The Horror Movies That Bombed in the Box Office
Some of the very best horror movies were low-budget romps that resulted in immediate box-office hits. Unfortunately, as you’ll soon find out, not every horror movie has been able to rake in the big bucks for their studios…
Since the inception of the genre, horror movies have evolved considerably over the years. We’ve seen plenty of iconic stories that have left us wanting to put a light on at night, final characters to root for, and gruesome kills that leave us squirming in our seats – but not every horror movie has been able to leave a lasting legacy.
In fact, some horror movies, regardless of their critical reception, quickly became box-office flops, as they failed to put enough bums on seats to make good on their original budget. Some movie studios may have even had to turn to insolvency lawyers as they soon found themselves facing bankruptcy…
Here, we discuss some high-profile horror movies that struggled in the box office, causing plenty of headaches for their studios along the way.
Horror Movies That Lost Their Studios Money in the Box Office
Alone in the Dark (2005)
Alone in the Dark began life as a survival horror video game series, with its first release often being described as the ‘forefather’ of the genre. The games intense atmosphere and supernatural scares spawned plenty of sequels, as well as a 2005 feature length film.
Put bluntly, the film was an absolute disaster. Upon release, Alone in the Dark, directed by the infamous Uwe Boll, was met with overwhelmingly negative reviews, with critics panning just about everything – from the performances through to the special effects.
From a budget of $20 million, Alone in the Dark saw a return of just $10.4 million. Unfortunately, it didn’t perform badly enough to prevent a sequel from being made – it did well enough in the home video market for a sequel to be commissioned.
Thankfully, Boll has not been making movies anywhere near as prolifically as he once did – likely owing to the multiple commercial failures he oversaw – with his production company not releasing anything since 2016.
The original version of Willard, released in 1971, was a major hit, both critically and financially. The reworking of Willard, released in 2003, was not a major hit… at all.
Critically, Willard actually performed pretty well. Crispin Glover, playing the lead role, even earned himself a nomination for Best Actor at the 2004 Saturn Awards. That reasonable critical response didn’t translate itself to ticket sales, though.
Willard fell $11.5 million short of its original budget, which serves to demonstrate that its decent critical response was the only thing that managed to keep its studio from falling into bankruptcy.
Feardotcom, as the title suggests, was a horror film that focused on the all-encompassing power of the internet. While the premise was certainly novel at the time, Feardotcom didn’t leave much of a lasting impression – and has aged horribly ever since.
Critics hated it, audiences hated it and, in a surprise to absolutely no one, it made a huge loss. Feardotcom was produced on a $40 million pound budget and wasn’t even able to make half of that at the box office.
One of the production companies responsible for the film, known at the time as MDP Worldwide, is now defunct. Following the film’s disastrous performance, MDP reinvented themselves to become Media 8 Entertainment, before filing for bankruptcy in 2012.
The Rage: Carrie 2 (1999)
There’s no need to introduce Carrie. The Stephen King adaptation has stamped its mark on popular culture and, for many, it’s one of the greatest horror films ever made. The Rage: Carrie 2? Not so much.
It was blatantly obvious that The Rage: Carrie 2 (let’s just call it Carrie 2) was little more than a cash grab, but it couldn’t even pull that off properly. It made a $3 million loss at the box office and dragged the Carrie name through the dirt while doing so.
Amazingly, Carrie 2’s commercial failure didn’t prevent another doomed made-for-TV remake, or a Hollywood remake, from being made – neither of which did anything to restore the IP’s legacy.
Since its release in 1999, Virus has gained a small cult following, despite the fact that it was barely seen by anyone in the cinema – and those who did see it had very few good things to say.
Based on the comic book of the same name, Virus tells the story of an extra-terrestrial entity hellbent on turning humanity into cyborg slaves. Scary stuff, but certainly not as scary as the eye-watering $45 million loss the film made.
To make matters worse, a whole line of toys and plenty of other pieces of merchandise were planned for the movie – and potential franchise. Those plans were quickly scrapped after the poor reviews started rolling in.
Event Horizon (1997)
Event Horizon is one of the most notorious box office flops of all time, and should need little introduction. Fresh from directing the original movie adaptation of Mortal Kombat, Paul Anderson was given the chair for Event Horizon, which, on paper, had all the right ingredients to be a success.
Event Horizon suffered from a troubled production, with both filming and editing being rushed through, which may serve to explain why it was such a dramatic failure. It’s gone on to build a strong cult following, but it didn’t enamour itself to critics at the time.
From a budget of $60 million, Event Horizon made just $26.7 million. Ouch.