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Biggest Box-Office Bombs of All Time

Most Notorious Turkeys Ever

This Thanksgiving, you can eat turkey -- or you can watch a turkey. A cinematic turkey, that is. But just what is a big-screen gobbler? Think about a film that bombs with moviegoers AND with critics and you've got a pretty good start. We waded through the foulest fare ever served up by Hollywood, pulling in budgets and grosses from Box Office Mojo just to be sure. The result is a list that's both fun and astoundingly awful. Now sit back and, um, enjoy.

Most Notorious Turkeys Ever

25. 'Sahara'

Budget: $160 million
Domestic Gross: $68.7 million
It was supposed to make Matthew McConaughey an action star and launch a lucrative new 'Indiana Jones'-esque franchise. Instead, the 2005 adventure flick became one of the most famous flops in history. Thanks to a much-publicized lawsuit filed by 'Sahara' author Clive Cussler months before release, the film rode a wave of bad buzz into theaters and never recovered. Of course, budget line items such as $200K for "local bribes" don't help a healthy bottom line, either.

Most Notorious Turkeys Ever

24. 'Alexander'

Budget: $155 million
Domestic Gross: $34.3 million
Oliver Stone's 2004 historic adventure drama seemed like a no-brainer: an Oscar-winning director, a fleet of A-list stars (Colin Farrell! Angelina Jolie! Anthony Hopkins! Val Kilmer!) ... but alas, not even the anticipated raciness of Jolie as Farrell's really hot mom could entice the masses to see this almost-three-hour epic misfire. Call him Alexander the Inferior.

Most Notorious Turkeys Ever

23. 'Inchon'

Budget: $46 million
Domestic Gross: $5.2 million
"Legend" has it Unification Church founder Sun Myong Moon began crying one day and could not stop until he went to see a movie, which he took as a sign from God to finance a film. The resulting 1982 Korean War drama starring Laurence Olivier, which took five years and way too much money to make, had the opposite effect on its viewers.

Most Notorious Turkeys Ever

22. 'Poseidon'

Budget: $160 million
Domestic Gross: $60.7 million
Expectations were high for Wolfgang Petersen's 2006 return to the seas -- he directed the submarine classic 'Das Boot' and the tragic 'Perfect Storm.' But it was the film he did in '04 that can be most aptly compared to this one: 'Troy,' in that both are bloated, too silly for their own good ... and monumental letdowns. (Insert your own sinking ship joke here.)

Most Notorious Turkeys Ever

21. 'Speed 2: Cruise Control'

Budget: $160 million
Domestic Gross: $48.6 million
Did anyone think this was a good idea? Anyone? Transplanting the unlikely scenario of the first 'Speed' to the even more unbelievable setting of a cruise ship?!?! We can just hear the pitch now for this '97 stinker: "It's 'Speed,' but on a boat! No one thought the bus-thing would work, either, and that hit HUGE. This can't lose." And we answer, "Oh, but it can. It really, really can."

Most Notorious Turkeys Ever

20. 'One From the Heart'

Budget: $25 million
Domestic Gross: $636,769
After the difficult production of 'Apocalypse Now,' Francis Ford Coppola wanted something simpler and smaller, ergo this '82 musical romance budgeted at $2 million. But Coppola had a vision, and his vision pushed the costs to $25 mil, funded through his company Zoetrope. Unfortunately for the director and his studio, critics and ticket buyers weren't ready for a surreal, downbeat musical. Tom Waits got an Oscar nod (for the soundtrack). Coppola got a trip to bankruptcy court.

Most Notorious Turkeys Ever

19. 'All the King's Men'

Budget: $55 million
Domestic Gross: $7.2 million
The 1949 adaptation of Robert Penn Warren's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel about the rise and fall of a Depression-era politician took home the Oscar for Best Picture, and the '06 film was widely expected to do the same. Then people saw it. And despite its source material and a star-studded cast (Sean Penn, Kate Winslet, Jude Law), critics hated it, and its box-office fall was so great that not even you-know-who could put it back together again.

Most Notorious Turkeys Ever

18. 'Leonard Part 6'

Budget: N/A -- i.e. too bloated and embarrassing to reveal
Domestic Gross: $4.6 million
Bill Cosby's first post-'Cosby Show' star vehicle -- a 1987 comedy about a spy battling a megalomaniac vegetarian who can control animals' minds (it's somehow dumber than it sounds) -- was so embarrassing for everyone involved that Cosby himself encouraged people NOT to see it. Fittingly, it earned the Cos three Razzies, including Worst Picture, and made us never want to eat another Jell-O pudding pop again.

Most Notorious Turkeys Ever

17. 'Shanghai Surprise'

Budget: $17 million
Domestic Gross: $2.3 million
Back in 1986, pop goddess Madonna seemed poised to conquer the big screen, too. Not only did her 'Desperately Seeking Susan' follow-up require actual acting (she played a 1930s missionary -- not a typo), but she also starred opposite new hubby Sean Penn. Oh, Madonna. Rookie mistake(s)! Critics pounced on the 1986 clunker, which doomed the Material Girl's acting career and earned her her first Razzie ... but not her last.

Most Notorious Turkeys Ever

16. 'Basic Instinct 2'

Budget: $70 million
Domestic Gross: $6 million
When the original grossed $117 million in 1992, a sequel was green-lit immediately -- and proceeded to languish in production hell for a decade. It finally hit theaters in '06, thanks mostly to Sharon Stone's $14 million "pay or play" deal (she gets paid, movie or not). But if the studio thought Stone's bare bosom could compensate for shoddy story and lack of thrills, their instinct should have told them this un-erotic stinker was 10 years too late.

Most Notorious Turkeys Ever

15. 'A Sound of Thunder'

Budget: $80 million
Domestic Gross: $1.9 million
Never heard of this Edward Burns-Ben Kingsley fiasco? That's because only like 117 people saw it. Originally slated for a 2002 release, the time-travel flick was delayed until '05 due to flooding in Prague (where it was filmed) and the original production company's declaring bankruptcy during post-production. As a result, the special effects were third-rate, which is not a good call when your film is supposed to be a dinosaur-filled sci-fi spectacle. Call this one 'Jura-Suck Park.'

Most Notorious Turkeys Ever

14. 'Hudson Hawk'

Budget: $65 million
Domestic Gross: $17.2 million
The early '90s were not kind to Bruce Willis. After 'Look Who's Talking Too' and 'Bonfire of the Vanities' came this absurd 1991 action-comedy that was light on both. Not-so-shockingly, it was Willis' first and only writing credit. But "credit" for this bust also goes to the cheesy sound effects, Willis-Danny Aiello musical duets and unusually high levels of Sandra Bernhard.

Most Notorious Turkeys Ever

13. 'Howard the Duck'

Budget: $37 million
Domestic Gross: $16.3 million
After the 'Indiana Jones' and 'Star Wars' trilogies, George Lucas was flying high. But the Force was not with him when he produced 1986's Marvel comic-based 'Howard' for screenwriter pal Willard Huyck. The ridiculously bad sci-fi comedy about a stogie-smoking, Earth-saving duck (played by an actor in a duck costume) became the subject of endless ridicule, and it proved the biggest mistake of Lucas' career. Well, until Jar Jar Binks.

Most Notorious Turkeys Ever

12. 'Bonfire of the Vanities'

Budget: $47 million
Domestic Gross: $15.7 million
Tom Wolfe's scathing novel about the excesses of the 1980s could have been a brilliant, era-defining movie, particularly with Brian De Palma at the helm. But nice-guy Tom Hanks was all wrong to play Sherman McCoy, the yuppie "Master of the Universe" brought low by a fatal car accident; and with the story rewritten to make McCoy more likable, Wolfe's satire lost its teeth -- and 'Bonfire' went down in flames.

Most Notorious Turkeys Ever


Budget: $100 million
Domestic Gross: $40.2 million
Where did this 2004 super flop go wrong? Let us count the ways: 1) a whole new Catwoman completely unrelated to the REAL Catwoman; 2) an unknown one-named man at the helm (Pitof); 3) the apparent belief that fans would pay solely to see Halle Berry in a skintight leather unitard (they showed you, 'Catwoman'!). We just have to ask Ms. Berry a quick question: What were you thinking?

Most Notorious Turkeys Ever

10. 'Battlefield Earth'

Budget: $73 million
Domestic Gross: $21.5 million
How do you say "epic disaster" in Psychlos? John Travolta squandered a chunk of the goodwill he'd garnered in his 'Pulp Fiction' comeback with this god-awful 2000 adaptation of L. Ron Hubbard's Scientologist manifesto. In a nutshell: Travolta plays a dreadlocked alien named Terl. We'd rather take the free stress test any day.

Most Notorious Turkeys Ever

9. 'Gigli'

Budget: $54 million
Domestic Gross: $6.1 million
It's hard to say which factor contributed more to the demise of this celluloid punch line -- America's unhealthy obsession with (hatred of?) Bennifer Part I or the fact that it's about a mob lackey who kidnaps a mentally retarded man and then falls in love with a lesbian assassin. But the lesson was clear: Gossip mag sales adversely affect box office dollars, and not even a little lesbian intrigue can change that.

Most Notorious Turkeys Ever

8. 'Waterworld'

Budget: $175 million
Domestic Gross: $88.2 million
The most expensive movie ever made when it came out in 1995, the post-apocalyptic epic came to stand for everything wrong with Hollywood fare: massive budget, self-indulgent star (Kevin Costner, who co-produced), all hype and no substance. It crashed and burned spectacularly; and though it made money overseas, in some ways Costner never lived down the failure (or the gills).

Most Notorious Turkeys Ever

7. 'The Postman'

Budget: $80 million
Domestic Gross: $17.6 million
What is it with Kevin Costner and post-apocalyptic sci-fi movies? He took another run at the genre with this misguided adaptation of David Brin's novel, directing himself as the savior of civilization -- a mythic messiah with a mailbag. Collapsing under the weight of its three-hour run time, jingoistic dialogue and Costner's hubris, the 1997 flop gave new meaning to the term "going postal."

Most Notorious Turkeys Ever

6. 'Cutthroat Island'

Budget: $98 million
Domestic Gross: $10 million
Geena Davis. Matthew Modine. They were both once hugely popular movie stars. Then came this excessive action-comedy about pirates who yada yada yada that actually ranks #1 on the Guinness World Book of Records more objective list of all-time box-office flops. But on the bright side, both actors have resurged lately with TV roles, and we all know the current state of bankability for movie pirates.

Most Notorious Turkeys Ever

5. 'Cleopatra'

Budget: $44 million
Domestic Gross: $26 million
Although Elizabeth Taylor's dramas -- a marriage-ending affair, a near-death illness -- were just the tip of the iceberg of troubles for this '63 epic, they may have been the nails in the coffin. Originally budgeted for $2 mil, the costs ballooned to $44 mil (current equivalent: about $295 mil), a cost that wasn't recouped partly due to public disapproval for the star's personal life. It was enough to almost bankrupt 20th Century Fox. Imagine a time when bad publicity was actually ... bad.

Most Notorious Turkeys Ever

4. 'Heaven's Gate'

Budget: $44 million
Domestic Gross: $3.5 million
Having just earned a Best Director Oscar for 'The Deer Hunter,' Michael Cimino scored a stellar cast (Christopher Walken, John Hurt, Kris Kristofferson) and unprecedented creative control for his 1980 follow-up. And he squandered it all, reshooting so much that the $11.5 million budget quadrupled, and the film was heralded as a cinematic debacle. The movie's failure forced the sale of United Artists to MGM, and reduced Cimino to directing bad Mickey Rourke movies.

Most Notorious Turkeys Ever

3. 'Ishtar'

Budget: $55 million
Domestic Gross: $14.5 million
It must've sounded like a fun, quirky idea for a comedy: Warren Beatty and Dustin Hoffman as inept lounge singers who take a gig in Morocco and stumble into a CIA plot. But "lost in the desert" became more than a metaphor as production problems pushed the already high $40 million budget even higher, and negative word-of-mouth skewered the film even before its 1987 release. Beatty and Hoffman went on to better things ... but they'll always have Ishtar.

Most Notorious Turkeys Ever

2. 'The Adventures of Pluto Nash'

Budget: $100 million
Domestic Gross: $4.4 million
Loss? What loss? As our friends on Wikipedia put it, "the film grossed negative 95 million dollars," that's all. Believe it or not, the project floated around Hollywood for nearly 15 years before it was finally produced and made its subsequent historic crash. Don't feel bad for star Eddie Murphy, though. His last film, 'Norbit,' grossed a mind-boggling $95 million earlier this year. Look for more fat suits to come.

Most Notorious Turkeys Ever

1. 'Town & Country'

Budget: $90 million
Domestic Gross: $6.7 million
Reportedly, Warren Beatty's demands for multiple takes, rewrites and reshoots were primarily responsible for more than doubling the original $44 mil budget of what should have been a simple ensemble dramedy. Add in estimated marketing and distribution expenses and this staggering '01 failure lost its studio more than $100 million. If you say Beatty is just a perfectionist, then you obviously haven't seen this movie.

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