Friends, Heliumites, Martians. . . .
I am here before you now with possibly distressing news. This Friday, John Carter [of Mars] premieres in theaters nationwide. (Read about the novel!) This is the first “event film” of 2012. Early reviews and reports from viewers who saw sneaks of it are enthusiastic: “good” to “great” is the word from almost everyone. Yet tracking shows the film on its way toward a soft opening: $25–$30 million. The marketing machine from Disney has mishandled this film, and it may very well founder at the box-office despite the positive reviews and word-of-mouth.
Readers, we cannot allow this to happen. We must make this movie a hit. It has taken a hundred years to get to this point, the realization of one of the foundational science-fiction works from one of the genre’s towering authors. We must not only see the film (this weekend, if possible) but we must convince friends, relatives, co-workers, casual acquaintances, Starbucks baristas, and the other person standing at the crosswalk that they should see this film. We must become evangelicals for Edgar Rice Burroughs and Barsoom.
Normally, I would never push people to see a movie that I haven’t seen myself. I won’t see John Carter [of Mars] until it opens on Friday morning. In the past, I haven’t pushed for people to go see movies like Tron: Legacy despite my hopes for a hit. In the case ofTron: Legacy, it was getting poor reviews and I couldn’t in good conscience advise people to see something they probably wouldn’t like. Besides, I had the original Tron, whatever else might happen.
This is different, however. Not only have I heard only positive news on John Carter [of Mars], but the talent behind it is terrific. Director Andrew Stanton gave me WALL-E, so he has my confidence. And this isn’t a re-make or a sequel to a movie I love; it’s the first movie version of one of the foundational works of my entire literary life, and one that has taken a hundred years to reach the screen. A huge imaginative franchise is in the balance. Pulp literature is standing before the world and asking audiences to experience it. I am obligated to send people its way.