Mars Needs Moms
- Directed By: Simon Wells
- Written By: Simon Wells, Wendy Wells, Berkeley Breathed
- Release Date: March 11, 2011
- Domestic Distributor: Disney
- Cast: Seth Green, Dan Fogler, Joan Cusack
Box Office Info:
|Budget: $150 million||Financed by: Disney|
|Domestic Box Office: $21,392,758||Overseas Box Office: $18,157,000|
The budget for Mars Needs Moms was $150 million and this box office trainwreck was financed by Disney, with an estimated $60M additional in marketing costs and it ended as one of the biggest flops of all time. In 2007 Robert 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 this fiasco. Producer Zemeckis had previously directed the creepy uncanny valley mo-cap movies The Polar Express (2004), the box office flop Beowulf (2007) and A Christmas Carol. Mars Needs Moms was also the first film from director Simon Wells, since he was removed from his directing duties on the 2002 flop The Time Machine. He has not directed another feature since.
After Disney executives viewed a rough cut of this disaster, their response was to close down ImageMovers Digital. ImageMovers employed over 450 people and shuttering the company cost Disney $80 million in severances and restructuring. They were also working on another mo-cap feature The Yellow Submarine, which the mouse house shut down and that aborted project resulted in a $96 million write-down. Mars Needs Moms was too far along in production to scrap and its box office failure ended with a reported $100 million write-down.
Disney dated Mars Needs Moms for March 11, 2011 and despite knowing the picture was headed for a loss, the studio did support the release with an expensive marketing push and even primed the toon for an IMAX run. Reviews were mixed and it would have competition with the animated Rango, which opened just one week earlier. It bowed against Battle: Los Angeles and Red Riding Hood. Disney booked it into 3,117 theaters and tracking was pointing to a troubling $8M – $10M opening, but it was dead on arrival with $6,914,488 — placing #5 for the weekend led by Battle: Los Angeles. Mars Needs Moms tanked with a domestic total of $21,392,758.
Deciding to cut some inevitable losses after the horrible US numbers, Disney sent the film straight to video in a handful of markets, including France. Mars Needs Moms did predictably awful in every country and its overseas cume was a dismal $18.1M.
Disney’s following year release of what was originally titled John Carter Of Mars, would lose the ‘of Mars‘ to distance the expensive project from this turkey, only to become the biggest flop of all time.