Due to the tremendous success of Die Hard (1988), Bruce Willis was given an opportunity to star in a movie based on a character he helped create while still a struggling actor in his twenties. That character was the inspiration behind the action adventure spoof Hudson Hawk (1991). Given the film’s budget of $70 million, fans expected a traditional Bruce Willis action adventure movie, but were forced to sit through a poorly written (and acted) spoof. With only $17 million in gross ticket sales, the movie ended up losing over $60 million for the studio. In addition to suffering financially, the movie suffered critically and won three Razzies for Worst Picture, Worst Director, and Worst Screenplay. Given its failure despite the resources dedicated to it, the movie has earned the #9 spot as a Top 10 Box Office Bust.
In honor of Thanksgiving, I prepared a double feature of Brendan Fraser turkeys. Opening the twin bill at 6A, Dudley Do-Right (1999) failed despite seemingly having the ingredients to succeed. Of note, the movie followed the formula of Fraser’s prior hit George of the Jungle (1997). Specifically, the actor went back to the well by portraying a likable doofus in a live-action adaptation of a 1960s cartoon. Furthermore, the film had an accomplished writer/director. Serving both roles, Hugh Wilson had an impressive track record which included the classic TV show WKRP in Cincinnati (1978-82) and hit movie Police Academy (1984). Even with a marketable star, a talented creative influence, and a sizable production budget of $75 million, Dudley Do-Right flopped with only $10 million at the box office. I have my own theory about why the film became a Top 10 Bust, but you’ll have to read this to find out.
On an inflation-adjusted basis, Cutthroat Island (1995) continues to be the biggest box-office flop in history. While that distinction alone may be worthy of the top position in my countdown, I just couldn’t rank it higher than #3. In particular, the film lacked true star power and suffered from its studio’s financial difficulties. For me, those qualifications make it less bust-worthy. At the same time, I recognize that the damage created by the movie’s wake has been significant. Of note, the director (Renny Harlin), lead actress (Geena Davis), and lead actor (Matthew Modine) all have been relegated to the small screen. If you don’t recognize those names, you now know why.