18 Box Office Disasters Featuring Top Hollywood Stars

Some movies are overnight hits, while others fail to even find the radar, let alone get under it. Why they’re overlooked isn’t always obvious, but even a stellar cast of A-list actors can’t save them. Delve into a few of the star-filled, lesser-known movies.

The Men Who Stare at Goats 

Photo Credit: Overture Films.

With George Clooney, Ewan McGregor, and Jeff Bridges leading the ensemble cast, this satirical war comedy failed to resonate with audiences despite its intriguing premise about a secret military unit experimenting with paranormal powers. It has some great comedy moments, so it’s a shame that many overlooked it.

Killing Them Softly 

Photo Credit: The Weinstein Company.

Despite featuring Brad Pitt in the lead role, this crime thriller set against the backdrop of the 2008 financial crisis failed to gain traction at the box office due to its dark, edgy tone. It’s a shame; it’s a great movie with incredible performances.

Synecdoche, New York 

Photo Credit: Sony Pictures Classics.

Directed by Charlie Kaufman and starring the brilliant Philip Seymour Hoffman, this surreal and existential drama about a theater director’s ambitious project to create a life-size replica of New York City received critical acclaim but just missed the mark. It’s a fantastic movie but possibly a little too clever.

The Nines 

Photo Credit: Destination Films.

Starring Deadpool star Ryan Reynolds in multiple roles, this mind-bending indie film about a troubled actor’s surreal journey through three mini-films of alternate realities received praise for its originality but failed to find mainstream success. It was too inconsistent, and we didn’t have the patience for it.

We Own the Night 

Photo Credit: Sony Pictures.

Featuring Joaquin Phoenix and Mark Wahlberg as brothers on opposite sides of the law, this crime drama from director James Gray was quipped as being better than The Departed. What went wrong? Poor promotion, we suspect.

The Paperboy 

Photo Credit: Millennium Films.

Starring Zac Efron, Nicole Kidman, and Matthew McConaughey, this Southern Gothic thriller just didn’t hit the right notes. Nicole Kidman urinating on Zac Efron was nothing short of gratuitous, and Cannes critics hated it.

Inherent Vice 

Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

Joaquin Phoenix makes yet another appearance in this obscure movie directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. It’s a psychedelic neo-noir comedy-drama based on Thomas Pynchon’s novel, but it was a bit too complex to reach a commercial market.

The Ice Harvest 

Photo Credit: Focus Features.

With John Cusack and Billy Bob Thornton in the lead roles, this dark, low-budget comedy about a lawyer and a strip club owner’s scheme to embezzle money on Christmas Eve flopped miserably despite its talented cast. However, it did gain a cult following, so it can’t have been that bad.

I Heart Huckabees 

Photo Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures.

This quirky comedy failed to receive the recognition it deserved. Despite having a blockbuster cast and a brilliant premise, it still missed out on the red-carpet treatment. Starring Mark Wahlberg, Dustin Hoffman, and Naomi Watts, it is an intelligent, laugh-out-loud, and emotionally resonant masterpiece that truly deserves a watch.

Margot at the Wedding 

Photo Credit: Paramount Vantage.

Featuring Nicole Kidman and Jennifer Jason Leigh as estranged sisters, this dysfunctional family drama from director Noah Baumbach was one of those movies that split critics. This was largely due to its unlikable characters and overall bleakness.

A Scanner Darkly 

Photo Credit: Warner Independent Pictures.

Featuring a star-studded cast including Keanu Reeves, Robert Downey Jr., and Winona Ryder, this animated sci-fi thriller based on Philip K. Dick’s novel struggled to find mainstream success due to a complex storyline and lack of explanation. You might be engrossed, but it isn’t for the right reasons.


Photo Credit: Lionsgate.

This psychological thriller about a woman’s descent into madness after becoming convinced she’s infested with bugs was a bit too weird and claustrophobic for commercial audiences, even though it starred Ashley Judd and Michael Shannon.

Southland Tales 

Photo Credit: Samuel Goldwyn Films.

Dwayne Johnson and Sarah Michelle Gellar starred in this dystopian sci-fi satire, which was fiercely panned by critics. The movie was so bad that it failed to recoup its production costs at the box office and was booed at the Cannes Film Festival. Ouch.

The Beaver 

Photo Credit: Summit Entertainment.

Mel Gibson played a depressed man who communicates through a beaver hand puppet. That should speak volumes. It was directed by Jodie Foster but failed to reach any level of interest. Jodie Foster should stick to acting.

The Tree of Life 

Photo Credit: Summit Entertainment.

With stars like Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain, you’d expect any level of storyline to resonate with a fanbase to some degree. Sadly, not so. This experimental drama about a family’s journey through life received polarizing reviews and didn’t reach us on any level.

The Private Lives of Pippa Lee 

Photo Credit: Screen Media Films.

With House Of Cards star Robin Wright in the title role, this indie drama about a woman’s journey of self-discovery was just too slow-paced to grip audiences. She might be talented, but we can take only so much self-absorption.


Photo Credit: Apple TV+.

It wasn’t a flop—it was a super flop. Starring the fresh-faced Tom Holland, who failed to convince audiences that he could command a candy bar, the storyline is convoluted and plain stupid. Sometimes, there’s little more you can say.

Buffalo Soldiers

Photo Credit: Miramax Films.

Don’t be shocked if you’ve never heard of this dark satire starring Joaquin Phoenix. It’s about a group of soldiers stationed in West Germany during the Cold War. The movie flew under the radar due to its controversial subject matter and limited release.

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