I grew up in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and currently reside in Florida.
Here is my list of the biggest flops of 2017. I made this list based on two primary factors; the enjoyment (or lack thereof) in watching the film, and the budget of the film being higher than its box office take.
It should be noted that production budgets are estimates and they do not include expenses for marketing and release. The box office figures will include both domestic and international gross.
5. 'King Arthur'
Box office: $150 million.
Reported budget: $175 million.
This movie had potential. In fact, the most annoying thing about this film was that it teased us with what it could have been. It then failed miserably to deliver. At the beginning of the movie, when telling the tale of Arthur growing up as a street urchin, there was a Snatch-like quality with the pacing and similar witty English humor.
I was happily surprised. I had no clue it was going to be this type of movie. I had loved the movie Snatch as well as another similar film, Smokin’ Aces. I was wowed and thought that this was a brilliant and original way to tell the King Arthur story.
The brilliance didn't last. It was like someone else took over directing the rest of the movie; it never really touched on that style again. With Charlie Hunnam, Astrid Bergès-Frisbey, and Jude Law in the film, they could have pulled it off. It's a shame they didn't go for it.
So what else did I find disappointing?
Pretty much the whole rest of the movie. The story was thin and the scenery was dreary throughout most of the movie. Camelot looked more like the Tower of Sauron. The area was barren and lifeless around the castle, the people were oppressed, and the heroes weren’t very knightly at all. Midway through the movie, I lost sense of what the point was or why I should care about what happened. I knew the bad guy was a real heartless villian willing to sacrifice anyone for power, and eventually King Arthur was going to stop him because, well, he was King Arthur.
4. 'Blade Runner 2049'
Box office: $200 million.
Reported budget: $150 million.
I know what you are thinking, it didn’t lose money according to those figures. Well, in actuality, Alcon (co-financer of the movie with Sony) invested a fortune into marketing. They reportedly spent over $130 million on a global ad campaign. Knowing this, I have a hard time ignoring the fact that they are still in the red despite the movie making a seemingly positive return.
Another reason for this being on my list is that this movie also falls into the "what could have been" category, as King Arthur did, but for different reasons. 2049, like the original Blade Runner that was released 25 years earlier, had epic scenes that were a visionary wonder to behold at times.
But it failed in one major aspect that the original didn’t. The lead actor doesn’t pull you in. Harrison Ford, in his day (mid-1970s to mid-1990s), could draw you into a movie. This was whether he was playing Han Solo in Star Wars or Jack Ryan in Clear and Present Danger. You could identify with him as he pulled you into cheering on the character he was playing.
Ryan Gosling is no Harrison Ford of yesteryear. He’s not even standing tall next to the old Harrison Ford of today. In the end, that is what did this movie in for me. When the lead doesn’t pull you in and make you feel empathy, you have to wonder what is the point of the film.
In that sense, Blade Runner 2049 did an even worse job than King Arthur. Its saving grace is its grand stage, storyline, and supporting actors like Ford and Leto.
Box office: $100.5 million.
Reported budget: $58 million.
Again, with what I know of the expenses on promotion for this movie (I’ve seen figures well over $40 million) it's hard not to factor this movie on the list.
It had a great cast with Gyllenhaal, Reynolds, and Ferguson leading. It had what appeared to be an interesting story, but it ended up being something between a weak horror movie with a Blob-like alien threat and an absolutely defeatist end-of-the-world flick like The Road. The characters you are cheering on have the most tragic ending you could imagine.
There is nothing in this movie that hasn't been done better in other movies. If you like grand space movies, I recommend you spend your time watching Gravity again.
There was no positive message to be gained out of anything in this movie. Self-sacrifice was wasted, good intentions worsened things, and so on. If you want to sour your outlook on space exploration, teamwork, selflessness for the betterment of others, and hope for mankind, then this movie is for you. For anyone else, there is something better out there.
2. 'Monster Trucks'
Box office: $65 million.
Reported budget: $125 million.
Now this is what you want to hold up as an example of a flop. This is the type that has no redeeming value. This movie lost tens of millions of dollars and one can only imagine what that money went into. It wasn’t into the cast which was basically a bunch of B-movie or has-been actors.
The only thing I could think of to compare this to is a terrible take on Sigmund and the Sea Monsters with an ugly monster rather than a cute one. There are no kids for child viewers to relate to, but rather young adults as the main characters who interact with the ugly, shy monster that likes to hide in vehicles.
This movie targets essentially no one. I don’t know what teen would be interested in seeing this G-rated movie. Little kids might actually be afraid of the shy creature. And with good reason, it's scarier looking than most of the monsters I’ve seen in horror flicks. And there is nothing here for adults at all.
1. 'The Promise'
Box office: $10 million.
Reported budget: $90 million.
Oscar Isaac, Christian Bale, and Charlotte Le Bon starred in this film. It was a love triangle story with the Armenian genocide set as its backdrop. The Ottoman government's systematic extermination of 1.5 million Armenians within the Ottoman Empire (Turkey) which occurred around the time of WWI.
The day after its first screening, over 70,000 negative votes and reviews appeared on IMDb and other sites. They were reportedly from trolls dispatched from the Turkish government to discredit the picture. To this day, the US govt. does not officially recognize the genocide, supposedly due to pressure from Turkey. Due to politics and Turkey’s ties to some major Hollywood studios, the movie got little support in the way of ads or distribution.
Politics aside, the movie does not deliver on the true horrors of the period where more than 1.5 million humans were brutally murdered. But this is nothing new, we often gloss over the horrors of those nations we have ties to, be it in movies or the news.
The movie also fails at selling a strong love story between the main characters, Oscar Isaac takes the Dr. Zhivago-like role of Michael Boghosian, an Armenian medical student who (despite his commitment to another) falls for Ana (Le Bon), who is in a relationship with Chris Myers (Bale), an American reporter that is covering what is occurring in the Ottoman Empire (Turkey) for the Associated Press. The actors do what they can to keep their heads above water with the out-of-place romance in the script, but they fail despite their talents.
This is not a terrible movie for those interested in the topic. Despite being like an 80s movie (not being too violent despite the horrific event it is depicting and a refrained romance), I would recommend it.
However, as far as bombs go, spending more than $100 million (budget and marketing) and only getting $10 million back is a pretty big bomb.
Guest on January 06, 2018:
I think 2049 while not a box office smash was a lot better than some of the others that came out in 2017 which could be on this list in place of it.