Sci-fi adventure opens behind Lorax animated movie at U.S. box office . . .
Disney sci-fi adventure flick John Carter had a U.S. box office opening of $ 30.6 million this weekend. The animated Lorax movie, in its second week, was however still in the number one spot at $39.1 million.
Disney may have hoped for a weekend domestic opening in the $30 million range as Dave Hollis, executive vice president for motion picture sales and distribution at Disney, told Reuters, but this iffy box office performance does not bode well for the movie’s financial prospects.
According to Davenport & Co analyst Michael Morris John Carter needs to make at least $400 million at the box office to generate enough theater, home video and television revenue to cover the film’s production and promotion costs. An analyst at Evercore Partners however predicts that John Carter could lose $165 million . . .
The problem is that John Carter cost a whopping $250 million to make thanks to time spent in development hell and problems with special effects. To put it in perspective: Avatar cost less at $237 million and made $77 million in its opening weekend at the U.S. box office alone. A movie such as the third Narnia movie cost $155 million to make. (Note: $250 million is simply what John Carter cost to produce. On top of that there are marketing costs. Some movies spend up to 40% of what it cost to make to promote it!)
Why make such an expensive movie? Because it takes money to make money as they say.
John Carter was intended to be the next Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, the fourth movie of which made more than a billion dollars worldwide last year. Hollywood will keep on making expensive special effects flicks in the movie that it’d be the next Star Wars. Disney however had some bad luck last year when they had to write off $70 million with Mars Needs Moms. (The whole debacle sent Disney stocks falling by 3% – no wonder they dropped the “Of Mars” bit from the film’s original title!)
So what does this mean for science fiction fans?
There may have been a string of recent sci-fi box office disappointments such as Green Lantern and Cowboys & Aliens, but Hollywood execs are too afraid to miss out on the next Star Wars or Avatar to not keep on churning out special effects blockbusters.
However don’t expect to see any John Carter sequels anytime soon though . . .