John Carter of Mars Post-game: Six Reasons to Feel Better by Ryan Harvey

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John Carter of Mars (yes, I have chosen to flat-out call the film by that name going forward, as per its end title card) drew in approximately $30.6 million in domestic box-office over the weekend according to online tracker Box Office Mojo. This is better than some of the gloomier Cassandra predictions, and even superior to the lowered tracking numbers from the days right before the film’s release that pegged it at $25 million.

But I won’t sugarcoat this for fans or lie based on my long experience tracking box-office results: these numbers do not augur well. (If you want to hear a more objective — and therefore grimmer — analysis, read Box Office Mojo’s take on this. It isn’t pretty.) The new film couldn’t even best last week’s #1 film, The Lorax, which held over to take the top spot despite a standard a 44% drop in attendance. It performed $5 million less than last year’s Battle: Los Angeles, a more modest film that cost a third of John Carter of Mars’s $250 million budget.

In the contemporary crowded marketplace, films live and die based on opening weekends. Only occasionally can a film continue to coast for weeks at a time on steady attendance. But this sort of support doesn’t usually happen for big event films, which tend to be front-loaded. Smaller movies like The Help can get a slow-burn going, but not $250 million tent pole epics and hopeful franchise catalysts like John Carter of Mars.

The film did pull in an impressive $70 million at overseas markets, and in the long run the movie will turn a profit for Disney, albeit not a huge one. But the chance of us seeing Andrew Stanton direct The Gods of Mars feels remote at this point. Prince of Persia did similar numbers in 2010, with a $30 millions U.S. opening leading to a poor $91 million overall domestic gross, while pulling in big international coin — and you aren’t hearing about a sequel to that coming out next year. Disney will probably announce during this week that they will go ahead with a John Carter sequel, but that’s standard promotional talk to make a show to the public that the company has confidence in the film, and perhaps get a few more folks into the cinemas during the second weekend. Remember, Disney immediately announced a sequel to Tron: Legacy, and Warner Bros. for Green Lantern — and neither of those will happen.

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  • Well…come what may, I’m just satisfied that an excellent film adaptation of A PRINCESS OF MARS was finally made, one that truly captured the heart and soul of that novel.

    It’s certainly teeth-grindingly frustrating to see the critics lay into the film with such ignorance, but the audiences have certainly liked the film–the majority of them, anyway.

    And who knows? The film might do better overseas. And let’s face it–the 2009 STAR TREK and BATMAN BEGINS did well…but both films did not reach $400 million in total sales. However, they went to sequels (with THE DARK KNIGHT earning much much more).

  • Sequel or no sequel, I’m so thankful to Disney for allowong Andrew Stanton to make his John Carter. I found to be so unique and refreshing.

    I’m already hearing Hunger Games is “great” and “wonderful”….well, no surprise there, as all the early reviewers likely the read the book and it’s likely that the movie-makers did nothing more than make a film that mimics the book note-for-note. Compare that to Andrew Stanton, who had the obstacles of making a series of stories into movie, not to mention that he had to make a film that didn’t seem like he was ripping off the hundreds of films over a century who borrowed from Burrough’s writings. Stanton pulled off a near-miracle, and did it near-flawelessly, all things considered. F*ck the critics indeed!

    I still think a sequel is possible.

  • Don’t count John carter out yet! It hasn’t even finished its film run yet. Like I said I’m sure it’ll do okay at the end of its run. “We still live!”

  • Fuck the critics, fuck the number-crunchers, fuck the naysayers: this is on par with 2001 : A Space Odyssey, Planet of the Apes (original), Star Wars (1977), Snow White (1939), The Wizard of Oz (1939) and E.T. (1982). An instant classic. A perfect film. A perfect adaptation. AT LAST, a Burroughs movie as great as Greystoke (1984) with emotion, visual panache, and true epic scope!

    JOHN CARTER is better than “Lord of the Rings” (2001-2003), “Avatar” (2009) and most other “event” movies. Andrew Stanton: THANK YOU!!!

  • If we don’t get our sequel, then obviously we do not still live. I’m not giving up until Hunger Games comes out, but at this point I have to step away and just not look anymore. Heart can’t take it.

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