Home Opinion Midweek Mouth-off: Disney's franchise failure

Midweek Mouth-off: Disney's franchise failure

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Today’s topic of debate is the failure – the second in two years – on Disney’s part to relaunch two once highly popular franchises – 2012’s John Carter and 2013’s The Lone Ranger. Although John Carter fared better critically, both of these movies were massive commercial failures.

We want to know what you think went wrong? Was it a case of today’s film-going public being unfamiliar with, and therefore not caring about, a Civil-War-soldier-turned-space-adventurer and the masked cowboy? Were these films poorly marketed? Or do you think the masses are just wising up to mediocrity and listening to critics? Alternatively, do you have your own theory about the weak box office performance? Let us know.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Critical Hit as an organisation.

Last Updated: July 10, 2013


  1. DieJason

    July 10, 2013 at 11:01

    Reminds me, still have to watch John Carter.

    Also, why such a bloated budget for a Western?


  2. James Francis

    July 10, 2013 at 13:02

    Just to be fair, it’s not an outright franchise failure for Disney – its stakes in Iron Man 3 and Monsters University will help balance out the books. And I don’t think there is a particular trend here: taking risks on building franchises are commonplace. Pirates, Harry Potter, Twilight and Lord Of The Rings were big franchise gambles that paid off. Lone Ranger, John Carter, Green Lantern, Last Airbender – all crashed and burned. And this kind of strategy can be seen at least through the last fifteen years of filmmaking. Some fail, some succeed. I don’t think it’s really a changing tide – instead, as always, it’s all about that elusive right-time-right-place. And I don’t think audiences are responding to critics – the two just happen to be aligned here. To see how wrong critics can be, go check what was written about the first Predator movie.

    Instead, the debate should be about Johnny Depp: is his star power overreaching? Disney gambled a lot with Lone Ranger, no doubt because of Depp’s involvement.


  3. Lourens Corleone

    July 10, 2013 at 14:53

    Agreed with James – the Marvel films to quite well, etc, and The Lone Ranger or whatever it is called is hardly a franchise, neither was John Carter. Hopefully, Hollywood learns another hard lesson. The audience demands more.


    • James Francis

      July 10, 2013 at 15:06

      That wasn’t really my point. The audience is fickle and even good attempts at franchises bomb – Dredd – while crappy iterations of franchises manage to make tons – Pirates 4. So this is not about audience demands, though if one delivers bloated turds like John Carter and Lone Ranger you are less likely to strike gold. The real trick is to hit the right nerve at the right time. Just think of the movies you thought were awesome, yet fell flat on their face. Scott Pilgrim and the Grindhouse movies had great potential for franchises, but audiences just weren’t interested. Meanwhile Twilight makes a killing. That is really what is happening here, so it is hard to discern if there is a lesson for Hollywood, other than try-and-try-again.


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