Due to terrible domestic box office receipts, JOHN CARTER became of the worst business decisions for Disney in some time. The film was also responsible for a quarterly loss for the Disney company as well, but the $250 million film finally made back it’s production costs thanks largely to better international box office receipts than in the U.S. As one example, Russian audiences loved the film and flocked to see it. Further, Disney released a home 3D Bluray version of the film this past Tuesday, which should help domestic receipts for the film as well. To date, the film now has brought back more than $282 million dollars, which is far better than the $160 million dollar red ink loss the film appeared to be showing up until only recently.
The frightening roller coaster business story for JOHN CARTER has certainly got to concern other Hollywood executives who might be pondering that next multi-million dollar film production. JOHN CARTER cost a quarter of a billion dollars to produce, yet looked for the longest time as if it would lose major league money by the bucket loads for Disney. A story like this only encourages other film companies to look at possibly scaling back big projects and doing smaller budget films that can more easily be profitable with much smaller box office gross receipts. For example, THE THREE STOOGES was a cost effective production costing around $30 million to produce, and was able to quickly earn back over $42 million to cover it’s costs. From that standpoint, it was a good business decision. This probably points the direction for Hollywood to consider. Don’t go low budget. But, don’t break the either. Remember that making films is foremost a business, where you have to be able to earn a profit.
In this recession prone age, Hollywood needs to weigh the art of filmmaking against the reality that many films can easily lose money. The reality needs to be that the art of filmmaking must also accommodate the business reality of the need to earn a profit to pay the bills.