The 9 Most Expensive Disney Projects That Turned Out To Be Flops

The name is synonymous with success. Disney has perfected the billion-dollar blockbuster market with animated and live action films, they’ve continued to create theme parks that bring millions to their door and even launched Disney+, a streaming service for all things Disney.

Their enormous success would probably shock Walt Disney himself, however, not all attempts equal big bucks or a smile on everyone’s face. Like any other studio, Disney has experienced their own occasional box office flop. Not to worry, they’ll always have Pirates of the Caribbean, Toy Story and Snow White.

Check out the biggest Disney flops to date.

9 Onward (2020)

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The story of two elf brothers on a quest to bring their father back just didn’t seem to make the cut among audiences. Starring Tom Holland, Chris Pratt and Julia Louis-Dreyfus, MSN reports the animated project lost over $77 million dollars with worldwide ticket sales at $127.9 million. Yes, $128 million isn’t something to frown upon but based on expected success, it was a flop.

8 A Wrinkle in Time (2018)

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It wasn’t that bad, however, when Disney set out to do a live-action film based on Madeleine L’Engle’s novel, audiences, who knew this story since they were teens, felt it fell flat. Bringing in $133 million isn’t too shabby but still resulted in a loss of approximately $73 million. The Ava DuVernay directed film starred A-listers, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling and Oprah Winfrey.

7 John Carter (2012)

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One of the most expensive films ever made, John Carter, starring Taylor Kitsch, Jon Favreau and a young David Schwimmer had the luxury of a $350 million budget, however, Disney lost an estimated $200 million on the project. The story surrounded a former American Civil War Confederate Army captain who suddenly dies and nephew, Edgar Burroughs is handed Carter’s journal to read. War, drama and romance ensue, but audiences found despite all that effort, it wasn’t as popular as some of the other Disney dramas.

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6 Mars Needs Moms (2011)

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A catchy title for the story of a Martian society who “helps” Milo by bringing his mom to Mars to extract her motherliness and implant a nanny bot. Even though the feel-good quality is there as Milo learns how important his mother is to him, audiences didn’t buy it. In fact, Mars Needs Moms may be the largest Disney flop in history, bringing in $45.7 million and losing the studio a whopping $132 million. The record-flopping film starred Seth Green and Joan Cusack.

5 The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (2010)

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Fresh of the success of National Treasure, Nicolas Cage stars in another Disney flop following Balthazar Blake (Cage) as an apprentice to the legend magician, Merlin. While he was teaching a new apprentice the art of sorcery, audiences were walking out of the theater. The cast and visual arts received praise, but it just didn’t land with viewers, resulting in a $200 million box office earning against a $150 million budget. According to The Things, when factoring other expenses, Disney most likely lost out on this one.

4 Around the World in 80 Days (2004)

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The production budget was $110 million for the family-friendly, live-action film starring Jackie Chan, however, the worldwide box office numbers landed around $75 million, making it one of the biggest flops in Disney’s history. While many didn’t care for the show, critics didn’t even like the lack of resemblance to Jules Verne’s classic novel by the same name.

3 The Haunted Mansion (2003)

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It’s one of the fan favorite attractions at Walt Disney’s World’s Magic Kingdom. Add in a popular comedian coming off of the DreamWorks Shrek franchise, Eddie Murphy would surely bring Disney a major hit. An estimated $25 million loss was the result, though if the studio hadn’t released the film shortly after the major blockbuster, Pirates of the Caribbean, the smaller project may have done better. Simply put: when you compare The Haunted Mansion to Pirates, the audience said, it just wasn’t close.

2 Treasure Island (2002)

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The film even earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Animated Feature, however, Disney lost $70 million in the production of the movie. A science fiction take on the classic Robert Louis Stevenson novel, Treasure Island featuring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Emma Thompson simply didn’t take off when audiences didn’t buy in.

1 Hocus Pocus (1993)

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It seems unbelievable today, doesn’t it? But the Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy cult classic was once a big flop for Disney. According to Looper, not only did Disney release the Halloween film in the middle of summer but it came in a week after Jurassic Park broke opening records. The studio lost an approximate $17 million but as it turns out, as generations of Halloween fans caught hold of the unique film, it became one of the more popular Halloween films out there. So much so, Hocus Pocus 2 is set to arrive in theaters this fall.

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Sources: MSN, The Things, Looper 

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