Disney admits biggest film flop for second year in row

Walt Disney has confirmed what the critics already know – science fiction blockbuster John Carter is a flop.

Walt Disney has confirmed what the critics already know – science fiction blockbuster John Carter is a flop.

But even flops have a habit of eventually making back their costs after worldwide cinema takings, DVD sales and pay TV rights are taken into account.

For example, Kevin Costner’s Waterworld back in 1996 went on to gross $US264 million, while last year’s Cowboys and Aliens – a similar genre crossover to John Carter – and The Green Lantern also emerged on the positive side of the ledger.

But Walt Disney is taking its John Carter losses up front, based on poor US box office takings since its release two weeks ago.

So far it has taken $US179 million at box offices worldwide with $US53.2 million in the US alone.

In New Zealand, however, it was the biggest grossing film last weekend with $US168,885, nudging out new release Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance.

Total takings for two weeks are nearly $US600,000, a respectable figure that nearly equates to what Underworld Awakening and the comedy This Means War have done over longer periods.

The studio says it expects to lose $US200 million on John Carter and this could result in an $US80-120 million loss for the movie division in the current quarter.

However, the company is still likely to make a substantial quarterly profit thanks to its pay TV and theme park businesses.

It is estimated John Carter cost $US250 million to make with another $US100 million spent on marketing. Box Office Mojo estimates it could eventually make $US300 million.

The film is based on a series of books written by the author of Tarzan, Edgar Rice Burroughs, early last century in what were called “interplanetary romances.” The series began with A Princess of Mars in 1912 and ended with John Carter of Mars, published after the author's death in 1964.

The word “Mars” was dropped from the film title after another Disney movie, Mars Needs Moms, was last year’s biggest flop. It reputedly cost $US150 million to make but only took $US40 million worldwide.

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