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Q&A: Which movies were biggest flops?

Producers reel in some big flops

We always read about the movies that make lots and lots of money, like Avatar, Titanic, Lord of the Rings. What about the movies that lost the most money?

Ah, the anti-winners. We'll assume you mean the movies that had the greatest difference between cost of production and marketing and gross ticket sales.

We immediately thought of such notable bombs as Ishtar, Hudson Hawk and The Adventures of Pluto Nash. All had big stars and bigger budgets, and all were declared huge flops.

And indeed, they were big losers. But the all-time money drain was the 2005 movie Sahara, starring Matthew McConaughey and Penelope Cruz. It brought about $119 million — but cost about $241 million to produce and market, leaving it more than $121 million in the hole.

Close behind was The Alamo (2004), a Ron Howard-produced film starring Dennis Quaid and Billy Bob Thornton. It cost $145 million to make and sold just under $26 million worth of tickets for a net loss of more than $119 million.

If you adjust for inflation, the all-time leader of losing is Cutthroat Island (1995), directed by Renny Harlin and starring Geena Davis as a female pirate and Matthew Modine as her slave. It cost $115 million and grossed about $10 million, for a net loss of about $105 million. Adjusted for inflation, that loss goes to almost $155 million.

This research also led us to the lowest-grossing movie of all time in the United States, Zyzzyx Road (2006), which starred a pre-Knocked Up Katherine Heigl. It brought in $30.

Turns out the producer booked it in a single theater in Dallas and showed it once a day, at noon, for six days simply to fulfill an obligation required by the Screen Actors Guild so he could release it overseas.

Depp dreams of Tonto role

Any idea whether or not the upcoming The Lone Ranger is meant to be a comedy? Because it must be a joke having Johnny Depp play an Indian.

Actually, this may not be a bad thing for the movie, planned for late 2012. Tonto, to be played by Depp, is the big role; Armie Hammer of The Social Network is signed as the Ranger. And Tonto may be the smarter half of the duo.

Depp, whose family claimed to be part Native American, told Entertainment Weekly that he used to watch the old TV series, with Jay Silverheels as Tonto and Clayton Moore as the Ranger. "I liked Tonto, even at that tender age, and knew Tonto was getting the unpleasant end of the stick here," Depp told EW. "When the idea came up (for the movie), I started thinking about Tonto and what could be done in my own small way to try to — 'eliminate' isn't possible — but reinvent the relationship, to attempt to take some of the ugliness thrown on the Native Americans, not only in The Lone Ranger, but the way Indians were treated throughout history of cinema, and turn it on its head."

Q&A: Which movies were biggest flops? 07/10/11 [Last modified: Sunday, July 10, 2011 4:30am]
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