Globe and Mail Questions John Carter ‘Flop’ Status

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There’s a nice piece in the Globe and Mail which puts the John Carter “flop” status in something approaching reasonable perspective.


Here’s the article:

John Carter’s a flop, but we’ve seen floppier

There’s nothing more entertaining than imagining you could do a better job of managing things than the rich and powerful. That’s why Disney’s announcement last Monday sent such an ecstatic ripple of schadenfreude through the entertainment world – the movie John Carter is not just a disappointment but a $200-million writeoff, making it the biggest movie flop of all time.

As a failure it surpasses Cutthroat IslandHoward the DuckIshtar,Heaven’s Gate and Pluto Nash.Every pittance-earning movie blogger claimed to be able to see the problems clearly: Director Andrew Stanton had only done animation before; the source material was too old; and the Disney branding machine had forgotten how to tell stories.

Piling on is fun, but John Carterseems distinctly overrated as flops go. With a Metacritic rating of about 51, it actually earned better reviews than current hits such as Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax and The Vow, or even last summer’s billion-dollar successes,Transformers: Dark of the Moon andPirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. As well, the CinemaScore polls of audiences gaveJohn Carter a decent B-plus rating.

Nor was there any poetic justice meted out here. There is no tongue-wagging Liz-and-Dick scandal (Cleopatra), no egocentric director (Michael Cimino, Heaven’s Gate; M. Night Shyamalan’s The Last Airbender), no movie star-producer’s vanity project (John Travolta’sBattlefield Earth; Kevin Costner’sThe Postman; Warren Beatty’s Ishtar and Town and Country).

Read the rest at the Globe and Mail


  • OK the original Disney press release says: for their 2nd Fiscal Quarter, ending March 31st, they were claiming a loss of $200M. So basically it’s a projected loss / tax write-off.

    The movie was released in the US on March 9th, and around the rest of the world maybe a week before. So for their 2nd fiscal quarter that the movie was out (3 weeks) it’s a loss…That doesn’t mean the movie is a flop or in it’s full release won’t make up ground. It’s a great movie, word of mouth might pull it out over the next few weeks.

  • Random thoughts, in no particular order:

    We’ve not seen the results for China and Japan yet, where it appears to have opened strongly. Markets outside the US are increasingly important.

    Viewing patterns are changing and certain and fast-growing segments of the market choose to see films via download and DVD/Blu-Ray rather than at theatres. Battlestar Galactica never scored stellar ratings according to old criteria, but was reportedly the most downloaded series in history.

    JC is definitely NOT a “flop” outside of US theatres, even if it is not performing as well as hoped.

    The “flop” status seems to be an example of mass hysteria (with a more than significant element of internal Disney politics and stock manipulation) – a significant number of commentators decided well before its release that it was going to be a flop, so anything that indicated that it was not going to be the next Avatar or Titanic confirmed that narrative – and that has hurt its further performance once it was released.

    That said, once all the results are in from worldwide sales and sales in other media, the bean-counters may decide that John Carter could have been a more obvious success if it had been well-marketed and that sequels will be profitable if they are well marketed – that a sequel might indeed be worthwhile greenlighting.

    Hollywood routinely uses false accounting to classify films as financial failures in order to avoid paying portions of profits to writers and other crew and there have been many lawsuits as a result – even Peter Jackson was involved in legal action with New Line because they had understated their actual earnings from The Lord of the Rings – yet the trilogy was a colossal success by anyone’s reckoning.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if JC didn’t get sequels due to underperformance, but on the other hand, I wouldn’t be surprised if they were due to someone in an office determining that indeed they were worth the investment after all, once everything was taken into account (including stock values).

    That’s all a lot of supposition followed by wishful thinking, but what the Hell…

    Anyway, if what appears to be the case is the case… well, I’m going to buy the DVD and watch it again and again anyway. I’ve already registered myself at Amazon to be alerted when it becomes available.

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