John Carter Not Nearly Big Enough For Disney
By John Hamann
March 11, 2012
For a film that cost $250 million to make, you need to be making at least Lorax kind of money over opening weekend. $30 million is simply not enough. If a film debuts to $30 million, and is good and popular with audiences, the studio might hope to earn five times that opening and earn $150 million stateside. It then might earn the same overseas, resulting in a total of $300 million. However, once theaters take their percentage, that amount is cut down, and advertising doesn't come cheap. With a $250 million budget, a film would need to earn at least $200 million stateside and another $300 million overseas just to come close to earning that money back. Even if it had a solid gross but still faced a loss, the studio may consider it an investment on a franchise, but I highly doubt something like that is going to happen here.
The Hollywood Reporter said on Saturday morning that 30% of John Carter's audience was over the age of 50, which is a scary indicator of the future for a film like this. Its weekend multiplier (weekend gross divided by Friday gross) came in at 3.1, which means it likely played older all weekend. While John Carter won't be a complete disaster, Disney will be paying for this one for a while. On the plus side, it earned over $70 million in foreign markets over the weekend, so at least it's off to a solid start there.
Finishing a somewhat surprising third is Project X, and to be clear, I'm surprised at the rank, not the gross. As expected, Project X tumbled financially, down 45% from last weekend's $21.1 million gross down to $11.6 million. It also should have fallen down the top ten, but with the other openers packing no punch, and the remaining holdovers starting to fall off, it held a decent ranking, which is likely a bad sign for the overall box office moving forward. The film will be a lucrative entry for Warner Bros., as this is a found footage type release starring no one, so costs were kept to only $12 million, or about 5% of what it cost to make John Carter. With a gross of about that much this weekend – its second – you can see how profitable these found footage things are. Project X has now earned $40.1 million for Warner Bros., and will likely make it to $50 million.
Fourth is Silent House, a film that looked intriguing about a week ago. Silent House – a one shot gimmick horror movie – earned $7 million from 2,124 venues. Starring Elizabeth Olsen, Silent House was a remake of a Uruguayan film that was made for $6,000. No wonder it appealed to the makers of Open Water, a film that cost a half-million to make and grossed $30.6 million stateside. Critics loved the camera work in Silent House, but moviegoers gave it an F Cinemascore, which likely means this one will be gone quite quickly.
Fifth spot goes to Act of Valor, a film that I thought would be out of the top ten this weekend, not still in the top five. Act of Valor earned $7 million in its third weekend, as action aficionados continue to support this one. Made for $12 million, dropped 48% from the previous frame. Valor has now earned a serious $56.1 million, so we can expect to see more films with non-actors shortly in our future. Huzzah.