If Johnny Depp's 'The Rum Diary' has taught us anything, it's that even Captain Jack Sparrow isn't impervious to the dreaded flop. Despite a press offensive from the usually reclusive star, the film, adapted from a novel by his old friend and hero Hunter S. Thompson, has performed pretty woefully at the box office, recouping barely a third of its £28m budget so far. But he joins a hallowed group of A-list stars who have felt the tough love often displayed in the cinema lobby.
The Alamo (2004)
This historical epic had so much in the plus column. Hollywood big shot Ron Howard was producing, it had a respected writer in John Sayles, and it starred Dennis Quaid and Billy Bob Thornton, neither estranged to the box office smash. But it got average to poor reviews, and eventually limped to worldwide takings of just £16m, a devastating fraction of its budget and turning in a loss of over £81m
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Things were looking great for 2005 action-comedy 'Sahara'. Matthew McConaughey and Penelope Cruz cut a devastatingly handsome dash in the lead roles, while able support came in the form of William H. Macy. On its opening weekend it hauled in £11m, and went straight to number one in the US box office, with takings going on to hit a respectable £76m. So you'd sit back and light a cigar with a £50 note, wouldn't you? Well, you would, had it not cost £100m to make, and another £50m dumped in distribution. It ended up losing an eye-watering £76m. Oof.
Green Lantern (2011)
Not all comics will translate to the screen, as evidenced by this year's 'Green Lantern'. Even pumping the vaguely peculiar story with a cast including heartthrob Ryan Reynolds, Peter Sarsgaard, Blake Lively and even Tim Robbins couldn't rescue it. Producers spent nearly £204m but only bought in around two thirds of that in receipts. It lost £66m.
Battlefield Earth (2000)
It's the film that everyone loves to give a good kicking, whether they've seen it or not. And, frankly, who has? John Travolta ungratefully returned every scrap of credibility he'd been generously gifted by Quentin Tarantino after 'Pulp Fiction' turning in this Scientology-based nonsense. It was so derided that much of Hollywood revelled in its losses, which were in the region of £46m.
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The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle (2000)
To this day, no one quite knows what Robert DeNiro was doing playing the role of Fearless Leader in this live-action meets animation version of the US cartoon series. There were some stellar guest slots too for the likes of Billy Crystal, Whoopi Goldberg, John Goodman and an able leading lady in Rene Russo. It wasn't even that badly reviewed, with the consensus largely mixed. But still, it flushed £50m down the toilet.
K-19: The Widowmaker (2002)
Harrison Ford and Liam Neeson. Now there's a pair of leading men. Sturdy, reliable – well, at least until they turned up at the lot for 'K-19: The Widowmaker' in 2002, set aboard a Soviet nuclear submarine. Many critics quite liked the Kathryn Bigelow-directed cold war thriller. But they get in for free, usually. The ticket-buying public was indifferent, staying away in droves. It tanked to the tune of nearly £44m.
For some reason, the fortunes of Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez, who were the world's hottest couple at the time, took a head-spinningly rapid turn for the worse just as the Martin Brest-directed rom-com 'Gigli' hit cinemas in 2003. It even featured Al Pacino and Christopher Walken! Not all box office failures are down to bad reviews. This was, however. It was cited as one of the worst films of all time, and lost around £41m. Brest pretty much gave up directing in its stinking wake.
For many years, the word 'Ishtar' put the fear of god into Hollywood producers. Like Keyser Soze amongst fictional crooks, it became synonymous with failure. In 1987, a double-header of Warren Beatty and Dustin Hoffman was a bet that anyone would take. It was a sure thing. But its budget was colossal for the time, clocking up £34m, a disproportionately large percentage of which went to Beatty and Hoffman (£7.8m each). It lost £25m, which is approaching £50m in today's money.
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The Legend of Bagger Vance (2000)
'The Legend of Bag of Pants', as it may or may not be known, was directed by the legendary Robert Redford and starred Will Smith, Matt Damon and Charlize Theron. Huge names, each and every one. But it was slammed as being a perpetuator of racial stereotypes and dubbed 'embarrassing' by influential US magazine Time. It grossed £7m, but cost £37m. That's some ugly maths.
The Adventures of Pluto Nash/Holy Man (2002/1998)
Eddie Murphy was once box office gold. Pure A-list. How things change. The descent started with 1998's 'Holy Man', which was a sizeable failure, grossing £7.5m but having spent more like £37m. But it was 'The Adventures of Pluto Nash' which cursed Murphy's name. It made just £4m back from its £75m budget, losing nearly £71m and making it one of the biggest box office flops of all time.