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5 Biggest Box-Office Flops of 2018

Sascha Paruk

by Sascha Paruk in Entertainment

Updated Dec 31, 2018 · 5:55 AM PST

Poster for Solo: A Star Wars Story
Solo: A Star Wars Story made $600 million less than Rogue One. Is that enough to make it the biggest flop of 2018? Photo by David Holt (flickr) [CC License].
  • The 2018 cinematic year produced some absolute gems that crushed at the box-office. 
  • These aren’t them. 
  • From Solo: A Star Wars Story to Mortal Engines, learn the five biggest box-office bombs of the past 12 months.

If you like watching NASCAR for the pile-ups more than the actual racing, you’ve come to the right place. As part of our year-end recap series, I’m exploring the silver screen versions of fiery car wrecks.

Join me as I count down the five biggest box-office flops of 2018, starting with …

5. The Happytime Murders

Here’s how I imagine the pitch for The Happytime Murders went.

Creator: I’ve got four words for you. Homicide. Melissa McCarthy. Puppets.

Producer: I only heard the first three. Here’s $40 million.

Yup, despite featuring a cast that’s half puppet, it still cost $40 million to make this comedy. Surprisingly,* the trailer — which showcases McCarthy snorting purple rocks of “pure ecstasy” through a Twizzler — failed to create a box-office boon.

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The much-maligned movie made a scant $26 million. The NYSE’s marionette index dropped 34% the day after its release as several other puppet blockbusters were put on hold in the middle of production.

*Even though I am a professional writer, I have no idea what the word “surprisingly” means.

4. Robin Hood

The latest iteration of Robin Hood was a complete disaster. It cost nearly $100 million to make and has, so far, grossed less than $75 million.

It’s a horribly awkward conflation of a medieval story and modern special effects. I guess the filmmakers watched the 1991 Kevin Costner version and thought, “WHERE ARE ALL THE EXPLOSIONS?!”

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Who knows, maybe it will find a cult following in the years to come. You know, among that same cult of people who think The Bourne Identity pales in comparison to Ballistic: Ecks vs Sever. 

3. Solo: A Star Wars Story

Not so long ago, in a galaxy very very close by, attaching the name “Star Wars” to a movie guaranteed a windfall for producers. Solo: A Star Wars Story brought that trend to a halt in just over 12 parsecs.*

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Tepid reviews, especially for lead actor Alden Ehrenreich, presaged a comparatively abysmal box-office performance. Solo grossed just $392 million worldwide and is estimated to have lost producers as much as $80 million.

I say “comparatively abysmal” because Rogue One grossed over $1 billion in 2016, despite being released in nearly 200 fewer domestic theatres.

I hope no one had earmarked that extra $600 million for anything important, like Walt Disney’s cryogenic revival.
*Yes, I’m aware that a parsec is a unit of distance, not time. Don’t @ me, bro. Actually do, I could use the Twitter engagement

2. A Wrinkle in Time

If you expected more from A Wrinkle in Time, you are not alone. Fans and producers alike had high hopes when it was announced that Selma director Ava Duvernay would be at the helm of this adaptation of Madeleine L’Engle’s classic sci-fi novel.

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Ultimately, it was a let-down both critically and financially. It scored 53 on Metacritic and 42% on Rotten Tomatoes, and grossed about $130 million.

So while it was groundbreaking in one sense …

…  it’s also estimated to have resulted in a net loss of about $100 million. The production budget skyrocketed when Oprah started giving away tesseracts.

1. Mortal Engines

When I first saw the trailer for Mortal Engines, my ears pricked up when I heard “from the producers of Lord of the Rings.” Then I remembered that, since LOTR, Peter Jackson has been responsible for King Kong and three pretty awful Hobbit films.

[Mortal Engines] has made just $55 million to date while costing over $100 million to produce.

Mortal Engines fits the mold of his more recent efforts and its box-office performance matched its quality.

It has made just $55 million to date while costing over $100 million to produce. This plot synopsis comes straight from the Wikipedia page: “the film is set in a post-apocalyptic world where entire cities have been mounted on wheels and motorised, and prey on one another.”

If you think that sounds kind of stupid, 73% of critics kind of agree with you.

Mortal Engines' critical score on Rotten Tomatoes as of Dec. 28, 2018
Mortal Engines’ critical score on Rotten Tomatoes as of Dec. 28, 2018.

It’s the biggest box-office bomb of the year by a pretty wide margin and one of the largest of all-time.


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