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Huge Disney Flop; Studio Incurs $200 Million Writedown

Mar 20, 2012  •  Post A Comment

The Walt Disney Co. is dealing with repercussions from a flop that will bring a $200 million writedown to the studio, CNN reports.

The action movie “John Carter” flopped at the box office despite a massive global marketing campaign, the story notes. The production budget for the film, based on an Edgar Rice Burroughs novel, was about $300 million.

The story reports: “The film about an American Civil War hero who journeys to Mars is shaping up to be one of Hollywood’s costliest flops. It has generated $184m in global ticket sales but with about half its takings going to cinema chains, Disney has had to adjust its earnings guidance for the quarter to reflect the film’s performance.”

Disney said it now expects its movie studio operation to post an operating loss between $80 million and $120 million for the quarter following the film’s release, the story reports.

CNN adds: “The writedown deals a blow to Rich Ross, the chairman of Walt Disney Studios, who has been trying to improve returns at the division following a restructuring and a focus on films made under the Disney, Pixar and Marvel brands.”

Things could turn around later in the year, the story notes, with the upcoming releases of “Brave” from Pixar and the superhero film “The Avengers.” Disney said those two films have "tremendous potential to drive value for the studio and the rest of the company,” according to the report.

“However, the abject failure of ‘John Carter’ is not likely to be forgotten in an industry where a single flop can wipe out a studio’s annual profits,” the report adds. “Hopes were initially high for ‘John Carter’: Its director, Andrew Stanton, had made the critically lauded and commercially successful ‘Finding Nemo’ and ‘Wall-E.’

“But the director openly admitted to struggling with the transition from animated film-making to live action directing. Meanwhile, Burroughs’ source material, which inspired filmmakers such as James Cameron, has failed to energize young, male cinema goers, a crucial demographic for any big-budget action movie.”

4 Comments

  1. John Carter deserved better reception than this. It is actually a very good movie and I will not hesitate purchasing the Blu-Ray when released. Unfortunately, John Carter will probably go the way of “I Am Number Four”. I Am Number Four was a fantastic movie based upon the book plus a second book in the series “The Power of Six” has already been released. Since, I Am Number Four, did not do very well at the box office, the second novel may never be filmed. I Am Number Four was one of the best movies released in 2011.
    John Carter was poised to a have series of potential movies released since Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote (11) novels in the Mars series. Of course, since John Carter, did not do very well at the US box office compared to its production cost, one would assume it is a certainty that Disney will not make a sequel.
    I wonder if the Disney brand is not what hurt this movie to begin with. Disney makes movies that generally appeal to families and children but somehow this movie was supposed to appeal to those action oriented single 18 to 30 year olds as well. With a Disney brand on it, I wonder if those single 18 to 30 year olds, didn’t think the movie would be a serious action adventure sci-fi movie. So Disney lost a good chunk of that age group possibly. Then since it was an action movie, many families did not take there children to this movie.
    Somehow, Disney lost its core audience and did not bring in the sci-fi action adventure audience as well. The “love story” was not even marketed at all in the trailers so there you lost any interest from girls and women. I thoroughly enjoyed John Carter. Sadly, John Carter, will ultimately go down as a box office failure when it deserved much better. I read somewhere that Disney should have promoted that it was based on the classic Edgar Rice Burroughs sci-fi series. Even though there is a character in movie “based” on ERB, if you didn’t know that actually ERB wrote the series you might miss that clever twist in the movie. Ultimately, this was a marketing failure because the movie, overall, delivers exactly what it was supposed to. It is an extremely enjoyable movie for all ages, much in the same vein as Star Wars and Avatar.

  2. As a person who has spent his entire working career in advertising/marketing, I have to agree with Les. John Carter is an absolute marketing failure. JC has some story flaws mostly derived from attempts to “modernize” and add detail/backstory, and a terrible, terrible title. Also, it was a very big mistake not to use “A Princess of Mars”. It conveyed everything a title should for a movie like this. Although, Roving Mars should have dispelled the notion, I think Disney management suffers from a “superstition” about movies with Mars in the title.
    Despite the minor story flaws, however, overall John Carter is a very good action/adventure film.

  3. Besides poor marketing and a bad title, the movie suffers because it added characters from the second book and tried to shoehorn them into the plot of the first book. Thus, the beginning of the movie was confusing. The script also failed to translate the exciting, lyrical beginning of the original book, probably because the Indians in the first chapter of the book were the bad guys. And, they added a subplot about the heroine doing some scientific mumbo jumbo, so it made her look more like a “modern” woman. The political correctness and poor storytelling choices didn’t help.

  4. I was afraid this would happen. History repeats itself…Diney + Sci-Fi = bad idea!

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