Shocker: John Carter bombs

This was the weekend John Carter finally opened, when we’d find out whether its huge budget (rumored to be $200 – $250 million- UPDATE: $350 million to make and market, according to the NY Times) was worth it or a waste, when we’d learn whether Disney’s “make sure everyone knows his name is John Carter!” marketing strategy worked (instead of perhaps pointing out that it was directed by the guy from Wall E and Finding Nemo and written by a Pulitzer Prize winner). Final tally? $30.6 million on 3,749 screens. Good enough for second place behind The Lorax and the fifth highest opening of 2012 (two of the top five being The Lorax), but low enough to still be considered “a huge disappointment.”

John Carter opened to an estimated $30.6 million from 3,749 locations. That’s lower than practically any similar movie, beginning with those that came out around the same time of year. It was obviously way off from 300 ($70.9 million) and Watchmen ($55.2 million)—what’s more concerning, though, is that it was even a tad below 10,000 B.C. ($35.9 million) and Battle: Los Angeles ($35.6 million), both of which were modest movies in comparison. [BoxOfficeMojo]

Ouch. Well, when you put it that way…

One of the big questions was why they changed the title from “John Carter of Mars” to just “John Carter,” which may not be the only reason for the disappointing box office, but certainly couldn’t have helped. Here’s what Andrew Stanton had to say:

Here’s the real truth of it. I’d already changed it from A Princess Of Mars to John Carter Of Mars. I don’t like to get fixated on it, but 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.”
All the time we were making this big character story which just so happens to be in this big, spectacular new environment. But it’s not about the spectacle, it’s about the investment. I thought, I’ve really worked hard to make all of this an origin story. It’s about a guy becoming John Carter. So I’m not misrepresenting what this movie is, it’s John Carter.
Mars is going to stick on any other film in the series. But by then, it won’t have a stigma to it. [BleedingCool]

Mark Strong puts it perhaps more succinctly:

Interestingly, John Carter’s had its titled changed. And there seems to be some kind of confusion as to why this should be, and I think the reason is brilliant. The reason is that he has to earn that title. Again, it’s a franchise or a number of books; a series of books that people may or may not know, but if you call him John Carter of Mars, I think at the very beginning, all the work’s been done and what Andrew wants to do, I think, is introduce people to this first film, and by the end of it, he becomes John Carter of Mars, but not at the beginning. In the beginning he’s John Carter, but by the end of the first film, he’s John Carter of Mars; so he’s earned that title to take it off should it want to go to further storytelling. [Movies]

The problem with both those answers is that they assumed the movie would even get a sequel before they made the first. Now it seems unlikely. There’s something to be said for putting all your eggs in one basket. Andrew Stanton is a genius based on his work at Pixar and I understand his reasoning, but “John Carter” is a horrible title. Even the first Indiana Jones wasn’t just called “Indiana Jones,” and “Indiana Jones” is ten times more interesting than “John Carter.” You want the name alone to sell the movie? Should’ve called it “Hercules J. Poonslayer,” or “Horsedick Skullsplitter.” Our first association with “John Carter” is Noah Wyle.

On another note, anyone care to guess what the second-highest grossing film of 2012 is? It’s The Vow, aka 50 First Tates. Aw shit, son, everything’s comin’ up C-Tates, SKEET SKEET SKEET!

This week
Last week
Studio Weekend Gross Theater Count Average Total Gross Budget* Week #
1 1 Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax Uni. $39,100,000 3,746 $10,438 $121,950,000 $70 2
2 N John Carter BV $30,603,000 3,749 $8,163 $30,603,000 $250 1
3 2 Project X WB $11,550,000 3,055 $3,781 $40,125,000 2
4 N Silent House ORF $7,010,000 2,124 $3,300 $7,010,000 1
5 3 Act of Valor Rela. $7,000,000 2,951 $2,372 $56,100,597 $12 3
6 N A Thousand Words P/DW $6,350,000 1,890 $3,360 $6,350,000 $40 1
7 4 Safe House Uni. $5,000,000 2,144 $2,332 $115,800,000 $85 5
8 7 The Vow SGem $4,000,000 2,478 $1,614 $117,614,000 $30 5
9 8 This Means War Fox $3,750,000 1,949 $1,924 $46,889,000 $65 4
10 6 Journey 2: The Mysterious Island WB $3,685,000 2,525 $1,459 $90,716,000 $79 5

2012 so far:

Rank Movie Title

Total Gross / Theaters Opening / Theaters
1 Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax Uni. $121,950,000 3,746 $70,217,070 3,729
2 The Vow SGem $117,614,000 3,038 $41,202,458 2,958
3 Safe House Uni. $115,800,000 3,121 $40,172,720 3,119
4 Journey 2: The Mysterious Island WB $90,716,000 3,500 $27,335,363 3,470
5 Contraband Uni. $66,491,000 2,870 $24,349,815 2,863
6 Chronicle (2012) Fox $62,778,000 2,908 $22,004,098 2,907
7 Underworld Awakening SGem $62,321,039 3,078 $25,306,725 3,078
8 Act of Valor Rela. $56,100,597 3,053 $24,476,632 3,039
9 The Devil Inside Par. $53,203,521 2,551 $33,732,515 2,285
10 The Woman in Black CBS $53,015,000 2,856 $20,874,072 2,855

Numbers via BoxOfficeMojo