In the film industry, a film is referred to as a flop if the box office result is well below expectations and does not offset the costs of production ( film budget ) as well as distribution and marketing ( prints and advertising ). The English term Box Office Bomb is occasionally used in German-speaking countries .
The counterpart, a commercially very successful film, is called " blockbuster ".
The causes of a film's commercial failure are many and varied, ranging from poor or no marketing, a difficult competitive environment, i. H. Competing films with high audiences during the release period, massively excessive production budgets, bad film reviews and negative word of mouth to unexpected influences (e.g. wars, natural disasters, pandemics).
The first flop in movie history in the million dollar range was the monumental silent film Intolerance by DW Griffith from 1916, the two million dollars so far most expensive film ever came a few months before the entry of the United States into World War II in theaters and stood with its basic message - to show what human cruelty is capable of and where it leads - completely contrary to the mood of the American population. The flop resulted in the bankruptcy of the production company Triangle Studios and years of indebtedness for Griffith.
In particular, the flop of so-called tentpole releases, the creation of which is often associated with a considerable production budget, can lead to financial problems for the film production company . For example, Walt Disney Pictures had to report an operating loss of $ 200 million in 2012 after the failure of the expensive science fiction film John Carter - Between Two Worlds .
In general, a direct comparison of box office results and production costs has only limited informative value about the financial success of a production, as cinema revenues are shared between film distributors and cinema operators . On average, the distributor receives a little more than half of the income as rental rent , the rest stays with the cinemas. Even if the worldwide box office income is equal to the film budget , a film is considered a flop from the film distributor's point of view, as the costs cannot be financed through the rental rent. On the other hand, this analysis often only compares the pure production costs with the cinema revenues, while other costs for marketing, sales, press work and dubbing are not taken into account. Income from downstream stages in the film exploitation chain such as video and television exploitation are also not taken into account. With these downstream evaluation stages, a film can still be profitable in the long term, even if it was initially a flop in the cinema.
The monumental film Cleopatra was considered a flop when it was released in 1963, as it had only brought in about 26 million US dollars with immense production and marketing costs of about 45 million US dollars, which the production company 20th Century Fox to the edge of the financial ruin. Revenues rose steadily in the years to come, however, and after ABC paid $ 5 million for two television broadcasts in 1966, the film hit break-even point . In 2009, the film grossed $ 430 million at an inflation-adjusted cost of $ 300 million. The end-of- life film Waterworld was also considered a flop when it was released in 1995, as it grossed “only” 264 million US dollars worldwide, which after deducting the revenue share of the cinemas could not cover the enormous production budget of 175 million US dollars. However, due to strong video sales, the film later turned into profit.
Examples of film flops
The following films are some of the greatest failures in film history. The list is based on estimates, makes no claim to be exhaustive or up-to-date and is not adjusted for inflation .
|year||title||Costs in USD million
(production and advertising costs)
|Sales in million USD
(only theatrical release)
|1995||The pirate bride||115.0||18.5|
|1999||The 13th warrior||160.0||61.7|
|2001||City, country, kiss||105.0||10.4|
|2002||Pluto Nash - In the fight against the moon mafia||120.0||7.1|
|2004||Alamo - The dream, the fate, the legend||145.0||25.8|
|2005||Sahara - Adventure in the desert||241.0||119.3|
|2005||Stealth - under the radar||170.8||77.0|
|2011||Milo and Mars||175.0||39.0|
In German cinemas, Honig im Kopf was the most successful feature film of 2014, while the English-produced version Head Full of Honey (2018) only grossed 57,774 euros in the first two weeks, with 6388 viewers. The film production received funding of 4.6 million euros. Together with the US earnings ($ 12,350), this means the film certainly grossed less than two percent of its production costs.
- How much money does a movie need to make to be profitable? at io9.com (English)
- ↑ a b c Greatest Box-Office Bombs, Disasters and Film Flops of All-Time . In: filmsite.org , accessed on September 5, 2013 (English)
- Jump up ↑ Greatest Box-Office Bombs, Disasters and Film Flops: The Most Notable Examples, Silents – 1949 . In: filmsite.org, accessed on September 5, 2013 (English)
- ↑ Loss of millions on "John Carter" - Disney's monster flop , Spiegel Online from March 20, 2012
- ↑ a b Cleopatra at tcm.com, accessed September 5, 2013
- ^ Waterworld - Box Office Data, Movie News, Cast Information at the-numbers.com, accessed September 5, 2013
- ↑ Universal Pictures Hits 100 Today at deadline.com , accessed September 5, 2013
- ↑ 155 viewers on the second weekend. In: Spiegel online. April 3, 2019, accessed May 23, 2019 .