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Big-Budget Movies That Took A Faceplant In 2017

2017 hasn't been Hollywood's best year at the box office. The rise of high-quality entertainment options, combined with sequel fatigue and rising ticket prices, have helped contribute to a series of domestic flops—leaving the film industry struggling to cope with increasingly disappointing returns on their would-be blockbusters. These hugely expensive, high-profile releases have one thing in common: they all failed to deliver at the box office.

Transformers: The Last Knight

The Transformers franchise has been a cash cow for Paramount for years, but the long-running, series stumbled with The Last Knight. The movie, which brought Sir Anthony Hopkins into the fold alongside Mark Wahlberg to expose the secret history of the Transformers, was made on a $217 million budget, but only grossed slightly over $125 million at the domestic box office.

There are a few things that can be blamed for The Last Knight's disappointing domestic performance, including a slow summer box office that was unkind to several sequels and long-running franchises. The film was also trashed by critics and faced tough competition from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and Wonder Woman, both of which had better reviews.

While The Last Knight failed to deliver in the States, it still did well overseas, pulling in nearly $600 million. This is still below the worldwide performances for previous Transformers installments Dark of the Moon and Age of Extinction, but Paramount has shown no signs of slowing down with the franchise; the next release, an '80s-set spinoff focusing on the popular Bumblebee character, is due out in December of 2018.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

Luc Besson wowed sci-fi fans with The Fifth Element, but he wasn't able to do it again with Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. The movie, which starred Cara Delevingne and Dane DeHaan as two intergalactic agents on a quest to save the universe, was a massive flop at the box office, pulling in just under $40 million on a reported $180 million-plus budget.

Valerian had a few things standing in its way. For one thing, its young stars, while both up-and-comers, weren't very well known, nor was the comic strip on which it's based. Reviews were also just average, which wasn't enough to push through the movie's confusing advertising. Valerian also faced tough competition, opening the same weekend as Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk and just shortly after Spider-Man: Homecoming and War for the Planet of the Apes

Besson put Valerian in a good place for a small haul, though. While the film will still likely represent a huge loss—which was reflected in the dropping stock prices of Besson's EuropaCorp after its disappointing opening weekend—Besson covered significant portions of the film's budget through tax credits, equity financing, and foreign pre-sales.

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

Guy Ritchie tried to launch a franchise with King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, a $175 million epic that starred Sons of Anarchy's Charlie Hunnam as the title character. However, the film suffered a massively disappointing box office run, bringing in just $39 million domestic to kick off a stagnant summer.

King Arthur was plagued by bad omens from the start. The movie came out after many, many years of attempts to make another film about the character following 2004's King Arthur, and reports say Ritchie's eventual script was basically a "Frankenstein's Monster-style screenplay" that combined elements of all of the failed projects that came before. On top of that, the movie saw its release date delayed multiple times, rarely a good sign.

King Arthur also suffered some pretty dismal reviews, amassing a 28 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. While the international box office did provide some relief, the movie is estimated to be a $150 million loss for Warner Bros.

The Great Wall

With Matt Damon at the helm, it seemed reasonable to expect that The Great Wall would be a hit. However, a whitewashing controversy and bad reviews presaged its miserable box office run, which brought in just $45 million domestic against a $150 million budget plus marketing.

The Great Wall was set to pull together the power of Chinese and American audiences to deliver what should have been a massive blockbuster, but it proved a domestic dud—perhaps due in part to the controversy surrounding Damon's casting in the lead, with some pundits condemning the film for going with a white savior narrative. The movie also received the ire of critics, falling at just a 35 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.

How much, exactly, the four studios who funded The Great Wall each lost is a bit of a mystery. Overall, the movie is said to have lost more than $75 million, with $10 million of that belonging to Universal Pictures, who funded about 25 percent of the budget along with an estimated $80 million marketing expenses. While the film was popular enough overseas to prevent it from being a monumental loss, it's definitely a disappointment.

The Mummy

Universal plans to launch a monster movie universe off their reboot of The Mummy, which starred Sofia Boutella as the titular creature and Tom Cruise as the man tasked with hunting her down. While the studio is still moving forward with their Dark Universe plans, they may want to rethink their strategy to avoid another deadly flop like The Mummy, which made just $80 million domestic on a $125 million budget.

The Mummy started to unravel early on when it received dismal reviews from critics, and a lack of organic buzz and a slow summer box office that was unfriendly towards reboots also didn't help. Many people thought The Mummy was also bogged down by its efforts to try to launch a cinematic universe right away. Unlike the Marvel Cinematic Universe—the one that started Hollywood's craze for shared worlds—it immediately went gung-ho toward setting up something bigger, an effort that took precedence over simply making a good film. While the international box office was enough to keep Universal from scuttling their Dark Universe, there are definitely many lessons to be unwrapped from The Mummy.

Monster Trucks

Paramount knew Monster Trucks, the CGI-heavy blockbuster starring Lucas Till, would be a flop long before the movie hit theaters in January. Viacom, Paramount's parent company, wrote off $115 million for the expected bad performance of the still-unreleased film back in September of 2016. When it finally arrived in theaters, it realized the studio's worst fears, grossing just $33.3 million domestic against a $125 million budget.

At first, the studio had high hopes for Monster Trucks, which they thought could launch a Transformers-type franchise. However, the film was pushed back multiple times, and it eventually came out to the derision of critics. The movie's January release date did it no favors with a young audience, and the fact that the movie was based on an original idea (from the then-Paramount president's four-year-old son) and didn't have a huge, well-known property behind it didn't help either. 

Monster Trucks, with no big names in front of the camera or behind it, was the target of internet ire from the moment the first trailer was released, and, while that hatred could eventually lead to cult status, it wasn't what the studio needed at the box office. A certified flop with just $31 million worldwide to add to its domestic total, it's a huge disappointment.

The Promise

The Promise may seem like the biggest bomb on this list, grossing just $8.2 million on an $80 million budget. However, the movie, which starred Christian Bale and Oscar Isaac, was never actually intended to make a profit, with the filmmakers instead looking to educate people on the Armenian Genocide.

The Promise was funded entirely by Kirk Kerkovian, an American businessman of Armenian descent who covered the movie's $90 to $100 million budget through his Survival Pictures. While Kerkovian died before the film's release, he said he created the project because he wanted the public to be more aware of genocide in the 20th and 21st centuries. All proceeds from The Promise went to charity, including the new The Promise Institute for Human Rights at the UCLA School of Law. 

Despite all this, there are still some things the filmmakers could have done in order to make the movie more appealing to viewers. For one thing, it was slated for an April release date, which was set to match up with the anniversary of the Armenian genocide. While this fit with the movie's message, spring and summer aren't usually the time for heavy dramas, which are usually released in the fall around awards season. The movie was also not a hit with critics, earning just a 50 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. A critical and financial disappointment, The Promise is still the one 2017 flop that could be said to have truly noble goals—and arguably accomplished them.

Blade Runner 2049

Blade Runner 2049 received rapturous reviews thanks to its stunning visuals and ability to both update and honor the original film's classic story. However, its vocal fans were not able to help the movie make a big splash at the box office, with the film opening to just $32.7 million domestic against a $150 million budget.

One of the biggest issues was the film's extremely long run time, coming in at a whopping 163 minutes, dissuading casual moviegoers and limiting the number of showings a theater could hold in a day, making them more likely to drop the film if it was underperforming because it took up so much real estate. Blade Runner 2049 also relied heavily on fans of the source property to turn out, and while many of them did, Blade Runner wasn't exactly a box office success during its first run, pulling in just $32.9 million total. 

In the end, the biggest thing standing in Blade Runner 2049's way was itself. The film was a stunning visual feast and making something that beautiful clearly wasn't going to come cheap. There was also very little indication that a film of this budget with this name, no matter how good, would be able to make a profit. Ultimately, this may have been a case where profit wasn't the point—the point was to make a masterpiece.


The expensive disaster flick Geostorm faced a chilly reception during its opening weekend. The movie, starring Gerard Butler as a scientist tasked with saving the planet after the satellites keeping the dangerous effects of climate change at bay malfunction, cost upwards of $120 million to make but brought in just $13.3 million in its opener, suggesting an expensive failure for the studio.

Geostorm was a troubled production from the start; its release date was pushed back multiple times as the studio brought on megaproducer Jerry Bruckheimer to oversee $15 million in reshoots to fix a reportedly "unwatchable" first cut. Its fate was sealed when it earned the ire of critics, who gave it a dreaded 12 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. Fans were also not in the movie's corner, saying that it hewed too closely to the disaster movies that had come before. On top of all of that, the movie hit theaters at an awful time, premiering just a few short weeks after a trio of hurricanes devastated large parts of the United States and the Caribbean. 

Like many of the other movies on this list, Geostorm's only real chance of weathering the domestic box office storm is to do well internationally, and on that front, it has been somewhat of a success, pulling in $49.6 million in 50 territories by its domestic opener. The film still has a lot of legwork to do in order to be profitable, and it seems like things will continue to be choppy for this disaster of a movie.