Its stars are a major reason why people attend a certain motion picture, but the real stars of cinema are the directors. That’s why their name is almost always the last credit on the screen before the movie begins.
Directors have to balance their vision of the film with actors’ interpretation of their roles, determine shooting locations and schedules, monitor budgets, and manage studio expectations. Because so many things can go wrong, making a profitable film is a daunting task. And in the end, whether a movie is a hit or not depends not on the critics but on the opinion of the filmgoing public, expressed at the box office.
To determine the directors with the most movie flops, 24/7 Tempo reviewed data on worldwide box office and production budget from film industry site The Numbers, a subsidiary of Nash Information Services. Directors were ranked based on the percentage of movies in their filmography that earned less than their production budget at the global box office.
Only directors with at least 10 movies for which production budget and worldwide box office data were available were considered. Biggest hits and flops are based on the average return on investment of $1 of production budget to money earned at the global box office.
Even though they have all basked in Oscar glory, directors Woody Allen, Martin Scorsese, Spike Lee, Ron Howard, Steven Soderbergh, and Ang Lee have all had flops. And despite critical recognition for the films “Stronger,” (David Gordon Green) “Me and Orson Welles,” (Richard Linklater), “Blow Out” (Brian De Palma), audiences mostly stayed away. (Here are some classic movies that flopped when they first came out.)
At least 20% of the films directed by each of the directors on this list have brought in less than what they cost to produce – sometimes by a considerable margin. To be fair, all these directors have had more hits than misses, and across their careers have earned an average return on investment that exceeds their films’ total production costs. (Stars can be blamed for movie failures, too. Consider these A-list actors’ biggest box office flops.)
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