What if you spent $200 million dollars on a movie and no one came? That’s the big headache with Mars Needs Moms, which lost the most money of any studio release this year. With a reported budget of $150 Million (not including prints and advertising), the film made $21 million domestically and $39 Million worldwide. Other big money losers include the Conan The Barbarian reboot (reported budget $90 million, worldwide gross $49 Million) and The Big Year (reported budget $41 million, worldwide gross $7 million). You can’t win them all.
Of course anyone number savvy will tell you that all estimated budgets are rarely accurate – and often underestimated – so it’s quite possible these reported numbers are much lower than the bottom line. And for the poor Conan reboot, it was not a case of a studio releasing a film that they were indifferent about. Whereas both Year and Mars were troubled productions that were DOA – almost by their studio’s hand – Conan probably hurts the most as there was an attempt at real franchise building.
John Carter was once titled John Carter of Mars, and I wonder if the name change was to stay away from the stink of Moms. The funny thing is that with Moms, which will likely never make a profit, the studio seemed to actively hate the title. Part of this was that their relationship with Robert Zemeckis (who directed the misfire A Christmas Carol and produced Moms), and the failure of Moms meant that they could back out of Zemeckis’ proposed Beatles movie Yellow Submarine, which was jettisoned in the aftermath. As motion capture movies takes years for production and are never cheap, perhaps they lost $100 Million dollars to save themselves from investing another $300 Million in a project they didn’t like. Such is Hollywood.
Have you seen Mars Needs Moms?