From Aintitcool.com “You could see Disney’s JOHN CARTER shaping up as a misfire from a long way off. No studio has projected ‘disaster’ so loudly since Sony’s misbegotten remake of GODZILLA in 1998. For a $250 million movie to be tracking near a $25 million opening is shocking.”
The autopsy began before the corpse was even on the slab. In fact, with less than one week in the books and over $100 million in worldwide grosses, it’s yet to be determined whether JOHN CARTER is actually dead. But that didn’t stop reasonable folks like Anne Thompson, quoted above, from declaring the movie DOA before ticket buyers had their say. Here it was: another stumble for Disney’s feature division (following the failed franchising of TRON LEGACY) and, perhaps most importantly, the first critical/commercial disaster for a key member of the Pixar brain trust. Finally, a chance to lambaste one of those guys.
Andrew Stanton called this pack-mentality drubbing “schadenfreude” on Twitter, and he’s correct up to a point. Success breeds contempt in Hollywood; the longer you’re on a roll, the more folks want to see you drive into a ditch going 100 mph with no seat belt. They want to know that you’re human, and they want you to suffer for their inability to make a film 1/10th as inspired as the fiasco they’re tearing apart*. Stanton was already on the clock after the largely-dialogue-free WALL-E; now that he was branching out into live action (and admittedly learning on the job) with a semi-obscure property that’s long thrown a scare into studio marketing departments, the opportunity to yank the leash was there.
At a reported cost of $250 million (which does not factor in Disney’s aggressive marketing campaign, which would certainly knock the price tag over $300 million), it seems unlikely that Stanton’s JOHN CARTER will rake in the $600 million required to justify a second installment. Obviously, it’s worth keeping an eye on the international gross, which is poised to more than double the film’s domestic take, but with the market soon to be flooded with other blockbuster product (namely THE HUNGER GAMES), screens will be at a premium; by the time WRATH OF THE TITANS steals most of the 3D houses on March 30th (THE LORAX stands a better chance of holding onto a sliver of its 3D screens due to an absence of legitimate family film competition), JOHN CARTER will be finished in the U.S. with a best-case projected gross of $90 million.