5 of the biggest media flops ever

In light of news that Quibi is shutting down, here is an unscientific list of the biggest media flops ever.


October 23, 2020

As you probably know by now, Quibi — the short-lived short video app (sorry) — is shutting down after 6 months.

A Now, according to Axios, the company plans to return some of the $1.75B it raised back to shareholders, with 20 cents on the dollar a worst-case scenario.

We’re not here to dunk on Jeffrey Katzenberg & Co., though.

Rather, we’d like to put Quibi in context. Here is a very unscientific list of the top 5 media flops ever:

  1. The movie flop that took down a studio. Fresh off winning Best Director for the 1978 Vietnam War movie The Deer Hunter, Michael Cimino released a movie that is synonymous with film flops: Heaven’s Gate. The 1980 Western earned $3.5m against a budget of $44m, bankrupting United Artists in the process.
  2. Europeans don’t give AF about Disneyland: Disneyland Paris opened in, um, Paris in 1992. The park was not originally owned by its namesake but — after decades of middling attendance and an onerous debt burden — Disney stepped in to take majority ownership in 2017. COVID-19 has hampered turnaround plans.
  3. The most expensive flop ever: According to Digital Spy, the 2017 fantasy film King Arthur: Legend of the Sword lost $150m on a production budget of $175m. Honestly, we have no idea how this flopped… David frickin’ Beckham makes an appearance.
  4. The worst media M&A ever: In January 2000, AOL announced it was buying Time Warner for $182B. The combined $350B behemoth was to be the perfect internet marriage of distribution (AOL) and content (Time Warner). The new co ended up losing ~$100B in 2002. Verizon bought AOLfor $4.4B in 2015.
  5. The business that tried (and failed) to beat math: MoviePass.

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