Whereas most film critics consider The Godfather (1972) or The Godfather Part II (1974) to be the best movie from the 1970s, I contend that The Dear Hunter (1978) deserves that honor. After winning Best Picture and Best Director Oscars for his epic Vietnam War drama, Michael Cimino certainly deserved praise. However, his ego arguably got the best of him because his follow-up film, Heaven’s Gate (1980) failed to resonate with critics or moviegoers. In addition to returning an abysmal 10% of its production budget at the box office, the film resulted in the sale of the studio and made it harder for directors to work without overbearing studio involvement. Based on the pedigree of its filmmaker and its financial demise, Heaven’s Gate ranks as the #1 Top 10 Box Office Bust.
Synopsis: In full disclosure, I didn’t watch “The Match” between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson over Thanksgiving Weekend 2018. It wasn’t because I didn’t want to though. After having difficulty ordering the made-for-TV event, I decided that getting a Christmas tree with my family would be a much better use of time. I certainly made the right call based on its scathing reviews. Still, I bet there will be a rematch based on the close competition that ended after Lefty sunk a 4′ birdie putt on the 22nd hole. The following post focuses more on my failed experiences with pay-per-view TV, but ends with the conclusion that “The Match” deserves Top 10 Bust status for various reasons.
With a production budget of $25 million, Suburbicon (2017) proved to be a financial failure with less than $6 million in ticket sales at the box office. While underwhelming, those numbers ordinarily wouldn’t show up on the radar screen of Top10Busts. However, when a movie written by the Coen brothers, directed by George Clooney, and starring Matt Damon performs so poorly, I get intrigued. Given the reasonable budget, all of the major participants must have passed up their usual fees hoping to make a return on the back-end. If so, they took a bath on this box office bust. Instead of wasting your time with a story and acting reminiscent of an episode of Dateline, watch the Coens’ Oscar winning Fargo (1996) instead.
Synopsis: While reporting on the women’s super-G event at the 2018 Winter Olympics, NBC’s Dan Hicks proclaimed that Austria’s Anna Veith had won the gold medal. All of the favorites had completed their runs by then, but half of the skiers still hadn’t raced yet. Within minutes of the announcement, Czech skier Ester Ledecká came out of nowhere to edge Veith by 1/100th of a second. Ledecká’s shocking upset will be remembered for years to come. However, I choose to highlight the premature declaration by Hicks as a T10B Bad Call.
If Jerry Springer and Maury had a three-way with Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, the resulting bastard child would have been The Moment of Truth. Thanks to a lead-in from American Idol, the January 2008 premiere of Fox’s disturbing game show drew 23 million viewers. By the end of MOT’s 10-episode initial order, the audience had fallen by over 60%. With only 4 million viewers remaining halfway through the show’s 13-episode second order, Fox pulled it for good. As an inglorious basterd, The Moment of Truth earned the #9 spot on T10B’s ranking of Reality TV Busts.
By airing Dancing with the Stars in the summer of 2005, ABC changed the landscape of reality TV. Of note, DWTS became the first elimination competition with “stars” as contestants. Inspired by that show’s success, Fox decided to air Skating with Celebrities several months later. With 25 seasons and over 400 episodes under its belt as of the 2017-18 television season, DWTS has proven to be a ratings powerhouse. In contrast, the ice skating version of the same show lasted for only one season and seven episodes. As a failed imitator, Skating with Celebrities earned the #10 spot as a Reality TV Bust.
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.
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.
Betting against Saturday Night Live might be as futile as betting against Las Vegas. Critics have questioned the continued development of Sin City for decades, yet it continues to grow. Similarly, critics have questioned the sustainability of SNL, yet it remains a mainstay on NBC. Granted, the show is a shadow of its former self considering the unbelievably strong early years. Just look at the featured picture of the Season 2 cast and you’ll see three or four of the all-time best SNL performers. While I’m not willing to bet against the longest running variety show in television history, I fear the end might be coming.
Sitting here on the eve of 2016 Presidential election, I can honestly say that I’m thankful that it’s almost over. At this point, the only certainty is that American politics will never be the same. Unfortunately, instead of picking from the cream of the crop, we get to scrape the bottom of the barrel. Regardless of whether Crooked Hillary or Deplorable Donald wins the upcoming election, the next POTUS will have the highest unfavorable rating of any new President in history. While not excited about either candidate, I’ll take crass over corrupt every time.