News

A massive flop

Ben Child

Disney has admitted that its science fiction adventure John Carter is on course to be one of the biggest flops in Hollywood history.

Disney has admitted that its $250-million-budget science fiction adventure John Carter is on course to be one of the biggest flops in Hollywood history, as it braces itself to lose $200-million after disappointing box-office results.

The film, directed by Andrew Stanton of the Pixar animation house, opened poorly in the United States with just $30-million. It has been more successful outside the US, with big openings in Russia and Britain.

But that box-office revenue is shared with the cinema chains, and Disney is estimated to have spent between $50-million and $100-million more on marketing.

The film is based on the first in a series of novels by Edgar Rice Burroughs, the creator of Tarzan, telling the story of a retired US civil war soldier who miraculously finds himself transported to Mars.

Other big-budget films have taken less at the box office in recent years—Breck Eisner’s Sahara took $68.7-million in 2005, and Oliver Stone’s Alexander managed just $34.3-million the previous year. But John Carter’s massive budget has made it a bigger casualty.

In a statement to Wall Street, Disney said: “In light of the theatrical performance of John Carter, we expect the film to generate an operating loss of approximately $200-million”—pushing the studio into losses of up to $120-million in the second quarter.

Bad as the figures appear, John Carter has at least performed slightly better (or less badly) than Hollywood’s all-time clunkers.

Its net loss, on the simple calculation of budget against box office, is likely to be between $50-million and $100-million, putting it some way behind 1995’s Cut-throat Island, which lost an inflation-adjusted $147.2-million, or Heaven’s Gate, at $114.3-million.

Stanton had hoped to direct a series of sequels based on Rice Burroughs’s 11-novel series, but that now seems unlikely.

Stanton, whose Pixar films Finding Nemo and Wall-E both won best animation Oscars, recently said he was expecting to go straight into a second John Carter film after the first, and had no other projects lined up.

John Carter‘s box-office failure stands in sharp contrast to the success of another high-profile film from a Pixar veteran shooting his first live-action feature: Brad Bird’s Mission: Impossible—Ghost Protocol became the highest-grossing film in the Tom Cruise spy series earlier this year, taking $691-million worldwide.—

Topics In This Section

Comments

blog comments powered by Disqus