Disney’s decision to team with Mel Gibson to distribute and promote his Mayan language film "Apocalypto" probably seemed like a sure thing a the time. Gibson had just come off the huge hit "The Passion Of The Christ" and had the Oscar-winning "Braveheart" under his directorial belt too. What could go wrong?
As it turns out, everything.
Well, not everything. If early reviews are correct, it sounds like Gibson has produced a very good film, despite all its obstacles. Plus the production cost was in the neighborhood of $30 million. Recouping that cost will not be difficult even if mainstream audiences stay away. Why? Because of the growing hispanic market and other international distribution channels.
The hispanic market is most likely to be familiar with the time period "Apocalypto" is set in. In the US, if you didn’t learn about the Mayan’s in 6th grade, chances are you never encountered them again. (My big 6th grade project was on the Mayans and Aztecs.)
Will Apocalypto be a huge hit on the scale of Braveheart and Passion, probably not. Gibson has a lot more damage control to do before he can return to form. Will it be a money maker? That’s more likely, almost guaranteed.
Disney’s not scared of using Mel Gibson’s name to promote the film either. They’re promoting it as "Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto".
Apocalypto opens December 8th.