It takes a hefty financial investment to create a feature film, with modern blockbusters frequently topping $100 million in budget. On top of that, studios have distribution and advertising costs, which can be almost as high as the production budget. This makes large-scale movie releases almost unfathomably expensive. To make that money back, plus a tidy profit, studios have to get butts into theater seats for opening weekend. Then, they hope that critical praise and word-of-mouth buzz can sustain its popularity long enough to make lots of money.
This plan doesn't always work out, and plenty of films operate at a loss. Some take years to break even, relying on later showings on home media, cable and streaming royalties to get into the black. Some movies flop so hard that they become legendary. It's those mega-bombs that we'll be focusing on in this article. Here are the top 16, in reverse order. (Box office figures are taken from Box Office Mojo and are not adjusted for inflation. Advertising and marketing figures are taken from Deadline.)