John Carter

  • John carter box office flop
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  • Directed By: Andrew Stanton
  • Written By: Andrew Stanton & Mark Andrews & Michael Chabon
  • Release Date: March 9, 2012
  • Domestic Distributor: Disney
  • Cast: Taylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins, Samantha Morton

Box Office Info:
Budget: $263.7 millionFinanced by: Disney
Domestic Gross: $73,078,100Overseas Gross: $211,061,000


John Carter is the reigning champion of financial loss, with Disney taking a $200 million write down on the box office disaster.  Director Andrew Stanton treated the live action film like his or any other Pixar production — scrapping previously filmed footage and reshooting and reworking the movie until this fiscally irresponsible movie had a gross budget that ballooned into excess at $306.6 million.  The net budget for John Carter was $263.7 million, after the British tax authority issued a tax rebate to Disney for $42.9 million.  On top of the exorbitant production expense, the mouse house invested north of $100 million into an unfocused marketing campaign.

Originally titled John Carter of Mars, it was shortened to just John Carter after Disney didn’t want any association of their expensive picture with their turkey Mars Needs Moms.  The generic and not very telling title wasn’t the cause of the $200 million loss, but it’s one of many bad decisions that led to the movie’s box office demise.  The trailers and the ad material were confused at best and fell flat with not only spectacle, but never made it clear who this John Carter guy really is and the ads never connected with audiences.  There was plenty of finger pointing and blaming about who was responsible for the wretched marketing, but it was director Andrew Stanton that had creative control of the initial marketing campaign and the dull first trailers.

The movie was tracking very poorly for months up to release and a last minute effort to make a more focused ad spend, was too little too late.  Disney continued to throw cash at an ad blitz that wasn’t doing anything for audiences but clogging up the TV airwaves.  Throwing good money at a big problem, without addressing the problem was just creating a giant money suck.  The mouse house opened John Carter in the US against Silent House and A Thousand Words and it pulled in a soft $30,180,188 — placing #2 for the weekend behind Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax in its second frame.  John Carter proved front loaded and sank 55% in its second weekend to $13,569,795 killing its chances at breaking out.  The pic continued to post large declines and when the gross sputtered out at $69 million, Disney paired John Carter as a double feature with The Avengers in its first weekend in over 150 drive-ins — which helped boost its final gross to $73,078,100.

The picture fared a bit better overseas with a $211 million cume, bringing the worldwide gross to $284 million — which after theaters take their percentage of the gross, left Disney with the biggest movie flop of all time.  Star in grooming Taylor Kitsch suffered another setback just two months later, with another bloated mega-budgeted bomb Battleship.

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