The successful landing of the rover Curiosity on Mars on Sunday night captured America's imagination in a way that few positive news events have in years.

Hollywood, meanwhile, may have been left scratching its head over why it can't capture the same Martian magic.

Movies featuring Mars as a setting or in the title have universally flopped at the box office over the past decade. The past two years saw two major money losers, both from Walt Disney Studios: This past March's"John Carter," which grossed just $73 million domestically, and last year's"Mars Needs Moms," which took in only $21 million in the U.S. and Canada.

PHOTOS: The costliest box office flops of all time

Other Mars-themed flops have included horror film "John Carpenter's Ghosts of Mars" in 2001, the competing 2000 thrillers "The Red Planet" and "Mission to Mars," and the 1996 Tim Burton comedy "Mars Attacks!"

In 2006, Walt Disney Studios released the documentary "Roving Mars," about prior exploratory vehicles Spirit and Opportunity. Available only on giant-size Imax screens, the movie grossed $10.4 million, a respectable figure for a documentary that played on only 27 theaters.

The lesson? When it comes to Mars, it seems contemporary Americans are inspired more by reality, not science fiction.

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