Want to know why game publishers don’t like taking risks? Ask John Carter.

As a fan of games, you probably wonder “Why don’t big publishers like to take risks with new properties?” A look at this year’s titles certainly bears that out — Halo 4, Borderlands 2, Diablo III. These are all retreads of reliable winners, but there’s nothing new on the horizon. At this year’s DICE Summit, Wedbush Morgan analyst Michael Pachter said as much, implying that innovation at big companies like EA and Activision was dead “because the financial guys have taken over.”

But even in film, where new titles are released perennially, big risks are something just too big. That appears to be the case with intergalactic action flick John Carter which would have fared better as as the Riggins prequel I thought it should be. EW reports:

Disney’s expensive misfire John Carter dropped by 55 percent in its sophomore frame to third place and $13.5 million. The $250 million project has now earned $53.2 million after ten days, and if it continues to play like a frontloaded fanboy flick (and it will), it will finish its run around $80 million. International receipts will need to be utterly gargantuan to save the Edgar Rice Borroughs adaptation — it’s taken in $126.1 million overseas so far.

There are lots of reasons why John Carter could be deemed a flop — too expensive, poor timing, poor execution etc. But at Salon, Andrew O’Hehrir gives a chilling reminder of what can make even the biggest movie turn out small:

Big movies fail when those who make them lose all perspective on how to make them and whom they’re making them for — when they strike a tone that’s completely misguided, and often unintentionally hilarious. You can feel Stanton struggling to bring the confidence, wit and style of “Wall-E” and “Finding Nemo” to bear upon this leviathan, but he can’t quite pull it off. Whatever tone he’s trying to impart gets eaten by the pure bigness of the project, and you’re never sure whether he’s embracing this ludicrous, antiquated fable of a pioneer American on Mars, or making fun of it. 

Certainly wise words for any big publisher hoping launch a new title this year.

[via Salon]