10 of Disney’s Most Notable Box Office Failures

Disney, a cinematic powerhouse known for its triumphs in the realms of live-action remakes and animated musicals, has also faced its fair share of box office setbacks that it would rather leave behind. Here you will find a list of 10 of the most notable Disney box office failures. While Disney commands iconic franchises like Star Wars, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and Pixar animations, which have collectively set the gold standard for entertainment, it’s not immune to the occasional box office blunder. Amidst the billion-dollar hits lie a series of misfires that stand as reminders of the unpredictable nature of filmmaking.

In the grand game of movie-making, where budgets can balloon to astronomical figures, the risk is inherent. Disney’s catalogue includes instances where cinematic dreams clashed with financial realities, often revolving around a surprising theme: science fiction. Curiously, this genre that has captured imaginations for decades seems to have tripped up Disney’s box office efforts.

The List of the 10 Most Notable Disney Box Office Failures

10. Raya and the Last Dragon (2021)

Loss: $120 million

Starring: Paul Briggs, Don Hall & Adele Lim
Director(s): Don Hall & Carlos López Estrada
Budget: $100 million
Global Earnings: $130 million

Despite Raya being one of Disney’s most courageous princesses, her cinematic journey with The Last Dragon encountered stormy waters at the box office. With a reported budget of $100 million, the film sought to dazzle audiences with animation quality and star-studded performances. However, its global earnings of $130 million (via Box Office Mojo) fell short, resulting in an estimated $120 million loss. The simultaneous release on Disney Plus likely mitigated its financial shortfall.

9. The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (2010)

Loss: $160 million

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Jay Baruchel & Alfred Molina
Director(s): Jon Turteltaub
Budget: $150 million
Global Earnings: $215 million

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, featuring Nicolas Cage, was a daring venture that didn’t cast the spell of success Disney had hoped for. With a budget of $150 million, the film grossed $215 million worldwide, appearing to achieve a profit. But when factoring in marketing expenses and the theaters’ share, a movie typically requires more than twice its budget to break even. This could potentially have led to a loss of approximately $160 million.

8. A Wrinkle in Time (2018)

Loss: $193 million

Starring: Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon & Mindy Kaling
Director(s): Ava DuVernay
Budget: $130 million
Global Earnings: $133 million

In the realm of Disney’s box office struggles, sci-fi offerings like A Wrinkle in Time stand as prime examples. Despite having a comparatively lower budget of $130 million (via The Disney Blog), the film’s need to reach $325 million to turn a profit remained a challenging endeavor. Earning just $133 million worldwide, the movie faced stiff competition from blockbusters like Black Panther, likely resulting in a loss of around $193 million.

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7. Meet the Robinsons (2007)

Loss: $206 million

Starring: Daniel Hansen, Jordan Fry & Wesley Singerman
Director(s): Stephen Anderson
Budget: $150 million
Global Earnings: $169 million

Even within the realm of animated sci-fi, missteps occurred. Meet the Robinsons, with its $150 million budget, ventured into the futuristic terrain of 2037. Yet, its $169 million global earnings fell short of its $375 million break-even point, indicating a potential loss of about $206 million. Despite later achieving cult status, initial failure curbed plans for spinoffs.

6. Treasure Planet (2002)

Loss: $240 million

Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Brian Murray & Emma Thompson
Director(s): John Musker & Ron Clements
Budget: $140 million
Global Earnings: $110 million

Ambition met financial gravity in Treasure Planet, the most expensive traditionally animated feature ever made at a staggering $140 million. Integrating 2D and 3D animation showcased the film’s visionary nature, yet it struggled to set box office records. Grossing a mere $110 million worldwide against a $350 million break-even target, it culminated in a significant $240 million loss.

5. Tomorrowland (2015)

Loss: $266 million

Starring: George Clooney, Hugh Laurie & Britt Robertson
Director(s): Brad Bird
Budget: $190 million
Global Earnings: $209 million

Even a pedigree director like Brad Bird couldn’t safeguard Tomorrowland from box office turbulence. With a budget of $190 million, the movie grossed $209 million worldwide. However, when compared to its $485 million break-even mark, it ended up incurring a sizable $266 million loss. This setback temporarily detoured Bird’s live-action pursuits.

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4. The Lone Ranger (2013)

Loss: $277 million

Starring: Johnny Depp, Armie Hammer & Tom Wilkinson
Director(s): Gore Verbinski
Budget: $215 million
Earnings: $260 million

The Lone Ranger, despite the promise of director Gore Verbinski and star Johnny Depp, derailed Disney’s expectations. With a $215 million budget, it grossed $260 million globally, a considerable shortfall from its $537.5 million break-even point. This $277 million loss highlights the challenges of achieving profit in the industry.

3. Mars Needs Moms (2011)

Loss: $336 million

Starring: Seth Green, Dan Fogle & Elisabeth Harnois
Director(s): Simon Wells
Budget: $150 million
Earnings: $39 million

Mars Needs Moms not only earned Disney a place in the annals of box office flops but also drew criticism for its animation. With a production cost of $150 million, the film struggled to even recoup its budget, let alone cover marketing expenses. Its potential loss of up to $336 million signals the magnitude of this misfire.

2. John Carter (2012)

Loss: $341 million

Starring: Taylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins & Samantha Morton
Director(s): Andrew Stanton
Budget: $250 million
Earnings: $300 million

Director Andrew Stanton’s foray into live-action with John Carter was a costly endeavor. With a budget surpassing $250 million, the movie crossed the $300 million mark but fell far short of its break-even point of $625 million. Plagued by marketing and creative issues, it incurred an estimated loss of around $341 million.

1. Strange World (2022)

Loss: $377 million

Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Dennis Quaid & Jaboukie Young-White
Director(s): Don Hall
Budget: $180 million
Earnings: $73 million

Strange World, with its mesmerizing visual effects and star-studded cast, struggled to resonate with audiences. Despite its $180 million budget, the film failed to generate momentum, grossing just $73 million worldwide. This could potentially translate to a hefty loss of up to $377 million. The film’s stumble added to Disney’s lineup of recent box office misfortunes.


Amidst the magic and mastery that Disney often conjures, these box office disappointments offer a reminder that even industry giants experience setbacks. The journey of cinema, replete with highs and lows, underscores the unpredictable nature of filmmaking. While Disney’s hits will forever shine, its misses contribute to the tapestry of cinematic history, serving as poignant chapters in the narrative of creativity and commerce on the big screen.

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