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10 Sci-Fi Movie Flops That Really Should Have Been Hits


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In terms of genre, it’s generally true that the science fiction movie can often be enormously successful for movie studios. That’s not really surprising, considering they tend to be rather edgy in terms of the ideas they explore and in their employment of CGI and other special effects. Unfortunately, not every science fiction movie is a success. All too often, even movies that should be a success flop at the box office.

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Very often, these are exactly the films that are the most creative and push the genre in the newest and exciting directions, so it’s important that they get the recognition they deserve.

10 Splice (2009)

Splice Movie Dren Creature With Wings

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There’s something innately unsettling about the idea of mixing human and animal DNA, which is part of the reason that it makes such a fascinating subject for science fiction movies like Splice.

This movie is truly quite chilling, and it straddles the boundary between straight-up horror and science fiction. The plot keeps the viewer on the edge of their seat from the beginning to the end, and it truly is a shame that it didn’t bet the sort of box office love it deserves and that it didn’t get a sequel.

9 Annihilation (2018)

Annihilation is another of those science fiction movies that, for some reason, just failed to connect with audiences. That’s a shame, because, like so many other underrated science fiction movies, it truly does ask the viewer to question every aspect of their existence, up to and including what makes people human and how much control individuals have over their own DNA.

It’s a haunting movie, to be sure, one that raises far more questions than it actually answers, and the ending is haunting (and the original one even more so). And there’s a mutant bear that is sure to be the stuff of nightmares.

8 Children Of Men (2006)

Children of Men

Every so often, a science fiction movie comes along that really does something new and interesting. That’s what one gets with Children of Men, a post-apocalyptic story that takes place in a world where people can no longer reproduce.

All of that changes when one young woman reveals that she is pregnant. It’s a bleak movie, to be sure, the kind of science fiction that doesn’t really have a lot of hope to counter the pessimism, which might go some way toward explaining why it struggled at the box office (even if it is one of Clive Owen’s best movies).

7 Solo: A Star Wars Story

It’s a bit of a truism that any movie with the name Star Wars attached to it is almost certain to succeed at the box office. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case with Solo which, as its title suggests, gives viewers a back story for one of the most famous characters to ever appear in a science fiction movie.

There are a host of reasons why this movie didn’t do well, but perhaps the most realistic and viable one is that viewers just weren’t ready for another film in the franchise yet, and so it has become something of a black sheep.

6 Titan A.E. (2000)

Though science fiction is more often associated with live-action movies, there have been quite a few animated science fiction classics out there as well, including Titan A.E. Given that it was made under the auspices of the visionary Don Bluth, the movie really does take some artistic chances, but there’s no question that it’s a beautiful and often moving creation.

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Unfortunately, that wasn’t quite enough to boost its chances at the box office and, like so many of Bluth’s other later works, it woefully underperformed, becoming one of the worst summer bombs.

5 Treasure Planet (2002)

After the atmospheric heights of the Disney Renaissance of the early and mid-90s, it was probably inevitable that the studio would go through something of a slump, and that it definitely did.

Treasure Planet came out during this period, and its woeful struggles at the box office were a clear sign that not all was well with one of the world’s premier animation studios. Unfortunately, that means that the movie hasn’t really received the appreciation it deserves, and it certainly is a visually stunning movie.

4 John Carter (2012)

Sometimes, one has to wonder what goes through the minds of movie executives when they green-light a hugely expensive tentpole movie and then do everything in their power to sabotage its chances at success (which Disney keeps doing with sci-fi franchises).

That’s exactly what happened with John Carter which, despite truly astounding visual design and a decent story, was a huge bomb for Disney. It’s a bit puzzling how they managed to make such a botch of it, considering that many other, worse movies have gone on to have significant success.

3 Blade Runner (1982)

At this point, Blade Runner has become so well-established in the science fiction movie canon that it’s easy to forget that it wasn’t actually that successful when it came out in theaters. It’s really quite hard to figure out exactly what went wrong, other than to speculate that perhaps it was a bit too far ahead of its time when it was released.

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One has to wonder, though, how its contemporary relevance might be different had it been a success at the time of its release.

2 Terminator: Dark Fate (2019)

Linda Hamilton in Terminator Dark Fate

In the lore of science fiction, there are few franchises as venerable or as long-running as the Terminator. Of course, that’s not really a surprise, considering the idea of robots taking over the world is one that has haunted much of the 20th and 21st centuries.

Fans would have been forgiven for thinking that this installment was going to be something special since it featured two important members of the original cast. Alas, despite that, and despite a good story and strong visuals, it just didn’t have what it took to be a successful hit.

1 After Earth (2013)

Once upon a time, simply having Will Smith’s name attached to a creative project was enough to guarantee it a success, and he’s had many fine movies. Unfortunately, that doesn’t quite seem to be the case anymore, and some of his recent efforts have really struggled to get any kind of liftoff.

That’s certainly true of After Earth. As with so many other films, it’s rather a puzzle as to why it didn’t connect with either audiences or critics, especially since it seems to have the makings of a science fiction hit.

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Updated: November 17, 2020 — 3:30 pm

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