In 1985, Disney released The Black Cauldron, a $44 million film. It was the most expensive animated film made at the time, in 1985. It was a box office flop, grossing barely $21 million. It received mixed reviews from critics, with a score of 55%. The picture was plagued with artist strikes, CEO changes, last-minute narrative changes, and major budget cuts, and it is remembered as the film that nearly ruined Animation.
The Black Cauldron set a number of firsts for Disney animated pictures, including the first PG rating and the first usage of computer-generated graphics. Some believe it to be one of the most horrifying Disney animated films ever made, as it portrays the tangled story of a pig-keeper and a princess.
In 2012, Disney released John Carter, a widely anticipated picture. It was based on Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Barsoom science fiction novels, which had been in production for a cinema version since the 1930s. John Carter cost Disney an estimated $200 million due to mediocre reviews and a 52 percent rating. When all costs are included, it is one of the most costly films ever created, costing an estimated $350 million, resulting in a big loss for Disney.
The picture struggled to get off the ground due to poor marketing, a large budget that established excessive expectations, and a director who had never worked in live-action before.