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‘John Carter’ Will Lose Disney Over Two Hundred Million

Lynn Collins and Taylor Kitsch in 'John Carter'
Walt Disney Studios

Even before the final numbers are in, Disney has announced that ‘John Carter‘ has cost them $200 Million dollars. The production, which has a listed budget of $250 million, had become a whipping boy months before release when the marketing didn’t suggest the huge blockbuster that a quarter of a billion dollar production would normally promise. Now, Disney is writing the film off as a loss.

This is interesting as last weekend the studio was touting their international numbers, announcing that the film made $100 million worldwide on opening weekend, which downplayed the film’s $30 million second place domestic opening. Perhaps now that the second weekend numbers are in from international they know they’re not going to make the half a billion that would (normally) be the break even point.

Of course when it comes to numbers – let’s be honest – studios aren’t entirely honest, and the standardized “a film must make twice what it cost to be profitable” line isn’t always the case. With international, home video and tie-in products, a film can make a profit in different ways than it used to. But with a film of this size, it’s possible that the marketing budget – regardless of how effective it was – was around a hundred million, and possibly more. These are the numbers never talked about and it was revelatory when the L.A. Times noted that ‘The Last Airbender’ was a $150 million dollar production that had a $130 million marketing budget. But for the math nerds, the film should make $300 worldwide at the lowest (it’s currently at $179 million), so perhaps the two to one ratio is right on this one.

This statement of their loss may have been made public to get people fired (we’ll know soon), or possibly because they can’t hide their quarterly loses on this one and so they’re going public now to take their stock hits immediately. In this case it’s hard not to feel bad for Andrew Stanton and company because though the film might have some big flaws, its heart was in the right place.

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