With 2019 coming to a close, it’s time to look back on those movies that you probably didn’t see. Yes, we’re delving into the biggest box office bombs of 2019, which the recently released Cats is now among.As we did last year, we are limiting this to movies that opened wide (at least 1,000 theaters or more), and in most cases, these are films that failed to at least recoup their production budget from its worldwide tally, though, there are a few exceptions.When you factor in the production budget, plus publicity and advertising costs, plus other expenditures like first-dollar gross points paid out to stars and/or filmmakers, it’s generally believed that a film should earn back at least twice its production budget to truly break even. So, we can’t consider a disappointing entry like Men In Black: International a true “bomb” since it took in $253.9 million worldwide ($80 million domestic, $173.9 million international) from a $110 million budget, despite being the lowest-grossing entry in that franchise’s history, and the same goes for Dora and the Lost City of Gold ($119.2 million worldwide, $49 million budget) as well.There are other entries we were on the fence about like Jexi ($7.4 million worldwide, $5 million budget), Blinded by the Light ($18 million worldwide, $15 million budget) and Anna ($30.9 million worldwide, $30 million budget), but we ultimately left these off the list in favor of movies that likely lost more due to their bigger budgets. We are also including one honorable mention, since it's historic(ly terrible) debut coincided with the writing of this piece.So, without further adieu, we present the 20 Biggest Box Office Flops of 2019.
(The following are domestic box office figures via Box Office Mojo.)
- $17.8 million domestic (as of Dec. 29), $38 million worldwide, $95 million budget
Already the butt of scathing reviews, industry jokes and social media memes, Universal's adaptation of the Broadway musical was dead on arrival with an anemic $6.6 million domestic debut– one of the 20 worst opening weekends of all time. Cats is now projected to lose up to $100 million for the studio, which also spent over $100 million marketing it. Cats' failure has reportedly also prompted Universal to drop the film's Oscars campaign.
- $4 million domestic, $9.2 million worldwide, $30 million budget
We may very well be in the midst of a Keanu Reeves renaissance these past few years, but even his star power couldn’t save the sci-fi thriller Replicas. The film, which follows Reeves as a scientist trying to bring his family back after they died in a tragic accident, was dead on arrival, opening with just $2.4 million in 2,329 theaters in early January. It dropped a massive 81.6% in its second weekend and barely stayed afloat in theaters for its six-week run, which all saw its per-screen average below $600 each week except for the debut ($1,019). Reeves ended up having a solid year overall with John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, his beloved cameo in Always Be My Maybe, and filming Bill and Ted Face the Music, but Replicas didn’t get his year started on a great note.
The Sun Is Also a Star
- $5 million domestic, $6.7 million worldwide, $9 million budget
While Yara Shahidi is certainly a rising star with a bright future ahead of her as an actress and an activist, The Sun Is Also a Star did not shine bright at the box office. Its mid-May debut of $2.5 million came from 2,073 theaters, for an atrocious $1,211 per-screen average. It dropped a whopping 67.9% in its second weekend over the Memorial Day holiday and was yanked from theaters altogether after its third weekend. This adaptation of Nicola Yoon book centering on an unlikely romance between Shahidi’s Natasha Kingsley and Charles Melton’s Daniel Jae Ho Bae, just couldn’t find an audience in a crowded mid-May release schedule.
- $5.3 million domestic, $9.9 million worldwide, $45 million budget
A case could be made for The Goldfinch being the biggest bomb of 2019, though it may not be terribly surprising given the polarizing reception Donna Tartt’s book received. While the book was heavily praised by some, and winning the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, it was also trashed and bashed by many other notable critics and publications. Even a star-studded cast including Nicole Kidman, Ansel Elgort, Jeffrey Wright and Finn Wolfhard couldn’t lure audiences to theaters, opening with just $2.7 million from 2,542 theaters for an awful $1,053 per-screen average. It dropped a staggering 71.7% in its second weekend and disappeared from theaters after six weeks, three of which saw it suffer drops of more than 70%.
- $5.7 million domestic, $6.7 million worldwide, $61 million budget
While animated movies and their four-quadrant appeal often lead to box office success for many big studio features, lower-tier animated projects like Arctic Dogs are often lost in the shuffle. Distributed by Entertainment Studios and released on the same weekend as Terminator: Dark Fate and Harriet, Arctic Dogs debuted with just $2.9 million from 2,844 theaters for a per-screen average of $1,020. It dropped 524 theaters and 63.1% in its second weekend, before being mercifully yanked from theaters after five weeks. Despite a talented voice cast featuring Jeremy Renner, Heidi Klum, and Alec Baldwin, to name a few, it wasn’t highly promoted, and it always makes it harder to see a movie if you don’t even know said movie exists in the first place.
- $6 million domestic, $8.8 million worldwide, $25 million budget
The Focus Features sci-fi thriller Captive State may have had one of the most truncated releases of the year, spanning just three short weeks. It opened in mid-March, debuting with just $3.1 million from 2,548 theaters for a per-screen average of $1,229. While it gained one theater in its second frame, it still dropped 69.4% that weekend, before it dumped over 2,100 theaters in its third and final weekend where it dropped 88.5%. The film was director Rupert Wyatt’s (Rise of the Planet of the Apes) first film in five years, and despite a talented cast featuring John Goodman, Vera Farmiga, and Ashton Sanders, Captive State could not captivate audiences enough to escape this list.
Where'd You Go, Bernadette?
- $9.2 million domestic, $10.1 million worldwide, $20 million budget
Cate Blanchett just earned a Golden Globe nomination for her performance in the dramedy Where’d You Go, Bernadette?, and it’s possible she could be racking up even more nominations as awards season heats up. While Blanchett earned raves, critical consensus on the movie as a whole was mixed (48% on Rotten Tomatoes) as it seems fans of the best-selling novel by Maria Semple the movie was based on didn’t come out in droves for the adaptation. Where’d You Go, Bernadette? opened with just $3.5 million from 2,404 theaters for a $1,440 per-screen average. It didn’t fare much better throughout its eight-week theatrical run and while Blachett may earn more kudos for her performance, it didn’t help the film at the box office.
- $8.6 million domestic, $14.4 million worldwide, $25 million budget
Box office hits in the month of January are always hard to come by, but there was a significant amount of buzz swirling around Serenity due to rumors of a crazy plot twist in the film. Still, that buzz didn’t equate to success, opening to $4.4 million in 2,561 theaters for a dismal $1,724 per-screen average. It dropped 61.5% the following weekend and a staggering 92.9% in the third weekend (after dropping 2,278 theaters), disappearing entirely after just six weeks. Despite the star power of Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway, Serenity sunk fast at the box office.
- $65.8 million domestic, $252.4 million worldwide, $200 million budget
Dark Phoenix is one of the movies I included that “technically” made money, though it really didn’t, because it shows just how far the once-mighty X-Men franchise has fallen in its two-decade run. The original X-Men in 2000 ($157.3 million domestic, $296.3 million worldwide, $75 million budget) helped ignite the passion for superhero movies in theaters, and while they were always serviceable performers at the box office, there was never a truly massive hit (2014’s X-Men: Days of Future Past is the highest-grossing with $746 million worldwide from a $200 million budget). Dark Phoenix’s domestic and worldwide takes are the lowest in the 19-year history of the franchise, with its $32.8 million opening falling way short of the $55 million projections. It dropped 71.6% in its second weekend and hung on to stay in theaters for 10 weeks, with the international take the only thing saving it from being a bona fide disaster. Now that Disney controls the mutants, the future is uncertain, but their last movie at 20th Century Fox went out on the lowest of possible notes.
Terminator: Dark Fate
- $61.8 million domestic (so far), $258.5 million worldwide (so far), $185 million budget
For the first time since the iconic 1991 sequel Terminator 2: Judgment Day, James Cameron was directly involved in the making of a Terminator sequel, getting a story credit on the screenplay (with four other writers…) and serving as producer on Terminator: Dark Fate. While the film earned the best reviews since T2 (71% on Rotten Tomatoes), it still only posted a $29 million debut from 4,086 theaters, for a solid $7,105 per-screen average. It dropped 62.8% in its second weekend, 60% in its third and 71.1% in the fourth, and even though it opened with just over $2 million more than its predecessor, 2015’s Terminator: Genisys, it’s grossed roughly $27 million less than Genisys earned at the same point in its run. Like Genisys before it, it seems the international grosses will save Dark Fate from being a total disaster, and while many fans and critics are finally on board with a Terminator sequel for the first time in years, many other fans are seemingly not willing to give this a chance after decades of disappointment.
- $17.5 million domestic (so far), $55.9 million worldwide (so far), $48 million budget
The combination of a competitive mid-November frame, middling reviews (52% on Rotten Tomatoes) and just a general lack of interest seemed to have lead to Charlie’s Angels’ demise. While with a $48 budget it may be an easier loss to swallow, it’s performance has been dismal through its four-week run, and it may not even get a fifth. Charlie’s Angels — starring Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott and Ella Ballinska as the new title characters for director Elizabeth Banks — opened with just $8.4 million from 3,452 for a per-screen average of $2,419. It dropped 61.3% in its second weekend, 61.2% in its third, and dropped nearly 2,500 theaters in its fourth for an 82.9% drop. It will likely be gone from theaters within a week or two, if not less.
- $12.2 million domestic, $15.9 million worldwide, $38 million budget
Based on the Vertigo Comic of the same name, The Kitchen could never quite get cooking at the box office in the way Warner Bros. had hoped. Opening against four more movies in wide release, The Kitchen debuted with just $5.5 million from 2,745 theaters for a per-screen average of $2,013. Its subsequent frames were no easier, with drops of 60.1%, 84.5% and 73.4% its next three weekends, before being removed after just eight weeks in theaters. While its trio of female stars (Melissa McCarthy, Tiffany Haddish and Elisabeth Moss) have found success on their own, the stars just didn’t align in the right way for The Kitchen to shine at the box office.
- $48.5 million domestic, $173 million worldwide, $138 million budget
Once the most bankable star in the world, Will Smith used to be able to carry a film all by himself to box office glory, but those days have past. Sure, you can point to Aladdin (where he was not the primary star) as a sign that he might still “have it” in terms of box office greatness, but it’s a film like Gemini Man whose underperformance is much more telling of Smith’s stature these days. After all, he stars in the film twice, in a manner of speaking, but Gemini Man couldn’t overcome dreadful reviews (26% on RT) in a crowded weekend (along with the surprising success of Joker) to break through. Gemini Man opened with a decent $20.6 million from 3,642 theaters for a middling per-screen average of $5,643. It dropped just under 60% in its second weekend but it only lasted for eight weeks domestically, despite faring far better overseas.
- $20.2 million domestic, $32.5 million worldwide, $45 million budget
Movies can come from anywhere – books, articles, theme park rides, even emojis – with Uglydolls adding plush toys to the ever-growing list of source material, though the movie itself had anything but a soft landing at the box office. STX’s animated adventure was already in bad shape before it opened, opening a week after the biggest movie of the year (currently), Marvel’s Avengers: Endgame, debuting with $8.6 million from 3,652 theaters for a per-screen average of $2,355. While it didn’t suffer a terrible drop (51.8%) in its second weekend, it kept sliding further and further each frame (57.1%, 64%, 65.5%) before its unceremonious exit after nine weeks. Despite a massive worldwide following, Uglydolls serves as proof that not everything has to be a movie.
The Kid Who Would Be King
- $16.8 million domestic, $32.1 million worldwide, $59 million budget
Director Joe Cornish’s long-awaited followup to his beloved directorial debut Attack the Block, The Kid Who Would Be King, was adored by critics (89% on RT) but largely ignored by audiences. The epic adventure opened to just $7.2 milion from 3,521 theaters for a dismal per-screen average of $2,037. While it only dropped 40.8% in its second weekend, a welcomed sight for most movies, its debut was just too low and it lost 1,682 theaters in its third weekend, dropping 65.9% and another 1,438 theaters in its fourth for a 76.8% drop before the film was taken off life support after 10 weeks. With all of its critical acclaim, The Kid Who Would Be King could certainly find a second life on premium cable, home video or streaming, but it’s box office performance was sadly quite atrocious.
The Beach Bum
- $3.5 million domestic, $4.6 million worldwide, $5 million budget
One one hand, it’s hard to call a movie like The Beach Bum a bomb when it only cost $5 million to make. On the other hand, it’s hard not to call it a bomb when it can’t even earn that minimal budget back. Writer-director Harmony Korine’s films have never been box office hits, so it isn’t terribly surprising, but for a movie that boasts a cast including James Franco, Snoop Dogg, Isla Fisher, Martin Lawrence, Zac Efron, Jonah Hill and even Jimmy Buffett, it probably should have at least made that $5 million back. The Beach Bum earned $1,763,070 from 1,100 theaters, for a wretched per-screen average of $1,602. It dropped a monstrous 72.4% in its second frame and 87.7% in its third, after losing 955 theaters, and it somehow managed to stay in theaters for an additional three weeks. While its run was brief, The Beach Bum could never get on its feet at the box office.
- $15 million domestic, $15.4 million worldwide, $15 million budget
Sony’s remake of director Gerardo Naranjo’s epic 2011 thriller that put Stephanie Sigman on the map failed to generate the same sort of interest than the original. Director Catherine Hardwicke’s remake starring Gina Rodriguez failed to overtake two holdovers (Glass, The Upside) when it debuted in early February, in what remains the lowest-grossing overall weekend of 2019 ($52 million combined gross of the top 10). Miss Bala opened with $6.9 million from 2,203 theaters for a $3,116 per-screen average. It suffered drops of over 60% in each of its subsequent weekends with the exception of its seventh and final weekend (50.9%). Scant publicity and a tepid rollout in the midst of the winter months all equated to failure for this remake.
- $21.9 million domestic, $44.7 million worldwide, $50 million budget
Hellboy comic book creator Mike Mingola opted to reboot his beloved property instead of letting star Ron Perlman and director Guillermo del Toro make a third entry in their franchise. Instead, fans got a reboot starring David Harbour that was bashed by critics (17% on RT, while the original earned 81% and its sequel 86% on RT) and a non-starter at the box office with a $12 million opening weekend from 3,303 theaters for a $3,646 per-screen average. It dropped 67.2% in its second weekend before Lionsgate gutted it in the third, removing it from 2,376 theaters equating to a 91.1% drop before being whisked out of theaters in five short weeks. While its box office performance was disappointing to say the least, it’s likely even more disappointing for fans who waited over a decade for Perlman and del Toro to at least complete their trilogy, only to be given a sub-standard reboot.
- $13.6 million domestic, $16.4 million worldwide, $10 million budget
Arriving in the midst of Avengers: Endgame mania and the surprise success of Pokemon: Detective Pikachu, Poms found little to cheer about at the box office. Poms opened to $5.4 million in mid-May from 2,750 theaters for a dreadful $1,949 per-screen average. It dropped 59.4% in its second weekend and another 70.1% in its third after losing 1,839 theaters in one fell swoop, before being swept out of theaters after its sixth week. While it did technically earn back its minimal budget, which is somewhat surprising given the competitive frame it opened within, it’s still considered a bomb in our eyes.
- $4.5 million domestic, $7.8 million worldwide, $20 million
While the works of J.R.R. Tolkien would form the basis of the multi-billion dollar Lord of the Rings movie franchise, the life of its creator clearly failed to inspire the same sort of fervor at the box office. Tolkien debuted with $2.2 million from 1,495 theaters for a $1,471 per-screen average. Its short box office life was made even worse when it dropped 66.8% in its second frame and a massive 81% in its third, after being yanked from 1,312 theaters and being pulled from the rest of its theaters after just five short weeks. While biopics can often break the bank at the box office, they can also be hit and miss, and while Tolkien created the stories that became one of the most successful movie franchises of all time, his biopic was, sadly, just another biopic box office bomb.
Honorable Mention: Playmobil: The Movie
As I was putting this piece together, Playmobil: The Movie put up one of the worst box office debuts of all time, so I would be remiss in at least not giving it an honorable mention. It earned $656,530 in its opening weekend from 2,337 theaters for a dismal $280 per-screen average. That is the third-lowest gross ever for a movie to open in more than 2,000 theaters, “bested” (or “worsted”?) only by 2012’s The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure ($443,901 from 2,160 theaters for a $205 per-screen average) and 2008’s Delgo ($511,920 from 2,160 theaters for a $237 per-screen average. What’s even worse is Playmobil: The Movie was produced for a reported $75 million, though distributor STX didn’t put up any of the financing, acquiring the distribution rights from Open Road Films after it declared bankruptcy.For more on the films of 2019, check out our nominees for Best Movies of 2019 and all the best films you may have missed this year.