This article from David Kownow at TG Daily brings up some interesting info regarding the $100m take in the first six days of the DVD release of Peter Jackson’s King Kong. Thea analogy to John Carter is not that good, in that King Kong opened at $50m theatrically en route to $218m domestic gross — a considerably better outcome than John Carter. But there is some reason to hope that John Carter will do relatively better on DVD/Blu-ray than it did theatrically — at least enough to exceed expectations of what would be “normal” for a film grossing only $70m at the domestic box office.
Many had been predicting the failure of John Carter months before it happened, and in the post mortem of the film many blamed various marketing and regime problems at Disney.
John Carter ultimately cost Disney chairman Rich Ross his job, and it’s reportedly the biggest write-down in Hollywood history to the tune of $200 million.
As Cinema Blend writes, “The months leading up to Disney’s release of John Carter were like watching a car stall out on the tracks in front of an oncoming train.
“Everyone saw the disaster coming, countless people pointed out the impending collision, but no one in power seemed willing to go lend a hand before it was too late.”
Still, when you meet regular people who’ve actually seen the movie, not the critics or box office pundits, not to mention if you read the comments about John Carter stories here on TG, the film definitely has its fans, and it also makes you wonder if the movie will eventually find an audience on DVD, Blu-Ray and Streaming when it comes out for home viewing on June 5.
Where now the foreign market is crucial for a film’s success, you may recall the DVD market became important for a film’s success, much like the VCR boom of the early eighties. In fact, there was a point around 2005 where some movies were getting a bottom line theatrical release, so it could come out on DVD as quickly as possible. (You may also recall Fight Club became the #1 buy to own movie, and where it flopped at the box office, it was finally in the black from DVD sales).
The Peter Jackson remake of King Kong also didn’t live up to expectations in theaters, but made a ton of money the first week it was available on DVD. As Michael Pellerin, who created Peter Jackson’s production diaries, told me, “The truth is that because films are accessible so quickly, many people just decide, ‘Hey, I’m waiting for the DVD,’ especially if you’ve got a film that runs 3 hours long like Kong, they’re likely to say, ‘You know what, I’ll just wait for the DVD and watch it at home.’ Kong-, I guess it made between $5-600 million or something like that. I was like ‘Yeah, but wait for the DVD, watch what happens.’
“Sure enough, the DVD comes out and makes $100 million in six days,” Pellerin continues. “You could’ve predicted that a mile away, because that’s where the rest of your audience is. The movie came out at the end of December, it came out on DVD the end of March, and part of that is because movie studios want to take advantage of the advertising window of the movie’s theatrical run. You still want it to be somewhat fresh in the audience’s mind, not six months or a year later as it used to be.”
So we at TG will definitely be watching to see if John Carter has another new audience waiting for it, one that doesn’t care about the reviews or the box office prophecies of doom, and are willing to check out the film for themselves.