Ever since Disney turned out their first feature-length film in 1937 with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, they have been one of the biggest names in the entertainment industry. But beyond their commercial success, Disney is also synonymous with quality content – as many of their films are just as beloved by critics as they are by everyday viewers. Last year alone, Disney distributed three of the biggest movies of all time with Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War, and Incredibles 2. Each of these films went on to gross over a billion dollars worldwide, while also receiving their fair share of Academy Award nominations.
While Disney has long been synonymous with animation, they’ve continued to branch further out into live-action. They made some of the highest-grossing franchises of all time with the Pirates of the Caribbean series and the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and they’ve more recently capitalized on making live-action reimagining of their animated classics. And now that they've finally acquired a sizable chunk of 20th Century Fox, we're bound to get a slew of Disney movies based off many of these newly acquired properties in the coming years.
While their success and influence in the entertainment industry is ultimately incalculable, the company has had a number of successful movies that have stood head and shoulders above the rest. But at the same time, we can't forget that the company has also experienced its fair of disappointment as well. Here are 15 Disney Movies That Completely Flopped (And 10 That Became Massive Hits).
25 Flop: The Sorcerer’s Apprentice
A fantasy film starring Nicholas Cage that’s based on a poem from the 1890s doesn’t sound like blockbuster material to us. But coming off of the success of the National Treasure franchise, Disney apparently thought The Sorcerer’s Apprentice might be their next big hit.
While the cast and visuals were praised, audiences and critics tended to agree that The Sorcerer’s Apprentice simply didn’t have the heart to hold up a franchise. The film went on to gross just over $215 million against a $150 million budget, which likely lost the studio a sizable chunk went factoring in other costs.
24 Flop: Treasure Planet
Despite critical praise and an eventual Academy Award nomination for Best Animated Feature, Treasure Island failed to find its audiences while in theaters – resulting in an estimated loss of $70 million for Disney.
The 2002 film was a science fiction take on the classic Robert Louis Stevenson novel, Treasure Island, which featured an impressive voice cast headed up by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Emma Thompson, and David Hyde Pierce. While there were plans for sequels and possibly a spin-off series, these were ultimately abandoned due to the film's poor run while in theaters.
23 Hit: Iron Man 3
Flying high off of the success of the first Avengers film, Iron Man 3 went on to become the second highest-grossing movie of 2013, as well as one of the few movies to gross over a billion dollars worldwide.
Of course, a lot has changed in just the six years since Iron Man 3 was released, as many more movies have since joined the billion-dollar club. In fact, the only film to out-do Iron Man 3 that year was Disney's very own Frozen.
22 Flop: Around The World In 80 Days
Casting Jackie Chan at the center of your action-comedy sounds like a surefire way to make a serious buck. But unfortunately, that was not the case when Around the World in 80 Days flew into theaters back in the summer of 2004.
With a production budget of $110 million, the family-friendly adventure film only ended up taking home $75 million at the worldwide box office – no doubt making it one of the studio’s most-costly flops of the decade. Around the World in 80 Days also received poor reviews from critics, as it barely resembled Jules Verne's classic novel.
21 Hit: Incredibles 2
Often times, sequels that come out way after the original installment don’t tend do very well. Of course, that wasn’t the case when the long-awaited sequel to The Incredibles hit theaters last year.
Incredibles 2 was an all-around success, which found much of the original cast and crew returning to what would be one of the biggest critical and commercial success of 2018. The film ultimately went on to gross $1.24 billion worldwide against a $200 million budget. It also had the biggest-ever opening for an animated film.
20 Flop: The Country Bears
One year before the release of Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, there was another film released based on a Disney theme park attraction: The Country Bears. The film follows the eponymous country-rock band as they try to get the gang back together in an attempt to save Country Bear Hall.
However, this musical comedy ended up being an all-around failure. The film was panned by most critics, who found The Country Bears hokey, while the puppets in the film were downright bizarre. The film ultimately grossed $18 million against a $35 million budget.
19 Hit: Beauty And The Beast
The massive success of 2017’s Beauty and the Beast has ensured that we’ll be getting a slew of Disney re-imaginings in the coming years. For instance, Dumbo, Aladdin, The Lion King, and Mulan are all set for similar treatments – which involves bringing these animated classics to life through live-action and CGI.
Beauty and the Beast found Emma Watson and Dan Stevens taking on the title roles, and the film features a number of songs from the 1991 animated movie. The result was a box office take over $1.2 billion.
18 Flop: Tomorrowland
You know the film industry is changing when not even stars like George Clooney can prevent a Disney movie from being a flop. Tomorrowland lost an estimated $120-140 million for the studio, which – when coupled with the film's lackluster reviews – has made it one of Disney’s biggest bombs in recent memory.
The film follows an inventor who teams up with a science-wiz teen as they venture of to an alternate reality knows as Tomorrowland. But despite its talented cast and crew, Tomorrowland ended up being one of the biggest bombs of 2015.
17 Hit: Frozen
Though Incredibles 2 may have had the highest opening of a superhero film, it didn’t quite have the sticking power that Frozen did during its theatrical run. Even six years after its release, this musical fantasy film remains the highest-grossing animated movie of all time.
While a sequel seemed imminent, Disney actually debated for a number of years whether they wanted to make a second installment to what many regard to be one of their greatest films. Of course, Frozen 2 is now set for release on November 22nd of this year.
16 Flop: The Lone Ranger
Since the release of the first Pirates of the Caribbean film, Johnny Depp became one of Disney’s most bankable stars – helping turn the Pirates series into one of the most successful franchises ever. However, Depp’s success with the studio took a turn for the worst with 2013’s The Lone Ranger.
Despite having all the makings for another hit — including Pirates’ director Gore Verbinski – The Lone Ranger simply failed to impress audiences, resulting in an estimated loss of $150 million for the studio. It also didn’t help that Depp received his fair share of criticism for playing Tonto.
15 Flop: Return To Oz
Before Disney decided to revisit Oz once again with their 2013 film, Oz the Great and Powerful, they made this 1985 film, which was an unofficial sequel to the 1939 classic. However, Return to Oz has been forgotten by many, as it initially failed to impress critics and audiences alike, resulting in a domestic box office take of $11.1 million against a $28 million budget.
The film follows Dorthy and her return trip to Oz, where she seeks to overthrow the Nome King with the help of a new trio of companions, including Tik-Tok, Princess Ozma, and Jack Pumpkinhead.
14 Hit: Star Wars: The Last Jedi
While Internet trolls may have tried to make The Last Jedi seems a lot more divisive than it actually was, they couldn’t stop the eighth installment of the Star Wars franchise from becoming one of the highest-grossing movies of all time.
Though it didn’t quite reach the same level of success as The Force Awakens, it still managed to become the highest-grossing film of 2017. As a whole, it grossed over $1.3 billion worldwide, and it currently sits in the number nine slot of highest-grossing movies of all time.
13 Flop: The Black Cauldron
The Black Cauldron was such a box office disappointment when it was released in the summer of 1985, that the fantasy film wouldn’t be given an at-home release until over a decade later. At the time, The Black Cauldron was the most expensive animated movie ever made, with a production budget of $44 million. Unfortunately, it grossed less than half of that at the box office.
The film, which was based on The Chronicles of Prydain novels, was criticized for being too dark for a kid’s movie. That being said, the film has received much more favorable reviews over the years.
12 Flop: Fantasia
It’s hard to imagine this beloved Disney classic being a flop upon release. But there were a number of factors that contributed to Fantasia’s lack of financial success when it first hit theaters in 1940.
Released as a theatrical roadshow in the United States, Fantasia didn’t see distribution in Europe due to World War II. This, coupled with the high production cost – which included the additional sound equipment needed for the roadshow presentations – resulted in Fantasia not being able to turn an initial profit. Of course, today it’s considered one of Disney’s greatest films.
11 Hit: Black Panther
Few would have suspected that a movie about one of Marvel’s more obscure characters would massively outgross the first live-action film to feature the Justice League. But that’s exactly what happened in late 2017/ early 2018.
After his debut in Captain America: Civil War, Black Panther enjoyed his first solo movie nearly two years later – which went on to become the highest-grossing movie domestically for the year. In fact, the Avengers films are the only MCU installments to out-gross Black Panther – which went on to earn an astounding $1.34 billion worldwide.
10 Flop: The Alamo
Despite Ron Howard serving as a producer and a talented cast headed up by Dennis Quaid and Billy Bob Thorton, The Alamo failed to impress critics and audiences alike, turning it into one of the biggest box office bombs of the 2000s.
The film was based on the 1836 Battle of the Alamo, which chronicles the points of view on both sides of the conflict. However, despite the film's best intentions, The Alamo only managed to kick up a 29% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. And at the box office, the film lost an estimated $146 million for the studio.
9 Hit: Avengers: Age Of Ultron
While it’s considered by some to be one of the weaker installment of the greater MCU, Avengers: Age of Ultron is still one of the franchise's most successful films. After serving as the director on the first film, Joss Whedon returned to helm this second installment, which was one of the most expensive movies ever made at the time.
Of course, that investment from the studio paid off big time when Age of Ultron went on to make over $1.4 billion at the worldwide box office. It is currently the fifth highest-grossing movie of all time.
8 Flop: Mars Needs Moms
Based on the novel of the same name by Berkeley Breathed, Mars Needs Moms follows Milo, a nine-year-old boy who must venture into space when his mother is abducted by a group of highly-advanced Martians.
But despite some impressive visuals and a talented cast headed up by Seth Green and Dan Fogler, Mars Needs Moms ultimately failed to win over audiences. Some critics called it uninspired, resulting in a 37% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. During its initial run, Mars Needs Moms only grossed $39 million against a $150 million budget.
7 Hit: The Avengers
With how much The Avengers ended up changing the superhero franchise, it’s amazing to think that the film came out only seven short years ago. Of course, superhero team-up movies have become ubiquitous ever since – no doubt due to this film's monster success.
After all of the film’s main players had already enjoyed standalone films of their own, the characters ended up coming together in a movie the likes of which had never been seen before. Despite its lofty $220 million production budget, Walt Disney and Marvel Studios ended up grossing over $1.5 billion on The Avengers.
6 Flop: Home On The Range
While far from their biggest flop, Home on the Range only managed to open up in the number four spot at the box office – ultimately going on to gross about $6 million less than its production budget.
Home on the Range follows a trio of cows as they try to track down an evil cattle rustler to prevent their farm from going under. Much like its box office performance, the film was met with largely lackluster reviews, with many saying that the western-comedy would likely only appeal to younger viewers.
5 Flop: Alice Through The Looking Glass
While 2010’s Alice in Wonderland was a massive hit for Disney – which grossed over a billion dollars worldwide – the 2016 sequel was far from as lucky. So why didn’t audiences turn out to see Alice Through the Looking Glass?
For starters, the film came out a full six years after its predecessor. Meanwhile, Tim Burton did not return to direct, while Johnny Depp had just experienced a string of flops including The Lone Ranger, Transcendence, and Mortdecai. The result was a worldwide gross of less than $300 million.
4 Hit: Avengers: Infinity War
Only five films have grossed over $2 billion worldwide, and Avengers: Infinity War was one of the latest to do so. The third installment of the Avengers franchise hit theaters just under a year ago. But for those who saw the film – which was pretty much everyone – they know that it was only one-half of a greater story.
The sequel is already here and thriving quite a bit. And with hype for this Disney film being higher than ever, it seems very likely that Avengers Endgame will be surpassing the $2 billion club. If nothing else, it's on its way to create its own records.
3 Flop: Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time
A blockbuster movie based on a video game. Disney should have known better. But to their credit, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time still went on to become the highest-grossing video game movie ever released at that time. But that still didn’t save it from underperforming at the box office.
The movie grossed $336.4 million worldwide against a budget of $150–200 million, not including marketing. So if Prince of Persia turned a profit, it certainly wasn’t the kind Disney was looking for – especially if they were trying to kick off another franchise like Pirates of the Caribbean.
2 Hit: Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Serving as a sequel to one of the most popular and inspirational film series of all time, Star Wars: The Force Awakens was destined to be a monster success.
After Disney acquired the rights to the franchise in late 2012, it only took them three years to turn out the latest installment of the series – which is the company's most successful film of all time. That being said, The Force Awakens couldn't beat out Avatar and Titanic, which are the two highest-grossing movies ever made.
1 Flop: John Carter
Often cited as one of the biggest box office bombs of all time, John Carter was one of the most expensive movies ever made at the time of its release. Its estimated production budget of $263 million – coupled with plans for a number of sequels – indicated that Disney was hoping for John Carter to mark the beginning of a massive sci-fi franchise.
Unfortunately, the film lost an estimated $200 million when factoring in other expenses. While the novels may have come out decades before the sci-fi blockbusters it inspired, many couldn't help but feel that John Carter was somewhat unoriginal.
So do you think these movies earned their hit/ flop statuses? Let us know!