Disney’s “John Carter” ready to take $200M bath

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John Carter

John Carter

Dis­ney expects its partly ani­mated and fre­quently panned Red Planet film John Carter to lose $200 mil­lion, throw­ing the whole movie divi­sion into a sea of red ink.

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,” Dis­ney said in a state­ment after mar­kets closed Monday.

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.”

The movie’s pro­duc­tion bud­get is esti­mated at $250 mil­lion. Another $100 mil­lion was spent on marketing.

Dis­ney said that John Carter has col­lected about $184 mil­lion in global ticket sales so far. How­ever, ticket sales are split approx­i­mately in half with the­ater owners.

Made by Oscar-winning direc­tor Andrew Stan­ton in his first live-action effort, the movie drew scathing reviews from many crit­ics upon its release ear­lier this month.

While John Carter looks ter­rific and deliv­ers its share of pulpy thrills, it also suf­fers from uneven pac­ing and occa­sion­ally incom­pre­hen­si­ble plot­ting and char­ac­ter­i­za­tion,” said the Rot­ten Toma­toes site, which also com­piles film reviews. Asso­ci­ated Press movie critic Christy Lemire called it “mas­sively con­fus­ing” and “deadly dull.”

The loss will more than over­shadow means that prof­its from other movies and home video disc sales.

But Dis­ney main­tains that the loss can be reversed, thanks to such future projects as Pixar’s Brave, set for release June 22.

As we look for­ward to the sec­ond half of the year, we are excited about… The Avengers and Brave, which we believe have tremen­dous poten­tial to drive value for the Stu­dio and the rest of the com­pany,” the enter­tain­ment giant said.

Cen­ter­ing on a Civil War vet­eran who finds him­self on Mars, John Carter is on its way to the “Red Ink Planet,” said Cowen & Co. ana­lyst Doug Creutz. How­ever, he pre­dicts a write-down of about $100 million.

Disney’s pro­jected loss is more than dou­ble what he had expected, said Miller Tabak ana­lyst David Joyce, adding that this will reduce his esti­mate for Disney’s earn­ings. Because of the large spend­ing on pro­duc­tion and mar­ket­ing, Dis­ney is announc­ing the loss sooner than might be expected for for a smaller-budget film, he added: “It’s good that Disney’s air­ing their dirty laun­dry now.”

Obvi­ously no stu­dio puts this much into a movie hop­ing for this kind of result,” said Hollywood.com ana­lyst Paul Dergarabedian.

One esti­mate was that about $600 mil­lion in world­wide box office rev­enue was needed in order for Dis­ney to break even on John Carter. How­ever, fewer than 65 movies have reached that fig­ure, Der­garabe­dian said.

Dis­ney shares fell 43 cents Mon­day to 43.01 in extended trad­ing. The stock closed up 25 cents at $43.44 in reg­u­lar trad­ing — before Disney’s announce­ment of the huge expected loss.

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