12 Unlucky Actors Who Self-funded Box Office Flops

For all the romance that surrounds the important stories and artistic endeavors of filmmaking, Hollywood is ultimately a business like any other, which means that money is often worth more than good intentions. This cut-throat fact has seen several actors pitch in their own money to get Films they are passionate about and run.

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While this sometimes results in great success that earns the actor millions of dollars in profits, it often has devastating consequences. From passion projects where audiences aren’t eager to let A-hot actors bet on themselves and lose, there are plenty of actors who help fund their own movies and never see their money again.

Updated on July 17, 2023, by Ryan Heffernan:

Despite the glamor and glitz, Hollywood can be a cruel and complicated industry to work in, especially when it comes to movies that people have a strong emotional need to watch. While not all of these box office movies are bad movies, they do offer a cautionary tale about going all out on a passion project.

12 Dwayne Johnson – ‘Black Adam’ (2022)

Dwayne Johnson as Teth-Adam aka Black Adam in 'Black Adam'
Image via Warner Bros.

with the casting of Dwayne JohnsonThe brain trust behind the DCEU seems convinced of that Adam Black could represent a turning of a new leaf for the spluttering franchise. The superhero film follows the resurrection of an Egyptian slave who is granted superpowers by an ancient god who unleashes his unique justice on the modern world.

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Throughout production disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, Johnson served as a key spokesperson for the film’s progress and even served as one of the producers. Despite the odd appearance that Johnson’s claims about the film’s positive financial outlook were denied, the film reportedly lost Warner Bros. amounting to 100 million dollars.

11 Jack Black – ‘Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny’ (2006)

Tenacious D in choosing the destination
Image via New Line Cinema

Contains Jack Black And Kyle Gassthe comedy rock duo Tenacious D rose to cult status with HBO’s Tenacious D The series ran from 1997-2000, something both look to capitalize on in 2006. Tenacious D in choosing the destination. In order for the project to work, both Black and Gass took significant pay cuts in addition to serving as producers.

Unfortunately, the film went on to be a box office flop, grossing only $13.9 million against a budget of around $20 million. Despite the film going on to achieve classic status as a musical comedy, the poor reception damaged Black and Gass with neither of them writing a feature film since.

10 John Wayne – ‘The Alamo’ (1960)

A group of hardened resistance fighters stood against the invading Spanish forces at the Alamo
Image via United Artists

a John Wayneproject of love, Alamo It was conceived as early as 1945 but took years to get off the ground in the way Wayne envisioned. He later concluded that he himself would direct the film and produce it through his production company, Batjac Productions, but confirmed that he would not appear in it.

While Wayne tried to enlist financial support, however, it became clear that he would only get the necessary money if he appeared in the picture. Wayne eventually struck a deal with United Artists in which he contributed $1.5 million out of his own pocket to the making of the film. While Alamo Making enough for United Artists to get a refund, Wayne’s investment failed to reap financial rewards.

9 Kevin Costner – ‘The Postman’ (1997)

A postal worker in post-apocalyptic America stands before a group of survivors.
Image via Warner Bros.

Kevin Costner is no stranger to financing his own films. This paid off when he put in $3 million. Dance with Wolves which grossed nearly twenty times its budget, and managed to scrape away from financial disaster on Waterworld Thanks to the income after his cinema, but he was not very lucky. Postman.

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Costner directed, starred in, and produced the three-hour post-apocalyptic drama, with a whopping budget of $80 million. Any luck that he started the decade with has been clearly dry Postman grossed less than $20 million after being hampered by a terrible opening weekend and a critical reception.

8 John Travolta – ‘Battlefield Earth’ (2000)

Terl with his headgear in Battlefield Earth.
Image via Warner Bros.

Considered one of the worst movies ever made, Battlefield Earth – Based on the novel Battlefield Earth: Saga of the year 3000 By the founder of the Church of Scientology L. Ron Hubbard – become John TravoltaThe passion project of the 1990s. A scientist himself, Travolta received a signed book gift from Hubbard upon its publication in 1982 and used the revival of his work to try to adapt it by a major Hollywood studio.

While it struggled to find studio interest due to its ties to Scientology, the film was eventually picked up by Travolta contributing millions of his own money, and sacrificing some of his own salary, to make the film. against a budget of 73 million US dollars, Battlefield Earth grossed less than $29.7 million, and the planned sequel was never made.

7 Tommy Wiseau – ‘The Room’ (2003)

Tommy Wiseau room
Image via TPW Films

As far as religion goes, Room A huge hit as the celebrated champion of good-bad-it’s-good cinema. Unfortunately for Tommy WiseauPeople do not see it as a pop culture phenomenon in its theatrical release with a film that earned only $ 1,900 against a budget of $ 6 million.

While the exact nature of how he got the money remains a mystery, Wiseau contributed the entire budget to maintain creative control. Despite the disastrous initial run, the influence of pop culture saw the film’s revenue increase to $4.9 million, so, who knows, it may turn a profit.

6 Matthew McConaughey – ‘Sahara’ (2005)

Three bloody explorers stood in the desert with smoke billowing behind them.
Image via Paramount Pictures

One of the most infamous and controversial production processes, SaharaThe budget started at a modest $80 million, but ballooned to over $160 million by the end of filming. The picture is wrapped, there is an additional $61 million in distribution costs. Based on Clive CusslerDirk Pitt’s novel, an action-adventure film was planned as the first film.

That’s certainly unprecedented, as the film’s $119 million box office gross accounted for more than half of its gross. Matthew McConaughey Ever blogged a road trip to promote sales in a bid to market the film that he invested his own money in, but it proved to be useless.

5 Brad Pitt – ‘The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford’ (2007)

Assassination of Jesse-James-by-the-Coward-Robert-Ford-Brad-Pitt
Image via Warner Bros. Pictures

A clear proof that not all box office funded actors are vanity projects and bad movies, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford Stars and producers Brad Pitt Admits that working in movies cost him money. Western review that reviews the details of James’ (Pitt) and the revelation of his gang, the film received praise from fans and critics alike for the show, the portrayal of 1880s America, and. Roger Deakins‘ Amazing cinematography.

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However, the film flopped, becoming a box office bomb despite a limited budget of $30 million. Earning no less than $4 million through its theatrical release, it has since increased that number to $15 million through DVD sales and has gained a huge fan following.

4 George Clooney – ‘Leatherheads’ (2008)

Two men and a woman sit in a restaurant booth in the 1920s looking over their shoulders.
Image via Universal Pictures

After the word impression with the year 2005 Good night, and good luckIn that George Clooney Mortgaging his house to help fund a $7 million budget (the film grossed $54.6 million), Clooney tried to replicate his success with Leather head. A sports comedy loosely based in history, it’s far from a bad movie, but it didn’t do well at the box office.

Clooney is clearly passionate about the film, serving as writer, director, star, and producer through his own production company, Smokehouse Productions. It has proven to be a costly gamble, though Leather head Made only 41.3 million dollars, which can not be broken by some margin.

3 Mel Gibson – ‘Get the Gringo’ (2012)

Mel Gibson in Get the Gringo
Image via 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

By 2012, Mel Gibson Has a wonderful record when it comes to contributing financially to the films he is involved in. He helped fund his own leadership efforts. Passion of Christ And Apocalypto With great financial success, the water ran dry when he produced and starred. Take the Gringo.

While the 2012 action film played well with critics, it was released around the time Gibson was under fire for making antisemitic comments and was further hampered by the video-on-demand release strategy. It ended up making just $8.8 million against a $20 million budget.

2 Will Smith – ‘After Earth’ (2013)

Jaden Smith and Will Smith in After Earth
Image via Columbia Pictures

With the ambition of being a big sci-fi adventure, After the world saw Will Smith and his son Jaden Smith Share the screen as a father and son duo who crash-landed on Earth a thousand years after humanity was forced to flee the planet. The film grossed $243.8 million through an impressive-sounding theatrical run, but against a $150 million budget and $100 million added to marketing campaigns, it fell short of expectations.

While Will Smith himself did not contribute any money to the large-scale production of the film, his production company, Overbrook Entertainment, did. Outside of the critical and commercial failure of the film, Smith explained After the world was “the most painful failure of his career” in an interview with Esquire and expressed his regret for leading his son into the project.

1 Tina Fey – ‘Whiskey Tango Foxtrot’ (2016)

Kim Baker (Tina Fey), a plainclothes war reporter standing next to a guard with soldiers chatting in the background.
Image via Paramount Pictures

A bold attempt to mix comedy with war drama, Tango Foxtrot whiskey cannot be handled by anyone who lacks the delicate poise and comic prowess of Tina Fey. Based on Kim BarkerMemoirs of The shaking of the Taliban: strange days in Afghanistan and PakistanThe comedy star set the pre-production process in motion in 2014 with his own production company, Little Stranger, in charge.

With a budget of 35 million US dollars and Margot Robbie And Martin Freeman Among the film’s leading actors, it looks like it will easily surpass that number. Despite positive reviews, it was hampered by a poor opening weekend and never recovered, making only $24.9 million.

Next: Underperformers from Modern Box Office Flops

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