x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Motherhood: a box-office flaw

With Uma Thurman's latest film set to go down as a massive flop, we look at other less-than-profitable movies.

Uma Thurman, centre, stars in Motherhood. Only 11 people bought tickets for the movie in the first weekend of its UK release.
Uma Thurman, centre, stars in Motherhood. Only 11 people bought tickets for the movie in the first weekend of its UK release.

It's enough to make a grown man weep. At least any grown man involved in the production and promotion of Uma Thurman's latest movie, Motherhood. It has secured itself an ignominious place in film history after taking just £88 (Dh484) in the first weekend of its UK release. Written by the small-time director Katherine Dieckmann, the movie unfolds over one day in the hectic life of the full-time mum Eliza Welsh. Maybe cinemagoers couldn't fathom a dowdy-looking Thurman, casting a despondent shadow without the trademark samurai sword and yellow catsuit they came to know and love in the Kill Bill films. Perhaps the target audience of busy mothers simply didn't have the time to catch this comedy/drama. The producer Jana Edelbaum has blamed the film's marketers, Metrodome, for enticing only 11 people to stump up for a ticket.

Whatever or whoever is responsible, there's no getting away from the fact that Motherhood is due to remain a reminder that even for a film with a big-name star who has previously proven a box-office draw, things can go spectacularly wrong. We take a look at some of Hollywood's biggest misfires. Heaven's Gate (1980) This American western is considered one of the biggest failures of all time, in part thanks to its cost and time overruns as well as a flurry of unfavourable reviews. Despite a great cast that included Jeff Bridges and John Hurt the film recouped a mere $3 million (Dh11m) of its $44m budget. It single-handedly ruined the reputation of the Oscar-winning director Michael Cimino and put its studio, United Artists, out of business.

Cutthroat Island (1995) It starred Geena Davis as a female pirate and Matthew Modine as a slave on the hunt for a missing treasure map. Directed by Davis's now ex-hubbie (we wonder why?), Renny Harlin, the movie has been declared the biggest box-office flop ever by Guinness World Records, bringing in a mere $10 million of its $115m budget. To add further salt to the wound, it put the production company Carolco Pictures (which previously brought Terminator 2: Judgment Day and the first three Rambo films to the world) into meltdown shortly after.

Battlefield Earth: A Saga of the Year 3000 (2000) We couldn't present a fitting list of the biggest flops of all time without giving this John Travolta nightmare a nod. A tribute to L Ron Hubbard, the creator of Scientology, the plot focuses on a ravaged planet Earth that is ruled by a group of giant aliens called - wait for it - Psychlos. The film only made back $30m of its $75m budget. We are especially peeved that the usually solid Barry Pepper chose to attach himself to this wreck, especially considering how good he is in Saving Private Ryan and The Green Mile. Why, Barry? Why?

The Adventures of Pluto Nash (2002) The name says it all, really. Famously, the star Eddie Murphy was so embarrassed by this movie that he refused to do any promotional work for it. As a result (we'll blame this one entirely on Murphy, who hasn't made a decent flick since he voiced Donkey in Shrek), the film clawed back a paltry $7m of its $120m budget. With a plot so horrendous it makes The Bounty Hunter look like an instant classic, we are not in the least bit surprised.

Gigli (2003) More famous for its starring couple (Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck) than it's laughably bad dialogue, the film has gone down in history as one of the worst ever made and made back $7m from a reported $74m budget. Considering the trailer had us wanting to poke our eyes out with a blunt instrument after a few seconds, we couldn't agree more. Feel anger at watching such absolute trash, then vindication when you discover that the director Martin Brest (who quite frankly should have known better) has never directed a picture since.

Sahara (2005) A cheap imitator to the Indiana Jones throne, Sahara actually performed well at the box office, with takings of more than $200m. It's not so well, however, when you consider that the budget came in at just under $300m, resulting in a huge loss for Paramount Pictures. Starring Matthew McConaughey and Penelope Cruz, the film is more Raiders of the Bottom of the Barrel than of the Lost Ark.

Zyzzyx Road (2006) The single biggest failure of all is Zyzzyx Road (2006), whose $30 box-office earnings make Motherhood look like a moderate hit. Starring Katherine Heigl and Tom Sizemore, it was on the big screen for six days in one theatre in Texas, and seen by a total of six people - two of whom had worked on the movie.