We're all looking forward to a new year, but movie studios are probably especially happy that 2011 is ending. It wasn't kind to them. Ticket sales were down 4 percent from 2010, thanks in large part to a number of major movie flops, including a few notable sci-fi releases that didn't do as well as expected.
Like all flops, these movies dropped the ball for a number of reasons. Some suffered from poor marketing, while others came up with good opening weekend numbers and then suffered from bad reviews and bad word of mouth. Others just looked bad from the get-go, so most moviegoers ignored them.
So which 2011 flops were the floppiest of them all? Well, it turns out that perhaps the biggest flop of the year was a family-oriented sci-fi film. Disney's Mars Needs Moms was released in March with a $150 million budget and made back only $39 million of it. Then there's Lionsgate's poorly received reboot of Conan the Barbarian, which dropped this summer with a $90 million budget and made only $48.8 million. Zack Snyder's visuals-driven epic Sucker Punch didn't suffer quite that badly, but it only barely made back its budget of $82 million, earning $89.8 worldwide. Then there's Universal's remake of The Thing, which earned only $27.4 million on a $38 million budget.
Other sci-fi films that made the list of the year's biggest flops fared a little better but still struggled to keep their heads above water as they tried to make back their blockbuster-level budgets. Warner Bros.' Green Lantern cost $200 million to make and only grossed $219.9 million worldwide, while Jon Favreau's Cowboys & Aliens only managed to pull in $178.8 million on a budget of $163 million.
It might seem strange that some of these movies made money beyond their budgets and still made a list of flops, but remember that any money a flick makes is split between studios and theater owners, so for a movie to actually be profitable at a studio it needs to gross well beyond its budget. Of course, all of these movies have a chance to make more through DVD and Blu-ray release, but those cost money to produce too. We'll just have to wait and see which ones end up as late bloomers.
In case you were curious, the non-sci-fi titles rounding out THR's list of the year's 15 biggest flops are Happy Feet Two, New Year's Eve, Arthur, Tower Heist, Glee: The 3D Concert Movie, I Don't Know How She Does It, The Big Year, The Rum Diary and Anonymous.
So, are any of your favorite films from this year on the list?