Yesterday, The Walt Disney Company released a statement regarding the disappointing box office of its recent release, John Carter. The film made a little over $30 million during its opening weekend, March 9-11, 2012. The film, which reportedly had a production budget of $250 million, is largely based upon A Princess of Mars (1917), the first novel in Edgar Rice Burroughs' Barsoom novel series. Disney's statement read:
“In light of the theatrical performance of John Carter ($184 million global box office), we expect the film to generate an operating loss of approximately $200 million during our second fiscal quarter ending March 31. As a result, our current expectation is that the Studio segment will have an operating loss of between $80 and $120 million for the second quarter. As we look forward to the second half of the year, we are excited about the upcoming releases of The Avengers and Brave, which we believe have tremendous potential to drive value for the Studio and the rest of the company.”
There are a number of theories as to why the film failed to meet expectations. One is that there was a disconnect between the film's director, Andrew Stanton, a two-time Oscar-winner at Pixar Animation Studios for Finding Nemo and Wall-E, and Disney's marketing division. So because of disagreements between the two or a lack of cooperation, if you read it that way, the film's marketing never piqued the interests of large numbers of potential moviegoers. And big-budget event films like John Carter need lots of tickets sold to be profitable theatrically.
So far the film is doing okay outside of the North American market. I guessing that Disney probably spent about $400 million making and marketing the film, so they're announcing a loss to their shareholders and the public because there is no way that this film can make a profit theatrically. It would probably need to make around $800 million worldwide to do so.
I have been too busy to see the film at the theatre, but I will see it on DVD or on television. Most people who see it will probably see it via some kind of home entertainment. Who knows? Over time, it may make Disney a pretty penny and become liked enough to make frequent appearances on the networks and channels that seem to have Disney franchises like Pirates of the Caribbean and National Treasure on heavy rotation.