by Ken Korman
Bad news travels fast in the internet age. Before Disney's live-action adventure movie John Carter had even finished the first day of its run last Friday, awareness of its catastrophic failure was already rampant on the web. By this morning, countless news outlets had run stories comparing the film to the worst box-office disasters of all time.
Google "John Carter" and "Heaven's Gate" together with the results-limiting quotation marks, and you get 74,600 hits. "John Carter" and "Howard the Duck" yields 346,000. But nothing tops "John Carter" and "Ishtar," which gets a game-winning score of 627,000.
What makes John Carter such a flop? Disney spent the huge sum of around $350 million to make and market the movie. It grossed about $30 million in the U.S. over the weekend. As a result of the way box-office revenues are shared, the film would have to take in $650 million worldwide to break even. Investors have already been warned that the movie stands to lose as much as $165 million overall, even after TV, DVD, foreign distribution, and executive-led prayer meetings. Director Andrew Stanton has had a number of animated hits at Pixar, but John Carter is his first live-action movie. Before last weekend, Stanton had two sequels planned for John Carter.