The disappointing $31 million opening for “Disney’s A Christmas Carol” over the weekend may force the company to take a hefty write down, according to Doug Creutz, a media analyst at Cowen and Company. “At least $50 million and potentially as much as $100 million,” he wrote in a research note. Deutsche Bank’s Doug Mitchelson sent a similar advisory to investors.

The movie cost at least $175 million to make, not including an expensive marketing campaign marked by a six-month train tour of 40 cities in the United States.

Because of accounting rules, a write down would impact Disney’s fiscal fourth quarter earnings – set to be released after the market close on Thursday – even though the movie was released after the end of the company’s quarter. A Disney spokesman declined to comment, citing proximity to earnings.

The company, which has known “A Christmas Carol” was in trouble for weeks, can comfortably shift blame: It was Dick Cook, who was ousted as chairman of Walt Disney Studios in September, who threw Disney’s weight behind the movie. Robert Zemeckis directed the film using motion-capture technology.

There is still hope that the project could ultimately be a success. “The Polar Express,” which Mr. Zemeckis directed for Warner Brothers in 2004, was initially judged a flop, but Warner has rereleased it every November since to solid results, selling more than $300 million at the global box office. Holiday movies also tend to be strong sellers on DVD. Disney always saw annuity potential of its own.

Source: New York Times