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5 movies filmed in Utah that flopped at the box office

By Grant Olsen, Contributor | Posted - Feb. 24, 2017 at 2:32 p.m.

This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.

SALT LAKE CITY — The State of Utah has served as the backdrop for nearly 1,000 theatrical and television films since the early 1920s. And many of these films, such as “Forrest Gump” and “Independence Day,” have gone on to major commercial success.

But, they all can’t be winners. When you’re dealing with almost 100 years worth of movies, there are bound to be a few box office clunkers. This list looks at five locally-made films that didn’t reach the same heights as the luminaries on our previous list.

"The Conqueror"

Most of the films on this list were principally shot outside of Utah, with our state simply serving as the backdrop for a handful of scenes. Not so with “The Conqueror.”

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This John Wayne flop was shot mainly in the St. George area, downwind from a nuclear testing range. Some of the cast and crew later died of cancer, which may have been tied to exposure at hazardous sites. Producer Howard Hughes felt so guilty about the film’s problems that he reportedly bought all available prints and kept it from the public. He never produced another film.

“The Legend of the Lone Ranger”

If there’s one lesson to be learned from this list, it’s that Lone Ranger movies are risky. This ‘80s clunker features a convoluted plot that included Ulysses S. Grant being held hostage by a villain played by Christopher Lloyd.

Marred by controversy, the film was a bust and won Golden Raspberry Awards for Worst Actor (Klinton Spilsbury), Worst New Star (Klinton Spilsbury), and Worst Musical Score. Lead actor Klinton Spilsbury actually called it quits after the movie bombed, making this his last film.

"The Lone Ranger"

Director Gore Verbinski and actor Johnny Depp had experienced stunning success with their “Pirates of the Caribbean” films, but the luck ran out with “The Lone Ranger.” While the movie grossed more than $260 million, the massive production and marketing costs made it a commercial disappointment.

"John Carter"

Based on a novel by Edgar Rice Burroughs, this movie was supposed to launch the film career of Taylor Kitsch (television’s “Friday Night Lights). Instead, it helped lead to the resignation of Rich Ross, chairman of Walt Disney Studios. Although the studio released some massively successful movies during Ross’s tenure, he couldn’t survive two Mars-related bombs: “Mars Needs Moms” in 2011 and “John Carter” the following year.


The story behind “Windtalkers” is undeniably powerful and inspiring. Unfortunately, critics and audiences were unimpressed by this movie’s treatment of the subject matter.

Some criticized the film for giving the Navajo characters supporting roles, while others took issue with its many historical errors. One website even dubbed it one of the “10 most inaccurate military movies ever made.” To get a firsthand account of the Code Talkers’ important contribution to World War II, click here.

![Grant Olsen](\.jpg?filter=ksl/65x65)
About the Author: Grant Olsen \-----------------------------

Grant Olsen joined the contributor team in 2012. He covers outdoor adventures, travel, product reviews and other interesting things. He is also the author of the book “Rhino Trouble.” You can contact him at


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