Mars More Disastrous to Disney than Battle: Los Angeles
By John Hamann
March 13, 2011
Third is Red Riding Hood, with its brilliant production and costume design matched with its insipid screenplay and acting. The Amanda Seyfried flick pulled in an okay $14.1 million, but this is another film that didn't come close to breaking out from its intended audience of teenagers. This one was only 12% fresh at Rotten Tomatoes (hopefully you weren't looking for a good new movie this weekend), and was 7% fresh amongst the aforementioned "Top Critics." For Seyfried, this is only a slightly better opening than that of Letters to Juliet ($13.5 million), despite the much stronger marketing campaign. What it won't see is Juliet's legs, as Letters might have opened at medium size, but went on to earn almost four times its opening weekend domestically, finishing with over $53 million in domestic sales. Even worse is the fact that Red Riding Hood cost Warner Bros. $42 million to make, not the $30 million spent on Letters to Juliet. Twilight this is not, and I expect it to disappear rather quickly.
Fourth spot goes to The Adjustment Bureau, with Matt Damon looking for legs as he tries to rid the smell of Green Zone and Hereafter from his resume. Unfortunately, it's not to be, as Adjustment got adjusted down. The Phillip K. Dick story earned only $11.5 million and was off 46%. The Adjustment Bureau cost Universal an estimated $51 million to make. It looks like it might pull in $60 million domestically, and should find even more than that overseas, as it earned $10 million from foreign shores last weekend. Give the thriller $38.5 million so far.
Fifth goes to Mars Needs Moms, and it would have ranked lower had it not been a disastrous movie-going year so far. Mars earned a paltry $6.8 million, and should be considered a complete embarrassment, as it cost $150 million to make and couldn’t pull in 10% of that over its opening frame. This was a bad concept executed poorly – only the very young are going to want to see something like this, and even then, some would resist. Critics even resisted this Disney film, as only 24 reviewers out of a possible 57 found something to like at Rotten Tomatoes. Even the critic count on this one should have spelled trouble – 57 reviews (at the time of this writing) is amazingly poor for an animated Disney movie.
As I mentioned above, don't put the word Mars in your movie title. Invaders From Mars did that in 1986, and finished sixth with an opening of $2 million. Tim Burton did it with Mars Attacks!, and while that one had a fantastic marketing campaign, it also didn't work, opening to under $10 million in 1996, eventually folding up with a $37 million domestic gross (international audiences turned it into a $100 million global hit). Brian De Palma made Mission to Mars, and while it did open at number one with $22 million, it became renowned for its badness, and grossed only $60 million domestically against a $90 million budget. Finally, there is Ghosts of Mars from director John Carpenter. That one finished ninth over its opening frame, grossing only $3.8 million.