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Thread: Why Disney's 'Mars Needs Moms' Bombed

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    Elite Member celeb_2006's Avatar
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    Default Why Disney's 'Mars Needs Moms' Bombed



    Why Disney's 'Mars Needs Moms' Bombed - MOVIE TALK on Yahoo! Movies

    Robert Zemeckis' motion-capture animated film cost $150 million to produce but earned only $6.9 million in its debut at the domestic box office.


    In the weeks leading up to the release of Mars Needs Moms, Disney knew interest in the film was tepid at best. But no one was prepared for such a disastrous box office wipeout.

    From a financial standpoint, Mars could be one of the biggest write-offs in modern Hollywood history.

    The motion-capture animated film cost $150 million to produce but earned only $6.9 million in its debut at the domestic box office, the 12th worst opening of all time for a movie released in more than 3,000 theaters and one of the lowest openings for a major 3D release.

    The price tag doesn't include a hefty marketing spend. All told, Disney has likely invested $200 million or more in the motion capture pic, made by Robert Zemeckis' now-shuttered ImageMovers Digital.

    "The right audience came, but not in the numbers we needed," Disney president of worldwide distribution Chuck Viane said. "I’m disappointed for the filmmakers. They spent at least two years of their lives making a terrific movie that people won’t see."

    The chances of recovery are slim.

    Many times, a movie performing poorly in the U.S. can make up ground at the international box office. Mars, however, did just as badly in its overseas debut, grossing a paltry $2.1 million from 14 countries (about 25% of all territories).

    Domestically, it wouldn't be a surprise if Mars topped out at $25 million. Summit Entertainment's Astro Boy, opening to $6.7 million in 2009, cumed $19.6 million, while Fox's Aliens in the Attic opened to $8 million, also in 2009, and cumed $25.2 million. (For a Disney toon to perform as badly as a Summit title is a tough pill to swallow.)

    "How do you throw a party and no one comes? This is outright rejection," one veteran studio distribution chief says.

    Mars faced several obstacles, according to box office observers. For one, moviegoers don't seem to like the motion-capture technology. Other times, it can work, such as in Avatar.

    "The movie [Mars] looked downright creepy," one observer notes. [Watch the trailer.]

    The title also was problematic, specifically, the use of the word "mom," which might have been a turn-off for boys.

    "The title shouldn't have been Mars Needs Moms, but Boys Need Not Come," one studio exec joked.

    Those same boys might have instead opted to see Sony's sci-fi action pic Battle: Los Angeles, according to another box office observer. Mars skewed slightly female.

    For younger kids, watching a movie about a mom being kidnapped by aliens could be scary.

    "Who wants to see a mom abandoning you? It's very odd," one studio marketer says. "Also, animation works better when they aren't people. That's why things like gnomes do well."

    Disney knew there was a problem more than a year ago when screening an early cut of the film. It's no coincidence that the studio, under the new leadership of Rich Ross, decided to part ways with ImageMovers shortly after the screening. But it was too late to shelve Mars without eating significant costs.

    One of the most successful directors of all time, Zemeckis famously gave up his live-action career to pursue motion capture. But it's an expensive technology that has yet to yield huge box office profits, unlike other forms of animation.

    Disney bought ImageMovers in 2007, giving Zemeckis an official studio home where he and his company could perfect performance capture (ImageMovers remained based in Northern California).

    A Christmas Carol, costing as much as $200 million to make, was released in November 2009 -- not long after Ross replaced Dick Cook as Walt Disney Studios chair. The holiday film, directed by Zemeckis, grossed $325.5 worldwide, a so-so result.

    Mars Needs Moms was well underway by that time. Simon Wells wrote and directed the film, with Zemeckis producing.

    Already, Mars has landed on the list of Hollywood bombs, joining Sony's recent miss How Do You Know. The romantic comedy, directed by James L. Brooks, cost roughly $100 million to produce after tax breaks, but grossed just $42.9 million at the worldwide box office.

    Hollywood history is replete with box office disasters, including how Cleopatra nearly bankrupted 20th Century Fox. Years later, Heaven's Gate ultimately forced United Artists of business.

    Studios are far more protected today, with diversified interests. Also, some of the costs of a big-budget production can be amortized over a period of time.

    Other infamous financial flops include Renny Harlin's pirate pic Cutthroat Island -- listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the biggest bomb of all time -- Sahara, The Adventures of Pluto Nash and Gigli.

    There also have been high-profile misses on the animation side, including Disney's Treasure Planet, released in 2002.

    Mars was always designed to open in the $20 million-$30 million range. When tracking showed the film was in serious trouble, Disney downgraded its forecast. As the toon opened, Disney executives braced themselves for a $10 million opening. Even that turned out to be too optimistic.

    Disney had been enjoying a sustained winning streak at the box office, which helps to cushion the blow of Mars. The two top 2010 releases at the worldwide box office both belonged to Disney; Toy Story ($1.06 billion) and Alice in Wonderland ($1.02 billion).

    Tangled also has been an overachiever, grossing $551.5 globally, making it the No. 8 2010 release.

    For now, though, Disney faces the arduous task of detangling itself from Mars.

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    Elite Member Brah's Avatar
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    Shit, that sucks. Hopefully it does a little better in domestic sales.

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    Super Moderator twitchy2.0's Avatar
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    Why Disney's 'Mars Needs Moms' Bombed
    Why? BECAUSE IT SUCKS ASS. Someone ought to have realized that early on. The goddamn trailer is so bad I couldn't get halfway through it. You'll start cringing several seconds in.
    As Canadian as possible under the circumstances

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    Elite Member Laxmobster's Avatar
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    This is the first time I've heard about this movie.
    Quote Originally Posted by Celestial View Post
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    I saw a trailer. In one scene, the boy explains to the Martians (paraphrasing) "Don't you know what Moms are?? You know, the ones who clean up" as he mimics pushing a vacuum back and forth.

    So that's what moms are? Unbelievable. You couldn't pay me to watch that shit.

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    I think the title was of poor choice. That probably is one reason why it bombed in theaters.

    Disney's last movie before this one, Tangled, was heavily advertised. There was definitely a vibe that made it appeal to not just children, but teenagers and adults too. This one just comes off as a flat, mediocre corporate film.

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    Elite Member OrangeSlice's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by twitchy2.0 View Post
    Why? BECAUSE IT SUCKS ASS. Someone ought to have realized that early on. The goddamn trailer is so bad I couldn't get halfway through it. You'll start cringing several seconds in.

    YES!!!!! That is the most annoying trailer I have seen in a long time. It made me want to smash the screen in if I couldn't change the channel quick enough. Not shocked at all that it bombed.
    "Schadenfreude, hard to spell, easy to feel." ~VenusinFauxFurs

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    Elite Member msdeb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by twitchy2.0 View Post
    Why? BECAUSE IT SUCKS ASS. Someone ought to have realized that early on. The goddamn trailer is so bad I couldn't get halfway through it. You'll start cringing several seconds in.
    yup! i saw the trailer, and said, if they are showing the good part of the movie, then I'm not going.
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    Elite Member OrangeSlice's Avatar
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    [youtube]L9NkrRQy_fM[/youtube]

    Nuff said.
    "Schadenfreude, hard to spell, easy to feel." ~VenusinFauxFurs

    "Scoffing is one of my main hobbies!" ~Trixie

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    Elite Member Beeyotch's Avatar
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    All these reactions must have come up in focus groups and test screenings that they MUST have done with a $150 Million production. It makes me think it's down to a series of bad decisions by several executives, and like someone was so married to their "vision" that they refused to listen to constructive criticism to change it.

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    Elite Member MontanaMama's Avatar
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    I won't see any 3-D movie. I can't understand the movie industry's fascination with it.
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    Gold Member Brandy Alexander's Avatar
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    My son wants to go see this. (I think I'll try to talk him out of it.)
    "I'm not allowed within 200 feet of a school. Or a Chuck-E-Cheese..." Alan - The Hangover

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    Elite Member Aella's Avatar
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    Another article on this:

    ‘Mars Needs Moms’ ... and Paying Customers

    By BROOKS BARNES; Compiled by RACHEL LEE HARRIS






    The box office bomb Hall of Fame — “Ishtar,” “The Alamo,” “Cutthroat Island,” “Gigli,” “Speed Racer” — has a new member. “Mars Needs Moms” cost $150 million to make (excluding marketing) and managed to bring in only $6.8 million in North American ticket sales over the weekend.

    What happened? Unappealing alien characters, a tepid marketing campaign, family film gridlock at theaters and the movie’s antifeminist undertones contributed. But Hollywood will read this Walt Disney Studios flop as a rejection of Robert Zemeckis’s style of “performance-capture” animated filmmaking. (Mr. Zemeckis produced “Mars Needs Moms.”) Meanwhile a well-executed marketing push by Sony Pictures Entertainment catapulted “Battle: Los Angeles” to a stronger-than-expected No. 1 position over the weekend. This alien invasion movie had about $36 million in sales, according to Hollywood.com, which compiles ticketing data.

    The animated “Rango” (Paramount Pictures) held up in its second weekend, taking in about $23 million for a new total of $68.7 million and second place. “Red Riding Hood” (Warner Brothers) failed to tap into the “Twilight” fantasy fan base, selling a soft $14 million in third place. “The Adjustment Bureau,” a drama from Universal Pictures, was fourth in its second weekend, selling about $11.5 million for a new total of $38.5 million. “Mars Needs Moms” (a scene from the film, right) was fifth.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/14/mo...mers.html?_r=1

    I think they have a point about the film's misogyny.
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    Elite Member Chalet's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MontanaMama View Post
    I won't see any 3-D movie. I can't understand the movie industry's fascination with it.
    The only 3D I've seen is Tron Legacy and I got a little vertigo or something, so I kept the 3D glasses off and it was just fine.

    Ishtar - still one of the greatest box office bombs. They didn't mention Vanilla Sky which just had to have bombed.

    So looking here at what's come out, a bunch of fantasy or kids movies. All shit.

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    Elite Member MohandasKGanja's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brandy Alexander View Post
    My son wants to go see this. (I think I'll try to talk him out of it.)
    My wife is probably going to take our kids to it tomorrow. I'm thinking of going, too, but mainly to ensure that she puts enough butter on the popcorn she always brings back.

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