On a percentage basis, The Adventures of Pluto Nash (2002) ranks as Hollywood’s all-time biggest flop. Specifically, the movie lost 96% of its production budget based on a measly $7 million in ticket sales. Its inflation-adjusted loss of $143 million only trails the $184 million loss realized by #3 Bust: Cutthroat Island. Despite having a smaller financial loss on an absolute basis, Pluto Nash ranks as a higher bust in my countdown. First, it had the potential draw of one-time superstar Eddie Murphy. Second, critics absolutely hated it. With a Metacritic score of 12 and Rotten Tomatoes score of 5%, the former SNL star’s movie had the worst critical reviews of any Top 10 Bust.
Life couldn’t have been easy for James Earl Ray (the basketball player) growing up with that name in the South in the 1960s. After all, that name is associated most often with the assassin of Martin Luther King, Jr. While I won’t exploit that coincidence, I won’t ignore it either. After being named the Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year, Ray was taken by the Denver Nuggets with the 5th overall pick in the 1980 NBA Draft. Unfortunately, he failed to live up to expectations and tallied only 334 points and 228 rebounds in 103 career games (i.e. 3.2 ppg and 2.2 rpg). As an underperforming high draft pick, James Ray begins the countdown of Top 10 NBA Draft Busts at #10 on the list.
Headlined by A-List actors Warren Beatty and Dustin Hoffman, Ishtar (1987) failed to deliver at the box office. Even though the movie opened at #1 with over $4 million in domestic ticket sales, it faded quickly and finished with only $14 million. Due to production problems caused by an inexperienced director filming in the middle of the Sahara Desert, the movie suffered tremendous cost overruns and lost Columbia Pictures over $40 million. With an inflation-adjusted loss exceeding $90 million, the movie is often regarded as one of the biggest flops in history. At the same time, it had so much potential given the critical and commercial success of its stars and production team. Arguably, its failure even led to Coca-Cola Company’s decision to get out of the entertainment business by selling Columbia four months after the movie’s release.