Steven Spielberg: what are his worst box office failures?

Cruel and colossal failure at the Box Office, the version of “West Side Story” signed by Steven Spielberg sadly reminds us that even a filmmaker of his stature does not always know the Success Story in theaters … What are his biggest failures?

It is an understatement to say that Steven Spielberg left his mark on the history of the Box Office. Entre Les Dents de la mer, which was the first film in the history of cinema to exceed the symbolic milestone of 100 million dollars of receipts in the United States, through the saga of Indiana Jones, the planetary cardboard of ET or his Jurassic Park, to name a handful of examples, he forever transformed the face of the global Box Office, while settling there at the top for many years.

But even a master like Spielberg has known its bottom, not to say the depths of the Box Office, and more than once. The latest and sad example to date is his version of West Side Story, freshly released last December.

This new adaptation of the Broadway classic (and not a remake of the 1961 masterpiece) should logically be the filmmaker’s second biggest flop, just behind his fabulous Empire of the Sun. As of this writing, his film has scooped just $ 37.6 million worldwide. On the domestic market, it is still struggling to hit the $ 25 million mark. A scathing slap that has the force of an uppercut.

The films below represent Spielberg’s ten biggest failures in theaters. Not all of the films mentioned pass the symbolic $ 100 million mark on American soil; and some are very, very far away … They are listed in order of revenue in the United States.

10 – The Terminal (2004)


DreamWorks Pictures

Production budget: $ 60 million
Domestic revenue: $ 77.1 million
International revenue outside the United States: $ 140.8 million
Of all the films of Spielberg released in France, Le Terminal ranked 23rd, with barely 1.14 million admissions. Far behind the previous collaboration with Tom Hanks, Catch Me If You Can, released a year earlier, which had attracted 3.5 million viewers. Released in the United States on June 18, 2004, The terminal saw the number of admissions drop by more than 30% the following week, and 40% the week after.

9 – The Bridge of Spies (2015)


DreamWorks Pictures

Production budget: $ 40 million
Domestic revenue: $ 72.3 million
International revenue outside the United States: $ 93.1 million
The new collaboration between Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg did not make sparks at the Box Office, alas, beyond the qualities of the film, very solid. In France, it did not even reach a million admissions.

8 – The Good Big Giant (2016)


DreamWorks Pictures

Production budget: $ 140 million
Domestic revenue: $ 55.4 million
International revenue outside the United States: $ 139.7 million
The Big Giant was a heavy penalty at the Box Office for the filmmaker; all the more burdensome with regard to the film’s production budget, excluding the marketing budget, of course. In France, the film attracted just over 771,000 spectators. With barely $ 7 million for its opening weekend in the United States, the film had its hair cut to the post by American Nightmare 3, which raised $ 14.5 million, and even by Finding Dory, yet released 15 days earlier.

7 – Munich (2006)


Universal Pictures

Production budget: $ 75 million
Domestic revenue: $ 47.3 million
International revenue outside the United States: $ 82.9 million
Released on a very low combination of theaters in the United States (532 for its opening weekend, then 1498 at most), Munich drank the cup indoors. For his first weekend of operation, he only raked in a paltry $ 4.15 million. The subject of the film, demanding, undoubtedly too much for American audiences, coupled with a release date two days before Christmas, certainly did not help the film’s career … In France, the film recorded 1.03 million entries.

6 – Amistad (1998)


DreamWorks SKG

Production budget: $ 36 million
Domestic revenue: $ 44.1 million
International revenue outside the United States: $ 23.4 million
Spielberg’s Amistad was a serious failure. Here too the fault of a very weak room combination when it was released in the United States (barely 322, to barely climb to 1019), coupled with a subject which, although eminently interesting, was undoubtedly too demanding. for the American public. The film only raised $ 4.5 million for its first weekend of exploitation. In France, the film hardly shone more: barely more than 635,000 spectators. One of the worst box office results for the filmmaker. Even his film Duel, although initially planned for TV, had attracted more than 657,000 spectators in France …

5 – Always (1990)


Amblin Entertainment

Production budget: $ 29.5 million
Domestic revenue: $ 43.8 million
International revenue outside the United States: $ 30.2 million
Considered one of the filmmaker’s least appreciated films, Always was severely punished at the Box Office. Barely $ 3.7 million for its start-up in the United States. In France, the film had attracted just over 692,000 spectators.

4 – 1941 (1979)


Universal Pictures

Film production budget: $ 27 million
Domestic revenue: $ 29.4 million
International revenue outside the United States: $ 60.7 million
Disappointing financial failure, 1941 nearly cost Steven Spielberg his career. “I was surely wrong about the very nature of the story” explained the filmmaker in an interview with L’Express in 2007. Over the years, I have come to like 1941, but it is a very bad memory of filming. I didn’t know where I was going, but I got stubborn. I wanted to make a comedy, a war film and a musical. “The film only raised $ 2.7 million when it was released in the US. In France, it attracted just over 681,000 curious people. One of the worst box office results for him.

3 – West Side Story (2021)


20th Century Studios

Production budget: $ 100 million *
Domestic revenue: $ 24.8 million *
International revenue outside the United States: $ 12.7 million *
(* Figures as of December 29, 2021)
Although preceded by a concert of positive reviews, the Replay of Broadway Musical Drama is a terrible snub for Spielberg. “Musicals have the difficult part in this pandemic period, because their target audience is made up of adults of a certain age, in particular women. But moviegoers over 35 are the most cautious to return to the cinema” The Hollywood Reporter, who tried to analyze the reasons for the failure of the film, explained, “This is obviously not the only reason.

2 – Empire of the Sun (1987)


Warner Bros.

Production budget: $ 38 million
Domestic revenue: $ 22.2 million
International revenue outside the United States: $ 43.6 million
Huge movie that this Empire of the Sun, with an extraordinary Christian Bale. But a cruel injustice: it is about the film having recorded the weakest receipts on American soil, if one disregards the very first film of the scenario writer, Sugarland Express. The film only picked up a starving $ 1.3 million for its first weekend of exploitation; ending his career in the United States on a sluggish 22.2 million greenbacks. In France, small consolation, the film had attracted 1.32 million spectators.

1 – The Sugarland Express (1974)


Universal Pictures

Production budget: $ 2 million
Domestic revenue: $ 7.5 million
International revenue outside the United States: $ 5.3 million
This film is Steven Spielberg’s first feature film made for the cinema. It had mixed success: Universal cut several scenes, deeming the subject to be too difficult, and although it was nominated for Best Original Screenplay at the Writers Guild of America Awards in 1975, the film was a box office failure. It wasn’t until a year later, when will hit theaters Jaws, that Spielberg will find public success.

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