- Mars Needs Moms box office: Directed and cowritten by Simon Wells, and with Oscar winner Robert Zemeckis as one of its producers, the Walt Disney Studios’ mega-budget, 3D computer-animated/motion-capture sci-fi adventure is on its way to becoming one of the biggest commercial bombs in Hollywood history.
- Update: Robert Zemeckis’ planned motion-capture Yellow Submarine remake has been scrapped following Mars Needs Moms’ box office debacle.
Mars Needs Moms box office: (Co-)produced by Robert Zemeckis, Disney’s computer-animated interplanetary adventure to become one of Hollywood’s worst disasters ever
March 11–13 weekend box office: Sony Pictures’ critically lambasted military-themed sci-fier Battle Los Angeles – which, based on reviews, sounds like a videogame in which audiences are passive observers instead of active participants – was the no. 1 title on the North American (U.S. and Canada only) box office chart, grossing $35.6 million according to final studio figures found at boxofficemojo.com.
And yet the weekend’s big box office story belonged to another critically excoriated sci-fier: The Walt Disney Studios’ mega-budget 3D computer-animated/motion-capture adventure Mars Needs Moms.
Directed by Simon Wells and with Academy Award winner Robert Zemeckis (Best Director for Forrest Gump, 1994) as one of its three listed producers, Mars Needs Moms is well on its way to becoming one of the biggest commercial bombs in cinema’s century-old history.
At no. 5 on this past weekend’s domestic box office chart, the “family” flick raked in a disastrous $6.9 million from 3,117 theaters.
But why “disastrous”? Aren’t we being a little dramatic? After all, Mars Needs Moms’ $6.9 million is only $3 million less than what the Alex Pettyfer-Vanessa Hudgens romantic fantasy Beastly earned last weekend. And we labeled that figure “modest.”
Well, bear in mind that Beastly cost a reported $17 million. Mars Needs Moms cost a reported $150 million. And remember, these figures don’t include marketing and distribution expenses, which, as a rule of thumb, hover around 50 percent of a movie’s production budget.
Is it clear now why Mars Needs Moms is not only a box office disaster but a disaster on a par with previous big-screen catastrophes like Michael Cimino’s Heaven’s Gate (budget: $44 million; domestic gross: $3.5 million in 1980*), Elaine May’s Ishtar (budget: $55 million; domestic gross: $14.4 million in 1987*), and Renny Harlin’s Cutthroat Island (budget: $98 million; domestic gross: $10 million in 1995–96*)?
* Not adjusted for inflation.
Mars Needs Moms cast
In the Mars Needs Moms motion-capture cast: Seth Green as the nine-year-old boy Milo (voice by Seth Dusky), who sets out to rescue his mother from Martian kidnappers, in addition to Dan Fogler, Elisabeth Harnois, Mindy Sterling, Tom Everett Scott, and two-time Oscar nominee Joan Cusack (Working Girl, 1988; In & Out, 1997) as Milo’s kidnapped Mom.
Director Simon Wells cowrote the screenplay with his wife, Wendy Wells. The script is based on Berkeley Breathed’s 2007 novel.
Robert Zemeckis’ Yellow Submarine canceled
March 15 update: It was inevitable. As per The Hollywood Reporter, following Mars Needs Moms’ abysmal box office debut, the Walt Disney Studios has canceled Robert Zemeckis’ next computer-animated/motion-capture project, a remake of the Beatles’ 1968 animated musical Yellow Submarine.
Of course, that seemingly abrupt cancellation doesn’t mean Yellow Submarine had been just breezing along until now. The Reporter explains that there had been “budget issues and a key presentation Zemeckis was to have made before the Beatles heirs kept being pushed back. A December date for the confab was scrapped and never rescheduled.”
Moreover, let’s not forget that back in March 2010 Disney announced it would be ending its association with Zemeckis’ ImageMovers studio (under the Disney banner, known as ImageMovers Digital) once production on Mars Needs Moms was completed. (Its only other release was the Robert Zemeckis-directed A Christmas Carol, a box office money-loser that came out in November 2009.)
In Zemeckis’ Yellow Submarine, the motion-captured Beatles were to have been played by Cary Elwes, Dean Lennox Kelly, Peter Serafinowicz, and Adam Campbell.
Update II: Disney’s computer-animated/motion-capture sci-fi adventure Mars Needs Moms ultimately collected $21.4 million domestically and $17.8 million (apparently incomplete) internationally. Worldwide total: A cataclysmic $39.2 million.
“Cataclysmic”? Aren’t we being a little dramatic?
Mars Needs Moms’ top international markets were Russia/CIS ($5.7 million), Mexico ($3.4 million), Venezuela ($1.2 million), and Argentina ($1.1 million).
Note: Several major international markets (e.g., Japan, Brazil) aren’t listed on the Box Office Mojo chart, while European figures may be incomplete.
”Mars Needs Moms Box Office: 1 of Worst Bombs Ever” notes
Unless otherwise noted, “Mars Needs Moms Box Office: 1 of Worst Bombs Ever” box office information via Box Office Mojo. Budget info – which should be taken with a grain of salt – via BOM and/or other sources (e.g., the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Screen Daily, The Hollywood Reporter, Variety, Deadline.com, etc.).
Comments about Mars Needs Moms and other titles being hits/profitable or flops/money-losers at the box office (see paragraph below) are based on the available data about their production budget, additional marketing and distribution expenses (as a general rule of thumb, around 50 percent of the production cost), and worldwide gross (as a general rule of thumb when it comes to the Hollywood studios, around 50–55 percent of the domestic gross and 40 percent of the international gross goes to the distributing/producing companies).
Bear in mind that data regarding rebates, domestic/international sales/pre-sales, and other credits and/or contractual details that help to alleviate/split production costs and apportion revenues are oftentimes unavailable, and that reported international grosses may be incomplete (i.e., not every territory is fully – or even partially – accounted for).
Also bear in mind that ancillary revenues (domestic/global television rights, home video sales, streaming, merchandising, etc.) can represent anywhere between 40–70 percent of a movie’s total take. However, these revenues and their apportionment are only infrequently made public.
See also: Pixar/Disney’s Elemental is a sizable box office underperformer.
Mars Needs Moms movie images: Walt Disney Studios.
“Mars Needs Moms Box Office: 1 of Worst Bombs Ever” last updated in April 2023.