While it seems arbitrary to compare the box office gross with the production costs to determine if a movie earned a profit because the movie theater keeps approximately half of the gross on average. The split varies for every film, with the distributor receiving a more significant percentage in the early weeks. But did you know which movie was one of the biggest box office flops?
In 2005, the film Sahara was troubled by production issues that increased costs from $80 million to $160 million, lawsuits among the staff, and accusations of violating international law. It grossed $119 million but failed to recoup its budget, making it one of the most significant box office flops of all time.
The Plot and Storyline of Sahara
Retired US admiral Sandecker’s foundation funds various projects around the world, including high-tech marine salvage by brilliant Dirk Pitt’s US Navy Seal veterans team, which includes buddy Al Giordino, to discover the mysteriously missing Confederate gold aboard the ironclad battleship of Death’ Pitts comes across proof for his claim that it crossed the Atlantic and up the Niger River, where the admiral is working on an environmental project.
Unfortunately, it’s a West African dictatorship led by a cruel president collaborating with wealthy French energy industrialist Yves Massarde. He learns the secret abducted tribal slaves-run waste plant’s toxic output threatens to pollute the ocean and produce a global killer epidemic while saving irresponsible WHO epidemics expert Dr. Eva Rojas. (Source: IMDB)
The Production of the Film
The film’s principal photography began in November 2003, with the majority of the footage recorded on location in Morocco, with additional footage shot in England and Spain. One 46-second action sequence cost $2 million to shoot but was deleted from the final cut. McConaughey received $8 million, Penélope Cruz received $1.6 million, and Rainn Wilson received $45,000. Ten screenwriters polished the script, with four eventually gaining credit, adding $3.8 million to the film’s budget; David S. Ward earned $500,000 for his uncredited efforts. (Source: IMDB)
The Claims of Cost and Bribes
Initially green-lit with an $80 million production budget, expenditures had risen to $100 million by the time shooting began and had grown to $160 million by the time production was completed, with an additional $61 million in distribution fees. The Los Angeles Times named the film one of the most expensive flops in 2014.
On April 15, 2007, the Los Angeles Times published a unique extended piece deconstructing the budget of Sahara as an example of how Hollywood movies may cost so much to produce and fail. Many traditionally well-guarded records were exposed during litigation surrounding the film. Bribes to the Moroccan government were among the budget items, some of which may have been legally problematic under American law. (Source: LA Times)
How Did The Production Promote the Film?
To promote the film, actor Matthew McConaughey drove his Airstream trailer throughout the United States, stopping at military bases and significant events such as the Daytona 500, debuting the film to fans, signing autographs, and conducting interviews at each stop. The journey’s highlights were aired on an E! channel unique to coincide with the film’s premiere. McConaughey also kept a vacation diary on MTV’s entertainment website.
According to McConaughey, this was supposed to be the first of a series based on Clive Cussler’s Dirk Pitt novels, but the film’s poor box-office success has halted plans for a sequel. (Source: CNN)
Image from Empire Online