These movies weren't good-bad, they were just plain bad...
“Ghost in the Shell”
It may be a little too early to tell, but most agree that Paramount’s white-washed anime Ghost in the Shell, is set to lose millions once it stops its theatrical run. The movie—which stars Scarlett Johansson as Major—faced tons of completely fair criticism over their decision to cast a white woman in the lead role of the Japanese story.
The controversy over casting paired with a plot and visual style that most critics regarded as a tired, dystopian trope that has been overused of late, Ghost in the Shell has a projected loss of around $60 million when marketing and production costs (about $250 million total) are taken into consideration.
“The Fall of the Roman Empire”
Anthony Mann’s 1964 film The Fall of the Roman Empire has enjoyed much critical praise in recent years, but it wasn’t always considered a winner. In fact, it had one of the most disappointing box office performances of all time.
The film, a prime example of the “sword-and-scandal” or “peplum” genre that was popular in the late ’50s and early ’60s, focuses on the socio-political climate in the Roman Empire centuries before Rome officially fell which is part of the reason it was so costly. It featured a set (a recreation of the Roman Forum) which remains the biggest outdoor set ever built for a production.
Unfortunately, it just didn’t perform at the box office. Like, at all. It wasn’t that people didn’t like it, it’s just that… they didn’t see it in theaters, I suppose.
The film’s final production budget was around $18.4 million, but it only made $4.8 million at the box office. That $14 million loss (or $110 million in today’s money), completely bankrupted legendary producer, Samuel Bronston.
Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within’
I hate to say it, but Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within was ill-conceived from the start. By 2001, it was pretty clear that video game movies were not what the public wanted… but they made it anyway.
With a completely stacked cast (including heavy hitters like Alec Baldwin, Ming-Na Wen, Steve Buscemi, and Donald Sutherland) and a focus of extremely realistic (and thus very expensive) computer animated characters, the production quickly blew through its intended budget. These facts, coupled with the reality that The Spirits Within opened to relatively small box office figures doomed the movie to this list and an ultimate loss in the neighborhood of $100 million.