Here is an excellent, well researched white paper on the case for John Carter sequels prepared by “Shou Amabane”. See our earlier white paper too. Some terrific research here and this is much appreciated.
White Paper 2: The Case For John Carter Sequels
by Shou Amabane
China and Russia: John carter did solid numbers worldwide especially in the growing box office markets of China and Russia.
-Russia box office market continues to grow and has become one of Disney’s top 5 markets
-China box office grew at an average of 39% percent per year over the last 5 years and will overtake the United States as the top box office market in 6-7 years. In 2011 China grossed 2.08 billion
Sequels in China and Russia
If you combine that box office growth with additional movies in the series to follow up the previous one then the results can be phenomenal. Here are some examples of some franchises that have recently had a film release in the last 2 years.
Kung Fu Panda (2008)
China BO: 26.02 million
Russia BO: 20.58 million
Kung Fu Panda 2 (2011)
China BO: 92.17 million
Russia BO: 31.83 million
Additional increase in revenue over previous movie: 77.4 million or 266% increase
China BO: 37.22 million
Russia BO: 15.14 million
Transformers 2 (2009)
China BO: 65.84 million
Russia BO: 18.18 million
Additional increase in revenue over previous movie: 31.66 million or 60% increase
Transformers 3 (2011)
China BO: 172 million
Russia BO: 45.13 million
Additional increase in revenue over previous movie: 133 million or 258% increase
China BO: N/A
Russia BO: 3.9 million
Cars 2 (2011)
China BO: N/A
Russia BO: 19.92 million
Additional increase in revenue over previous movie (Russia only): 16.02 million or 410% increase
Pirates of the Caribbean (2003)
China BO: 2.98 million
Russia BO: 9.06 million
Pirates of the Caribbean 2 (2006)
China BO: N/A
Russia BO: 27.52 million
Additional increase in revenue over previous movie (Russia only): 18.46 million or 304%
Pirates of the Caribbean 3 (2007)
China BO: 16.97 million
Russia BO: 30.85 million
Additional increase in revenue over previous movie (Russia only): 3.33 million or 12%
Pirates of the Caribbean 4 (2011)
China BO: 70 million
Russia BO: 63.66 million
Additional increase in revenue over previous movie: 86.02 million or 281%
Note: if an estimate of 15 million is given to the second Pirates of the Caribbean movie for China then it is about a 500% increase from the first movie
Mission Impossible 3 (1996)
China BO: 10.16 million
Russia BO: 6.27 million
Mission Impossible 4 (2011)
China BO: 101.23 million
Russia BO: 12.4 million
Additional increase in revenue over previous movie: 97.2 million or 692%
Note: did not use Mission Impossible 1 and 2 because there was little no box office growth in the 90’s.
China BO: .85 million
Russia BO: 1.07 million
Shrek 2 (2004)
China BO: 1.5 million
Russia BO: 10.87 million
Additional increase in revenue over previous movie: 10.45 million or 644%
Shrek 3 (2007)
China BO: .98 million
Russia BO: 23.05 million
Additional increase in revenue over previous movie: 11.66 million or 194%
Shrek 4 (2010)
China BO: 13.46 million
Russia BO: 51.36 million
Additional increase in revenue over previous movie: 40.79 million or 270%
This one looks like it never really took off in China
China BO: N/A
Russia BO: 3.58 million
Twilight 2 (2009)
China BO: N/A
Russia BO: 18.62 million
Additional increase in revenue over previous movie (Russia only): 15.04 million or 520%
Twilight 3 (2010)
China BO: N/A
Russia BO: 26.36 million
Additional increase in revenue over previous movie (Russia only): 7.74 million or 42% increase
Twilight 4 (2011)
China BO: N/A
Russia BO: 31.82 million
Additional increase in revenue over previous movie (Russia only): 5.46 million or 36%
What’s impressive about the Twilight growth numbers is that these movies were released only a year apart from each other and the franchise has grown almost 1000% in Russia since the first movie came out in only a 3 year period.
Now we will do the Avengers and I will use Iron man 1 and 2 as the first two movies in the series because it was the most popular in China and Russia compared to Thor, Captain America and the Hulk.
Iron Man (2008)
China BO: 15.27 million
Russia BO: 9.39 million
Iron Man 2 (2010)
China BO: N/A
Russia BO: 14.78 million
Avengers 2012 (2012)
China BO: 90.3 million
Russia BO: 43.5 million
Additional increase in revenue from first movie in series to the last: 109.14 million or 442% increase in 4 years
And lastly, since there are so many Harry Potter movies I’ll start from the 2nd movie (bc there is no data for the first movie) and skip to the last
Harry Potter 2 (2002)
China BO: 6.03 million
Russia BO: 7 million
Harry Potter 8 (2011)
China BO: 60.8 million
Russia BO: 36.82 million
Addition increase in revenue from the first movie to the last movie: 97.62 million or 745% increase in less than 9 years
Now let’s look at a Chinese fantasy/love/horror film called Painted Skin. One of the top grossing movies in China for 2008 and recently had a release last month
Painted Skin (2008)
China BO: 33.47 million
Painted Skin 2 (2012)
China BO: 115 million
Additional increase in revenue over previous movie (China only): 81.57 million or 343% increase
Note: The Expendables comes out in China in the next week. Painted Skin and the Expendables are both good examples of one audience films. John Carter on the other hand is a tent pole movie which means it appeals to all audiences’ men, women, young and old. It will be interesting to see how the Expendables does since the original grossed 32 million in china just 2 years ago.
With all this data I think your estimate of a 68 million increase in foreign gross is way too conservative. In China and Russia alone a John Carter sequel should pass that number with relative ease.
Now that data justifies your model assumption of 175 million for two movies. But there is still a problem. The first movie was so great because Stanton had free reign and his vision was not subject to money constraints or time limits, like a 100 minute movie like you suggested.
The Solution: Make Gods of Mars into two movies. Disney is already going to save money because the initial investment has already been made in computer art, animations, props, equipment and the fact that there will be less thark animations overall and more humanoid characters. Also making two movies simultaneously would also save money like you suggested. But making the same movie into two parts takes it a step further or in John Carter’s case a giant leap forward, pun intended.
For an example of this take a look at Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. The budget for that movie was 250 million. The combined budget for the next two movies, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 1 and 2 was 250 million. Warner Brothers was able to put up an additional 127 minutes of footage for the cost of nothing by making the movie 2 parts and they made twice the potential profit.
This strategy is similar to what Peter Jackson is doing for the Hobbit. They are dividing it into 3 parts. The rumor is the first, second, third movies will cover the escape from the goblins/search and destruction of Smaug/ Battle of the 5 armies.
Gods of Mars should be divided into two Parts. The first part should focus on the strong characters and relationships of John Carter, Xodar, Phaidor, Carthoris, Tars Tarkas, Thuvia, Issus. The movie should touch on the philosophical and contemporary issue of that time period, slavery and religion. Thuvia is such an interesting a character who lived the hard life of a slave for 15 years. Xodar is a man like John Carter who was fought for something that wasn’t right, serving Issus false religion and being a slave master. Not only does he have that in common with John Carter but the tables were turned on him and he became a slave himself, this is an opportunity to show the evils and cruelty of slavery. There is a message in this book. No one is holier or for that matter greater than anyone else which Xodar realizes. And like John Carter said people of different races, different worlds, different religions, different skin colors all working together.
Plot wise the movie should focus on the escape from the Valley Dor/Otz Mountains and the rise and rebellion and then escape from Omean. Of course the two big plot twists would have to be carter realizing Carthoris is his son and then finding out Dejah was captured by the Black Pirates at the end.
The second movie well obviously it will focus on the air battle and the battle in Omean and the Temple of Issus.
Advantages of making Gods of Mars into two movies
– Save lots of money. The locations can be narrowed down to 4 or 5 well-built structures. Valley Dor/Otz Mountains, Omean/Temple of Issus, Helium, Range of Martian Hills, and Hastor. At those locations you build the gardens, outposts, temples, pits, chambers, corridors, prisons where the characters interact.
– Won’t feel rushed. There’s too much going on in Gods of Mars that 2 hours wouldn’t do the film justice.
– Better for the fans and Stanton that we get to see more of his version of Burroughs world.
– Maximizes profit for Disney. Making two movies doubles the profit and pushes out the series another few years where Disney can take advantage of the growing Russia and Chinese box office. This makes sense because there is no more Harry Potter, there is only 1 more Twilight movie left, and Hunger Games never really took off in China or Russia. It’s doubtful the Hunger Games series will even continue in China because the story focuses on rebelling against the government. John carter should be the next great novel based series.
– Avoid the Star Wars comparisons by not making it a trilogy, or for that matter avoid the Hobbit and LOTR comparisons as well. These comparisons didn’t go over well with the critics. This doesn’t need to be the next Star Wars this is the great Barsoom series and it stands on its own merits.