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.

20 Comments

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  1. For me this is one of the best movies I’ve seen in my liy and I still watch it till today, they did a really good job, just unfortunate for them that it didn’t workout financially, it’s so painful there is no part 2

    • When I finally saw this movie a couple of years after it opened, I didn’t think it was as bad as it had been reported. The marketing was confusing as I remember, but as movies go, I’ve seen much much worse.

  2. Read the book as a teen, and watched the movie. I enjoyed both. Advertisement was poorly done. As the target audience clearly has no idea who Edgar Rice Burroughs was or when the stories were written. I agree that the ‘John Carter’ storys lines have been use by many movies. So when the real deal is made it lacks the power it should have.

  3. The original Edgar Rice Burroughs novel was called The Princess of Mars.
    Maybe the producers thought that was too sexist in 2012.
    But they could have called it something better than John Carter which sounds pretty banal. That definitely didn’t help.

  4. Best movie ever made watched it today 5th time don’t know why you saying flop i wish there was part 2 to show his life in Mars rolling as a king of Mars

  5. The original book written 10 decades earlier had been mercilessly plagiarized by countless directors and screenwriters over the years so that much of the material and characters of the story were already recognisable and familiar to sci-fi audiences. The creators of the Disney film had to detour quite a bit from the original draft to avoid inevitable comparisons. And Andrew Stanton wasn’t really up to the task. The dismal box office performance further alienated audiences from what was a watchable enjoyable film. Pity.

  6. Burroughs, Arthur C. Clark, Issac Asimov, E. E. Doc Smith, just to name a few of the early sci-fi authors whose works would probably never be appreciated by todays movie gowers even if given a quality cinematic treatment.

  7. The movie flopped because Disney didn’t properly market this property. It’s an Edgar Rice Burroughs story from long ago. The movie is actually one of my favorites and is very well done! Great special effects, good guys, bad guys, main villains, romance, love and more. If you like any Edgar Rice Burroughs, then you should see this movie.

    • No, the crazy thing was the assholes who saw it and dismissed it as a rip off of Star Wars and Avatar without realizing the property predated both by decades.

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