'John Carter' could lose $165 million, analyst projects
Walt Disney Studios' science-fiction adventure film "John Carter" could lose $165 million, according to revised projections from one Wall Street analyst.
Evercore analyst Alan Gould more than doubled his prior estimated loss for the $250-million Martian epic as the film opens Friday in theaters nationwide.
"We normally would not be changing estimates prior to a movie opening, but given the tracking reports, reviews, and high profile of this picture we feel there is little risk in adjusting our estimate early," Gould wrote in an investor note published Friday morning.
The debut of "John Carter," a film based on a century-old tale by Tarzan creator Edgar Rice Burroughs, looks as if it will even be eclipsed by the second weekend numbers for the 3-D animated movie, "Dr. Seuss' The Lorax." The family film, which opened at $70.2 million last weekend, could bring in as much as $40 million this weekend. Meanwhile, prerelease surveys of would-be moviegoers indicate "John Carter" could bring in $20 to $25 million worth of ticket sales over the three-day period.
Overseas, the movie has brought in $13 million in box office receipts, according to one person with knowledge of the situation who was not authorized to speak publicly. In Russia, "John Carter" had the highest opening-day in movie history, with $6.5 million in ticket sales, the source said. The movie also had solid starts in Asia.
Another analyst archly suggested "it might be best if Walt Disney Co. avoided movies about Mars altogether." The SNL Kagan Box Office Report noted that about a year ago the studio released the box-office dud "Mars Needs Moms." That 3-D animated movie, which cost a reported $150 million, earned just $21.4 million in domestic box office.
Kagan noted the film could outperform predictions, and do well in overseas -- where audiences respond to big-budget 3-D epics. And "John Carter's" accomplished director has proved naysayers wrong before.
"What makes the film risky is not so much its century-old source material or its relatively unknown cast or even the fact that it represents the first live-action film from director Andrew Stanton, who previously helmed "Finding Nemo" and "WALL-E," wrote Kagan analysts Sarah Barry James and Wade Holden. "Rather, the danger comes from the movie's gargantuan budget."
"John Carter's" projected $25- to $30-million opening is reminiscent of another Disney science fiction film, "Mission to Mars," Kagan reports. That movie debuted in 2000 to $22.9 million and went on to earn a total domestic gross of $60.9 million.
-- Dawn C. Chmielewski
Photo: A scene from "John Carter." Credit: Disney