documentary about the events of the film.

I found their number one film, Zodiac, to be a real stunning piece of work. Probably Fincher's best film and it really captures how a serial killer damages the lives of people beyond his victims and their family. A fascinating story of obsession. I think that many people were expecting the film to be similar to Fincher's Se7en, but they got something very different. I'm sure for many that may have been a disappointment, but for me it made for an exceptionally good film.

Not seen the others on the list, but have heard many good things about The Fountain, Che, and Master and Commander, which are all films I want to see.
Good to see Serenity on the list, it's an amazing contribution to the genre.

As for the others, Zodiac really springs to the fore. What an exceptional film. I found it so difficult to watch due to it's tone, and that's a good thing. It shook me up for days, and I can't say that about very many works.
Orange, if I had to venture a guess I would say that Funny People cost more than Serenity because of three things: Adam Sandler, Seth Rogen and Eric Bana (aka stars, but not the dying sun kind).

Of all on the list I only haven't seen Che (didn't even know it existed) but will have to put it on the queue. Liked all but Master and Commander but I also saw it with a lot of other people at someone's house and there were a lot of distractions (I don't remember it exactly grabbing anyone's attention). I may have to give it another shot after all the nice words.

The reason for the list is to spotlight GREAT movies that didn't make the money they probably should have and therefore people may not be familiar with.

And the list is completely fair according to the criteria they spelt out in the opening: "Also, a quick note, all grosses are based solely on their domestic numbers."
E-Rawk, they arn't lying about the numbers, it's just unfair because some were FAR from flops internationally. Serenity was a flop, and still look at this
And those numbers are from before the Special Edition 2-Disc dvd was out, which 96% Of Whedonites bought.

[Eddited to add: Also, those numbers up there, which say that Universal prifited 11 Milion, DON'T include Dvds released internationally, which I think I read sold about as much as in the U.S. If 10% Of the people who bought the normal dvd got the two disc in the US, then the profits closer to $25 Million for Universal]

[ edited by DeezyG on 2009-11-24 23:26 ]
I remember those Newsarama discussion, the consensus was the numbers and analysis was incorrect.
Oh, ok Simon, Havn't been at Whedonesque too long ;) And the numbers I edited were fairly lower than what I got, so I know my moth's off, but it's under not over on purpose :P But thanks, It still made money
And the list is completely fair according to the criteria they spelt out in the opening: "Also, a quick note, all grosses are based solely on their domestic numbers."

Sure it's fair, it's still of debatable truthfulness. If they'd included "Also, a quick note, we've only counted the first $10 million in box-office takings." at the top then they could've put 'The Dark Knight' down as a box-office bomb ;).

(i.e. the fact is, as I say above, 'Master and Commander' for instance made $70+ million over its production costs once international box-office is taken into account - if they just wanted to highlight some movies they consider underrated then they should've called it "10 Great Movies We Consider Underrated")
"He who would pun would pick a pocket."

I'm with Saje on the O'Brien books. One of my favorite series of all time. As for the movie, I thought it was perfectly cast and I would've gladly watched a dozen or two sequels. Bettany as Maturin made my month.
not to be too OT, but shouldn't the final rank of a film's profitability be its gross worldwide versus its cost to make? And over time with DVD sales and such? It's a business sense.
Regarding the money issue, is it even correct to put the production costs directly against the gross (domestic or worldwide)? Is gross really just the earnings of the studio? Or does it also include the part of the money that goes to the cinemas (and maybe even other groups inbetween)?
I think a lot of people forget that theaters keep around 46% of the profits made, both domestic and internationally. Serenity's total gross for Universal worldwide would've likely been $20.95 million. Not counting DVD and Blu-ray sales, of course...

And I really did not like Funny People. Apatow, unlike Whedon, does not know how to keep his focus on a direct storyline -- which goes on tangents like Apatow's wife having an unnecessary cameo, and lots of repeated sex/dick jokes or lame pop culture references (not to mention a too-long runtime of 150 minutes). And the ending was spoiled in the advertising too.

This thread has been closed for new comments.

You need to log in to be able to post comments.
About membership.

joss speaks back home back home back home back home back home