Movies and TV

Biggest Movie Bombs of the 80s

photo of original vintage retro film wheel

No two days in the film industry are the same. Among hundreds of movies released, some are so unfortunate that they end up in the trash and fail to earn their producers and directors any profit. A movie is known as a financial flop when it is not able to pay back its makers what was invested in them. Huge investments go to drain when people give negative reviews and stop coming to the cinemas for watching the movie.

The decade of the 1980s also saw some movies that flopped big-time and only struggled to earn minimal profits or a few good reviews. Among the biggest movie bombs of the 1980s, Heaven’s gate is on top. Let’s review this and some other biggest movie bombs of the 80s:

1. Heaven’s Gate (1980)

poster of the film Heaven’s Gate

If there had been an award for the biggest movie flop, Heaven’s Gate would have won it unanimously. This movie incurred a staggering loss of around $40 million and forced its distributors, United Artists, to shut down completely. The film’s budget was way out of control since the very beginning.

It was a disappointing mix and match of bloody battles, roller-skating, a love triangle, and unnecessary nudity and violence. The total budget for the movie was an estimated $44 million, from which it earned only $3.5 million domestically.

2. Can’t Stop the Music (1980)

poster of the movie Can’t Stop The Music

Probably one of the biggest movie bombs after the Heaven’s Gate, the movie Can’t Stop the Music had a high budget of $20 million. The movie was a major flop because it intended to show how the disco culture was loved and celebrated at that time which had died down years ago, and no one was interested in disco culture any more.

For tilting the already sinking boat of the movie, its storyline showed starkly contrasting stereotypes clashing with each other – the cowboys and the macho American men eccentrically delving into disco performances. Distributed by the EMI films, this movie incurred a loss of more than $18 million.

3. Popeye (1980)

poster of the 1980 film Popeye

Directed by Robert Altman and Distributed by the Paramount/Walt Disney Productions, Popeye did not perform very abysmally with regards to profit but was a flop with the audience. The songs of the movie were mostly forgettable. The storyline, as the name indicates, should have been targeted at the younger audiences. However, a fictional character meant to entertain the children doing slapstick comedy for adults on the big screen did not settle well with the viewers.

4. Raise the Titanic (1980)

poster for Raise the Titanic

As if 1980 was the year Hollywood purged out all the flat storylines and failed to grab any positive reviews, Raise the Titanic was also a major financial flop. Based on the novel by Clive Cussler, the movie attempted to show how the Titanic had been found from its real resting place where it was found many years later in reality.

The film could not recover its budget of $40 million and was a significant disappointment for the people having a loose storyline, baseless romance, and that too, with loads of fancy wishful thinking about recovering the Titanic. Its total financial loss was about $33 million.

5. Honky Tonk Freeway (1981)

DVD cover of the film Honky Tonk Freeway

Costing the filmmakers more than $22 million, the movie Honky Tonk Freeway was claimed to be stupidly over-budgeted. It was a comedy movie set in a small Florida town. What made it so expensive was the fact that the whole town was staged with unnecessary extras and ridiculously expensive set designs.

Distributed by the EMI Film/Universal Pictures, that had already set a record of producing flop movies previously, suffered the most when this cheap comedy film failed severely.

6. Inchon (1982)

Inchon film poster

This ill-fated movie never saw its release on video or DVD. This movie had a budget of over 50 million dollars and took five years to make. It attempted to re-enact the UN-led invasion of Inchon in South Korea. The movie faced troubles even during the time of its shoot – an earthquake washed the camera crane into the sea while the scorching heat roasted the crew.

Moreover, due to its controversial plot, the movie faced a difficult time in receiving clearance from the censor board.

The total budget for the film was about $46 million while it only made $5.2 million in the box office, hence leading to a tremendous loss of about $41 million.

7. Krull (1983)

the DVD cover art of Krull

In front of the 70s blockbuster, Star Wars and Excalibur, the Krull was a huge disappointment. It was a sci-fi movie about a prince who sets out to rescue his bride. The movie even had alien invader, yet it suffered a huge loss and never struck a chord with the audience.

The total budget for Krull was about $27 to $30 million, while it was only able to make $16.9 million in the box office.

8. The Cotton Club (1984)

the original poster of the film The Cotton Club

Only minimally reaching halfway to meet its budget of 58 million dollars, The Cotton Club, failed miserably with regards to financial profits. The movie took five years to shoot and had severe budget problems that also included a feud between the producer and the director. Aiming to depict the 20s era, the movie had various cameo impersonated appearances from famous stars but still, it could not fame.

9. Revolution (1985)

poster of the film Revolution

Produced by Warner Bros and starring Al Pacino, the Revolution was a big commercial and financial flop due to its miscast and mismatched storyline. After watching Al Pacino in massive blockbuster, Godfather, a film depicting him as a rescuer of a community and bringing revolution was probably not a wise decision. The movie incurred a total net loss of around 27.6 million dollars against its budget of $28 million. It only made to a total gross of $359,000.

10. Ishtar (1987)

poster of the film Ishtar

Compared to a staggering budget of 51 million dollars, Ishtar only managed to gross $14.4 million. Starring Warren Beatty and Dustin Hoffman, the movie attempted to show how two males from different backgrounds stumbled in the middle of the Cold War between the CIA and the Emir of Ishtar.

11. Leonard Part 6 (1987)

Film poster for Leonard Part 6

Only managing to gross a total of $4.6 million against the 24 million dollars budget, this movie was a major flop. Initially being a spy movie, Leonard Part 6 was so embarrassing to watch that Bill Cosby, the co-scriptwriter, begged the audiences to avoid watching the movie and saving themselves from huge disappointment.

12. The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988)

poster of the movie The Adventures of Baron Munchausen

This film was intended to be an adventure film written by Terry Gilliam but was regarded as absurd by the viewers and considered senseless. The movie had good visuals that did capture the attention and drew some appreciation but the flop storyline and uneventful acting of the characters sunk its ship. The film suffered a major loss of 38 million dollars.

Final Words

The 1980s was one of the most successful eras for some movies. The Star Wars had cast a huge success shadow over most of the productions in this decade. However, some movies were not up to the mark by default. The best way to save your time is by reading the reviews of the movie first, and then deciding whether to watch it or not.

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