Stitch Kingdom is reporting that it’s confirmed that Disney is offering free advanced screenings of John Carter at Disney World on March 3 and 4 — a total of 6 advance screenings, all in 3D.  It’s possible there may be screenings at Disneyland as well.  The screenings are open to Disney World pass holders.  For more details you can read about it at Stitch Kingdom.

Why is this significant?

Because it is a sign of confidence — that Disney is confident that the film itself delivers and will generate positive word of mouth. If they were to offer six advance screenings (several thousand people minimum) for a film that’s a stinker, with social media the way it is today, such a decision could end up costing some millions of dollars in revenue by dampening enthusiasm. Conversely, to offer such screenings shows that Disney is confident — based on Neilsen test screenings no doubt (which are different because attendees sign waivers not to say anything disparaging about the movie, which is considered a work in progress at that point). It means that Disney knows what the word of mouth is going to be — and it’s going to be good.

All the word of mouth in the world won’t save a movie for which the promotion is not good. If opening day doesn’t get to a certain level, word of mouth will not save it. But this is a sign that Disney is confident about word of mouth, and secondly, it means that Disney is likely to “go the extra mile” (or in this case, spend the extra $20m) to get the opening day turnout they need, because they know that the asset in question–the film itself–will perform if given a proper launch.

So …smiles all around. This is good news for more than the few thousand who will get to see it.