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The Biggest Box Office Flops Of 2015

Total. Audience. Rejection.

Originally posted on
Updated on

Some of the most financially successful films of all time have opened this year, but for every Jurassic World, Furious 7, and Avengers: Age of Ultron, 2015 has also seen an unusual litany of true belly flops at the box office. These aren't just expensive movies that have done poorly, like Pan and Jupiter Ascending; these are movies that have faced near total audience rejection, opening in more than 2,000 theaters in North America and earning less than $4 million in opening weekend box office returns — these are mega-flops.

The latest film to join such ignoble ranks is Victor Frankenstein. The reimagining of Mary Shelley's classic horror tale, which stars James McAvoy and Daniel Radcliffe, opened over the Thanksgiving holiday in over 2,700 theaters and earned just under $2 million in its first three days. Comparing Victor Frankenstein's box office to its mega-flop peers is complicated, since the film opened on Wednesday and played over the Thanksgiving holiday, meaning its opening three days did not occur over a traditional weekend. Victor Frankenstein's "opening weekend" box office over Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, meanwhile, did mark a slight improvement, bringing in an estimated $2.35 million. But that is far from the jolt this film needed to bring life back to its box office grosses.

Each of the films on this list represents a genuine creative risk, a major commercial gamble, or both, and each faced such profound audience indifference (and possible ignorance) that they all are among the worst box office performers of all time.

Here they are, ranked in order of their debut per theater averages, the clearest and fairest measure of their financial failings.

1. Jem and the Holograms

Universal Pictures

Domestic opening weekend: $1.38 million

Number of theaters: 2,413

Per theater average: $570

Total domestic gross to date: $2.18 million

It turns out when you take a beloved '80s campy sci-fi fantasy cartoon series and turn it into a relatively grounded millennial drama about fame in the viral age, you make a movie for no one, and end up with the worst wide release by a major studio in modern Hollywood history. Even worse: This film won't be able to make back its tiny $5 million budget.

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2. Victor Frankenstein

20th Century Fox

Domestic opening three-day gross: $1.99 million (or $2.35 million over first Friday–Sunday weekend)

Number of theaters: 2,737

Per theater average: $711 (or $840 over first Friday–Sunday weekend)

Total domestic gross to date: $3.44 million

Victor Frankenstein's dismal debut is especially sour news for Radcliffe, who has yet to headline a major hit since the modest success of his 2012 horror movie The Woman in Black.

Curiously, 20th Century Fox had initially slated Victor Frankenstein to open on Oct. 2, a much more forgiving month for a big-budget horror film. But the studio ended up switching the opening dates for this movie and The Martian — which at least paid off handsomely for the latter sci-fi adventure.

3. Rock the Kasbah

Kerry Brown / Open Road Films

Domestic opening weekend: $1.47 million

Number of theaters: 2,012

Per theater average: $731

Total domestic gross to date: $3.02 million

Bill Murray is a pop-culture institution, but he has struggled to find a movie to harness that audience goodwill. Playing a washed-out music manager stuck in Afghanistan did not, apparently, do the job.

4. We Are Your Friends

Warner Bros. Pictures

Domestic opening weekend: $1.77 million

Number of theaters: 2,333

Per theater average: $758

Total domestic gross to date: $3.59 million

This coming-of-age drama about a bunch of Southern California bros trying to make it in the world of EDM opened over the sleepy final weekend in August, but it couldn't even crack the box office top 10.

5. Our Brand Is Crisis

Warner Bros. Pictures

Domestic opening weekend: $3.24 million

Number of theaters: 2,202

Per theater average: $1,471

Total domestic gross to date: $6.95 million

This political dramedy did not quite reach the depths of the earlier films on this list, but it still notched the worst wide opening weekend of its star Sandra Bullock's career.

6. The Walk

Columbia Pictures

Domestic wide opening weekend: $3.72 million

Number of theaters: 2,509

Per theater average: $1,482

Total domestic gross to date: $10.14 million

Director Robert Zemeckis (Flight, Cast Away) won raves for his use of 3D filmmaking in telling the true story of tightrope walker Philippe Petit's quest to walk between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. Sony Pictures aggressively sold the film as a must-see event, but audiences had no interest. Perhaps it was the prospect of experiencing that tightrope walk in 3D; perhaps it was the uncomfortable memory of the Twin Towers; or perhaps it was star Joseph Gordon-Levitt's elfin French accent. Whatever the reason, even this film's initial limited release on Sept. 30 in 448 theaters was a non-starter, with just $1.56 million for $3,483 per theater.

7. Blackhat

Frank Connor / Universal Pictures

Domestic opening weekend: $3.9 million

Number of theaters: 2,567

Per theater average: $1,520

Total domestic gross to date: $7.89 million

There are many reasons people want to see Chris Hemsworth in a movie, but playing a stern-faced, uncommonly buff hacker is not one of them, apparently! The financial pain of this mega-flop likely stings the most for production company Legendary Pictures, which reportedly spent a whopping $70 million on director Michael Mann's vision for this thriller, against a total global gross of just $19.5 million.

UPDATE

This story has been updated to include the full opening five-day domestic grosses for Victor Frankenstein.

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