A Box Office Bomb (or less severely, a flop) is a movie for which production and marketing cost greatly exceeds its gross revenue, ergo fails to turn a profit for the studio behind the film. While in the press the two terms have some crossover, a flop may be applied to all disappointing results, but a bomb is outright failure costing studios millions. With today's budgets, you can even see losses in the hundred-million range.
Sometimes a film that flops was critically acclaimed, and becomes an Acclaimed Flop. Other times home video sale or streaming rescues a film. Either or both make the flop Vindicated by History. If it gains a relatively small, but loyal fanbase, it may become a Cult Classic.
Please remember to take inflation into account when looking at films made decades in the past. Furthermore, an independent film or studio is less able to absorb huge losses than a major studio, so the threshold for a bomb is lower for them. The lower figures (both budget and box-office) for older films and indie films can be deceptive.
Has nothing to do with Hollywood Accounting, where the movie is not actually a flop but the real revenue is hidden in various ways to let studios weasel out of agreements to pay certain people a percent of the profits. Unless maybe someone is trying for a Springtime for Hitler sorta scheme and other sorts of fraud.
Flops tend to become Franchise Killers, Genre Killers or Creator Killers (or some combination of the three), or 'spawn' a Stillborn Franchise. Critical Dissonance is often at full force here if critics liked it. Vindicated by Video often helps (especially with Better on DVD thrown in), as does Vindicated by Cable. For when the critics and the (too small) audience love the movie, yet it still fails commercially, see Acclaimed Flop. For when the movie is thought of as a bomb but actually made money, see Presumed Flop.
Please do not add any examples which have not finished their initial theatrical run, as it can be possible for films, still running theatrically which seem like box office bombs, to be able to recoup their budget, albeit slower than other films.
Because there are so many instances of this happening, the pages have been separated into multiple sections:
- Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog: In "Mass Transit Trouble", Sonic uses the Mobius' Intercontinental Airport's Weapons Detector to find a bomb that Dr. Robotnik had Scratch hide in the airport. The Weapons Detector takes him to the inside of an airplane, where the Cat Stewardess announces that their in-flight movie will be Invasion of the Colossal Celery People. Sonic then clarifies to the Weapons Detector that he wasn't looking for a movie kind of bomb, but rather one that explodes.
- The Looney Tunes Show: In "The Foghorn Leghorn Story", Foghorn casts Daffy to play himsef in the titular film based around his life story, despite Carol's objections. The movie was supposed to be a more professional-looking one, but when Daffy made the entire staff quit due to a botched take during a stunt scene that resulted in the destruction of the film's sets, he and Foghorn had to construct new sets by themselves. On the day of the film's premiere, the only six people who see the movie are Foghorn, Daffy, Bugs, Sam, Mac, and Tosh.
Daffy: Looks like we only sold six tickets.
Foghorn: Six tickets we wouldn't have sold if we hadn't have made that movie! I call it my proudest achievement!
Daffy: Well, if we're being honest, I didn't pay for mine.
Foghorn: (laughs) That boy is one of a kind!
- The Naked Gun 33 1/3 mentions a bomb titled Sawdust and Mildew. Also falls under Acclaimed Flop, since it's nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars. When Frank finds an actual explosive in the envelope containing the winner and exclaims "It's the bomb!", everyone assumes that he's on about Sawdust and Mildew instead of being literal.
- On The Simpsons, the episode "The Day the Violence Died" reveals that Roger Meyers Sr. plagiarized the character of Itchy and The Itchy & Scratchy Show's formula of sadistic violence. The most famous cartoon Meyers made prior was Scratchy's only solo outing, That Happy Cat. The cartoon was very poorly received, partly because all it did was show Scratchy whistling cheerfully as he crosses the street.
- Tropic Thunder: The Movie Within a Movie Simple Jack is described as a "box office disaster" which critics consider one of the worst films of all time. And this is just one of the many films that Tugg Speedman has starred in that has bombed miserably, and the catalyst on why he joins the titular biopic. Kirk Lazarus attributes the aformentioned film's failure to the fact that the title character was portrayed as too mentally disabled (or, in his parlance, Tugg "went full retard" in his performance) and lacking the "inspirational" part of the Inspirationally Disadvantaged trope, citing i am sam as an example. As a result, Tugg's performance was just plain insulting and uncomfortable to watch.
"Bomb Report" contains many examples of box office bombs released since 1997 in further detail. FilmSite.org also contains many detailed examples of box office bombs dated as far back as the Silent Movie era.