Box office dud bypasses Benelux big screen; could other territories fall?

In the wake of Disney’s non-opening for “Mars Needs Moms” in the U.S., the studio is now mulling its options in overseas markets, principally when — and whether — the toon will get international playtime.

The Mouse has already decided not to give “Mars” a theatrical run in the Benelux territories of Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, sending the toon straight to DVD in those countries.

Disney remains undecided on other markets, and a statement issued Wednesday gave no further details about the Benelux move.

Robert Zemeckis’ 3D sci-fi toon, budgeted at a reported $150 million, has struggled at the domestic and international B.O. It’s still slated to bow in at least five major markets, including Australia and the U.K. during the weekend of April 8-10, as well as Italy and Germany the first week in June.

It unspooled day-and-date with its U.S. bow on March 11 in 14 international markets, but managed to earn just $2.1 million.

Disney now must decide whether theatrical play will be worthwhile in certain territories. “Mars” played in a total of 21 territories during its second week and cumed a soft $8.3 million through Sunday. Last weekend, the film bowed with just $2.2 million from Russia and Mexico, which usually see good returns from 3D toons.

Pic’s North American gross is better with $15.4 million, but its ultimate overseas total, while by no means stellar, could still outstrip domestic.

As a result, Disney has already taken a $100 million writedown to cover the cost and marketing of the $150 million pic, and deal with the shuttering of Zemeckis’ ImageMovers Digital, the toon studio that produced “Mars” and “A Christmas Carol.” Studio was a co-venture with Disney after “The Polar Express” and “Beowulf” impressed Disney execs.

Disney hasn’t yet announced a date for when “Mars” will be released on DVD, Blu-ray and digitally. With the studio experimenting with shorter distribution windows, that could come sooner rather than later. The Mouse could also use the pic as a property to play with as it promotes its Disney All Access offering, the company’s cloud-based digital locker service, which includes streaming, movie storage and rewards programs as incentives.

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