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While box office bombs are films that made little to no money, box office disappointments are those that simply failed to meet the production company's projected earnings. Usually they either did not make back their production costs plus their distribution and marketing budgets at the box office, or at most barely made a profit.

The standard model for blockbuster movies is that the marketing budget is at least the same as the production budget: analysts will generally say the minimum for a movie to not be regarded as a box office failure is for it to make twice its production budget from box office sales. Note that box office money does not all go to the studio: typically, they get 50% of the domestic take and 20-30% of the international take.