Box-office bomb

In the motion picture industry, a "box-office bomb" or "box-office flop" is a film that is considered highly unsuccessful or unprofitable during its theatrical run, often following significant hype regarding its cost, production, or marketing efforts.[1][2] Generally, any film for which the production and marketing costs exceed the combined revenue recovered after release is considered to have "bombed".[3]

Box-office bomb is a subjective term, as gauging the financial success of a film is difficult. There is also no reliable definition of the term. Not all films that fail to earn back their estimated costs during their theatrical runs are considered "bombs".[2] The label is generally applied to films that miss earnings projections by a wide margin, particularly when they are very expensive to produce. Although this often occurs in conjunction with middling or poor reviews, critical reception has an imperfect connection to box-office performance.[4]

Causes of a film's failure

Negative word of mouth

Beginning in the 1980s, cinemas started to drop films that suffered a poor opening weekend.[citation needed] This made the performance of a film on its opening weekend much more crucial to its perception. With the growth of the Internet during the 1990s, chat rooms and websites enabled negative opinions for films to spread rapidly.

Another cause for failure is a troubled production history. This was the case for the film Heaven's Gate, which famously went three months over schedule and saw its budget mushroom from $7.5 million to $36 million.[5] These facts caught the ears of journalists and critics who were refused access to the film's set by director Michael Cimino, and upon its release, the film was negatively portrayed by the American press.

External circumstances

Occasionally, films may underperform because of issues unrelated to the film itself. These issues commonly relate to the timing of the film's release. This was one of the reasons for the commercial failure of one of the first "flops", Intolerance. Owing to production delays, the film was not released until late 1916, a time when the widespread anti-war sentiment it reflected had started to shift in favor of U.S. entry into World War I.[6] While the film would later be considered groundbreaking, its failure drove D. W. Griffith's production company, Triangle Film Corporation, out of business. Other examples include MGM's The Wizard of Oz and Walt Disney's Pinocchio, Fantasia, and Bambi, all of which under-performed merely because they were released during World War II, which cut off 60% of the international release market. However, these films became popular and critically acclaimed in later years.

Another example of external events sinking a film is the 2015 docudrama about FIFA entitled United Passions. It was released in theaters in the United States at the same time FIFA's leaders were under investigation for fraud and corruption, and the film grossed only $918 at the U.S. box office in its opening weekend.[7] Comedian John Oliver lampooned the film asking "Who makes a sports film where heroes are the executives?"[8]

Other issues such as general economic malaise may cause less disposable income for potential filmgoers, resulting in fewer ticket sales. Also, many movies that open during times of national crisis and just after disasters such as the Hindenburg disaster, Pearl Harbor, the JFK assassination, the Oklahoma bombings, Columbine High shooting, the 2001 September 11 attacks, Manchester Arena bombing, Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, the 2008 recession, the Las Vegas massacre, the bombing in Boston Marathon, Virginia Tech massacre, a major tsunami and earthquake in Japan, respective wars in Iraq or Vietnam, and hurricanes (i.e. Sandy, Katrina, Harvey,[9] or Irma) under-perform at the box office.[10] In the case of the 9/11 attacks, three movies that dealt with the subject of terrorism in various ways were scheduled for release between September 12 and December 31, 2001 (Collateral Damage, Big Trouble, and Bad Company).[citation needed] The release dates for these films were pushed back to 2002, and none of them performed well at the box office.

High production costs

Sometimes a film may do reasonably well at the box office but still be considered a bomb due to a large budget. For example, 2005's Sahara cost over $241 million to make (including marketing and distribution), due in part to exorbitant production costs. It took in $122 million, usually enough to be successful. However, in this case, this accounted for barely over half of its expenses.[11] In 2012, Disney reported losses of $200 million on John Carter. The film had made a considerable $234 million worldwide, but this was far short of its $250 million budget plus worldwide advertising.[12]

Other Languages
Deutsch: Flop (Film)
français: Flop (cinéma)
Bahasa Indonesia: Box office bomb
italiano: Flop
Basa Jawa: Box office bomb
Bahasa Melayu: Gagal pecah panggung
português: Box office bomb
Simple English: Box office bomb
中文: 票房炸弹