Could Disney have the biggest box office flop of all-time on their hand? It’s almost certainly too early to tell but as John Carter came today on tracking, gasps of horror could probably have been heard over at Walt Disney Studios. Deadline reports that John Carter, Andrew Stanton’s $250 million adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs novel A Princess of Mars, is tracking very poorly so far with only 53% awareness, 27% definitely interested, and a dismal 3% first choice.
In comparison, The Vow which opened to a whopping $41.3 million this past weekend enjoyed very strong tracking from the start. With two weeks before release, the film was already boasting 68 percent awareness among women over 25, a colossal 61 percent definite interest, and was the first choice of more than a fifth of them. While John Carter is still three weeks away from hitting theaters (March 9), one can see the daunting task at hand for Disney’s marketing team, which has the unenviable task of pushing a movie with a mediocre full trailer and virtually no star power (Taylor Kitsch anyone?).
A rival senior studio executive told Nikki Finke “It just came out. Women of all ages have flat out rejected the film. The tracking for John Carter is shocking for a film that cost over $250 million. This could be the biggest writeoff of all time.” This is ironic given that Stanton insisted on changing the title of the movie from “A Princess of Mars” to “John Carter of Mars” and then “John Carter”. Back in November, the writer-director said “I changed Princess Of Mars… because not a single boy would go. And then the other truth is, no girl would go to see John Carter Of Mars. So I said, ‘I don’t won’t to do anything out of fear, I hate doing things out of fear, but I can’t ignore that truth.’”
Well it seems like no one is going to see the movie now. Finke ventures a box office tally as low as $150 million which would put John Carter very much in play for biggest box office bust of all-time. Disney are expected to address the issue with a big promotional push but with Lionsgate’s The Hunger Games releasing two weeks later, they could well be throwing more money after bad money.
Will you see John Carter? If not, why?