Creative accounting is nothing new in Hollywood, studios obfuscate the real budgets of productions with much of the public never let in on the real cost of a major movie. When shooting outside the United States though, especially in countries with more stringent tax laws, hiding those actual figures becomes a bit harder.
Take Disney’s “John Carter”. The costly sci-fi flop was previously said to have cost around $250 million to produce. Now, Forbes reports that the project cost Disney approximately $306.6 million to produce according to recently-released documents. That’s more than the $284 million worldwide gross of the film.
The publication also reveals that Britain’s tax authority paid Disney $42.9 million towards the cost of making the movie, more than any of Disney’s other movies shot in the UK have received except for the upcoming “Avengers” sequel which has already scored $53.6 million in tax rebates. The magazine estimates Disney has spent around $2.7 billion in production costs on all the movies it as made in the UK since 2007.
It’s because of the British government’s film tax credit scheme that these figures are coming to light as publicly available financial statements need to be filed. Minus the $42.9 million in tax credits the production received, “John Carter” ended up with a net budget of $263.7 million.
Either way it’s not a shadow on “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” which reportedly came in with a total budget of $410.6 million and remains the most costly production in history to be shot in the UK. This past week it was revealed that Disney’s rights to make further “John Carter” films based on Edgar Rice Burroughs’ novels had reverted back to the author’s estate.