PCBS: Was “John Carter” The Biggest Flop Ever?

Everyone is all atwitter this morning about Disney's "John Carter," which cost a whopping $250 million and failed to make back even one-eighth of its budget on opening weekend. The knives are out. Even the genteel New York Times declared, "Ishtar Lands On Mars." Given its cost and the seemingly obvious hindrances to its success (Had more than three people heard of the novels before this movie existed?), it would be easy to declare "John Carter" one of the most dreadful flops in the history of filmmaking. Ah, but was it? Let's check this past weekend's returns (chart via Box Office Mojo).

1. The Lorax - $39.1M
2. John Carter - $30.6M
3. Project X - $11.6M
4. Silent House - $7.0M
5. Act of Valor - $7.0M
6. A Thousand Words - $5.0M
7. Safe House - $7.2M
8. The Vow - $4.0M
9. This Means War - $3.8M
10. Journey 2: The Mysterious Island - $3.7M

Obviously, "Carter" has a long way to go to get back in the black. But do take care note that Eddie Murphy put out a movie this weekend, and that movie was SAVAGED. In fact, "A Thousand Words" got a resounding zero in the Rotten Tomatoes aggregator. Usually, bad movies start off with a zero before finally finding one critic to take pity on them. But not Murphy's flick. That sailed through the whole weekend without ONE positive review. Thus, it didn't even make our little PBCS standings, based on a proprietary formula that considers, box office, size of release, and critical reaction:

1. Silent House - 521
2. The Artist - 318
3. The Lorax - 311
4. Project X - 106
5. Act of Valor - 55
6. Friends With Kids - 42
7. John Carter - 26
8. Safe House - 19
9. Good Deeds - 15
10. The Vow - 13

"Silent House" got the top slot because of its miniscule budget (1/250th of "John Carter"). But you see that "Carter" at least got some points. It got middling reviews, nothing close to the outright attacks on movies such as "Sex & The City 2." As for Murphy? Well, he got himself a ZERO in our rankings. A big fat nothing. And true, his movie cost a good $210 million less than "John Carter," but I don't think flops should ever be measured strictly by finances. True flops are movies that both fail to make a profit and greatly offend the sensibilities of the general public.

So take heart, "John Carter."

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