"John Carter" got off to a soft start domestically, taking $500,000 at midnight showings Thursday.
While it's difficult to predict exactly how much — or little — the $250 million movie will take in by looking at the midnight number, the half-million dollar figure is yet more proof of what everybody in Hollywood already knows: "John Carter" won't do well with U.S. theatergoers.
The $500,000 midnight figure is about the same as what "Prince or Persia: The Sands of Time" took at its midnight screenings when it opened in 2010. That movie opened to what Disney hopes "John Carter" will take — $30 million. That's a far cry from the $75 million a movie with a budget that big should take in opening weekend.
Mega hits do huge business even at their first midnight showings: "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 1" took $30.2 million in November 2011. "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 took an astonishing $43.5 million.
Last December, "Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol" did $1.1 million of midnight business at only 425 locations, and "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows" grabbed $1.25 million at 1,650 midnight locations.
Nobody expected anything near those kinds of numbers for "John Carter," and as of Friday morning, Disney did not have a theater count for midnight shows.
Disney is searching for the upside in the blunder called "Carter," and notes that the movie has grossed $13 million in its first day overseas. It enjoyed the biggest opening day in Russian cinema history, with an estimated $6.5 million.
"John Carter," based on the Edgar Rice Burroughs novel about a confederate soldier who finds himself transported to Mars, where he becomes involved in a war between alien races, is among Disney's most expensive movies ever.