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Discuss: Why Do Big-Budget Action Films Bomb in Theaters?

Posted: July 1st, 2013 by WorstPreviews.com Staff
Discuss: Why Do Big-Budget Action Films Bomb in Theaters?Submit Comment
Brad Pitt's $200 million "World War Z" zombie film was all set to be a huge flop in theaters, until positive reviews started appearing online at the last second. Now it looks like the movie has a small chance of becoming profitable, barely.

At the same time, Will Smith's $130 million "After Earth" sci-fi film and Channing Tatum's $150 million "White House Down" action movie surprisingly bombed in theaters. And Guillermo Del Toro's $220 million "Pacific Rim" and Johnny Depp's $250 million "The Lone Ranger" are on track to flop as well.

So one must wonder, with why do films with top movie stars, based on popular properties, with huge budgets and talented directors keep flopping?

Steven Spielberg and George Lucas recently predicted that studios would focus more on big-budget films for theatrical release, while dumping smaller budget movies straight to DVD, VOD or TV. But that doesn't seem to be the case, because Sandra Bullock's $40 million "The Heat" comedy actually performed better than "White House Down" this weekend. And "The Heat" is an R-rated film, unlike "White House Down."

While many will say that "White House Down" and "After Earth" are terrible movies as a way to explain the poor box office results, but in reality, it may be something else. Movies like "Man of Steel," "Monsters University," "Fast and Furious 6," "Star Trek Into Darkness," and "Iron Man 3" all performed well, proving once again that sequels is the way to go.

Fans keep complaining that movie studios don't take risks on original stories and that theaters are flooded with sequels, prequels and reboots. But those fans don't pay to see any original stories, while constantly choosing sequels instead.

So don't be surprised that original films will start getting smaller budgets and the number of sequels will keep increasing. If Will Smith, Channing Tatum, Johnny Depp and Brad Pitt can no longer attract audiences, and their films have to gross almost $1 billion just to break even, studios would have to be suicidal to continue this trend.

Question: Why do you think original big-budget action films keep flopping?

Source: WorstPreviews.com

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Displaying 65 comment(s) Profanity: Turn On
pornfly writes:
on July 1st, 2013 at 7:49:12 AM

Tatum- no real action fan wants to see a male stripper save anything

Smith-men cant connect with a man whoring out their kid

Know your target demographic
That should be first priority
cress writes:
on July 1st, 2013 at 7:49:59 AM

In the case of WHITE HOUSE DOWN, it was because it starred the functional retarded stripper Chappy Steakums. And audiences just saw a "DIE HARD in the white house" flick, as well as another friggin' DIE HARD sequel, a few months earlier.

THE LONE RANGER was always gonna be a tough sell. It's a western and it has a character no one really gives a sh*t about besides my grandpa's generation. This would have probably never got made if Johnny Depp hadn't plopped his c*ck up in it.
Taco writes:
on July 1st, 2013 at 7:52:19 AM

I think it just needs to be a fresh idea. Pacific Rim is not a new idea and carries. Lone Ranger looks terrible from the trailers and Depp playing a native is all factors in low tracking. After earth had Shamalongadingdong and Will's kid....nuff said.
ab5olut10n writes:
on July 1st, 2013 at 7:56:03 AM

Chappy Steakums lol
HerrGeneral writes:
on July 1st, 2013 at 8:06:15 AM

No mention of the all time favorite John Carter
Bunny X writes:
on July 1st, 2013 at 8:15:47 AM

Because stupid and mindless moviegoers aren't that stupid and mindless
Deaft0ne writes:
on July 1st, 2013 at 8:31:07 AM

R.I.P.D. is next to bomb.
boogiel writes:
on July 1st, 2013 at 8:36:40 AM

Why do you think original big-budget action films keep flopping?

Because it's a crap. No matter well how you polished it with big budgets, it's still a crap.
Cd_Smith0 writes:
on July 1st, 2013 at 8:48:20 AM

Combination of things. Ticket prices are getting higher everytime I seem to go. Home video systems are getting better and I can rent a movie for six bucks on VOD or see it in theaters for 13 bucks a person.

I also think with the internet, people are find alternative ways to entertain themselves. The internet also allows me to understand a film better before I see it, so it makes it easier to make a choice between good and bad.

I just think people have know what they want, and films like The Lone Ranger and White house down don't fit well in the public eye anymore.
Stapes writes:
on July 1st, 2013 at 9:19:11 AM

"Chappy Steakums," lol. That reminds me, I'm still waiting on my Iron Eagle remake.
BadChadB33 writes:
on July 1st, 2013 at 9:19:11 AM

BC Hollywood sucks ass nowadays.
on July 1st, 2013 at 9:33:58 AM

Mr Chad it does indeed so does many worstpreviewites!
BadChadB33 writes:
on July 1st, 2013 at 9:38:46 AM

JB is back!!
on July 1st, 2013 at 9:43:12 AM

Big budget films flop because the hype is that huge that we get bombarded with preview after preview it starts out as "wow that looks great can't wait to see it" by the time the film hits the cinema it's like " f*ck off already I am soooo sick of seeing this sh*t"
kinda like the Amazing Spider-man 2 threads on here :)
belgianavenger writes:
on July 1st, 2013 at 10:25:24 AM

I just don't get the need to go past $200 million dollars. You're already taking such a risk. Talented directors with a strong visual style and a bit of thriftiness can make stuff look better than these huge bloated budget movies. Example: District 9. $30 million budget, huge hit, looked great and better than the transformer movie that same summer because it was well directed. Verbinski is a hack. Lone Ranger is a Western....THERE IS BARELY ANYTHING TO BUILD...how did you get to 250 mil.
Jaros428 writes:
on July 1st, 2013 at 10:30:17 AM

It's all cause we're not in the 90s anymore.
j-man writes:
on July 1st, 2013 at 10:36:50 AM

The Lone Ranger - what did you think?
FBO writes:
on July 1st, 2013 at 10:56:41 AM

It's because Hollywood has turned movie making into a science rather than a storytelling medium. There's no more analogies, allegories, or moral to the story. The craft of acting is all but gone. We can no longer relate to the characters in the movie. Hwood has forgotten how to end a flick. At some point there's too much cgi and it kills the experience. Prices are so high that movie goers have to be more selective.

But when it comes down to it, we get a feel for a movie from the previews and we've learned to spot the cues that warn us that the movie is probably going to suck. The Lone Ranger has that feel, After Earth and WHD had that feel. In short, we've learned to identify when Hwood is trying to pull a fast one.
shafe41 writes:
on July 1st, 2013 at 10:57:03 AM

It has nothing to do with being "big-budget." It has to do with connecting with the audience. In the case of After Earth, nobody wants to see Will Smith's kid act. Nobody except him. Plus it's just boring story. The post-apocolyptic thing has been done to death. When you watch a preview and don't really know what the hell is going on, you're not going to go. That's After Earth in a nutshell.

White House Down was just a preview of just a bunch of sh*t blowing up with Jamie Foxx and Channing Tatum yelling at each other. I still couldn't tell you anything about it. Just seems like someone trying to save the White House. But it's just such a broad boring premise, I don't care about it.

People have gotten a little smarter over the years. Give us a good story and good acting and leave the 150 million dollars worth of sh*t blowing up out of it.
mpiper821 writes:
on July 1st, 2013 at 10:58:31 AM

Because they suck!
Patrick Bateman writes:
on July 1st, 2013 at 11:36:57 AM

Well for me they spend too much time worrying about covering all bases and making it safe enough to reach as wide a fanbase as possible and just ends up being watered down cliched tripe. I just tried to watch transformers dark of the moon because I loved g1 as a kid but about 10 minutes in you can tell its on the exact same sh*tty formula as the last two. Its better off seing a low budget films because they dont have to serve up the same recycled garbage thats been proven to sell.

reach110 writes:
on July 1st, 2013 at 11:37:21 AM

Gotta agree with Pornfly. I can't take Jamie Foxx seriously as a President-turned-action hero. I love taking risks on new stories but not if they're going to give everything away in the trailer. The interesting ones, like Danny Boyle's new one, Trance, get me excited but then they're so inaccessible. A new generic action movie from Emmerich looks lazy and bland.
WV-Films writes:
on July 1st, 2013 at 12:01:58 PM

Inorder to launch a franchise, the first of the series needs to be pretty fantastic and not typical hollywood schlock strung together by idiot execs around a table somewhere.

Die Hard 1, was great, The first Batman, Terminator, Aliens,
etc, all stood out as being great films when they first hit theaters. If They launched with AVP2 and A Good Day to Die Hard, there wouldn't be sequels.

However this doesn't mean that great first films can't or won't still be made. How many people would rather see another Drive before they saw another Hangover?
OneTime writes:
on July 1st, 2013 at 12:06:15 PM

cause alot of these movies like white house down have a stupid concept...they need more movies like lethal weapon and Beverly hills cop ...
AngryAngel writes:
on July 1st, 2013 at 12:15:05 PM

$250 on the Lone Ranger??!?!?!? Yeah..... It's gonna fail big time. And the above information about movies failing is probably because it failed majorly in 2 departments. One: by watching one trailer you think you know the whole god damn movie. And Two: it fails with word of mouth, the idea that someone takes a chance, watches the movie and then tells all their friends it's f*cking great. These big budget movies need to focus on that.
Phoenix Fire writes:
on July 1st, 2013 at 12:20:05 PM

We've just had Iron Man III and Man Of Steel. Along with Star Trek. People who watch action films saw those movies. Compared to those movies White House Down is a B movie with action for no other reason than action. People who watch action films already got their fill.
rancid meatloaf writes:
on July 1st, 2013 at 12:47:21 PM

White house down is going to be a huge flop, no one wants to see a black president...oh wait. But seriously channing Tatum as a action star has zero appeal to the male audience, even if the movie was a modest 50 million the premise of the movie is way to stale and old that I would risk investing in, how they got 150 is f*cking crazy
Tebeck writes:
on July 1st, 2013 at 1:14:34 PM

Because they're all unoriginal, redone, rebooted,poorly written garbage that the public is sick of seeing.
Tebeck writes:
on July 1st, 2013 at 1:17:54 PM

That whole premise is crap to begin with. People pay to see sequels to AN ORIGINAL MOVIE. You have to start somewhere. And white house down was not original, we just saw the same movie come out with Gerard butler a few months ago, poor release timing on that one
Tebeck writes:
on July 1st, 2013 at 1:24:49 PM

Also, big budget? What the hell? As we all now studios waste $70 of that money. Example: Mary Jane in the newest spider-man. And that's a small fee compared to the millions of dollars poured into scenes that are just scraped before the productions. Some of these movies might break even if the didn't start with a minimum of 100, million. Criminy is it really that hard to figure out?
zxz writes:
on July 1st, 2013 at 1:26:35 PM

If I were a studio exec I would only green-light sequels to ultra successful movies that have a demand for a sequel, and comedies.
The First_AVENGER writes:
on July 1st, 2013 at 1:53:54 PM

Big-Budget Action Films that are not a franchise yet and just coming out for the first time bomb in Theaters because the producers and people involved in the movie get c*cky and stupid and try and challenge already successful popular famous franchises like "Fast and Furious and the hangover. people already love those movies and are so excited and can not wait to see the squeals to them. no ones going to choose will smiths new movie over a well known successful franchise. thats why After Earth bombed and will smith tuned into a sensitive punk! lost so much respect for him but if After Earth come out a different weekend not against popular franchises then it would have been a huge hit because that is the movie everyone would want and go see that weekend. White House Down was a great intense all around movie but it came out against successful movies only on their second weekend out. it would have been a huge it and made tons of money if it came a different weekend not against successful franchises. Even Now You See Me and World War Z, yea they were successful hits made their money and took second at the box office but they were competing against popular franchises. If they waited and came out on a different weekend they would have been #1 at the Box Office instead of taking the #2 spot and they would have made even more money, double maybe triple they what they wanted. Producers and people involved in a movie need to just be more patient and release their movies out on the right date so they can be successful.
ProfMovies writes:
on July 1st, 2013 at 2:06:52 PM

I personally don't care for Channing Tatum. He reeks of scam.
I mean, its none of our beezwax if he swings both ways, but the fact he conceals it, in my opinion, is very dishonest.

As for THE LONE RANGER ?? Give it a chance! It hasn't even opened yet!
Rambo writes:
on July 1st, 2013 at 3:22:51 PM

They flop because of bad release date,for some reason the studios decide to squeeze all the big budget movies in a small time frame during the summer while on the other hand a movie like The Hobbit was released in December - a time in which he didn't have any contenders and the viewers were hungry for a big budget movie.
and some flop because they simply suck.
Tanman32123 writes:
on July 1st, 2013 at 4:34:10 PM

For once I completely agree with what Alex has said in the description. It's stupid and basically unexplainable. But when it comes to White house down and The Heat, it's simple.

Not as much people find Channing Tatum saving the white house as interesting as Two Women police officers going crazy and comically kicking ass and solving a crime. Comedy usually beats Action.
shiteater writes:
on July 1st, 2013 at 4:40:02 PM

It's usually because you can tell that these are going to be poor movies from a mile away. That's why. It's not great movies that are bombing, it's the sh*tty ones. With everyone on the Internet these days, people are starting to read about upcoming movies way in advance.
John1017 writes:
on July 1st, 2013 at 4:45:03 PM

too many commercials and trailers, people get sick of seeing the trailers during every tv commercial.

There was a story about theatres asking hollywood to release shorter trailers, and I agree, don't show the whole movie in the trailer, wet people's appetite with only teasers and people will go to the movies.

(also ticket prices are way too high ***Cd_Smith0 )

I think Hollywood has forgotten what the people really want to see.
on July 1st, 2013 at 4:51:49 PM

because they show americans being attacked
by foreigners
instead of vice versa (the truth)

Sega Genesis writes:
on July 1st, 2013 at 4:52:05 PM


tatum the hero: "hey you bad guys, get outta that white house"

bad guys: "no, we gonna take it over forever, bro"

the president: "hey hero, you gotta help me get these bad guys outta my white house"

tatum the hero: "yeah, that's why I got this gun here"

the president: "oh yeah, and I got this rocket launcher here"

tatum the hero: "hey president, let's you and me kill these bad guys together with weapons and teamwork"

the president: "all right then"


bad guys: "we all dead now"

tatum the hero: "me and the president win"

the president: "and also america wins"


and that's the movie
Rambo writes:
on July 1st, 2013 at 5:14:33 PM

^lol...no bloopers?
minkowski writes:
on July 1st, 2013 at 6:07:40 PM

Why Hollywood Is Setting Movie Release Dates 5 Years in Advance


Why the unprecedented rush to nail down dates so far in the future? The studios were reluctant to talk on the record, but one need only look at this summer's crush of big-budget superhero movies, sequels and animated films for the answer. They are plainly winning their bet on more and bigger tentpole movies, and winning so big that they're doubling down on their future.

(emphasis mine)

As usual, Alex is a f*cking retard
minkowski writes:
on July 1st, 2013 at 6:09:48 PM

Oh, and I really, really, really wish you people would, for once, learn how to think for your selves instead of letting Alex, or someone else, do it for you.
Tanman32123 writes:
on July 1st, 2013 at 6:15:53 PM

Really lol, I think I'm one of few people here who have there own opinions and voice them regularly. I get a lot of hate for it lol
mustardayonnaise writes:
on July 1st, 2013 at 6:20:37 PM

There's nothing new in film. It's all been done. We're telling the same 5-10 f*cking stories over and over and over. The trick is in the execution, finding a unique vision and set of characters that people would like to see.

It's pretty obvious- Mink's explained it- but to explain it a bit further: the reason they flop is because they're expensive, not because they're bad. It's an (almost) proven fact that if you're a studio exec given a certain budget for marketing (TV, P&A, online content, etc.) you're going to be able to GUARANTEE a certain box office tally. There honestly is no propagandizing force more influential than a well-heeled studio marketing team. They CAN and WILL put butts in seats and sell tickets. But that only takes a film so far, and at some point, it has to be a reasonably good film to continue to make money.

The problem then lies in the dumbf*ck studio executives and agents, who enable their talent pool with obscene and unwarranted sums of money, driving up the budgets. I am willing to bet that 1/5 of the budget of Lone Ranger went to Johnny Depp. ONE FIFTH. Did he deserve it? Well, if you want to base it on past performance- sure, I suppose. But anyone who invests in the stock market will surefire tell you that past performance is NO indication for future returns. It's the same here. But studio execs operate in a landscape of fear- they will almost always go for the safe option (the sequel, the 'proven' star, etc) rather than take an artistic chance, and the agents who represent the flavor-of-the-month talent are able to take advantage of that. I mean, these budgets are just absurd. It's gotten to the point were you no longer see the '$$$ up on the screen', no matter how good the film is.
Skynet writes:
on July 1st, 2013 at 6:36:47 PM

Mustardayonaise, this message is a question for you specifically, because although there are a number of users like you on this site who seem quite intelligent, articulate, and knowledgeable when it comes to the film industry, you are the only one I’m aware of who’s actually directly and actively involved in the business. So you might, or might not, be able to provide me with some input and maybe advice regarding my situation… of course, I would greatly appreciate any words of wisdom, so to speak, that you could impart on me.

Okay, so here’s the deal: I’d like to eventually, if at all possible, break into acting in mainstream films and/or television series… live-action would be great, but I’d be perfectly willing to do voiceover work for animated productions as well. The problem is, for three years (2005-2008), I was a performer in the adult film/entertainment industry. During that time, I did one-on-one b/g scenes for several web sites (internet only material), and I never used my actual name, only several different one-word stage names. However, for what it’s worth, even though I’ve greatly changed my personal appearance since then (let my hair grow back in and got rid of my goatee), I imagine that if someone were to see one of my clips from back then and compare it to what I look like now, there’s a strong possibility they’d still make the connection.

So my question is, how much could something like this come back to haunt me in the mainstream movie industry if I were, for instance, already involved in a production and then someone suddenly discovered one of my old videos online? Or would you recommend that I should be upfront right from the start about my adult entertainment background? Some other basic information about me that may or may not influence your answer: I’m in my third year of acting classes (I haven’t told any of my teachers or classmates about my background), I have acted in one web series thus far that was written and directed by one of my teachers, and although I have a masters degree, it’s in biochemistry, not in film studies or theater or drama or anything like that.

Okay, that’s it, Mustard. Again, I’d be grateful for any input… thanks!

Tanman32123 writes:
on July 1st, 2013 at 6:41:12 PM

Lol I remember you asked that like a month ago.
Scott Baiowulf writes:
on July 1st, 2013 at 7:02:21 PM

The only way id see white house down is if i can pay in turds... And that would only be for the tax deduction.
Sega Genesis writes:
on July 1st, 2013 at 7:05:12 PM

seeing sergeant schultz, algebraic geometry, and a porno actor guy all on the same thread makes my brain hurt so much
kickit writes:
on July 1st, 2013 at 7:50:42 PM

Discuss: is alex the top or bottom on date night with dustin? If he's a bottom, is he a power bottom?
Plowage writes:
on July 1st, 2013 at 8:46:57 PM

Who cares about Tatum in another White House movie? Who cares about nobodies and giant robots on the Pacific Rim? The lone ranger just looks stupid and Armie Hammer isn't an action star. They tried to turn Captain Jack into a native american and it just doesn't work. Who wants to see Will Smith's f#cking kid again in a scientology flick?

There are very good reasons all of these movies suck. I don't want to see a single one of them. At least not until they are on cable.
elrei writes:
on July 1st, 2013 at 9:08:27 PM

Why Do Big-Budget Action Films Bomb in Theaters?

Lame marketing team.
flybynight writes:
on July 1st, 2013 at 9:12:20 PM

FBO is right. They put so much effort into making top of the range CGI and 3D effects, they neglect the story and shove in 2D characters. Boring. As. S**t.

Pornfly nailed the reason I still haven't seen After Earth.
KaloVisor writes:
on July 1st, 2013 at 9:23:54 PM

Just because a film is not a sequel, it does not make it original. White-House Down.. done before. Canning Tatum. can not drive a male audience he's not even a very good actor.. After Earth... just no it was crap to begin with, Will has lost his touch. and white is it with these inflated budget now anyways?! I thought that visuals were suppose to be cheaper now because of how advanced Technology, has gotten, sloppy in my opinion. they could be doing these films film a much smaller budget and have just as good of quality if they were smarter. and get some good creative writers for heavens sake!
Zeroguy writes:
on July 2nd, 2013 at 1:25:16 AM

40 million is a large number.
I think they meant the 4 million dollar films. And this films are going on vod and other mediums.
Johnnytwotimes writes:
on July 2nd, 2013 at 1:43:27 AM

Why start you article with a fabrication. World War Z cost 190 million to make. It has already taken in 258 million (includes foreign box office). You also have to consider future dvd and download sales. I'd say it's going to be very profitable. Try a little research before you write.
Kurskij writes:
on July 2nd, 2013 at 8:12:52 AM

All good points guys.

Flops are different. Pluto Nash was a disaster and would've flopped even if it cost $40 mil.

WWZ on the other hand might not show any profit (or a tiny profit) in the short term, but a sequel with a more reasonable budget (say, $125 mil., as was originally set for the first one) has all the chances to be a blockbuster success. The reason in this case is a runaway budget. It'll close with $500 mil. + - amazing success for a zombie pic. But it cost $350 mil. all-in.

WHD is not an original movie. Yes, it's a spec script, but it's basically Lethal Weapon in the White House. And a couple of months ago people already watched Die Hard in the WH. Why go again especially in a market ripe with other, better-looking offers?

Same with Lone Ranger. It's reasonable to invest $130 mil. In a western from POTC team. Because there is a market for it to gross $400 mil. WW.

It is absolutely unreasonable to invest $250 mil. In ANY original or semi-original property no matter who is attached to star unless your director is called Jimmy Cameron.

As for sequels - a sequel to a well-received movie is destined to soar. Because it already has fan base asking for it. They know the heroes, they know what they're in for. You need to give them a decent story - and they will come, because the want it from the get go.

It's not about "original movies flopping". It's about movies with extravagant budgets that otherwise might have been successful not breaking even. And about bad movies, movies no one asked for being released in the middle of a crowded season - bound with useless 3D (and higher prices) and big budgets.

Hwood newfound logic "throw money at it - and it'll succeed" sometimes fails and that's only natural.

No need to scream "Abandon ship".
mustardayonnaise writes:
on July 2nd, 2013 at 7:44:14 PM

Uh, Skynet, not sure how to respond to that. I'm an editor. I wouldn't know the first thing about how to deal with a shady past... although I would assume that as long as you kept your mouth shut you'd be fine. The only time you might get caught is if you become uber-famous and successful, then you'll have a team of publicists and agents to buy off the likes of us low-lifes here at Worstpreviews. LOL
mustardayonnaise writes:
on July 2nd, 2013 at 7:49:00 PM

Oh, and Johnnytwotimes, $258 million global box office on a $190 million budget is NOT profitable. The budget reported by a studio for a film is almost ALWAYS for production only; ie. making the physical film (casting, shooting, postproduction/effects).

What's not included in the reported budget is the marketing expenses (TV ads, posters, billboard, trailers, online marketing), which, on a big summer tentpole like WWZ, effectively costs as much as the film itself. So now WWZ would probably cost as much as $400 million when you include those expenses, and the studio- at this point, is roughly $140 million in the hole...
tino78 writes:
on July 5th, 2013 at 7:46:50 AM

alot of films bomb
1. cause of the ridiculous budgets
2. release date
3. casting
4. film is just horrible

lone ranger
1. why does a western (lone ranger) cost 220 million? with a budget like this and then marketing costs your not giving it a very good chance for success . not every movie makes 300 million or even 200

2. i know the 4th is a great movie weekend but its to competive. disney blew its chances when they picked this weekend. you have dm3 opening, u have monster inc , heat, man of steel, etc. they should have waited or picked a december date.

3. arnie hammer is not marketable . switch brad pitt with him and have arnie hammer star in wwz and the results would most likely switch for both films.

4. i havent seen it yet so cant comment on content

white house down has exactly the same problems. plus we saw this already with olympus has fallen. tantem is a marketable star but not action star yet. for example put the rock or even brice willis in white house down u have a better chance.

seveltoto writes:
on October 21st, 2017 at 7:17:54 PM

aleale writes:
on November 8th, 2017 at 6:29:06 AM

recreator9 writes:
on November 12th, 2017 at 12:02:43 AM

sevelace writes:
on November 13th, 2017 at 4:29:26 AM

nikitavirza writes:
on January 15th, 2018 at 11:56:41 PM

Jenifer_616 writes:
on February 9th, 2018 at 4:24:00 AM

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