One of the things that’s of interest under the general framework of what I’m looking at with “Hollywood vs Mars” is to compare the advance media narrative for John Carter (“epic folly/epic fail is inevitable”) with the narrative that preceded the release of Battleship (pretty similar but less of it) , plus the “Monday morning after” coverage Battleship is receiving vs what John Carter received, and finally to compare the manner in which Comcast/Universal handles the announcement of a write-down compared to how Disney handled the same even with John Carter.
As most people know by now, Battleship opened with $9m on Friday and in the Sunday write-ups (which include an estimate for Sunday) they had it at 25.4M for the weekend; then this morning Reuters is reporting it at $23.4M (could be their error, as everyone posts off of Box Office Mojo and BOM still has it at 25.4m with Sunday an estimate).
For comparison, John Carter opened with $9.8m on Friday, did $30.2M for the weekend, and did $65M in foreign business on its opening weekend. Battleship was released well in advance in foreign territories and is near the end of its foreign run, at a bit more then $215m – similar to John Carter.
As for cost — the announced cost of Battleship is 209M and marketing costs are said to be the same as for John Carter – $100m.
So — looking purely at the numbers, the analysis would look like this:
So far, the only article I’ve found which discusses the level of a possible writedown for Battleship is a Reuters piece:
(Reuters) – “Battleship,” Universal Picture’s big budget science fiction film, is likely to dent the studio’s profits after it opened with lower than forecast ticket sales, according to analysts.
The film, which Comcast unit Universal has said cost $209 million to produce, generated $23.4 million in ticket sales at theaters in the U.S. and Canada during its opening weekend, according to figures compiled by Hollywood.com.
It had been projected by tracking services used by Hollywood studios to have ticket sales of between $35 million and $40 million.
The movie, which stars Liam Neeson and the singer Rihanna, finished the weekend second to Walt Disney’s superhero blockbuster “The Avengers,” which led the box office for the third weekend with $55.1 million in ticket sales.
“It is not quite the epic disaster of ‘John Carter,’ but this will put a dent in Comcast’s quarter,” said Matthew Harrigan of Wunderlich Securities, who follows Comcast. He did not quantify how much he expected the film to lose.
“John Carter,” which sold $30.2 million during its opening weekend in March, saddled Disney with a $200 million loss, the company said. That film cost more than $250 million to produce.
Based on the “John Carter” performance, Universal will lose $100 million to $200 million, estimates Michael Morris of Davenport & Co., who does not follow Comcast, but follows Disney, News Corp. and Time Warner, which also have studio units.
In comparing the studio loss to be suffered — one major difference is that in the case of John Carter, Disney was both the investing entity (producer) and the distributing entity, whereas in the case of Battleship, Hasbro was involved in the production and has shouldered some of the production investment — meanwhile Universal can be sure to be charging something in the range of 30% of Distributor Gross (figure 45% of Box Office Gross in round figures) to the production, against which it only has to recoup, presumably, the P and A budget of $100M or thereabouts as far as the Distribution piece goes. What Universal’s position in the production investment is — I’m not sure yet, haven’t looked that closely into it. If anyone has info on this, please share in the comments section.
NOTE: I will add to this as more articles become available. Obviously, the point of this is to see whether or not the “schadenfreude” factor with John Carter was elevated in some peculiar way — or whether another film with about the same P and L profile gets the same treatment. Also, it will be interesting to watch how Comcast/Universal handle the issue of reporting a writedown — when will they report it; how much; how will it be framed.
UPDATE: Hollywood Reporter has an article out which mentions a write-down possibility, although it doesn’t attach a number to it. It quote Universal’s President of Distribution Nikki Rocco as follows:
“It is obviously a disappointment, but we will move on. And we have Memorial Day coming up,” Universal president of domestic distribution Nikki Rocco said. “The studio has a picture that already has a quarter of a million dollars in the bank, and it won’t die at $25.3 million domestically. We all know that.”
Here’s the full THR article: Box Office Report