A Christmas Carol

  • A Christmas Carol box office
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  • Directed By: Robert Zemeckis
  • Written By: Robert Zemeckis
  • Release Date: November 6, 2009
  • Domestic Distributor: Disney
  • Cast: Jim Carrey, Cary Elwes, Colin Firth, Gary Oldman

Box Office Info:
Budget: $200 millionFinanced by: Disney
Domestic Box Office: $137,855,863Overseas Box Office: $187,430,783


A Christmas Carol was director Robert Zemeckis’ third motion capture movie, after The Polar Express (2004) and the box office flop Beowulf (2007).  In 2007 Zemeckis’ company ImageMovers Digital landed a deal at Disney where they would focus on producing expensive 3D motion capture projects.  Only two movies materialized from the deal and lost the mouse house a fortune — A Christmas Carol and the fiasco Mars Needs Moms.

A Christmas Carol pulled in strong numbers worldwide, but was another casualty of excessive spending where reaching a break even point would be near impossible.  The budget for A Christmas Carol was $200 million, which Disney financed and launched one of the mouse house’s most expensive worldwide marketing campaigns.  In addition to a bloated traditional P&A spend and tons of corporate promotional tie-ins, Disney launched a 16,000 mile, six month train tour, with a five car train that had exhibits of the film — this required tons of Disney staff and money to see through.

A Christmas Carol was dated for November 6 and bowed against The Men Who Stare at Goats, The Fourth Kind and The Box.  Reviews were mixed and early tracking was pointing to a solid $40 – $45 million start.  A Christmas Carol opened in the US to $30,051,075 — a troubling number for such a massive expense behind the pic.  On November 10 Mark Zoradi, the head of worldwide marketing at Disney who spearheaded the exorbitant ad campaign, saw himself forced to resign after the disappointing opening.  A Christmas Carol declined a modest 25.8% the following weekend to $22,308,913 and had enough legs to get to a respectable enough $137,855,863 final gross in the US.

The overseas total was a solid $187.4M.  The worldwide cume was $325.2M but Disney would only see back about $178.8M after theaters take their percentage of the gross — which covers the hefty P&A spend, but little of the budget.  Disney took an unreported but estimated $50 million and some estimates go as high as $100 million write-down on the film.

In 2011 Disney shuttered Zemeckis’ ImageMovers Digital after he produced the motion capture mega-flop Mars Needs Moms, which cost the mouse house $80 million in severances and restructuring.  ImageMovers was working on another mo-cap feature The Yellow Submarine, which was also shut down and resulted in a $96 million write down.

5 Comments

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  1. So “The Polar Express” was ImageMovers Animation’s only real success. I think “Monster House” just about broke even. “Beowulf”, “A Christmas Carol”, and “Mars Needs Moms” all lost money.

  2. Still one of my all-time favorite Christmas films, along with the Alastair Sim and George C. Scott versions of of A Christmas Carol, The Polar Express, It’s a Wonderful Life, A Christmas Story, the two Home Alone films, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, and Tim Allen’s Santa Clause films.

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