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The Biggest Box Office Bombs of 2023


2023 was an interesting time at the box office. It seemed to be a time a year of major change as the old conventions were tested and a new normal was set up. The box office was dominated by films like The Super Mario Bros. Movie, Barbie, and Oppenheimer. While two of those three were IPs, it was the first time in a long time that a sequel was not the highest-grossing movie of the year. These films, along with releases like Five Nights at Freddy’s, Taylor Swift: The Era’s Tour, and Wonka, showed that people were interested in new ideas, or at least new takes on popular series.




Meanwhile, many long-established franchises suffered at the box office. Due to increasing budgets and audiences being less likely to run out to the movies, there were many high-profile disappointments from long-established brands. Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning, and Transformers: Rise of the Beasts were all new entries in beloved franchises that came in well below expectations. While those movies were disappointments, there were even bigger bombs.

A bomb doesn’t mean a movie is bad, after all some great films in the past have bombed at the box office only to find audiences years later. Yet these films were the biggest bombs of 2023 due to their high production and marketing budgets and how they came in far below expectations. These are the biggest box office bombs of 2023.


Update February 25, 2024: We are almost three months into 2024, and the final box office totals on the holiday 2023 releases are slowing down, meaning this list has now been updated with the biggest box office disappointments of the past year.


The Flash

The Flash

Release Date
June 16, 2023

Studio
DC Comics, DC Entertainment, Warner Bros.

Tagline
Worlds Collide

Read Our Review

DC’s The Flash was plagued by production woes from the very beginning, as the superhero flick took years to come to fruition with various directors coming and going, and like many other Hollywood projects had to contend with the COVID-19 pandemic. Controversial lead star Ezra Miller also faced major legal issues, all of which did not bode well for the fate of the film and ultimately resulted in a lackluster box office performance.


A Troubled Lead Star

The Flash was projected to bring in $155–165 million globally during its opening weekend, yet ended up debuting with $130 million; by its second weekend, the film dropped 72% and took in only $15.1 million, the third-largest sophomore drop for the superhero genre, behind Morbius and Steel. Many have attributed the massive box office slump to an array of reasons, including superhero fatigue, Miller’s involvement as the lead character, and a lukewarm critical response. The Flash ended up grossing $271.3 million on a $200–220 million budget and became a major financial disappointment for the DCEU and Warner Bros. Stream on Prime Video

Renfield

Renfield

Renfield

Release Date
April 14, 2023

Director
Chris McKay

Read Our Review


Despite touting a dazzlingly eclectic ensemble led by Nicolas Cage, Nicholas Hoult, and Awkwafina and providing a lively retelling of the Bram Stoker classic, the action-horror comedy Renfield was unable to fill seats at theaters and was one of 2023’s biggest box office stinkers. After being stuck in development hell, Cage and Hoult signed on to headline the adaptation in 2021, and the talented stars should have been cinema gold, yet unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.

Stiff Box Office Competition

Renfield was up against popular recent releases like The Super Mario Bros. Movie and John Wick: Chapter 4, and after completing its theatrical run the picture earned just $26.9 million on a $65 million budget, with millions also going towards its marketing. Audiences and critics enjoyed the comedic approach to the retelling as well as its entertaining performances, but it nonetheless couldn’t compete with dynamic duo Mario and Luigi and the butt-kicking Keanu Reeves. Stream on Prime Video


Ruby Gillman: Teenage Kraken

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DreamWorks Animation has had many high-profile hits like Shrek, Kung Fu Panda, and Trolls. Yet notably, they have also had their fair share of disappointments, but in the summer of 2023, they got their lowest opening weekend ever with Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken. The cute animated family that served as a nice bet of meta-comedy opening the same summer as Disney’s Little Mermaid remake grossed just $5.5 million in its opening weekend at sixth place.


A Big, Little Disappointment

While Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken only cost $70 million to produce, it brought in a meager $15.7 million domestically and only $46 million at the worldwide box office. Factoring in marketing costs, the movie lost Universal Studios about $80 million dollars. Fortunately, Universal Pictures was able to offset this box office disappointment with Oppenheimer’s opening three weeks later. The movie has since gone on to become a hit on Netflix, showing that the box office is not always the final end-all-be-all for a movie’s legacy. Stream on Netflix

Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves

Read Our Review

Honor Among Thieves is a reboot of the classic Dungeons & Dragons trilogy, which began in the year 2000. After years of disputes over filming rights between several production firms, the film finally hit theaters on March 31, 2023. However, despite careful consideration of production quality, it ultimately ended up running into commercial constraints.


Related: 9 Epic Adventure Movies That Will Have Your Heart Pounding All the Way Through

A Potential Franchise Foiled?

While it earned favorable reviews and had a strong opening weekend at the box office, it grossed $208.2 million all around, raising the question of whether the film was truly successful. The main reason for this is that the film’s budget is $150 million, and adding marketing costs will only make revenues minuscule. This hinders the development of any future sequels or spin-offs, but perhaps it will try something new next time with a smaller budget. Stream on Prime Video

Haunted Mansion

Haunted Mansion

Haunted Mansion

Release Date
July 28, 2023

Tagline
Home is where the haunt is.

Read Our Review


Hoping to learn from the mistakes of the first film adaptation of the iconic theme park ride, Disney’s Haunted Mansion pulled out all the big stops and enlisted a star-studded cast, including LaKeith Stanfield, Owen Wilson, Rosario Dawson, and Danny DeVito to help tell the spooky origin story surrounding the ghost-infested New Orleans mansion.

Perplexing Release Date

On paper, the horror comedy should have been a slamdunk with moviegoers, yet for a myriad of reasons, Disney’s attempt at a reboot adaptation crashed and burned. Not only was Haunted Mansion released in July 2023 (and therefore had to contend with the record-shattering Barbenheimer), but many were left scratching their heads as to why an obviously Halloween-esque film was released in the summertime. As if that wasn’t enough, cast members were unable to promote the flick due to the SAG-AFTRA strike, resulting in Haunted Mansion finishing its run with a gross of just $117.5 million against a $150 million budget. Stream on Disney+


Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny

Read Our Review

While to most a box office gross of $384 million sounds like a mighty successful triumph, when a film has a bloated budget of $295 million, that kind of profit isn’t nearly enough to make it a financial hit. Though devoted fans were thrilled when Harrison Ford donned his iconic fedora and trustee whip one last time and bid goodbye to the swashbuckling explorer, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny just couldn’t replicate the magic of previous installments.

Related: Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny: Why The Film Was a Box Office Failure


Too Big of a Budget to Overcome

Ford reunited with Karen Allen and John Rhys-Davies in the action-adventure extravaganza, and the actor was lauded for once again capturing the essence and magic of the beloved character. However, with such a gigantic production budget (that doesn’t factor in marketing costs), Dial of Destiny was estimated to have needed to earn $600 just to break even, and $800 million to be deemed an all around success. Variety reported that the final entry in the franchise could potentially lose Disney $100 million, establishing it as one of the studio’s biggest financial failures since John Carter. Stream on Disney+

Shazam! Fury of the Gods

Read Our Review


As the title indicates, the gods were not particularly kind to Shazam this year. DC movies usually have solid opening weekends except during the pandemic, but Shazam! Fury of the Gods trumped both Wonder Woman 1984 and Suicide Squad, which had previously been projected to have the lowest weekend box office.

Lowest DCEU Opening

In fact, the production initially aimed for a $35-40 million opening weekend in the United States and Canada, but estimations amounted to $30 million, the lowest of any DCEU film thus far. While the first weekend saw a 43% decline, the second weekend had a 69% loss, resulting in the movie earning only $9.3 million. In the end, the film grossed $134 million, which is a smidgeon more than the cost of production but a significant loss when marketing costs are factored in. Stream on Max

65

Adam Driver stars in 65
Spny Pictures Releasing 


65 is a one-of-a-kind film with an exceptional premise that follows a space pilot named Mills (Adam Driver) and a young girl named Koa (Ariana Greenblatt) whose ship crashes on a mysterious planet infested with dinosaurs. Audiences follow their survival as they try to make their way to safety in this prehistoric land filled with dangers lurking around every corner.

Driver Can’t Save the Day

As much as it seems like a terrific science fiction film, it was not deemed a critical or commercial success. Audiences gave the picture a lackluster C+ CinemaScore and critics felt the screenplay and its talented cast were ultimately wasted. 65, like its fellow box office underdogs Shazam! Fury of the Gods and Magic Mike’s Last Dance didn’t make a huge profit due to its underwhelming gross of $60 million worldwide on a $45-$57 million budget. Stream on Netflix


Wish

Wish

Wish

Release Date
November 22, 2023

Director
Chris Buck , Fawn Veerasunthorn

Read Our Review

In most cases, a gorgeously animated Disney flick almost certainly meant it would be a hit on the big screen, yet the musical fantasy Wish struggled to put up big numbers for the juggernaut studio. The heartwarming film underperformed and ended up finishing in third at the box office, coming in behind The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes and Napoleon, making just $31.7 million over the course of five days.


Wish’s “Rotten” Reception

Though audiences were pleased with the visually stunning picture, awarding it a respectful A- CinemaScore, critics were less than impressed, and Wish ultimately became Walt Disney Animation Studios’ first project since 2005’s Chicken Little to be deemed “Rotten” on the influential website. With a worldwide total of $249.7 million against a $175–$200 million budget, Wish did not become another box office darling Disney hoped it would be, and now their upcoming animated slate is heavily reliant on IPs like Moana 2, Zootopia 2, and Frozen 3. Buy on Prime Video

The Marvels

The Marvels

The Marvels

Release Date
November 10, 2023

Director
Nia DaCosta

Tagline
Higher. Further. Faster. Together.

Read Our Review

Undeniably, one of the most prominent box office blunders of 2023 was The Marvels, the highly-anticipated sequel to 2019’s Captain Marvel that saw the return of Brie Larson as the eponymous superhero as she joins forces with an unlikely group of young women to protect the universe. The third entry in the MCU’s Phase Five, the film’s poor performance reflected fan fatigue of the genre and was subsequently dubbed a box-office bomb.


Marvel’s Shaky Hollywood Reign

The Marvels was projected to gross roughly $60 million its opening weekend, and though it topped the box office it only debuted with $46.1 million. It marked the lowest opening weekend for an MCU film (a title previously held by 2008’s The Incredible Hulk), and it had a huge 78% drop-off the following week, eventually finishing with a worldwide gross of $206.1 million with a gross production budget of $274.8 million. The Marvels became one of the few MCU movies to not break even during its theatrical run, with many once again blaming superhero fatigue. Stream on Disney+



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