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Hollywood’s Biggest Gambles

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We all know when we gamble big, it could go either way. We win it all, or are left with nothing. Hollywood definitely knows this, gambling million of dollars everyday on whether or not a movie will be successful. Below, you will find just a small sample of the biggest gambles Hollywood has mad in recent years.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl


Back in 2001, movies inspire theme park attractions, not the other way. Screen writers Terry Rossio and Ted Elliot’s idea of a supernatural tinged pirate tale was knocking about Disney since the 90’s, so when the House of Mouse decided to hang their story on the skeleton of the Disney Land ride, many eyes were rolled. Even the studio couldn’t decide to release into cinemas or straight to DVD, and Micheal Eisner balked at how much this pirate movie would cost to make. Producer Jerry Bruckhiemer had to be convinced to jump onboard what he considered “a straight pirate movie”, and even audiences were skeptical, having been scared off pirate movies by Cut Throat Island. Then, Johnny Depp, not then a slid leading man, signed on with one of his trademark characters, and I think the first reaction was, “He’s playing it like that?”. At the time, this was expected to be a flop, and Disney would be better off gambling on netbet roulette. But flop it did not, instead dominating the American box office for seven consecutive weekends, and becoming a bona fide smash hit the world over, and leading to three sequels and counting.

Iron Man


Even though he is one of Marvel Comics longest running characters, there was a time, around about 2005, Iron Man wasn’t one of their biggest characters. At that time, it seemed as if you weren’t an X-Men character or the Fantastic Four, good luck to you. That’s why when the newly formed Marvel Studios announced they were developing a live Iron Man movie, a lot of people were left scratching their heads. Then Jon Favreau, to many people at time just the Elf guy, signed on to direct, with the approach of an independent movie no less, with Robert Downey Jr. playing the Armoured Avenger, many people anticipated this to the first and last movie form Marvel Studios. Sure, Downey Jr. was in the middle of his comeback, but since he began his career in 1985, he never starred in a big budget event movie like this, let alone headlined one. And there were rumours that this could lead to an Avengers movie. This wasn’t going to work. And as we know, it worked spectacularly well, and led to Marvel Studios breathing new life into the comic book genre, and dominating the landscape at the same time.

John Carter


We’ve talked about the big gambles that paid off, but how about one that didn’t? In the 1980’s, Disney had the rights to Edgar Rice Burrough’s famous creation, John Carter of Mars, and were considering bringing the hero to the big screen, wanting their own Conan the Barbarian or Star Wars style franchise. But they were unable to move forward with it since visual effects weren’t advanced enough yet, so the rights lapsed, and Disney moved on. Years later, Pixar director Andrew Stanton lobbied Disney to reacquire the rights, wanting to make the movie his live action debut. The studio was skeptical, not just that Stanton had never directed live action before, but he wanted to make an over the top sic-fi fantasy with no big name stars to appeal to audiences. They eventually gave in, since he overcame the odds with Wall-E and Finding Nemo, and Stanton went to work. Then the problems started. The movie went over schedule and over budget, and Stanton himself has admitted to shooting much of the movie twice, far more than usual for a live action movie. In all, the budget and marketing costs came to $350 million. When the movie finally opened, it was considered a box office bomb, only making $284 million, just over $20 million of its budget before marketing. Disney took a $84 million loss on John Carter, proving not all gambles pay off.


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The Movie Bit: Hollywood’s Biggest Gambles
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