'John Carter' the latest Disney bomb
CEO Iger wants the company to learn from the box-office mistake. But is this one mistake too many?
Walt Disney (DIS) CEO Bob Iger is trying to transform its huge box-office bomb "John Carter"into a teachable moment where nobody will lose their jobs. What a pity.
There's plenty of blame to go around for this turkey of a sci-fi mega-flick, as The New York Times notes. First, the script -- based on a forgotten story by Tarzan creator Edgar Rice Burroughs -- was a mess. Then there was the $350 million price tag, expensive even by current Hollywood standards.
Director Andrew Stanton, whose credits include animation hits "Finding Nemo" and "Wall-E," had never helmed a live-action picture before. His inexperience showed in this confusing mess of a film, according to critics.
"The movie eagerly sells itself as semitrashy, almost-campy fun, but it is so lavish and fussy that you can't help thinking that it wants to be taken seriously, and therefore you laugh at, rather than with, its mock sublimity," wroteTimes film critic A.O. Scott.
The "John Carter" bomb was expected, as the following video notes.
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The website Rotten Tomatoes is even more brutal, arguing thatthe film "suffers from uneven pacing and occasionally incomprehensible plotting and characterization." Adding further insult, Universal Studios' "The Lorax" had a second-weekend box-office take that walloped John Carter's debut, at $39.1 million to $30.6 million.
Disney will need to take a quarterly write-down of as much as $160 million because of the poor "John Carter" performance, according to the Times. The film was so expensive, by the way, that it needed to gross an estimated $600 million just to break even -- a feat that seems impossible.
As the Times notes, Iger is refusing to pin blame for the "John Carter" fiasco on one person. It's a huge miss, Iger reportedly told executives, but it's the company's miss and no individual should be blamed. That's sound management because companies succeed and fail as a team. Unfortunately for Disney shareholders, though, there are no signs that the company has learned from other mistakes made in its film business.
"Cars 2" received such a critical drubbing that director John Lasseter took the unusual step of publicly defending his picture, which was less of a hit than its predecessor. Disney also reportedly sunk $175 million into "Mars Needs Moms," another critical and box-office failure. Disney's box-office market share plunged about 15% in 2011 to 12.2%, finishing in 4th place behind Viacom's (VIA) Paramount, Time Warner's (TWX) Warner Bros. and Sony's (SNE) Columbia, Box Office Mojo says.
Another test for Disney studio head Rich Ross, a company veteran who started his current job in 2009, will come next year with the release of "The Lone Ranger." The film, which has a reported budget topping $200 million, was almost canceled once already because of soaring costs. If The Lone Ranger is as big of a bomb as John Carter and Disney's stock continues to tread water, both Iger and Ross may be out of a job.
Ross has angered at least one Hollywood hotshot already. Legendary director Steven Spielberg was furious with him about not being consulted before Disney replaced well-known marketing chief MT Carney, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Tinseltown executives anger important players such as Spielberg at their own peril.
Disney shares have finally shown some life, gaining almost 13% this year and trading at a price-earnings ratio of 15.97, near their five-year high, according to Reuters. Wall Street analysts have an average one-year price target of $45.62 on Disney, about 8% above where it currently trades. The stock, though, should be avoided until the cloud over the studio Mickey built lifts.
–Jonathan Berr does not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.
Not really sure how someone found the movie confusing. It was pretty decent, just had a very poor marketing campaign. There are a lot worse movies made that have done a lot better.
I do think having Disney's name attached to the movie did not help it.
First lesson: Movies in MArch will tank.
Second Lesson: Don't sell a movie based on a name only known to hard sci-fi nerds (I am one, but still)
Third lesson: You can't phone anything in on a movie with Avatar levels of CG needed.
Forth Lesson: Sticking to the source material and having the women nearly nude wouldn't have hurt. (kidding)
200 mil for Lone Ranger? For What? Old western props hard to come by? Oh right, Jonny Depp stars. There's most of the budget.
Another title to add to the list of movies protected by unconstitutional copyright laws.
Before you shoot off on the 2nd sentence -- be sure to carefully review the U.S. Constitution's language on this and understand the concepts of protection for creative incentive and the public's remainder interests.
Saw the movie. Sure it was pretty, as were the actors. But it was nothing like the original book "A Princess Of Mars"! They eliminated or recreated important parts of the book, basterizing a classic SF book to meet the assumed sensibilities of a desired ADD teenage audience supposedly looking for action, action, action all the time. And the all too pretty Taylor Kitsch was the wrong actor to play Civil War survivor and man of the world, John Carter.
Really, it was pretty much a travesty from the getgo. The scriptwriters seem to have decided to write a new book, instead of following what Burroughs wrote. Carter being recruited as an Apache fighter? Didn't happen in the book. Carter chained to the wall among the Tharks? Didn't happen. Carter making quarter mile jumps into the air? Didn't (couldn't) happen. Helium flying ships fighting Zadonga flying ships (using a Thern weapon no less!) resulting in John Carter saving Dejah Thoris? Didn't happen. Dejah Thoris was actually colored copper red, not covered with henna tattoo's. The white apes weren't like 50 ft tall. I could go on but those who have read the book will get the picture.
You can read the original book at project Gutenberg. Search for the "A Princess Of Mars"
I think they might have turned out a better product had they actually stuck with following the actual story in the book (after all, it still works 100 years later!) and chosen a better John Carter actor. Oh, not to forget - the 3D junk gave me a headache!
My recommendation - wait for it on DVD.
One of the biggest successes in recent years was Transformers 2, a movie with neither a good script nor good acting, but a lot of explosions and special effects.
Guess what movie companies do.
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