Previously known for directing animated Pixar classics like “Wall-E” and “Finding Nemo” and penning the “Toy Story” franchise, Disney trusted Andrew Stanton with a $250 million budget to adapt the 1917 sci-fi classic “The Princess of Mars.” In the studio’s opinion “John Carter” was destined to be a sure-fire blockbuster. What executives thought was a can’t-miss epic turned out to be a can’t-watch bomb.
Today, Disney announced they’re going to lose $200 million on the film.
In the weeks leading up to the its release critics began to question the promotion of the film. The release of every new trailer, commercial or print advertisement seemed to be met with much more criticism than fanfare. Everything about the film seemed mismanaged and no offense to Taylor Kitsch, but he wasn’t ready to carry the load of a $250 million blockbuster — and this is coming from one of the biggest “Friday Night Lights” supporters around.
Now Disney is responsible for one of the biggest box office disasters in recent memory. According to the Huffington Post it ranks “among Hollywood’s all-time biggest money-losers.”
Disney said “John Carter” has brought in about $184 million in ticket sales worldwide so far. But ticket sales are split roughly in half with theater owners. The movie’s production budget is estimated to be about $250 million with about $100 million more spent on marketing.
It’s hard not to wonder how much of the blame lies on the arrogant shoulders of director Andrew Stanton. After receiving plenty of critical acclaim for his directorial work on the incredibly inventive “Wall-E” as well as the wonderful underwater adventure “Finding Nemo” it seems Disney was a little too trustworthy. Before the release of “Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol” I questioned whether Brad Bird (“Up,” “Ratatouille”) was the right man for the job, it appears as though I was picking on the wrong Pixar director.
A couple weeks ago, on the week of the release of “John Carter,” New York Mag ran an interview with director Stanton in which the director made same rather grand statements about “John Carter.” He even went as saying “Star Wars” is to “West Side Story” as “John Carter” is to “Romeo and Juliet.” Granted he was simply trying to explain that “John Carter” preceded sci-fi adventures like “Star Wars” by a significant amount of time, but it was still kind of a ridiculous statement. And on the BBC podcast of Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo’s film reviews Stanton said he felt no pressure of the $250 million price tag, and confessed to not knowing what to do with a measly $5 million.
Now, I’ll admit that I’m one of the many who haven’t seen “John Carter” and have no desire to see it, because not one promo or trailer or advertisement ever made me say “I could watch that.” Judging by the box office numbers I wasn’t alone with that sentiment.