The best of the bombs

The Daily Beast has a slideshow of Hollywood movies that bombed. I’ve only seen one of the movies on the list: Cleopatra. It’s a long movie, and as I recall the early-going with Rex Harrison as Julius Caesar was pretty good, but after he gets killed off, the movie goes downhill fast. What amazed me was the fact that Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, famously having an affair at the time of the filming, had very little chemistry in the film. Harrison and Taylor were a better couple than Burton and Taylor, weird as it sounds.

Of course, the more expensive a movie is, the more danger it is in of “bombing”; since bombing basically means “failing to break even”. So, this means it’s theoretically possible that a good movie that people like could still bomb because of financial mismanagement during production. Since Cleopatra is the most expensive movie ever, it would have had to do incredibly well to not bomb.

So, what’s the best movie to bomb? Wikipedia has a list of the biggest bombs, that’s a good starting point. I know some people love The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, but I’ve never seen it. I haven’t seen most of these. Babe: Pig in the City wasn’t that bad… but it was pretty bad.

Any suggestions?


  1. I didn’t see the list, but I did look to see what the other Disney bomb was besides John Carter. They made an animated movie, ‘Mars Needs Moms’ for $150,000,000, and it made about $22 million. Wow.

    Never saw Cleopatra, Titanic, Avatar… I don’t like big production type movies, I guess.

    1. I think sometimes when they know they haven’t got a great movie idea to begin with, they just pour money into it to make it as big and special-effects laden as possible.

      And in the cases of “Avatar” and “Titanic”, it worked, apparently. James Cameron knows how to market stuff, I’ll say that much. If he’d been around when they made “Cleopatra”, he probably could have made it a success.

  2. There’s and entire novel about the making of Cleopatra. 20th Century nearly went under at the 20 million price tag (today it would be 500 mil or more.) The director wanted to make 2 movies 4 hours long. The guy that took over 20th Century shut down the production spliced the two halves together. Obviously the first half would be better since it was done before interfence. Best line in a movie ever.
    Egyptians are attacking, Caesar sends out the turtle to clean out the balistas and says, “That should do until morning.”
    Rufio says, “What happens in the morning?”
    Caesar: “I thought you knew, the sun comes up.”
    The Adventures of Baron Munchousen was awful. Don’t waste your time. It did introduce Uma Thurman, but that’s about it.

  3. I’ve seen a number of the other movies. Even went to see Cuthroat Island at the theater. I’ve always been a big Pirate buff. It would fare much better today after Pirates of the Carribean movies. It was what I call Timex movies. Action movies where the lead characters “take a licking, but keep on ticking.”
    Heaven’s Gate was a so-so western and most of them are filmed on the cheap. It was foolish to pour that much money into a small target audience, and by the way Paint Your Wagon was a bomb too.
    Hit the stop button after fifteen minutes on Ishtar and took it back to the video store.
    I’m not a Scientologist so Travolta’s praise of it never interested me.
    Hudson Hawk is a really good movie. I love the two thiefs timing by singing songs. Willis and Danny Aeillo worked well together.
    The Postman and Water World again had too small a target audience. A Boy and His Dog is much better and was much cheaper to make. Too much Kevin Costner ego. The same applies to the Eddie Murphy bomb. Speed Racer’s not the kind of movie I watch on premium channels or video.

    1. The whole idea of “Paint Your Wagon” just sounds like a bad idea to me. There are some movies that sound good on paper, but flop in practice for one reason or another. But “Wagon” just has “bad movie” written all over it from square one, it seems to me.

      Also I think it’s ironic that, from what I have read, this bomb “John Carter” has a very similar plot to “Avatar”, which is one of the most successful movies ever, financially.

  4. The problem is the fans of Edgar Rice B. are older and don’t go see movies. Most Sci-fi/fantasy action movies have elements of Edgar Rice stories Star Wars, Avatar, etc. Not enough of a target audience for that expenditure.
    Paint Your Wagon is one of my favorite movies. The singing is terrible Lee Marvin mangled a number of songs and Clint Eastwood trying to sing to a latin beat was funny. Still it had a good story and some great lines.
    When a Mormon shows up with two wives and they start to auction her off,
    Shermelhorn: You can’t buy a woman for money?”
    Mad Jack: You just try to get one without it.
    The late Herve Pressman’s version of They Call the Wind Mariah is first rate.

    1. Well, I like both Marvin and Eastwood as actors, but it just seems like such a bad idea to have them sing. Usually they handle the, “good actor/bad singer” problem by dubbing some professional singer over the actor, although there are definitely major problems with that, as well.

      I guess, to me, having a musical with actors who can’t sing very well seems ill-advised. Why not just adapt it so that there aren’t any songs?

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