This year has been a significant bounce-back for the box office. According to CNBC, runaway successes like Top Gun: Maverick and The Batman have helped 2022 greatly boost the cumulative box office, indicating that the streaming wars have not buried moviegoing entirely.
However, there have been more than a fair share of box office flops that have been released this year. 2022’s biggest box office flops fit in one of two categories (although some fit in both). Either it is a film that failed to turn a profit by netting a gross lower than its production budget, or a film that significantly failed to live up to the expectations of a popular franchise or genre.
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10 The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent was a film with massive social media buzz that never materialized into ticket-buying moviegoers. Given that Nicholas Cage has become a living internet meme, there should have been clear excitement at the idea of a self-aware film where Cage plays himself.
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Not enough of those fans were excited enough to see The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent in theatres, as the film failed to recoup its $30 million production budget, according to Deadline. Many attribute the poor performance to an unfortunate release date. Massive Talent is an indie film with very strong reviews but released on a weekend when it had to share the prestige audience with Everything Everywhere All at Once.
Director Joe Wright is well known for making extravagant period pieces with lavish sets and meticulously accurate costumes. He might be forced to reign in the opulence on his next production, as Cyrano earned a small fraction of its $30 million production budget at the box office, as stated by Indie Wire.
Perhaps Kiera Knightly is the missing ingredient here, as Cyrano was unable to duplicate the box office success of Joe Wright films that star the leading lady, such as Pride & Prejudice and Atonement. What’s more, according to Deadline, the musical film was undeniably hurt by a limited release, as it only hit 800 theatres domestically.
8 The Northman
The Northman marked a major advancement in director Robert Eggers’ career, as its production budget of $90 million was almost ten times as much as any film he’d previously helmed. His box office performance was unfortunately unable to make a similar leap, as his film earned only 2/3rds of that budget back, as stated by Variety.
This is an unfortunate example of a film that didn’t see its unmitigated success with critics translate into major returns at the box office. Cinephiles might consider The Northman to be one of the best movies of 2022 so far, but hardcore film fans don’t reflect the greater mainstream.
Given that it earned just over double its production budget, it might not seem that Morbius deserves to be grouped in with the biggest box office flops of the year. However, it’s important to remember that according to Gizmodo, studios do not take everything a movie earns at the box office, meaning Morbius just barely broke even during its theatrical run.
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Morbius’ box office performance is even worse when taking expectations and future plans into consideration. The superhero genre dominates the current box office landscape, with hits not just from Marvel but also from DC. Morbius was intended to start a new franchise in Sony’s Spider-Verse, but the film’s critical and commercial faceplant puts those plans into serious question.
Ever since the release of Taken in 2009, Liam Neeson has released several action films. While most of these films are able to bring enough people out to the theater to recoup their low budgets, Blacklight couldn’t come close to matching its $43 million price tag, according to Box Office Mojo.
Given that there are already so many movies like Blacklight out there, audiences need more than the prospect of Liam Neeson looking cool while he shoots people to bust out their wallets. Add Liam Neeson to an intriguing concept like a manhunt 20,000 feet in the air (such as Non-Stop) or a death match with a massive wolf (like The Grey) and bigger box office returns are more likely to be in store.
Lightyear is the latest film in the hallowed Toy Story franchise, a series that reached over a billion dollars with its last two installments. Critics and audiences have rated Lightyear as one of Pixar’s worst films, letting the animation studio know that this is not the kind of film they want to see moving forward.
It’s important to note that Lightyear is still relatively fresh into its box office run, meaning it still has some time to increase its total before it eventually hits Disney+. But regardless of how it performs in the coming weeks, all signs point to this being the lowest-grossing Pixar film to receive an uninterrupted theatrical release.
4 The Bob’s Burgers Movie
Movies based on established television shows have a spotty track record, but The Bob’s Burgers Movie was surely trying to replicate the massive box office success enjoyed by The Simpsons Movie in the summer of 2007. Unfortunately for the Belcher family, their movie has failed to recoup even half of its $70 million budget, according to the Filmik.
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The Bob’s Burgers television show has been massively popular for over a decade, so the paltry box office for the film has left many scratching their heads. If anything, the film’s poor financial performance proves how difficult it can be to ask audiences to pay for something that they’re used to getting for free.
3 Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore
This is another box office performance that might look passable in its own right but greatly suffers when put in comparison with other films from the same franchise. Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore has earned over $250 million less than the next lowest-grossing film in the Wizarding World franchise.
Given that studios take home half of a film’s box office, one might think that this movie just barely broke even. That is not the case, however, as production budgets do not take into account how much a studio spends to advertise a film. Blockbusters like this can cost a lot of money to advertise, meaning The Secrets of Dumbledore needed a much higher box office total closer to break even.
2 The 355
The 355 had a perfect storm of factors that kept moviegoers from buying a ticket. It received very poor reviews from critics, was released during the rise of the Omicron variant, and couldn’t compete with the only film people were willing to see in theatres at the time, which was Spider-Man: No Way Home.
Despite a cast of likable characters, The 355 marks two box office flops in a row for director Simon Kinberg, as his last film Dark Pheonix also had a historically poor financial showing. His films tend to perform better critically and commercially when he sticks to just writing their screenplays, indicating that he should perhaps step out of the director’s chair for his next movie.
Roland Emmerich deserves a lot of credit for his attempts to almost single-handedly keep the disaster movie genre alive, but even he has to admit that it might be time to let go. Moonfall was a costly mistake for Lionsgate, as it only earned a third of its $146 million budget, according to Box Office Mojo.
Disaster movies might have been all the rage around the turn of the millennium, but audiences have made it clear that they are no longer hungry for this kind of film. It’s common for genres to fall in and out of vogue, and at present, it understandably seems that disaster movies are no longer trending.
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About The Author
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Nick is a passionate cinephile who lists Inception and Birdman as his biggest inspirations to write about film and television. When he isn’t in a dimly lit screening room, Nick loves going to the park to play baseball and basketball. This is his first professional writing job.
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