According to Box Office Mojo John Carter grossed $284 million with a production budget of $250 million. I know that many things are not included in the production budget, possibly advertising and distribution. Do those things account for so much money that grossing $34 million over the production budget just doesn't cut it?

  • People often forget that theaters get a cut of the box office money. After all it does cost money to run a theater, and they obviously want to make a profit too. - Usually the theaters get about 50 percent of the ticket revenue.
    – Oliver_C
    Jan 3, 2014 at 21:11
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    Theaters get a smaller cut of the BO than I think you imagine (it varies) and sometimes they make more money from the candy, soda, and popcorn. They pay a lot to get the rights to display the film. I worked at a theater in my younger days and saw many instances of the only worthwhile profit being from popcorn and soda, which both have immense mark-ups. Especially with second-run showings. Jan 4, 2014 at 16:44
  • As well as the cinema/theatre cut of the revenue, the estimate for the marketing budget for John Carter was in excess of $100m. I've seen break even estimates for John Carter stated at $600m worldwide - that seems high - but I don't know enough about movie economics to challenge it.
    – iandotkelly
    Jan 4, 2014 at 17:08
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    @MeatTrademark - Not too long ago the three largest theater chains in the US refused to sell 'Iron Man3' tickets because Disney was asking for 60-65% of the ticket revenue (which would mean only 35-40% for the theaters). - Another source: How much money does a movie need to make to be profitable?
    – Oliver_C
    Jan 4, 2014 at 22:14

2 Answers 2


It was considered a flop because it was supposed to be a bigger hit and a tent-pole to a new franchise. The production budget, like you opined, does not always cover advertising and distribution. When you spend $250 million, you expect your Domestic Total Gross to be well over $73 million. That is a flop. Even with world-wide BO it only made a small profit (not figuring in DVD sales). Put it another way: this $250 million movie is ranked 853rd in Domestic Box Office. That is not what they were hoping for.

  • Whilst I agree with your answer, Production Budget does include marketing and distribution. It is the encapsulating terminology for the total cost of the project in its entirity. Jan 3, 2014 at 21:16
  • It doesn't always. Sorry, sometimes it does. That depends on the production company and their contracts. There are deals for distribution and other factors that are not necessarily in the production budget. Production Budget can mean anything from primary production to completion depending on what companies and distributions deals are worked out ahead of time, if they are worked out ahead of time. The Production Budget on independent films often only includes principal and editing. Not all movies are the same. Jan 4, 2014 at 16:37
  • I added the italicized word always after the word "not" to try to fix this discrepancy. Jan 4, 2014 at 16:48
  • Keep in mind that some movies only get distribution rights (and money) after being shopped around at film fests after production is completed and the film is screened in a "mostly" complete state, even if not a "locked-down" state. Jan 4, 2014 at 17:10
  • +1 - And in addition: You always expect great things from Disney, and with the success of Pirates of the Caribbean, everyone expected John Carter to do better than it did. Wasn't even close to Pirates' BO, and if they still want to go ahead making a franchise out of it (despite the lack of interest in the first movie) they'll have a much harder time getting people to go see the sequel. In the end, Total Gross - Expectations = Result
    – Tom
    Jan 4, 2014 at 17:39

It was a flop because it cost $307M and only grossed $284M. A substantial loss.


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    Can you elaborate a little on your answer to flesh it out a bit more? There are many films that cost more than $307M and were no flops. How is that a reason for being a flop? And what does that linked article actually say, does it provide a better answer? Link-only answers are rather discouraged.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Jun 20, 2016 at 9:11
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    Especially when the link is apparently paywalled.
    – OrangeDog
    Jun 20, 2016 at 17:49

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