More Red Ink For Hollywood

The good news is that overall Hollywood appears to losing less money lately, where a few more films appear to be at least earning back their production costs. More good news came when AMC theaters have turned profits for the first time in three years recently, and a Chinese investment company announced news to buy out the struggling movie chain for $2.6 billion, and infuse another half billion into upgrading theaters for more IMAX and 3D experiences for movie goers.

But recently, JOHN CARTER appears to be the largest big budget film to lose major league production money. The film cost a reported $250 million to produce, making it one of the most expensive films to be ever produced, but has only earned back just $72.4 million in 12 weeks, and seems unlikely to recoup the rest through future DVD sales either. More prudent investing seemed to be lower budgeted films like THE THREE STOOGES which only cost an estimated $30 million to produce, and has earned back $42 million so far, making this a profitable venture.

But a few bigger budget films still look like they could be in some trouble to make ends meet. BATTLESHIP cost an estimated $209 million, but has only claimed back just $44.3 million in two weeks, making it look difficult to recover production costs.

Tim Burton’s latest Johnny Depp production, DARK SHADOWS also looks a little bit questionable as well. The film apparently cost on the order of $150 million to make, but has only brought back an estimated $62.9 million in two weeks.

Hollywood can’t really do much about some big budget films already in production beyond hope that they covers costs. Big budget films appear to be major risks in this bad economy right now, where spending less money and making smaller films seems like a safer risk. And some film companies like The Asylum have proved that some films that look like they’re expensive can be produced on smaller budgets that look much like a blockbuster. In real world business terms, The Asylum seems to be proving some of the best business sense of any film company.

Likely, the lesson for Hollywood here is not to make so many very expensive films unless a film company is really sure that a film can make the money back, let alone make a profit. Making smaller films that can pay for themselves will eventually be the rule of the day for many film producers. Making the big Summer movie blockbuster is just a little bit too risky these days, where a big budget film disaster can approach the same sort of dollar losses as some department store chain quarterly business losses. The entire JC Penney store chain of 1106 stores lost $163 million in the last quarter, when a single film like JOHN CARTER could post similar losses with just a single film production.

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  • ravenshrike

    Part of it is that John Carter is a frigging stupid name for a sci-fi movie. While incorrect from a lore perspective given the changes, calling it “The Princess of Mars” would have been much better.