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Disney expects $200-million loss on ‘John Carter’

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Walt Disney Co. said it expects to incur a loss of about $200 million on its big-budget sci-fi film, ‘John Carter,’ based on box-office results.

The film’s theatrical performance -- which brought in $184 million in global box-office sales, well shy of expectations -- will drag the film studio to an operating loss that Disney estimated at $80 million to $120 million for the company’s second quarter.

Wall Street analysts had projected a write-down for the film, which cost an estimated $350 million to make and market. One analyst estimated losses would approach as much as $165 million, based on uneven reviews and pre-release surveys of prospective moviegoers.

The Martian adventure story was based on a century-old science fiction series that had inspired other filmmakers, including George Lucas and James Cameron. It was intended as a potential new franchise, which would fuel merchandise sales, theme park attractions and lead to film sequels.

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But the movie failed to connect with contemporary audiences in the U.S., in part because the source material by Tarzan creator Edgar Rice Burroughs had already been so picked over by admirers that ‘John Carter’ felt derivative. Its director, Andrew Stanton, had never made a live-action movie before. And the studio executives guiding the project had limited experience in running movie divisions.

Disney issued a brief statement, warning of the expected operating loss and projecting forward to its summer movies, including Marvel’s latest superhero adventure, ‘The Avengers,’ and Pixar Animation Studios’ forthcoming original film, ‘Brave.’

‘We believe [these] have tremendous potential to drive value for the studio and the rest of the company,’ the company said in its statement.

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-- Dawn C. Chmielewski


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