17 box office flops we secretly love

Ronald A. Hurley
“Masters of the Universe.”

Cannon Films

  • There are some movies that despite being box office disasters we still can’t get enough of.

  • “John Carter,” “Evan Almighty,” even “Gigli” we actually like to watch. Even if we won’t admit it in public.

  • Here are the 17 box office busts we secretly love.

  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

There are some movies that thanks to the passage of time have gone from box office disappointments to beloved classics. Think “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” “Heaven’s Gate,” “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “Fight Club,” and “Office Space,” to just name a few over the decades. But there are other box office duds that will never get to that level, though we still love them anyway despite their flaws.

Movies like “Masters of the Universe,” “John Carter,” even “Gigli” have a special place in our hearts, even though we might not confess it in public.

Here we celebrate 17 movies that were box office busts but we secretly love:

Note: All box office and budget figures are from Box Office Mojo, unless stated otherwise.

“The BFG” (2016)

Mark Rylance in "The BFG."
Mark Rylance in “The BFG.”

Disney

Worldwide box office: $195.2 million

Budget: $140 million

This adaptation of the Roald Dahl classic was to be Steven Spielberg’s return to the big-budget, kid-friendly storytelling of his early career. But there was no “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” magic with this movie. Critics and audiences alike thought it was a big bore as they watched a CGI version of actor Mark Rylance play the runt in a land of giants who enjoys a good fart.

However, since heading over to Disney Plus, the movie has finally found its core audience: children. Being in the comfort of their homes and not a big dark and scary movie theater, they are enjoying the story and can fully appreciate the not so intimidating giants and dream catching.

“The Chronicles of Riddick” (2004)

Vin Diesel in "The Chronicles of Riddick."
Vin Diesel in “The Chronicles of Riddick.”

Universal

Worldwide box office: $116 million

Budget: $105 million

Four years after the surprise success of the sci-fi thriller “Pitch Black,” and thanks to the growing popularity of Vin Diesel, the character Richard B. Riddick became the major focus of this movie in which he has to save the universe from annihilation.

Though the movie is filled with corny early 2000s CGI, it’s fun to watch a goggled Diesel throw out tough-guy one-liners. And there’s also Judi Dench trying her best to give the movie some gravitas.

“Cloud Atlas” (2012)

Tom Hanks in "Cloud Atlas."
Tom Hanks in “Cloud Atlas.”

Warner Bros. Pictures/Focus Features/X-Verleih

Worldwide box office: $130.4 million

Budget: $100 million

This one has had audiences and critics split since its release. Which seems par for the course when you are dealing with a movie that’s directed by the minds behind “The Matrix” (Lana and Lilly Wachowskis) and “Run Lola Run” (Tom Tykwer).

Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving, Ben Whishaw, Susan Sarandon, and Hugh Grant make up just some of the ensemble in this epic story told over six different eras of time that looks at how acts from the past shape the future.

Though completely disjointed and confusing for many, some continue to be completely sucked into this fantastical tale and its commentary on reincarnation and the mysteries of life.

“Evan Almighty” (2007)

Steve Carell in "Evan Almighty."
Steve Carell in “Evan Almighty.”

Universal Pictures

Worldwide box office: $174.4 million

Budget: $175 million

Four years after Jim Carrey delivered a hit with the comedy “Bruce Almighty,” Steve Carell took his scene-stealing Evan Baxter character from that movie and thrust him into the lead for this sequel that at one time was the most expensive comedy ever made. It led to it having a big target on its back and inevitably becoming a box office bust.

Though the Noah’s Ark-vibe may have been a little too much, you have to appreciate the movie’s message and Carell being game to go all-in on the redemptive character arc.

“Gemini Man” (2019)

Will Smith plays two versions of himself in "Gemini Man."
Will Smith plays two versions of himself in “Gemini Man.”

Paramount Pictures

Worldwide box office: $173.4 million

Budget: $138 million

After nearly 20 years trying to get this movie to the big screen, director Ang Lee was finally the one to do it and pulled it off in grand fashion by shooting the movie in a super-high frame rate, which made Will Smith look so sharp it was like he was right there in front of you.

Sadly, with the combination of sloppy storytelling about an aging hitman (Smith) playing a cat-and-mouse game with a younger cloned version of himself, and most theaters not able to show the movie as Lee intended, it turned out to be a big dud.

But if you ever watch the movie, you will see that the action sequences are impressive and the CGI to have Smith face-off with his younger self is also a feat.

“Gigli” (2003)

Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck in "Gigli."
Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck in “Gigli.”

Sony Pictures Releasing

Worldwide box office: $7.2 million

Budget: $54 million

This movie never had a chance from the start. Whether it was the hard-to-pronounce title or that its two leads, Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez, were the “it” couple of the tabloids at the time, everyone was ready to beat up on the movie. And they did just that.

However, this comedy — that’s considered one of the worst movies ever — has its bright spots. Christopher Walker is hilarious in his performance and people forget, Al Pacino is in this movie. He is extremely entertaining as its main villain.

“Hudson Hawk” (1991)

(L-R) Danny Aiello and Bruce Willis in "Hudson Hawk."
(L-R) Danny Aiello and Bruce Willis in “Hudson Hawk.”

TriStar Pictures

Worldwide box office: $17.2 million

Budget: $65 million

At the height of Bruce Willis’ fame, he made this action movie in which he helped come up with the story and even its theme song. But none of that helped, as this action-comedy about a cat burglar who is tasked with stealing the work of Da Vinci was forgettable.

But I challenge anyone to watch this movie and not be entertained. The teaming of Willis and Danny Aiello is surprisingly great and the movie itself is filled with slapstick gags and outlandish comedic moments.

“Hulk” (2003)

Ang Lee's "Hulk."
Ang Lee’s “Hulk.”

Universal Pictures

Worldwide box office: $113.1 million

Budget: $137 million

Another unappreciated Ang Lee movie, this time the director takes on an iconic Marvel character before the Marvel Cinematic Universe was established.

Lee’s “Hulk” movie, starring Eric Bana in the lead role, is one of the best Marvel movies you (probably) have never seen. It delves into the complexities of Bruce Banner like never before (or since) and Lee’s visual style makes it feel like the movie is coming straight out of the pages of a comic book.

“Jack Frost” (1998)

Michael Keaton plays a snowman in "Jack Frost."
Michael Keaton plays a snowman in “Jack Frost.”

Warner Bros.

Worldwide box office: 34.5 million

Budget: $85 million

Nobody went for this family movie in which Michael Keaton plays a father who is killed in a car accident and comes back to life as a snowman.

But the movie does have a really nice message about forgiveness and second chances. Yes, the snowman does look creepy (thanks, late 1990s-era CGI), but Keaton is able to make it work.

“John Carter” (2012)

Taylor Kitsch in "John Carter."
Taylor Kitsch in “John Carter.”

Disney

Worldwide box office: $284.1 million

Budget: $250 million

Set up as being the first in a family-friendly sci-fi franchise for Disney, this movie was D.O.A. as audiences were not into a guy going on adventures on Mars.

Based on the first book (The Princess of Mars”) in the early 1900s book series “Barsoom” about life on Mars, Taylor Kitsch stars in the title role, a Civil War veteran who finds himself transported to Mars where he becomes a major figure in the planet’s civil unrest.

The movie now lives on as an example of a failed franchise-starter, but if you look at it just as a standalone movie it’s an extremely entertaining tale with one heck of an ending.

“Jupiter Ascending” (2015)

Channing Tatum and Mila Kunis in "Jupiter Ascending."
Channing Tatum and Mila Kunis in “Jupiter Ascending.”

Warner Bros. Pictures Roadshow Entertainment

Worldwide box office: $183.8 million

Budget: $176 million

The Wachowskis return to the list, this time for this interplanetary saga in which Mila Kunis plays Jupiter Jones, an Earthling who learns from a warrior (Channing Tatum) that she’s royalty on another planet.

This CGI-fueled tale isn’t for everyone, but for sci-fi fans, it is extremely satisfying. You also have to give respect to Eddie Redmayne’s over-the-top performance as the movie’s villain.

“Masters of the Universe” (1987)

Bill Conti's "Masters of the Universe."
Bill Conti’s “Masters of the Universe.”

Cannon Films

Worldwide box office: $17.3 million

Budget: $22 million

He-Man is brought to life in this live-action movie starring Dolph Lundgren in the lead role. It was underwhelming for most when it came out in theaters, but today it is a celebration of B-movie artistry.

This movie has everything. Young Courtney Cox saving Earth alongside He-Man. Also, Frank Langella as Skelator who gives one of the scariest post-credit scenes ever filmed.

“Nothing but Trouble” (1991)

Dan Aykroyd wrote, directed, and starred in "Nothing But Trouble."
Dan Aykroyd wrote, directed, and starred in “Nothing But Trouble.”

Warner Bros.

Worldwide box office: $8.4 million

Budget: $40 million

This comedy was hyped to be a sure hit with a cast made up of Chevy Chase, Demi Moore, John Candy, and Dan Aykroyd, who also wrote and directed the movie. But it definitely didn’t turn out that way. The movie became a punching bag as it was a critical and box office failure.

Perhaps it was its mix of comedy and twisted “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”-like horror that turned people off. The movie follows Chevy Chase and Demi Moore as a couple who, after running through a stop sign, is brought in front of a 106-year-old judge (played by Aykroyd) and things just get stranger from there. Even the hip-hop group, Digital Underground (with Tupac Shakur as a background singer), shows up.

But these are all the reasons why this movie has to be experienced at least once. You need the visual proof that actors of this stature actually did this movie.

“Over the Top” (1987)

(L-R) Sylvester Stallone and Rick Zumwalt in 'Over the Top."
(L-R) Sylvester Stallone and Rick Zumwalt in ‘Over the Top.”

Warner Bros.

Worldwide box office: $16 million

Budget: $25 million

Sylvester Stallone plays a truck driver whose true passion is being an arm wrestler. It’s an ode to 1980s moviemaking as Menahem Golan, the co-owner of B-movie studio The Cannon Group, was the director.

Though this movie doesn’t come close to the Stallone classics, its theme of never giving up on yourself and catchy title song makes this an essential late-night viewing watch.

“Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping” (2016)

Andy Samberg in "Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping."
Andy Samberg in “Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping.”

Universal

Worldwide box office: $9.7 million

Budget: $20 million

Andy Samberg and his The Lonely Island pals, Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone, pretty much made a modern-day version of “This Is Spinal Tap” and no one bothered to go see it. But, like “Tap,” which didn’t get much attention until years after it was released, “Popstar” will likely go the same path.

This mockumentary focuses on pop star Conner Friel (Samberg), who after hitting it big with his group the Style Boyz (Schaffer and Taccone) is now a huge solo act. That is until his latest album bombs and now he needs his old group more than ever.

The jokes and songs in this movie are so great that the only way I can comprehend why this movie didn’t take off was that they were just too good for audiences. But those of us who are worthy enjoy every minute of it.

“The Wicker Man” (2006)

Nicolas Cage in "The Wicker Man."
Nicolas Cage in “The Wicker Man.”

Warner Bros.

Worldwide box office: $38.8 million

Budget: $40 million

This remake of the 1973 movie just didn’t live up to the original, despite having Nicolas Cage as its star.

But that’s why the movie continues to be one we can’t turn away from. Cage gradually becomes more and more off the rails, getting to a point where he dresses in a bear suit and starts cold-cocking people.

And then there are the bees.

“Wild Wild West” (1999)

(L-R) Kevin Kline and Will Smith in "Wild Wild West."
(L-R) Kevin Kline and Will Smith in “Wild Wild West.”

Warner Bros.

Worldwide box office: $222 million

Budget: $170 million

At the height of Will Smith’s box office potential, he reteamed with “Men in Black” director Barry Sonnenfeld for this action-adventure based on the popular 1960s TV show. It didn’t work out.

The movie and Smith’s title song became a running joke for years. But the movie is a lot of fun. Kevin Kline is fantastic opposite Smith and all the gadgets in the movie, perhaps taken too seriously back in the late 1990s, are looked at now as an extra punch to the movie’s silliness.

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