FlixList: The Ten Best Modern Box Office Turkeys


Happy Thanksgiving everybody! To celebrate the carving of the bird, we here at Flixist decided to look into the recent past at box office failures (also called “turkeys”) and list off some of our favorites. It’s never fun to hear that a film has failed at the box office, but if an objectively terrible movie bombs then there’s a glimmer of hope that maybe audiences are wising up and choosing things that are good.

But then you look at this list and see that that’s not really the case. All of these movies should have made their budgets back and more, but the unfortunate reality of the box office meant that they will be looked down upon forever. But in the spirit of the holiday, we’re thankful that at least these films got made. 

What are your favorite box office turkeys? And while we’re on the subject: do you prefer white or dark meat? And how do you feel about fried vs. baked turkey?

Raise your hands everyone who’s seen The 13th Warrior. Okay I can only see myself, Matty Shoestring, and then a third mystery person in the dark over there. Let me fill everyone else in. The 13th Warrior is bloody movie in which an Arab man (played by Antonio Banderas for some reason) joins a group of 12 Norse warriors for some arbitrary reason. None of that actually matters since so many bear monster things die on screen. It made no sense (probably because it was written by the same guy who wrote the Jurassic Park book, hey-yo!) It cost 160 million to make and only made 61 million worldwide. The only reason I’ve seen it was because I happened to find it at a pawn shop during my Antonio Banderas phase following watching Desperado for the first time. Man, was it good. — Nick Valdez

I really wish The Faculty had performed better than it did. It deserves the recognition and fandom. I remember stumbling on this at a dollar theater and it just blew my mind. A quintessential 90’s teen comedy mixed with a sci-fi parody? Unbelievable. Featuring many great actors before their time (Elijah Wood, Jordana Brewster, Jon Stewart, Famke Janssen, Salma Hayek, f**king Usher, and even Josh Hartnett before his mysterious career disappearance), great direction from Robert Rodriguez, and reaffirming cocaine as one hell of a drug, The Faculty is just a damn good failure. Luckily for you jerks, it’s on Netflix now so see it already. — Nick Valdez

Not only was this a disappointment of a film, letting many fans of the Final Fantasy games angry and upset, but the total lose is estimated at being around a whooping $100 million, making it one of the top office bombs of all time. While it was the first photorealistic computer animated feature film, the story and writing left much to be desired. Director  Hironobu Sakaguchi, who is more well known for his work as the Producer of Final Fantasy on the Nintendo Entertainment System, was noted as being happy with the end product. The film was hotly debated at the time for being a worse film then it actually was, fueled by what we have come to know as “nerd rage”, when it was really just mediocre and ultimately forgettable. — Michael Jordan

Man, did Speed Racer ever get a bad wrap. The Wachowski sibling’s kinetic adaptation of the classic cartoon barely made $20 million in its opening weekend and got panned by critics. All those critics were wrong. The film took heat for being too flashy and almost seizure inducing during its absurd race sequences and was roundly trounced as an example of the horrors of the videogame addled, ADD affected youth of America. It isn’t. The movie is actually quite a brilliant live action adaptation of a ridiculous animation, wonderfully adapting actual humans into a cartoon world and actually trying something different in a big action film. Once you pay attention to just how well the Wachowski’s put together admittedly frantic race sequences and how stupidly wonderful the screenplay is you’ll realize you’re watching one of the most underrated racing movies of all time. Yes, it looks like a five-year-old’s hallucination after he’s accidentally eaten some of Uncle Jim’s “special” brownies, but five-year-olds have awesome dreams. — Matthew Razak

It’s hard to defend Windtalkers because really it’s a terrible film, but to a young teen who had never seen a Jon Woo film it was AWESOME. I’ll be the first to admit that Jon Woo and war movies do not mix at all. His almost balletic action sequences and fights don’t actually lend themselves well to representing the horrors of war, but they do lend well to being AWESOME. Mix in Nicholas Cage and you’ve got a movie that from an artistic and factual stand point is almost offensive to those who fought in war, but from a Jon Woo blowing stuff up and slow-mo-doving the shit out of everything is actually AWESOME. In short: Jon Woo is AWESOME, but his American movies suck. — Matthew Razak

Poised to become the biggest turkey of 2013, Gore Verbinski’s The Lone Ranger was a bit of a long shot to begin with. The idea of rebooting a franchise that basically died out 30 years ago was a gutsy move, and if you add to that the questionable portrayal of Native Peoples, both historically and currently, The Lone Ranger was in risky territory. Despite having two well-established cute Hollywood faces playing the lead roles — Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer respectively — The Lone Ranger is estimated to have a net loss of $94,740,000—$119,740,000.  Geez. I can only hope that this will make Hollywood hesitant to try to revive more culturally outdated franchises and themes. — Liz Rugg

Yes, Treasure Planet has some unfortunate kid’s movie clichés of the era, like a wacky kid-appeal sidekick, teenage rebellion motivated by a missing parent, and the Goo Goo Dolls. But the family-safe deaths are still kind of horrifying when you think about it and the humor never quite devolves into the realm of (literal) crap jokes. It’s also well paced, well animated, and frankly gorgeous. I wanted to spend more time in that world, and learn everything there was to know. Even though it’s just an example of find/replace “island and other 1600s pirate stuff” with “planet and other 1600s pirate stuff BUT IN SPACE,” the designs sublimely blend the old and the new to create a quite visually engaging flick. The action is pretty fun too, with some very entertaining and inventive set pieces and a clear sense of the stakes from scene to scene. There’s nothing particularly wrong with it, and it does a lot of things right. Why did this fail at the box office again? — Mike Cosmiano

Dredd‘s box office failure is actually a crime against humanity. I don’t know anything about Judge Dredd or the comic series that spawned him (other than that he says “I am the law,” but that may have only been Stallone), but I still know that Karl Urban is Judge Dredd. Dredd is a badass, and the performance of Urban’s chin is among the best ever. Name me another actor who can grimace like that for a full 90 minutes and look awesome doing it. I dare you. A sequel is unlikely but still possible, and I truly hope it happens. Megacity One is a fascinating world, and I want to see more of it. I also want to see Dredd kill more people, and maybe Anderson can come too. I don’t really know how they’d top the destruction of an entire apartment story (unless they take down a megastructure entirely), but I want to see them try. — Alec Kubas-Meyer

In the future when nice things are illegal for people to own and your grandchildren look up at you with tear filled eyes and ask why they can’t have nice things you can point back to the fact that Hugo was a flop. An actual masterpiece directed by one of the greatest filmmakers of all time, Martin Scorsese, that is both an incredible example of how 3D can be used to actually make a film better and a passionate love letter to the medium is one of the biggest flops ever. It lost $70 million dollars despite winning five Academy Awards and being nominated for best picture and best director. That is why your future grand children can’t have nice things. — Matthew Razak

Osmosis Jones was probably a hard sell. It was a kid’s cop movie taking place in a human body that came out as non-CGI animation was slowly dying. It’s pretty easy to see why it only brought in $14 million, but it definitely did not deserve to. This is basically a badass version of Magic School Bus with Chris Rock before he was annoying and an awesome cameo from Bill Murray who basically plays his character from Caddyshack. I’m not about to call this a great animated film, but it’s far more fun than its box office hints at. — Matthew Razak