Does This Seem Fair To You?
Was He Really To Blame?
So it is October of 2009 and you are Rich Ross and your career could not be going any better. Your resume includes successful runs at Nickelodeon (where you were part of the team that brought us The Kid’s Choice Awards among other successes) and at FX (where you helped launch the channel) and you have just turned Disney’s cable properties into a massively profitable division by bringing the world Hannah Montana, The Wizards of Waverly Place and the High School Musical franchise. Now Bob Iger, the head of Disney, brings you into his office and offers you a new job — to be the head of Disney Studios, how thrilled are you? You are so happy that you barely notice that the director of a couple of Pixar’s big hits has a passion project green lit based on some old science fiction novels.
Cut to March of 2012.
Can’t Carry A Movie, But He Is Dreamy.
Now you are Rich Ross and you are starring a nightmare in the face. The budget for that passion project from the Pixar guy has grown and grown until it has sailed on past $250 million. The investment is too big for this movie to be anything less than a blockbuster. What’s worse is you are already getting killed by fan boys who believe in the guy who brought them Finding Nemo and WALL-E and can’t stand the rumors of studio interference and really think you are a moron for changing the title to John Carter from John Carter of Mars (which you did because only a year earlier your studio suffered one of the biggest box office flops of all time with a little movie called Mars Needs Moms). The movie itself isn’t easing your fears, nor is the lack of star power, so you turn the Disney marketing machine onto John Carter and give them a blank check telling them “do whatever you have to do to make the opening weekend huge”. They try. They spend (reportedly) somewhere between $100 million and $150 million on marketing. Now you are $400 million out of pocket (again, reportedly and depending on which reports you read) and opening weekend has finally arrived. The numbers aren’t even close to what you expected let alone hoped. John Carter opens to $30 million, and since around half of that goes to the theater owners you have only made a $15 to $20 million dollar dent in your $400 million hole.
Things only get worse from there as John Carter is swallowed and forgotten like a Taco Bell burrito as The Hunger Games dominates the world. By the end of March, as your first quarter financials are released to stock holders, your studio reports $200 million dollars of losses for the quarter.
Cut to April 20th of 2012 (today).
The alabaster that is John Carter and its accompanying stench won’t leave you. None of your past successes count for anything. What may be the biggest hit in your studios history (The Avengers) is only 2 weeks away and you know you won’t see that day. You resign, gracefully and with a lot of tact and you have to wonder, where would I be if I hadn’t taken this job?
Farewell Rich Ross. You are the latest victim of hollywoods favorite game “We Must Blame Someone”.