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The 13th Warrior (1999)
Budget: $160 million (about $221.1 million today)*
Box office: $61.7 million (about $85.3 million today)
Estimated loss: As high as $182.8 million (adjusted for inflation)
Why it bombed: After incredibly poor testing, no amount of tinkering could salvage the adaptation of Michael Crichton’s Beowulf-inspired Eaters of the Dead. And the audience members weren’t the only ones fleeing — film legend Omar Sharif admitted he temporarily quit acting to expunge his association with the dud. Accounting for inflation, it stands as the biggest box office bust in the history of cinema.
*Unless otherwise specified, most budget and loss figures are from Wikipedia, an amalgamation of reports, while box office figures come from BoxOfficeMojo.com. It’s also worth noting that reporting varies on how much any given film cost to produce — and studios have been known to tinker with their numbers before releasing them to the press. But the most basic fact remains that the production budget is only part of the picture: Marketing costs and theater owners’ cuts also chip away at a film’s profit, which means a film that earns a gross of equal to or greater than its budget (as some of the films on this list did) could still be deep in the hole when all is said and done.
Image Credit: Everett Collection
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