Sean Penn in All The King's Men
The 2006 flick seemed like perfect Oscar bait. With award-winning stars like Sean Penn and Kate Winslet, a prestigious literary source in Robert Penn Warren's book and an up-and-coming director, how badly could it do? Really badly, it turned out. With a budget of $55 million, the film earned only $9 million at the box office worldwide, failing to recoup 84% of its production budget.
Dennis Quaid in The Express
Sports films are always a tough sell to international markets, especially when they deal with something as specifically American as college football. So no one could have expected much from The Express, about the first black player to win a Heisman trophy. Still, the film was a huge flop. It earned $10 million on a budget of $40 million, meaning it failed to earn back 75% of is production budget.
Ewan McGregor in Stay
On paper, Stay looked like the kind of film that would find at least a medium-size audience. Starring Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts, Stay tells the story of a psychiatrist trying to keep a patient from committing suicide while slowly going mad himself. But the movie bombed. It earned $8 million on a budget of $30 million. Stay failed to earn back 73% of its budget.
Kurt Russell in Grindhouse
The film from directors Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez was supposed to hearken back to the heyday of B cinema. But audiences didn't care to get in on the nostalgia. The film earned $25 million on a budget of $67 million. Grindhouse failed to earn back 63% of its budget.
Eddie Murphy in Imagine That
Murphy has the dubious honor of starring in two movies on our list. This 2009 stinker starred Murphy as a finance executive getting stock tips from his daughter's imaginary world. The film was made for $55 million and earned only $23 million at the box office. Imagine That failed to earn back 58% of its budget.
Hugh Jackman in The Fountain
Darren Aranofsky is the definition of a cult director. His first two films, Pi and Requiem for a Dream, garnered more praise than viewers. But Warner Bros. executives clearly thought that by pairing the director with a big-name actor like Hugh Jackman, they'd make an important (and profitable) film. Things didn't turn out so well, though. A story about death and love with a complicated narrative that hops from the age of the conquistadors to the 26th century, The Fountain earned $16 million on a budget of $35 million. It failed to earn back 54% of its budget.
Nicole Kidman in The Invasion
Kidman has been in some underperforming movies, including Bewitched and The Stepford Wives. But 2007's The Invasion was in a stinker class of its own. Costarring Daniel Craig, the remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers had the potential to be a big crowd pleaser. But the film earned mediocre reviews and audiences stayed away. The Invasion earned $40 million on a budget of $80 million, failing to earn back 50% of its budget
Brad Pitt in The Assassination of Jesse James
The 2007 film seemed custom-made to earn the actor an Oscar nod. It did earn two nominations, one for Casey Affleck for his supporting work as Robert Ford and one for cinematography, but few people actually went to the theater to see the film. The Assassination of Jesse James earned $15 million on a budget of $30 million, meaning it failed to earn back 50% of its budget.
John C. Reilly in Walk Hard
The 2007 music mockumentary should have at least been a minor hit. The film was written and produced by Judd Apatow just after his two big hits, The 40 Year Old Virgin and Knocked Up. But Walk Hard failed to find an audience. The film earned $21 million on a budget of $35 million, failing to earn back 40% of its cost.
Mike Meyers in The Love Guru
The Love Guru is often perceived as one of the biggest flops of all time, but with a budget of $62 million and box office earnings of $41 million, it actually only failed to earn back 34% of its budget. Not bad for this list, but not great for Meyers or Paramount, the studio that funded the film. Sometimes perception can trump actual financial damage. The Love Guru was the worst-performing of all Meyers' big studio films.
Billy Bob Thornton in School for Scoundrels
Thornton is one of those actors who is hard to pin down. He won a Best Actor Oscar in 1996 for the movie Sling Blade and he's appeared in some blockbuster hits like Armageddon and Eagle Eye. But his movies often fail to perform at the box office. School for Scoundrels earned $24 million on a budget of $35 million. It failed to earn back 31% of its budget.
Will Ferrell in Land of the Lost
Before the 2009 remake of the classic 1970s kid show Land of the Lost, Ferrell had starred in his share of disappointments. A Night at the Roxbury, based on a Saturday Night Live sketch, earned only $30 million in 1998. But Land of the Lost was a particularly galling failure for Universal Pictures because the film cost $100 million to produce. It only earned $70 million at the box office worldwide, failing to recoup 30% of its production budget.
Eddie Murphy in Meet Dave
Before 2008's Meet Dave, Murphy had starred in a string of successful family hits, including Daddy Day Care, The Nutty Professor and Dr. Dolittle. Sure, there was the horrible debacle of The Adventures of Pluto Nash, but that seemed like a fluke. Turns out it wasn't. Meet Dave earned $50 million on a budget of $60 million. It failed to earn back 17% of its budget.
Charlize Theron in Aeon Flux
Superhero movies starring women are a particularly tough sell. Just check out the weak performances of movies like Catwoman (starring Halle Berry) and Elektra (featuring Jennifer Garner). Aeon Flux was no exception to the trend. The 2005 movie starring Charlize Theron earned $52 million on a budget of $62 million, meaning it failed to earn back 16% of its budget.
Matthew Broderick in The Producers
Broderick should share credit with his co-star, Nathan Lane, for the disappointing film version of their successful Broadway show. Despite the addition of high-profile cast members like Uma Thurman and Will Ferrell, the film bombed. It earned $38 million on a budget of $45 million. The Producers failed to earn back 16% of its budget.
A friend of mine use to work where some of Jesse James was filmed. He told tourists that Brad Pitt sat on some wooden bench, and they all took pictures of the bench. No one sat on it, mind you, they just took pictures of ~the bench that Brad Pitt sat on.