Disney Will Lose $200 Million On John Carter

By Katey Rich 2012-03-19 15:16:31discussion comments
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$200 million. That's an incomprehensible amount of money for most of us, and even for most people in the business of making movies. It could fund four 21 Jump Streets, two Ocean's Elevens, God only knows how many Paranormal Activitys or Martha Marcy May Marlenes. But for a studio like Disney, it's just the cost of doing business-- specifically the amount of money they have now acknowledged they will lose on John Carter, the epic space adventure that thus far has grossed about $184 million worldwide.

That's far less than it cost, which depending on who you ask was $250 million (says director Andrew Stanton) or $350 million including marketing (says a lot of other people, including The New York Times). When you take that $184 million theatrical gross, split it with theater owners and account for all the other strange Hollywood math, it's not nearly enough to make up the difference. According to the Times a lot of people had predicted Disney's writedown on John Carter to be between $100 to $165 million, but in a statement today the studio confirmed the number to be $200 million. They went on immediately in the statement to praise two of their upcoming films, The Avengers and Brave, which almost by definition have to do better than John Carter-- it's rare to see flops this massive.

With the book seemingly closed on the endless media stories speculating just how big a bomb John Carter would be, I find myself feeling sorry for it-- in a way it was the opposite of the bloated, calculated movies that usually become sinkholes for studios, made because Stanton was passionate about the material and the studio owed him one after his hits Wall-E and Finding Nemo. Hopefully years from now someone will write the definitive book about what went wrong, but for now I'll just feel sad that a director whose work I genuinely love saw his passion project end in such rotten defeat.
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