When 'John Carter' bombed earlier this year, it looked like director Andrew Stanton was going to be thrown into director's jail. Although his live action debut may have lost Disney upwards of $200 million, there was always one place for Stanton to retreat: Pixar, the animation studio he helped found and the place where his work won him two Academy Awards. Then came the news that Stanton was going to lick his wounds by making a surefire success: 'Finding Nemo 2.' The cynics scoffed and rolled their eyes, but the director has a response for them.
Last month, Disney announced to shareholders that following the disappointing returns on the expensive sci-fi epic 'John Carter', they were estimating a whopping $200 million loss in earnings. Earlier this morning, Walt Disney Studios Chairman Rich Ross sent an e-mail to employees notifying them that he would "step down" from his post, effective immediately.
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.
It's okay to be blunt about this one: unless there's a remarkable surge in word of mouth and audiences return to give it a strong second week, it's safe to call the 'John Carter' $30,603,000 opening disastrous. For a movie this expensive (a reported $250 million, but probably more), Disney needed that opening gross to start with a seven, not a three.
A look at the Top 10 Movies this weekend plus more analysis below:
'John Carter'. Just 'John Carter'.
Disney changed the title of this notoriously extravagant blockbuster from 'John Carter of Mars' during production, either because a) 'Mars Needs Moms', a recent Disney production, was a huge flop, b) market research indicated women wouldn't go see a movie about Mars, or c) both. Whatever the reason, it turned out to be an ironic choice: regardless of the title, it's Mars, not John Carter, who's the star of this film. Even during the most narratively bereft moments, there is always something interesting to look at onscreen.
That's good because the narratively bereft moments come early and often.