John Carter Lost Disney Even More Money Than We Thought


The cost to Disney of its gargantuan flop ‘John Carter’ has been revealed – and it’s a pretty eye-watering sum of cash.

According to Forbes, new documents show that the ill-fated 2012 sci-fi lost the House of Mouse a cool £191.4 million.

The documents also reportedly show that in amongst the loss was a tax incentive of £26.7 million gifted the production by the British taxman.

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The production budget of the movie was estimated at £155.9 million, while the worldwide box office took around £177 million.

But add in the huge sums spent on marketing, publicity and the like, and Disney truly lost its shirt on the movie.

Put in perspective, ‘Avengers Assemble’, which arrived just two months after ‘John Carter’, scored £935 million for Marvel’s film studio which, luckily, is owned by Disney.


The movie starred Taylor Kitsch as the titular man on Mars, with some pretty exceptional support in the form of Samantha Morton, Willem Dafoe, Thomas Haden Church, Dominic West, Mark Strong, Ciarán Hinds and Bryan Cranston.

But the adaptation of ‘Tarzan’ writer Edgar Rice Burroughs work failed to capitalise on either the movie’s talent – ‘Wall-E’ and ‘Finding Nemo’s Andrew Stanton also directed - or the quality but not widely known source material.

It must have been particularly galling, as Disney had been fighting to make make a John Carter movie since the 1950s, with animation effects legend Ray Harryhausen.

It was revisited in the 80s with ‘Die Hard’s John McTiernan slated to direct Tom Cruise in the lead role. When that collapsed - McTiernan feared special effects at the time were not up to the task - and the rights returned to the Burroughs estate, Paramount and Columbia began a bidding war over the source material.

Paramount won and installed ‘Sin City’s Robert Rodriguez as director, with ‘Iron Man’s Jon Favreau as screenwriter. That stalled too, and Disney reacquired the rights in 2006, on the encouragement of Stanton, who had loved the books as a child and had pitched it as ‘Indiana Jones on Mars’.

The ensuing disaster even claimed the scalp of the studio’s chairman Rich Ross, who resigned a month after the film was released.

Now the Burroughs’ estate is back in charge of the source material.

Whether more films may be planned is unclear, but it might take a brave studio to embark on such an enterprise given Disney’s bloody nose.

Image credits: Disney

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