Burbank, Calif. >> Walt Disney Co.'s "Pearl Harbor" is falling short of lofty predictions made by Chairman Michael Eisner when the World War II movie opened more than a month ago, analysts said.
By Josh Fineman
"Pearl Harbor," which cost an estimated $205 million to make and market, has sold $160.4 million in tickets in four weeks in the U.S. and Canada and $76.9 million elsewhere. Disney expects more than $200 million in North American sales by summer's end, Chuck Viane, president of distribution, has said.
Eisner had predicted that "Pearl Harbor," which depicts Japan's attack on the U.S. Navy in Hawaii in 1941, would be Disney's biggest non-animated film ever, surpassing "The Sixth Sense" with $662 million worldwide. Pearl Harbor's three-hour length and negative reviews have discouraged repeat visits, analysts said. Disney shares are down 13 percent since it opened.
"It's a little bit of a disappointment," said Harold Vogel, chief executive of Vogel Capital Inc., a New York investment company. "They really had a lot riding on this."
Disney expects the movie will gross $450 million to $500 million worldwide, Chief Financial Officer Thomas Staggs said. It will be profitable, he said, because the financial structure of the film, which defers certain salary costs, lowers the break-even point.
Before "Pearl Harbor" opened, Eisner sent a letter to employees of Disney.
"There are no sure things in the entertainment industry, but this comes close," Eisner wrote. "I've been telling anybody who would listen that this will be our biggest live-action film ever."
He likely is regretting those words, Vogel said.