The 56 Biggest Film Flops, Bombs and Misses in the Second Half of 2023

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One of my favorite concepts from my time in the military, is “Improving the Fighting Position”. Basically, you should always be improving your base, because every little bit makes you safer from attack. If you’ve been in place for a few hours, dig trenches. If you’re in place longer, dig them deeper and add camouflage. If you’re staying even longer, connect the trenches and put up concertina wire. And so on.

Time-permitting, that’s what I try to do with this newsletter/website: I’m always trying to add or improve things. And my year-end recaps are a great example of this. 

At first, in 2021, I just did some year end recaps. In 2022, I started keeping track of every TV show and film that that didn’t make the ratings charts—what I call “Dogs Not Barking”—plus I looked at Nielsen’s year end charts and declared some winners and losers. Earlier this year, I expanded even more, tracking all of the flops, bombs and misses on streaming. And now we have a metric for a “hit” using the WGA high-performing show threshold that I’m going add that to my analysis.

That’s a ton of stuff, so here’s what we have on deck this month, recapping 2023:

  • The Flops, Bombs and Misses for the 2nd Half of 2023, Film
  • The Flops, Bombs and Misses for the 2nd Half of 2023, TV Shows
  • The Biggest Shows According to the Multiple Sources
  • The Number of “Hit Shows” from 2023
  • The Winners and Losers of 2023

Strap in, because we have a ton of data to go over…

We start our review of all “streaming content” in 2023 with the “misses” in film from the second half of 2023. (Find the flops, bombs and misses from the first half here.)

I realize the obvious question is, what is a “flop”? Or a miss? Or a bomb? My loose definitions are as follows:

  • Miss: Any TV show or film that has below average ratings. Literally, the bottom 50% percentile (or so) in the ratings. 
  • Flop: A TV show or film that either seemed expensive and had middling ratings, a kind of expensive show or movie with below average ratings, or a less expensive TV or film with terrible ratings.
  • Bomb: A TV show or film that was expensive and did terribly in the ratings.

Looking at these three levels, note: price matters. On one extreme, Citadel made the Nielsen charts at 5.1 and 4.6 hours, but it cost $300 million, so it’s a bomb. On the other extreme, a bunch of true crime docu-series miss the charts almost every week, but they’re often so cheap, it doesn’t matter. And there’s a lot of shows in between. 

I normally open up with a lot of ground rules and methodology, but I’ve put all that at the end of this article, so we can drive right in. (If you want to email me to complain, don’t do that unless you’ve already read that section.)

In short, this list is…

…scripted and unscripted films,

…that went straight-to-streaming (only),

…from the eight major streamers,

…in the US (using US-only ratings),

…excluding true crime, short films, “making of” specials, and foreign-language films.

Again, you can find a more detailed explanation of my methodology down at the bottom of the article. (Again, this is really important. The devil is usually in the methodological details and more analysis articles would benefit from making those details explicit.) Most of the flops missed all the ratings charts we track regardless, but if we do have data, I included it after a film’s title. 

Reminder: this article does not represent my personal opinions on these films or TV shows.

Before we get into all of the film misses this go around, I want you to keep a few, larger strategy thoughts in mind. First, this:

  • Films that go to theaters tend to get much better streaming numbers than films that don’t. (I wrote a whole series proving that here, and I hope to add the 2023 data to it after my 2023 recaps)
  • But January and February have almost no new movies coming to theaters.

For each film I discuss below, that’s the context I want you to remember. Ask yourself, what if this movie went to theaters and had a weekend all to itself? For example, Mean Girls. Paramount originally intended to send that film straight-to-streaming, then re-routed it to theaters, and pocketed $129 million for their trouble. (Conversely, Apple Studios took a bath on Argylle, but if Argylle went straight to Apple TV+, the bath just would have been, bathier, I guess.) Because of this solid run in theaters, Mean Girls will likely do even better when it does finally land on Paramount+. (Same goes for Argylle, actually.)

Finally, if you want to push back against this analysis, three more things:

  • Everyone considered Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania to be a huge failure. Same goes for The Haunted Mansion. But they had 28.1 and 39 million hours viewed according to Nielsen, respectively. 
  • At one point this year, I wrote that “10 million hours viewed” is “the minimum to be considered an “okay” launch.” Now, I didn’t include every film that debuted below 10 million hours in the article below—I excluded a bunch of them for some of the above criteria—but it’s good context for the actual ratings of a hit film.
  • Next, the size of a streamer matters. The bar is lower for the smaller streamers (but not as low as you might think.)

I ordered this list by streamer, going from best (least number of flops) to worst (the most misses), taking the size of the flops into consideration. 


  • Gray Matter

Honorable Mentions: Blindsided, Glitch: The Rise and Fall of HQ Trivia, Gumbo Coalition, Tracy Morgan: Takin’ It Too Far

In some ways, Max (as a streamer) beats everyone else sort of by default. They only released one straight-to-streaming scripted film (that I could find) and that was a movie that came from the reboot of another TV show, Project Greenlight. (As you’ll see, that reboot was, ironically, also a flop/Dog Not Barking…)

Warner Bros. Discovery is embracing theaters, and made a bunch of money doing just that in December. Like with The Color Purple, which was originally slated to go right to Max, but then set a record for Christmas day box office and made $64 million at the box office so far…instead of going straight to Max (as it was originally intended) and “getting nothing”. (To quote the main character in Warner Bros.’ other hit December film.)

Now, to be fair, this list doesn’t include any straight-to-HBO documentaries like Trees and Other Entanglements, Daniel and Going to Mars: The Nikki Govanni Project, but these titles feel niche, so they’re not big misses. 

Winner:  Gray Matter (by default)


  • Dashing Through the Snow 
  • Doctor Who: The Church on Ruby Road
  • Doctor Who: The Giggle
  • Doctor Who: The Star Beast
  • Doctor Who: Wild Blue Yonder

Honorable Mentions: Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Christmas Cabin Fever, Lang Lang Plays Disney, Now and Then – The Beatles Song, The Shepherd

In the short term…well done, Disney! You sent your films to theaters and, as a reward, you didn’t have any major film title miss the streaming charts. (Yes, Wish and The Marvels bombed in theaters, but you already know that.) That said, long term, Disney has placed a big bet on Doctor Who’s international rights, and based on the performance of their first four specials in America, I’m not optimistic. 

Winner: Dashing Through the Snow

As their only scripted miss, Dashing Through the Snow wins by default, though The Shepherd doesn’t look cheap. Should Dashing Through the Snow have gone to theaters? Maybe. Typically, the December theatrical calendar gets crowded, so I’m less concerned about smaller holiday films going to theaters during that busy-ish season. (Of course, in early December this year, the only competition was Godzilla Minus One and this family film could have counter-programmed that.) 

More, I’d love to see movies like this get simulcast across the Disney company (ABC, Disney Channel, Disney+) and really make an event out of it. (Actually, the same goes for The Shepherd.)

We’re just getting started, but the rest of this article is for paid subscribers of the Entertainment Strategy Guy, so If you’d like to find out…

  • …all of the film flops and misses for Peacock, Paramount+, Prime Video, Hulu and Netflix…
  • Why Lil Rey Howery needs to fire his agent (Kidding)…
  • Which two streamers can’t decide on their film release strategy…
  • How “straight-to-streaming” may be the new “straight-to-video”…
  • Which streamer had the most misses and flops…
  • Which three horror films should have been given a shot in theaters…

please subscribe! We can only keep doing this great work with your support.

The Entertainment Strategy Guy

The Entertainment Strategy Guy

Former strategy and business development guy at a major streaming company. But I like writing more than sending email, so I launched this website to share what I know.


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