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Special Report: John Carter, the Flop that Wasn’t a Turkey (Part 2)

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This part two of a three part series entitled John Carter, the Flop that Wasn’t a Turkey.  You can read Part One here.

by Michael D. Sellers

John Carter: The Flop that Wasn’t a Turkey (How did it happen?) Part Two

On April 20, 2012 Disney Studios Chairman Rich Ross resigned in the wake of the release of John Carter, a film that had earned $269M at the global box office in the six weeks of its theatrical run but which,  because of its high cost of production and marketing,  caused the studio to take a $200M write-down in the first quarter of 2012.  Ross had not been responsible for greenlighting John Carter; but the marketing campaign in its futile entirety had unfolded on Ross’s watch.  In his resignation letter Ross wrote:

…..the best people need to be in the right jobs, in roles they are passionate about, doing work that leverages the full range of their abilities. It’s one of the leadership lessons I’ve learned during my career, and it’s something I’ve been giving a great deal of thought to as I look at the challenges and opportunities ahead……..I no longer believe the Chairman role is the right professional fit for me.

The question of whether Ross, a “TV guy” who had done extremely well managing Disney’s global TV operation, was the least bit passionate about or even fully grasped the unique complexities of theatrical movie marketing, would hang over his departure. As Jerry Bruckheimer famously observed, movie marketing offers a unique challenge in that it must motivate fans to “get off the couch” and pay twelve dollars  during a particular window of time — a “call to action”  that far exceeds anything in the channel-flipping TV world.  Movie marketers  live and breathe this challenge, and tend to believe, not without good reason, that it takes a certain breed of executive to successfully create a culture where the alchemy that is movie promotional campaign is executed consistently and imaginatively at a high level.  Ross, by his own admission and the record he created, was not such an executive.

That fundamental challenge of movie marketing–motivating millions of people to get up off the couch and line up to see a movie on opening weekend– lies at the center of the question:  “What really happened to John Carter?”  It is by no means the sole factor in the failure of John Carter to become the hit that it had to be to break even.   And we will deal with the other factors in the course of this series.   But rarely in Hollywood has there been such a perplexing “epic fail” of marketing, and it was Ross who was at the helm when the Disney marketing machine sailed into its iceberg with John Carter.

While the actions of Disney marketing are difficult to fathom as seen from the outside, companies with the historic success of Disney don’t intentionally sabotage their own projects, nor do they enter into a release campaign without giving serious thought to the strategy behind that release.  So what was the strategy?  What were Ross and his brain trust really expecting and hoping would happen with John Carter, and why did they calibrate the campaign the way they did?

Most critically — why did Ross approve an A+ level budget of $250M, putting John Carter on the short list of most expensive films ever, then fail to support it with an A+ marketing campaign that included the full force of Disney’s ability not only to do the “usual”–trailers, TV Spots, print ads,  billboards, etc — but to also bring in the kind of licensing, cross-promotional tie-ins, and merchandise that are needed to “feed the beast” of a tent-pole theatrical film at the highest budget level?

To understand, it is necessary to start with the production of the film itself.

The Production of John Carter — A $250M Experiment?

There are two vastly different versions of what happened during the production of John Carter. The version that dominated pre-release coverage of the film was captured  in a Hollywood reporter piece by Kim Masters, who described it this way:

In the case of Disney’s March space fantasy John Carter, there was clear allure to taking a chance on director Andrew Stanton. He wrote and directed Pixar’s Finding Nemo and WALL-E, which together grossed about $1.3 billion worldwide. But the 3D extravaganza has undergone a complete re-engineering [since the original shoot was complete], and the budget, originally $200 million, is widely rumored to have ballooned to $300 million. …. One source associated with talent on John Carter says Stanton, 46, initially was allowed to pursue his vision with “no checks and balances, no star, no producer, nobody to keep him in check.” In December 2010, when he showed a 170-minute cut to executives at Pixar and Disney, they found the story unclear and the characters not engaging. Stanton then began to re-engineer a film that already had been shot, creating storyboards of new sequences and cutting them into the footage. A few months later, he embarked on extensive and costly reshoots. Disney, which had anticipated John Carter as a trilogy, held off on discussing the next installment.

Master’s article, and others like it, painted a picture of a film which had started off with a reasonable budget, and had “ballooned” into a $300M final product due to “costly reshoots” which were undertaken in an attempt to remedy mistakes made in the original filming.  This narrative of a confused, out-of-control production helmed by a first-time live action director who was in over his head dominated the reporting on the actual making of the film.

Disney was curiously detached and did little to dispel such accounts.  There were no statements from Ross or Sean Bailey, Disney’s President of production, offering any counter-narrative.  It was only when  Stanton and producers Lindsey Collins and Jim Morris were on the final press tour in the run-up to the release, that the film-making team  confronted it.

Stanton’s statement were the strongest of the three — claiming that the reshoots were part of the original shooting plan and not an ad hoc reaction to unexpected problems, and making the case that once a budget was agreed to, he stayed on budget and on schedule — so much so that Disney rewarded him with his request to have additional days added to the reshoot.

“I want to go completely on record that I literally was on budget and on time the entire shoot. Disney is so completely psyched that I stayed on budget and on time that they let me have a longer reshoot. …. That is just fascinating to me that people would think that’s true…[that the reshoots were unplanned and remedial] …I actually stayed on budget and on time because I knew that I had a reshoot.” (THR Link.)

So who has it right?

Re-shoots:  Remedial Corrections or Part of the Plan from the Beginning?

To understand whether or not the production of John Carter was “troubled”, with a “spiraling” production spend due to “costly reshoots” , it is helpful to gain some perspective on reshoots and their role in major Hollywood film-making.   Traditionally, the Hollywood approach to live action film-making  emphasizes a lengthy pre-production  that yields a “blueprint” for the film, followed by a single period of “principal photography” whose objective is to get everything “in the can”, followed by editing and post-production.  Under the traditional model, reshoots are considered remedial and hence, logically, the existence of reshoots is empirical evidence that something is wrong with the production — that something went wrong during the principal photography and “costly reshoots” are necessary as a remedial and unplanned exercise.

But while this traditional view is understood to be the norm, most directors acknowledge that a period of reshoots (which are more properly thought of as “additional shooting” since the object is not to reshoot what you already shot, it is to get additional shots that clarify and enhance the story) can be invaluable because, at the point where the film has been assembled, instead of shooting 10 times what will actually show up in the film, the shots that are executed can be very carefully calibrated to fit within the actual edited film.  Director Bill Condon, explaining re-shoots for Breaking Dawn, said:  “A film is a lot like a puzzle, with each piece – each shot, no matter how brief – needing to fit exactly with the ones around it. Our Part Two puzzle is finally coming into full view, and in a few weeks we’ll be heading back north to pick up some additional shots – the last tiny missing pieces.”  Red Tails Director Bill Hemingway, describing re-shoots for his film about Tuskegee Airmen, said:   “We all knew there was going to be additional photography. It wasn’t a surprise.”   He described the reshoots as ” little character moments and effects-driven scenes that were needed to “make things clear; to strengthen individual characters.”   One director, a veteran of five Hollywood feature films, said: “I always program a 2-3 day mini-shoot that comes after the film has been assembled.  It’s inevitable that by the time you get to that point, you will have a list of shots that can be obtained very efficiently and which will greatly help the film.  Those 2-3 days can make as much impact on the film as two weeks of filming during principal photography because in the re-shoots, you’re only getting what you know you need, whereas in principal you’re trying to get everything you think you might need.”

Stanton went on record early on as being more passionately committed to re-shoots than almost any other live-action director, so much so that he viewed his approach as revolutionary for live action, yet grounded in what has been termed the “Pixar process”:

You know, I planned reshoots for after I got an assembly, so I had real objectivity about what it needed.

That’s all we do at Pixar. The truth is, we rip down and put up our movies a minimum of four times over four years. How I learned to make a movie by shooting it four times. That’s how me make them. People wonder what the magic elixir of Pixar is. It’s this: we shoot the movie four times!

To me, that’s just how art is formed….It’s like me saying to you, you can all go and write a piece about what we talked about today, but you only get to write it once. You don’t get to change a word once it’s set down. And that’s how movies are made, and it’s fucked up. It should be that you should somehow be able to balance economics and let the artist be an artist, and not be afraid of failure or trial and error.

Stanton’s producer Lindsey Collins says.  “It’s the way we’ve always worked and certainly at Pixar that’s how we work – we get it all up there and put it up and we watch it and go, ‘That’s not working, let’s move that over here..So it doesn’t surprise me at all that that’s how Andrew worked on this one.”

So if the reshoots were — as credibly seems the case — part of the plan from the beginning,  is there any other evidence to support the claim of an out-of-control production?  For example, did the production fall behind schedule (the number one cause of over-budget performance)?  The answer: No.   Did the Studio display signs of concern and anxiety, hovering of the production and otherwise giving the impression that there was trouble in Utah? The answer: No.    Quite the opposite would be the case.  Neither the head of production Sean Bailey or Production Executive Brigham Taylor even visited the set in either London or Utah during the 100 day principal photography shoot.  Even during the reshoots, which took place in Playa Vista, a brief 30 minute drive from Disney Studios, there was no regular studio presence.

What do those who worked on the film say about it?   A number of crew members who worked on the film agreed to talk off the record for this article.  (They are under a standard studio Non-Disclosure-Agreement which prevents them from commenting publicly.)  All were in agreement that the production ran smoothly; was as harmonious as these things tend to be;  and did in fact stay on schedule throughout the hundred days of principal photography.

Yet a nagging question persists, and that is — did the studio really lay off Stanton and the production precisely because he was being, as Stanton called it, a “good citizen” by sticking to the schedule and following the plan.   Or did the “hands-off” policy reflect something else — a certain disengagement from the film, an indication that the film, as big as the budget was, simply wasn’t that firmly on the radar of Ross, who by that time had Marvel and with it, an entire stable of franchise worthy characters with built-in audiences, each easier to deal with and more likely to produce success than John Carter.

Or, was there an element of appeasement to Stanton and Pixar?

Stanton’s own comments shed some light on what Disney would have faced had the studio decided to tangle with him:

I was pretty hardball. To be honest nobody ever fought me, but it was the fan in me that gave me the guts. That, and I have a day job [as Head of Story at Pixar].  I just felt like if anybody had a chance of making this without it being fucked up by the studio, it might be me. They’re too afraid of me – they want me happy at Pixar. So I thought I should use this for good, and make the movie the way I always thought it should be made. If at any one of these points if they were going to push back, I would have pulled out. It’s the best way to buy a car – I don’t mind walking away. So it pretty much got me through to the end. I never saw a studio person on the set until the reshoots.

The Pixar Process Applied to Live Action Film-making?

There is no doubt whatsoever that Stanton came into John Carter with a strong commitment to  what has been termed the “Pixar Process” of film-making, a process which emphasizes trial and error.  “Make your mistakes early,” Stanton would repeatedly tell his team, echoing the Pixar philosophy that it is only through “getting it up there” and seeing its flaws, that the character and story will be revealed.  Yet following such an approach at Pixar, where everything springs to life from the computers at Emeryville, is one thing — and doing so in a live action setting where massive resources must be mounted and where the daily “burn rate” of production cost is dozens if not  100’s of times more than the Pixar daily burn rate  is, to say the least, a complicated prospect.  It is because of this high “burn rate” for full-scale live action location production that under the traditional Hollywood live action system, the emphasis is on pre-production, with the shooting script  becoming a complete blue-print for the film, followed by a production period that gets it all “in the can”, then an editing period where it all gets sorted out and the film is completed.  Re-shoots are not typically built into original production plan — although Stanton would certainly not be the first director to do so and the mere fact that additional shooting days are scheduled for a film is not automatically reason to believe a film is in trouble–even a traditionally mounted one.

But while Stanton and company would repeatedly sing the praises of the Pixar process–would the film-making team in fact have the latitude to execute the film according to such a process?  Objective reality would seem to say no — at least not in a very complete way.   The production plan that Stanton and company agreed to called for 100 days of principal photography and only six days of reshoots — hardly comparable to the “reshoot it four times” system that applied at Pixar for Wall-E and Finding Nemo.  Even with the reshoots expanded to 18 days, the production reality of John Carter  it still falls far short of the kind of repeated “reshoots” that a Pixar film goes through.    To even come close to the “Pixar process”, the plan would have to called for several extended reshoot periods as the film gradually revealed itself through successive renderings.  Recognizing the impossibility of such an approach in live action film-making, Team Stanton never suggested anything of that sort, and Disney surely would never approved such a plan which would have driven the costs of production even more into the stratosphere.

And so the production was mounted with a general commitment to the philosophy of the Pixar process, but without the actual structure that such process required.  It would be a hybrid production whose 100 day main shoot, 18 day reshoot arrangement was  90% “old school”, but whose spirit of collaboration and  “building on errors” would be 90% Pixar.

How did the creative team respond to the approach?   “Stanton was amazing to work for,” one top creative participant in John Carter said recently.  “His interpersonal skills are among the best. He has a way of making you feel you’re on his level even if it’s unlikely that you really are.  He encourages you to try things and constantly reassures you that no ideas are bad ideas, and that the process is an open, collaborative one–guided by Stanton’s overall vision to be sure, but really empowered by the rest of us.”  Another put it this way: “It felt a little ‘scrambled’ at times, not as button downed as I’ve experienced with other director, but there was an underlying confidence that if there was a sense of things being slightly unfocused — that sense was on the surface, and underneath the surface there were processes at work that would yield something more profound than our usual way of working was likely to.  So we bought into it.”

But as much as everyone “bought into it” — the fact remained, Stanton was relying on a process that was built on the notion of, in effect, four complete re-mountings of the story – four complete “reshoots” of the entire production …. when in reality, he was getting one shoot of 100 days, and a second one of 18 days, and that was it.  Knowing the Pixar process, and Stanton’s commitment to it — and viewing the limitation of the 100/18 scenario, the question has to be asked: Did Stanton really have the opportunity to apply the “Pixar Process”, or was that an illusion, a dream that could not be achieved?

The Marketing Takes Shape — Who Was In Charge?

As the production continued, first through principal photography from January to July 2010 and moved into post production, the marketing plan for John Carter was being developed at Disney under the leadership of MT Carney, who joined Disney in April 2010 as the handpicked choice of new Studio chief Rich Ross.  Carney, a Scottish born, New York based marketer with no experience in film marketing (her expertise was packaged goods), was brought in by Ross in the face of healthy skepticism both within the halls of Disney, and more broadly throughout the competitive but close-knit Hollywood theatrical motion picture marketing community.

Throughout the production period Rich Ross  had little engagement with Stanton or the producers, leaving this to be handled on a long-distance basis by head of production Sean Bailey and production executive Brigham Taylor — as well as John Lasseter, the Pixar chief who concurrently ran Disney Animation and was a key player in Stanton’s “Brain Trust” of mostly Pixarians.  One of the few times Stanton did meet with Rich Ross was in the spring of 2011 around the time of the reshoots.  It was in this meeting that Ross abruptly asked, “So why hasn’t the name been changed yet?” as if it had already been decided that the title would be simply “John Carter”, rather than “John Carter of Mars” as it was still being referred to at the time.   Stanton was taken aback.  He had been the originator of the title change from “A Princess of Mars”, the title of Burroughs’ book, to “John Carter of Mars”, claiming that he felt that “Princess” in the title of a Disney made movie would drive the male audience away.  But he had never contemplated dropping “of Mars”.

“Stanton wasn’t in love with the title change, but he accepted it,” said a production insider who was among the early group to hear from Stanton about the meeting with Ross. “From a creative point of view he felt that John Carter becomes “John Carter of Mars” through the course of the first movie, so the change worked for him on a creative level even though from a marketing perspective, he had his doubts.”

Stanton himself described the title change episode as follows:

At the time there was panic about Mars Needs Moms. That wasn’t convincing to me to do anything. Then they did all this testing and found out that a huge bulk of people were saying no off the title. You can’t lie about that stuff, that’s the response you’re getting. I was like ‘Eh, that’s what the movie is.’ But I don’t want to hurt people from coming to the movie. Then I realized the movie is about that arc [of John Carter’s character], and I said, ‘I’ll change it if you let me change it at the end. And if you let me keep the JCM logo.’ Because it means something by the end of the movie, and if there are more movies I want that to be what you remember. It may seem like an odd thing, but I wanted it to be the reverse Harry Potter. With the latest Harry Potter they had Harry Potter and the Blah Blah Blah Blah, but you just see the HP. I wanted the JCM to mean something.

It is interesting to note that while the initiative came from the studio and was backed, according to Stanton, by market-testing  — Stanton’s remarks also imply that had he wanted to , he could have dug in his heels and Disney would have kept “of Mars” in the title.  This gets at the heart of what would eventually became a major question — indeed, perhaps the central riddle of the entire matter: “Who controlled the marketing?”

In the aftermath of the debacle, a narrative would emerge that suggested that Stanton was, if not directly in charge of the marketing, at least the main author of the disastrous marketing campaign.   Yet virtually any studio executive in Hollywood would agree that the director, while he is an important figure in the overall marketing brain trust, is almost never regarded as the right person to be making major decisions about how to market a film.    “It’s just two entirely different head spaces,” says one former studio head.  “With every film there’s marketability, and playability.  Marketability is the idea of the film as embodied in everything that comes out before the release: trailers, TV spots, billboards, publicity.   Playability is the film itself — does it “play” well?   The director is arguably in control of  “playability”, at least up to the point where a studio has to exercise final cut authority.  But the studio marketing department is in charge of marketing and the director, by virtue of his close association with the actual film as opposed to the idea of the film as embodied by the marketing, is  almost by definition considered to have suspect judgment when it comes to marketability.  He’s too close to the actual material, whereas the marketing department has enough objectivity, and historical and marketing data, to be able to make the tough choices that may or may not sit well with the director.  Directors don’t run marketing campaigns. They’re too busy and they’re too close to the material.”

And indeed, it seems clear by all accounts that the initiative for the title change came from the studio, not from Stanton.  But  Stanton clearly felt — perhaps because, as he said, “they were afraid of me….they want me happy at Pixar” — that the studio needed his cooperation and indeed, if he had been willing to “walk” over the issue of the title, he may well have prevailed.  But he didn’t; he accepted the point of view of the studio, and in particular the assertion by Ross that the need for a title change was backed up by testing data that showed “of Mars” was a liability.

But the title change was just the tip of the iceberg of the marketing discussions and strategizing that were taking place at Disney.  Although the majority of the marketing spend of $100m would take place in the final 3 months prior to release, marketing efforts were well under way by the time principal photography began in January 2010, and strategic decisions about John Carter marketing were near the top of the agenda that faced MT Carney when she arrived in April 2010.

It ws at this point, the spring of 2010 with the film in the midst of principal photography, that the decision as to whether or not to give John Carter an all-out marketing push was made.  Would John Carter, budgeted at an astronomical $250M, get the full force of Disney marketing, meaning cross promotions, merchandise, and licensing in addition to the usual theatrical elements of TV spots, trailers, Billboards, and the like?  Or would it just get the basic package?

By the time principal photography wrapped in July 2010, the answer was becoming clear:  John Carter would get the basic marketing package, no more.   By all accounts this is a decision that Ross made, in consultation with Carney, and it reflected a number of factors.    First, there was doubt that John Carter had “the right stuff” to succeed.  It was, after all, a legacy of the Cook era; it was a literary adaptation of a 100 year old novel with only a small and aging fan base of mostly baby boomers who had read the re-issued paperbacks in the 1960’s;  and the main reason for approving it in the first place had been to keep Andrew Stanton on the lot and home with Pixar rather than off making his live action debut with another studio, a la Brad Bird and Mission Impossible.

Second, there was the matter of marketing partner equities to be considered.  There was not an unlimited pool of potential cross-promotion partners, and hot on the heels of John Carter was a much more promising property, Marvel’s The Avengers  which had mega-blockbuster written all over it.  Would making an all-out push for these kind of partnerships dilute the pool of partners for The Avengers?

And finally there was the “x-factor” of Stanton himself.  True, the odds would be stacked against the $250m John Carter if it didn’t’ get the benefit of an all-out marketing push.  But the whole project was, in a sense, an attempt to appease Stanton’s live action ambitions without losing him to another studio.  Let it be on his shoulders, the thinking went.  Stanton had shown that he has the ability to deliver a film that dazzles both audiences and critics.   Both Finding Nemo and Wall-E had critic approval ratings north of 90%, and audience ratings int he same zone. Was there any doubt that if Stanton delivered these kind of results with John Carter, it would succeed?  And if he didn’t deliver such results — well, it would be time for him to go home to Pixar and get back to doing what all of Disney really wanted him to do, which was to get back to making more Finding Nemo’s and  Wall-E’s.

And so it was that, about the time that principal photography was ending in the summer of 2010, Disney’s marketing strategy was set:  It would be a standard worldwide theatrical marketing push, without any creative cross-promotions or licensing, and with a heavy emphasis on letting the film sink or swim on the strength of Stanton’s own skills as a film-maker.    If Stanton could pull a rabbit out of the hat and deliver a film that critics and audiences adored, it would succeed.  If not – – if he just delivered an “average” film, there would be no mega-marketing push to save it.

It was all on Stanton to deliver an exceptional film.

The First Rough Cut is Viewed by the Brain Trust

By December 2010, Stanton had completed his first 170 minute assembly of the movie.  As is often the case for VFX-heavy films, the first assembly, while instructive to the actual team immersed in editing the film, was difficult for “outside eyes” to view because of the many incomplete VFX shots — shots which in this case included many of the shots of the 3D animated Tharks whose characters were essential to the story.

But the time had come to share the film and get feedback — and so it was that Stanton showed the 170 minute rough cut at Pixar to his “Brain Trust” group — Lasseter, Brad Bird, other Pixarians, as well as Sean Bailey and Brigham Taylor (but no one else) from Disney.     By multiple accounts, the reaction to the material was mixed.   The middle section of the movie dragged; and Lynn Collins’ feisty portrayal as Martian princess Dejah Thoris was in need of significant recalibration.  There were also concerns about the opening, with the movie beginning on Mars with an exposition heavy scene where Dejah Thoris, in her capacity as “Regent of Science” for Helium, presents a new “9th ray” device –in the process giving the audience a mind-numbing dose of Barsoomian politics and science that, the consensus view determined, was too much to lay on an audience in the opening minutes of the movie.

The studio execs, Bailey and Taylor, viewed the film and provided notes but there is no indication that they were in any way assertive, or were really major players int he evaluation process.  It was the Pixar crowd who took the lead in providing Stanton the kind of “tough love” feedback that he sought from them.

Meanwhile, Bailey and Taylor went back to Disney and made their reports there, and those reports conveyed the idea that, based on this first viewing, Stanton had a reasonably entertaining film in the works but nothing that would generate a critical or audience response  on the scale of Wall-E or Nemo.   “They came back saying it was ‘just okay’ — not a turkey, not a clear winner.   There was lots of heavy lifting to be done and the chance of a breakout success, always remote for this material, seemed less likely, rather than more likely, after the initial viewing,” said one Disney production executive who agreed to speak off the record.

Another Disney insider said:  “Bailey absolutely expressed concern about what he had seen, to Ross directly among others.   Not “the sky is falling” level of concern — but clear concern that the process being followed at Emeryville might work beautifully for animation, but might result in an egregious fumble in live action.”

If Ross expressed concern, his chosen channel to do so was through Lasseter and all indications are that Lasseter was solidly behind the project and Stanton, and believed that the process under way would yield not only an adequate film, but an excellent one.  “Lasseter had Stanton’s back for sure,” an animation player at Disney recounts. “He had been a big part of getting Dick Cook to option the property for Stanton  in the first place, and he clearly had faith in the creative process that was under way.”

And so in January 2011, a little more than a year before the film was to be released, Stanton went back to work prepping for the reshoots based on his own notes and those of the “Brain Trust” that had viewed the rough cut.  It was clear that the six days that had been budgeted would not be enough — a minimum of 12 would be needed.   Stanton never doubted that it would be approved, and in any event –whether this was, as Stanton maintained, covered by savings from principal photography or constituted a journey into the contingency, these were not “costly reshoots” — they were primarily a green screen exercise on the same stage in Playa Vista where Howard Hughes had overseen the production of the Spruce Goose.  The main characters who would be needed were Taylor Kitsch and Lynn Collins who were on “run-of-the-show” contracts, so there was no incremental cost with their salaries;  no costly locations shooting logistics to deal with; no major construction, etc.

But would the reshoots solve the puzzle that the film had become?

And would the film itself be strong enough to overcome gap between the A+ level budget of $250M and the B level marketing effort that was about to unfold?

The seeds of disaster had been thoroughly planted, but there were new twists in the equation that were about to be visited on the production and the studio — twists that would take an already unstable situation and make it worse.

Next Week:  Part Three

  • The re-shoots expand from 6 to 18 days
  • The Nielsen Test Screening that gave false comfort to the film-makers
  • Head-butting between Stanton and the marketing team over the first trailer, and whose vision finally prevailed
  • Stanton and MT Carney; a match not made in heaven
  • The main trailer and initial TV spots fail to generate favorable buzz; what could have been done to correct course, but didn’t happen
  • The John Carter “Titanic” hits its iceberg
  • Is there a path to a sequel, or is it “game over” for John Carter?


96 comments

  • Paladin-

    OK that’s fine about the “teasing.” Just to put this behind us.

    As for the ending, I understood it but it still seemed poorly planned. John Carter spends 10 years running around the planet and finally decides “Well that didn’t work, I’ll use plan B.” And I just feel why wasn’t that Plan A to start with? If he wasn’t having much luck after 5 years why spend another 5 doing the same thing? I guess it goes back to my feeling that the medallion was a pointless MacGuffin and this just made it even more so. And honestly I doubt the Therns were that smart to be one step ahead of him, considering Matai Shang’s idiotic Dr. Evil moment in the film. All that was missing was the ill tempered sea bass and the unnecessary slow dipping mechanism.

  • MCR-

    Dude, I’m just teasing you. Most folks understood what happened at the end of the movie with the medallion, but apparently you didnt, so here it is: for 10 years John Carter searched the far corners of the globe (hence all the exotic artifacts in his office) for another Thern hiding/transit spot (like the cave in Arizona), but to no avail. It’s only then — after finally realizing it was hopeless to find one (because the Therns were adept at staying ahead of him) — that he comes up with the brilliant idea to just give up the search, but act as though he had indeed found a medallion, thus baiting the Therns….. and you know the rest.

  • I don’t mind people disagreeing with me or even joking if I make a mistake or say something they don’t agree with. But saying someone can’t add to me just comes across as you’re insulting someone’s intelligence. And I don’t think that’s showing respect. But thank you for playing mediator.

    Concerning my comment about the waiting 10 years in the movie as being “bad screenwriting” and it matching the book let me clarify that. As we know in the novel there is no medallion or phrase that can be uttered to go Barsoom. It seems in A Princess of Mars and Gods of Mars to be out of John Carter’s hands so to speak. He just can’t do it. Now I guess that can be chalked up to a flaw with Burroughs’ work-even though personally I like that aura of mystery about it-but in the movie Stanton makes it quite clear the only thing JC needs to go back to Barsoom is this medallion. And I just feel that if that’s all he needed then why wait the 10 years? I don’t think it’s just because Stanton wanted to be close to the novel-I mean why start now at the end being faithful to the book. And if you take it away from the book, look at it as an objective viewer or someone who has never read the books it doesn’t make any sense. Why not just claim he has it, trick the Thern and be on his way? Also it falls in with what Henried I believed said in another thread-it makes John Carter sort of a dolt that he can’t find another way and just uses this as a last resort. He knows it works why not just use it?

    Also no problem with the Tarzan mention. I just didn’t see it on here but I can understand you’re busy. Just wanted to pass it on just in case you didn’t know or someone else didn’t.

  • Awww, MCR. It won’t get deleted. But I wish you could deliver your ripostes with a wink and a chuckle instead of all this vitriol. I’ve been reading a lot of ERB’s non-fiction essay writing now — if we could all just emulate his gentlemanliness and style this could be fun. But anyway, Paladin slipped a jab in on you so you’re welcome to fight back, I just think a little anger management might help you enjoy this more. If you don’t, there’s a danger you will elevate “MCR-Baiting” into a sport of some sort……

    By the way, I wasn’t following it that closely, but am I right — you’re saying that the “10 year” span, if done to match what’s in the book, is “bad screenwriting”…….it feels to me like there is such an obvious inconsistency there, coming from you, that I must have missed part of the conversation.

    Finally — no, Tarzan’s not OT at all here. I just missed it yesterday. Posted it a little while ago. Have my head down trying to churn out 5,000 words a day to meet my glorious book deadline, which is now called ‘Hollywood vs Mars’, by the way. See, I didn’t say Disney vs Mars…there’s enough “Hollywood Hubris” to go around, it’s not all Disney ……;-)

  • I don’t care if this gets deleted or not but you know what I don’t care. And this is directed at Paladin. You criticize me for not having any tolerance and trying to bait people? What about you? You can’t seem to tolerate anyone who doesn’t share your opinion and then spend the time making insults about them. Yeah maybe I can’t add 1 +1 but I can read. And all I see is someone who is just as intolerant and insulting as anything I’ve read on here. You’re just as bad as any of those trolls on IMDB or any other board. And why? All because I don’t like a movie you think is some masterpiece.

    There I said why I needed to say. And by the way the medallion still sucked. It was pointless and the whole stupid waiting 10 years because that was his “last resort” was bad screenwriting. Sorry folks. I guess sometimes the fanboys are just as insulting as the trolls.

  • An adaptation of a book to screen just won’t be 100% faithful to the source material…ever. First you have the screenwriters vision of the source material, and then the director’s. Influences of budget constraints and what will make the film visually interesting and entertaining to the audience are other considerations. The idea then is to capture the “spirit” of the source material and translate that to the screen in an entertaining way to engage the audience.

    GREYSTOKE: THE LEGEND OF TARZAN, LORD OF THE APES started off okay (though why the apes who raised Tarzan were patterned after chimpanzees is a mystery to us); but the second half of the film blew it completely.

    JOHN CARTER, we can agree, was not a perfect film, but it did capture the spirit of the source material, and presented ERB’s vision of Barsoom (not to be confused with envisioning a scientifically accurate depiction of Mars) in a stunningly beautiful way.

    We think that JOHN CARTER was more satisfying than any other film based on an ERB book that we have seen to date. Rather than focusing on how the film doesn’t live up to one’s particular vision of Barsoom, focus on whether the film captured the spirit of the source material and presented it in an entertaining manner with excellent production values.

    Remember what Edgar Rice Burroughs said: Entertainment is fiction’s purpose.

    We think ERB would be pleased with JOHN CARTER, and Andrew Stanton’s interpretation.

  • Abraham-

    Thanks for explaining to MCR about the medallion ruse. It’s becoming obvious now why he hates this movie so much — he cant even add 1 + 1.

    Kevin-

    I have a new reason I want Stanton to direct the sequel — just so I can watch MCR implode.

  • “why did it take 10 years for JC to return to Barsoom if all he needed was that stupid medallion? Why not just wait 5 years, 2 years, six months? If he knew there was Therns on Earth why not just get it over with instead of waiting around?”

    I don’t think the idea of tricking the Therns came to him until he had already been searching for those ten years. At least, that’s how I interpret the “and then it came to me” statement. So, everything from the moment of the men running out of the mine after having “found” a medallion was a ruse. I think the writers decided to keep the ten-year time period to stay close to the books and to allow significant events to have transpired on Barsoom that would be important in the sequel. The first section of the credits suggests that over those ten years John Carter also found evidence of Thern presence in many ancient cultures of Earth.

  • Dotar Sojat wrote:

    “Lassiter is still the best option.”

    Maybe, maybe not. He’s been the head of Disney’s animation separate from Pixar and while he’s done some good work-stopping those dreadful direct to dvd sequels-he hasn’t had much success. Some of it being the films themselves, in other cases more of Disney’s poor studio heads (for example I actually loved last summer’s Winnie the Pooh. It was great seeing traditional 2D animation and was a wonderful little film. What does DIsney do with it? They dump it on the same weekend as the last Harry Potter film. ) So I don’t know if he would be the best choice but he might at least turn it around. He loves movies like old Walt himself did so its possible.

    “Also, as much as you don’t like Stanton’s choices, he delivered the John Carter character by the end of the first movie pretty much to where he now matches the JC in the books, donchathink?”

    Look there was scenes in there were ERB’s John Carter did show up-his challenge of Tal Hajus (even if it ruined Tars Tarkas’ character arc), the “Yes ma’am” reaction to Dejah in the Thern cave on the Iss, his stampede through the Warhoons (even with the bad editing of dead wife and kid being cut in). And at the end-even though how much of a loving uncle is he if was willing to put his beloved nephew’s life in danger to get the medallion. It wasn’t a total bust for the character. But it was too much Stanton’s “damaged goods” nonsense. Possibly a sequel would have fixed that-no moping over his cave of gold or dead family. (Another tangent for thought-why did it take 10 years for JC to return to Barsoom if all he needed was that stupid medallion? Why not just wait 5 years, 2 years, six months? If he knew there was Therns on Earth why not just get it over with instead of waiting around?)

  • MCR
    Iger has announced he will step down in 2015.
    I agree about Feige….not good for the home team.
    Sean Bailey is in the mix and he, it turns out, was pretty supportive of JC.
    Lassiter is still the best option.

    Also, as much as you don’t like Stanton’s choices, he delivered the John Carter character by the end of the first movie pretty much to where he now matches the JC in the books, donchathink?

  • MCR, I believe I read Iger is leaving Disney in 2014. Kevin Feige has stated he doesn’t want to run the studio. He’s a creative and doesn’t want to be tied to a desk. Marvel has had a John Carter connection anyway. I would love to see Stanton direct it again, even if you implode. 😉

    Right now I think it all depends on the management changes coming and moreso the DVD on-demand numbers. If it does well in home video, whoever is in charged will feel compelled to do it. If it doesn’t do well, we will probably never see it done again properly. That’s why I’m so against seeing negativity and hatred for this movie, especially here. It’s hard enough to find great reviews in Google, when flop stories and negative comments like yours show up first in search results. There are tons of people who like or love this movie. It’s just not out there enough in the wild.

  • Kevin wrote:

    “I say yes to Disney doing a sequel. There will be different management by the time JC hauls in much more money from DVD, on-demand and finishes all of its run (it’s playing some of the cheap theaters now in the US). A fresh set of eyes or even if its John Lasseter running the show could (would in Lasseter’s case) promote it properly. ”

    Really? First I don’t think Robert Iger is going anywhere in the near future. And as we know from the article Dotar linked to he doesn’t even like movies. Also why would he allow a sequel to the studio’s biggest bomb?

    As for the new chairman that depends on who gets it? For example one of the names that been floated is Marvel’s Kevin Feige. And where do you think his loyalty will lie? I bet if he had to choose between a John Carter sequel and Iron Man 5, he’ll pick the later because that’s his baby. As for Lassiter getting it, we’ll be right back to the same situation we had with John Carter-Stanton given carte blanche to do whatever he wants-and we saw what happened there with the budget and his attitude towards the material. I said earlier I wouldn’t mind a sequel, just not with Stanton’s “I don’t like John Carter” attitude around.

    Also how do we know they promote it properly? Again that’s taking a leap of faith that the next person in charge would know what they are doing-and could handle Stanton.

  • I say yes to Disney doing a sequel. There will be different management by the time JC hauls in much more money from DVD, on-demand and finishes all of its run (it’s playing some of the cheap theaters now in the US). A fresh set of eyes or even if its John Lasseter running the show could (would in Lasseter’s case) promote it properly.

    Disney owns all the digital assets. Someone else starting from scratch will have the same money problems trying to get to the high quality bar already set. The work done was worth much more than $250 Million.They did get a big UK tax break for shooting scenes and having the CG done there. One producer, Lindsey Collins, said in a UK Premiere interview that’s on YouTube that the movie wouldn’t have been able to be done without that tax break. It took two years to get the CG done and the majority was finished early, ahead of schedule instead of down to the wire, before Christmas from what I read in 3D World magazine.

    Unless they were cancelled, they still have contract options for two more movies with the lead characters. I don’t want to see a half-baked true-to-ERB remake as nobody will do the nudity required to pull that off, and quite frankly, too much of the earlier books is dated to be truly faithful. Let’s go with what at least hundreds of thousands already love.

    What I see happening IF the DVD and on-demand do well (this movie will play well on the small screen, especially the longer exposition parts) is possibly a couple direct to video sequels, possibly shot digitally. That would save the money and be the wisest use of what they already spent millions on… the digital sets, digital characters, music, some of which could be used again with some new scoring or re-mixes of existing session tracks.

  • Hey at least we’re on the same page with Disney. With ERB Inc I can understand yes the movie is out of their hands once they sell the film rights. But I do wish they were more involved or wouldn’t keep repeating the same mistakes. I mean the Tarzan movies or that never made Pirates of Venus film, they keep selling the rights to people who either fall through or go off on bad directions. And I don’t know about anyone else but if my grandfather-or great-grandfather-had written a novel and I was trying to protect his legacy I might take offense if the director of a film based on it kept criticizing the original novel. How can Stanton’s constant dismissals help them preserve ERB’s legacy if they’re supporting him? Again I understand they have no control over the film-or Stanton’s mouth-but it still shows that they should have had second thoughts or at least script approval or some promise from Stanton. You didn’t hear anyone bad mouth Robert E. Howard on the last Conan film.

  • MCR
    Your comments about Disney resonate. About ERB Inc, not so much. Disney is one of the oldest and most successful studios and they are supposed to know that the hell it is they are doing. ERB Inc is a tiny, family owned, rights management entity that may be only 20 miles from Hollywood but might as well be across the country for all the in-depth knowledge they have of the ins and outs of how things work in this town. I’ve got a good deal of warm and fuzzy for ERB Inc, and know them quite well. They are good folks, concerned with the legacy, and doing their best. Can there be improvements going forward? Sure, and my impression is they are trying to learn from this experience.

    The question about whether or not I would want Disney involved in the sequel ……not really. But if they somehow were to become willing, which I think is unlikely, what are ya gonna do? Try to make it work, I guess — be a gadfly, use all the channels that are available to try and affect the outcome in a positive way.

  • Dotar Sojat wrote:

    “If Disney doesn’t launch a sequel within few years, the rights go back to ERB Inc.”

    And there is the rub of it all. The question shouldn’t be do we want a sequel. It should be do we want one involving Disney. They showed with this film the had no idea how to market it or how to build up excitement or interest in it while at the same time allowed the director to pursue his vision without any safety nets in place. I think it’s funny in the tale of Rich Ross that he couldn’t say “boo” to Stanton over the budget yet had no problem pulling the plug on The Lone Ranger-despite it being made by the same team behind the studio’s mega successful Pirates of the Caribbean-until the budget came down. So it’s a combination of bad marketing and studio running-or politics if you will-that makes me think Disney should not make another John Carter.

    But on the flip side is ERB Inc which hasn’t shown much, if any, care concerning movies based on Burroughs’ work. It’s almost like as long as someone pays them they don’t care how badly the film turns out-the long string of Tarzan movies for example-or how little they pay respect to ERB’s work. Clearly they didn’t have a problem with Stanton’s John Carter but you have to wonder if its because the check clear the bank that they even endorsed this film. I know this sounds even more cynical but clearly both companies have little care for what they have.

  • James Van Hise wrote

    As much as I would like to see a sequel to John Carter, that decision has already been made based on cold hard currency. The $300 million worldwide gross is hald of what was needed. Disney has already posted a $200 million loss and the head of the film division “resigned.” This has happened before. In 2006 Superman Returns made just over $200 million, which was considered disappointing. No sequel was made and 6 years later the entire series is being rebooted and they are starting over with new writers, director and stars. Two years ago The Last Airbender grossed about $200 million and what was intended as a trilogy died and no sequels are being made. In 1981 The Lone Ranger movie was considered a bomb and it took 30 years before anyone else wanted to try that again. Disney has moved on to The Avengers which is already a hit overseas and when it opens this weekend looks to break a lot of records. That’s where their attention is now. The past is dead as far as they’re considered.

    My main “loyalty” is to Edgar Rice Burroughs and he deserves for a good film based on a Princess of Mars to get some respect. So I and those who are working on its behalf have a preliminary but important objective — get some respect for the film. If we are successful, then narrative will gradually change. If Disney doesn’t launch a sequel within few years, the rights go back to ERB Inc. Flop or not – what has been demonstrated is that a Barsoom movie, even saddled with the worst marketing campaign in recent history, still did almost $300m at the global box office and a sequel could reasonably be assumed to do at least $350m if not more. The key would then be to formulate a business model that is profitable at that level. None of this is easy … but it’s not hopeless, and the preliminary objective of getting some respect for a worthy movie based upon a beloved book is definitely do-able.

  • As much as I would like to see a sequel to John Carter, that decision has already been made based on cold hard currency. The $300 million worldwide gross is hald of what was needed. Disney has already posted a $200 million loss and the head of the film division “resigned.” This has happened before. In 2006 Superman Returns made just over $200 million, which was considered disappointing. No sequel was made and 6 years later the entire series is being rebooted and they are starting over with new writers, director and stars. Two years ago The Last Airbender grossed about $200 million and what was intended as a trilogy died and no sequels are being made. In 1981 The Lone Ranger movie was considered a bomb and it took 30 years before anyone else wanted to try that again. Disney has moved on to The Avengers which is already a hit overseas and when it opens this weekend looks to break a lot of records. That’s where their attention is now. The past is dead as far as they’re considered.

  • Wow, so much anger in there. My original point in the visual aspect of the movie was not that Stanton got it wrong. It’s that his artistic choices made it very difficult, if not impossible, a marketing campain based only on visuals, with no narrative component. The visuals were almost universally deemed reminiscent of other movies, from Prince of Persia to Attack of the Clones.

    That being said, that doesn’t explain why EVERY fan reedit (not only some, but all of them), were superior to the trailers the seemingly professional Disney Marketing Department made. That shows at least incompetence of the highest level, if not utter sabotage (albeit impossible to prove).

  • BobJ wrote:

    I think many of us Burroughs fans have had a Barsoom movie playing in our heads over the years, and no one else’s version is suitable to ours. Personally, I was very happy with Stanton’s. It made me feel like I did when I was 10 and had read APOM for the first time. I bought his universe, and embraced the changes he made. It was not a perfect movie, to be sure. But to me this is the first Burroughs-based movie I have been satisfied with – ever.
    I understand not liking the movie, truly. If we all liked the same stuff it would be a boring world. I also understand that to some nothing short of a faithful adaptation would do. But what I don’t understand is the vitriol that has been leveled at the film, and Stanton, and the almost pathological need to PROVE that it is a crime against humanity.
    It is not the movie I had in my head for 40 years. I still have all the books on my shelf that I can enjoy, and I see no reason as to why they and Stanton’s movie can’t coexist happily.

    Ain’t it the truth. Very well said. Instead of “He got a lot of it right but, damn, I wish [insert deficiency] — it’s “how dare he not make it precisely the way I envision it!” But then again – that reaction too speaks to the deep passion that people who are profound adherents to the books feel for the work of ERB. I like to think it’s possible to be both deeply appreciative of ERB’s genius, and capable of accepting some cinematic license. But when I find myself getting into it with a passionate defender of the “one true way”, I have to take a breath and remind myself that the person I’m arguing with is my brother or sister in arms, after all — one of “us” who discovered the books and embraced them.

  • I think Stanton had (has?) a plan to reconcile his Mars with what we know (or think we know…) of Mars today. I think we would have seen by the end of a trilogy a Mars that is either disguised to look like a totally dead planet, or something along those lines. I would love to see his vision conclude, preferably with an Earthly exploration vehicle being discovered by Woola. I would also love to see a scene where he could take Dejah Thoris for a visit to Earth -perhaps her being confined to a wheelchair because of Jasoomian gravity – just so she could see ships sailing on the oceans.
    I think many of us Burroughs fans have had a Barsoom movie playing in our heads over the years, and no one else’s version is suitable to ours. Personally, I was very happy with Stanton’s. It made me feel like I did when I was 10 and had read APOM for the first time. I bought his universe, and embraced the changes he made. It was not a perfect movie, to be sure. But to me this is the first Burroughs-based movie I have been satisfied with – ever.
    I understand not liking the movie, truly. If we all liked the same stuff it would be a boring world. I also understand that to some nothing short of a faithful adaptation would do. But what I don’t understand is the vitriol that has been leveled at the film, and Stanton, and the almost pathological need to PROVE that it is a crime against humanity.
    It is not the movie I had in my head for 40 years. I still have all the books on my shelf that I can enjoy, and I see no reason as to why they and Stanton’s movie can’t coexist happily.

  • Cinema is different than a book or graphic novel. The movie was respectful to the source material. It was a smart adaption that pleased my inner twelve year old. Such that I actually am hoping PIXAR bigwigs will go to bat for Stanton and fix the stuff that got broke — EG Marketing and Management.

    I saw it 6 times. I bought the Blu-Ray 4 Disc, the “Art of John Carter” book, the soundtrack, special ordered “John Carter of Mars” sweats and tees, and the authorized GN prequel.

    I’m very tired of hearing folks who didn’t see the film call it a flop. It seems unfair.

  • The John Carter movie needs to be entertainment, no matter how realistic or not, in order to be a hit. I enjoyed watching it and look forward to any sequel.

  • The war god hooked up with a mortal white woman on mars back when it had oceans.
    She hatched John Carter an immortal who could transverse space and tour the solar system.
    During a war in Europe or America he suffered a blow to the head which erased his memory.
    The war god still watches over him.

  • “Seriously, I think he just needed a touch of loneliness and other-ness related to his failure to age normally — and then his transport to Mars needed to seem destined, perhaps almost supernatural (it could later be explained to have a scientific basis, but his experience of it needed to be profound, so his reaction/connection to it once there could have a spiritual feel to it). I think those elements could be part of him without creating a whole-sale “modern reluctant hero” version of him.”

    Agreed 100%, couldn’t have said it better. Called across the trackless void.

  • All of this discussion about how Mars should look in a movie. People its a science fiction movie so in my mind anything goes. I loved the depiction of Mars in JOHN CARTER and as stated in the begining of the movie the planet was under destruction so much of the civilized parts of mars have been destroyed thus the barreness of the planet. It worked great for when.

    In response to these negative commentors who think they are know it alls about film and what is and isn’t entertaining when it is all a matter of opinion…. When did movie goers turn into such synics?… When did movie goers stop suspending their disbelief in science fiction movies and completely loose all the joy of watching a fun film?… When did science fiction/ fantasy films have to have all sense of logic or science accuracy to be enjoyed?…

    JOHN CARTER is a great fun film…. I left the theater wanting more. Can’t wait to own the DVD.

    On another note, I was told by an executive at Disney that Ross really had nothing to do with John Carter and his reason for being fired was irrelevant to the box office losses of John Carter. My source was unable to comment any further as to why Ross was really fired.

  • Ok, who should direct the second film? Joel Schumacher? Nipply Tharks anyone? Tim Burton and jekry stop motion John Carter? Maybe the brain trust that came up with Tom Cruise as John Carter and Julia Roberts as Dejah??? I am thankful for Stanton’s film. Is it the books I read as a ten year old, No. Do I enjoy those books any less after seeing the film 8 times, No. Could the film been closer to the books yes in someways. I like most of the changes. Dejah is a much more dynamic woman in the film than the books. I didnt get the entire moving city bit unless it was to explain the canals of Mars visable to observers of the skys in 1800’s. I look at it this way, we are damn lucky to have the film we have. I never thought I would live long enough to see this film. In the big picture the 2 hours and 12 mins of escape that I found was well worth any changes that were made.

  • Personally I would like to see Stanton stand behind his movie on the DVD/blu-ray and give us some insight into why he made the choices he made in the film. This may be very revealing!

  • Anyone who is preoccupied about how realistic the depiction of Mars is in John Carter is wasting their energy–it is like dismissing Shakespeare because he got his history wrong in Richard III. I’m not saying Stanton or ERB are Shakespeare, but I am saying that there is a powerful archetypal story with something to say about the human condition that will speak to you if you are willing to suspend your disbelief. I have a hard time caring a great deal about all the political machinations at Disney, but I think Andrew Stanton is a talented and visionary director who loved ERB’s Barsoom series and opened a window into the worlds of ERB in a movie that honored the spirit of the original without slavishly imitating it. If you look at RT and IMDB, it seems 7 out of 10 viewers actually enjoyed the movie, so this is not a movie audience were tricked into seeing by deceptive trailers that lost its audience and became a deserved flop–it is a movie that was badly marketed with trailers that made people think they wouldn’t like the movie, while the evidence is that those who saw it loved it.

  • John Carter isn’t the perfect movie, but it’s pretty darn near close to being so. More than that, it has the kind of visionary appeal that will last long after the stale and predictable plot of Avatar has relegated it to Silent Running status. John Carter is the combination of Jason and the Argonauts, Star Wars, Conan, and much more realized on the big screen in one of the finest adventure movies and love stories every turned into celluloid. Cannot wait for the DVD and so sad there are those among us unable to appreciate what they are missing in for reasons unknown dissing this movie.

    Oh yes, the books are spectacular, but don’t hold them up and try to envision this marvelous movie. Both are wonderful in their own right and for different yet similar reasons. Let hope Disney recognizes the GOLD MINE GLOBAL FRANCHISE the are sitting on with John Carter II and III.

  • One thing I can appreciate about some of the criticism of the movie on this site is that at the very least, those criticizing the movie have ACTUALLY seen it, unlike many who simply refused because they were told it was a flop .. not bothering to realize that theatres were CERTAINLY not disappointed by their take. Look at other “hits” during March and $269 Million in Worldwide ticket sales is certainly comparable to that. So, the movie is still vastly popular among those who saw it. There are exceptions of course. My dad went with me on one of my 9 viewings and he didn’t care for it at all. But he is one of those people who apparently can’t see past spaceships. He told me after the movie that he virtually saw no difference between John Carter and the “noisy” trailers preceding it … meaning Wrath of the Titans, Battleship, and the Avengers. He also admitted that he was one of those who had a hard time following the film. But I know my dad. He spends most of his time watching television news and when a DVD is put on of a movie, he expects that he can get up, fix popcorn, make multiple trips to the bathroom and carry on conversations totally unrelated to the movie throughout. Meaning, he doesn’t have the attention span to follow anything other than a rudimentary plot.

    So that’s one type of audience who doesn’t like it. The other kind that I’ve seen is the Burroughs purist. Those I respect the most, and I see we have a variety here. Some can appreciate that film uses a totally different vocabulary than books and so some changes must be made and then there are some who would settle for nothing less than a strict line by line interpretation of the book.

    For those who want the strict adherence to the book, well, I’ve been re-reading it … and I think that had the movie been entirely faithful, I would have been bored out of my mind by it in no time as it would have felt like only a series of events not particularly related to each other. And in many ways, I think it would have had the horrible pacing of Asylum’s A Princess of Mars.

    But it seems that the majority of those who disliked the movie, most of which STILL want a sequel, the problem is not so much that Andrew Stanton had to make choices, but they had a problem with the choices he made. And I can even see where some of them are coming from. I can even see that the Warhoon battle may not be quite as pivotal as they would have liked, although I was personally satisfied that it was the BEGINNING of a shift in John Carter’s character from reluctant hero to committed warrior.

    But even with the detractors among those who SAW the movie, the truth is that these detractors are WAY in the minority. A great many fans LOVE the movie, have read Burroughs like I did as I was in college, and appreciated the spirit that Andrew Stanton put into the movie. We like most of the changes, and after viewing it quite a few times, have started to realize that there were some things we didn’t notice before, even some that we started to question, but we still love it. And I think the consensus is that ultimately it is at its heart a romance and for most of it, it just works! And it works so well that even after its pointed out to us that this part was sampled for Star Wars and that part for Avatar and yet others for Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers, Superman, or Cowboys Vs. Aliens, we still go back time and again and we cry when Dejah Thoris looks up at the two moons and talks of the stars. We laugh with any scene with Woola or when John Carter learns Dejah can fight and says “Maybe I need to get behind you”. We fall in love when Dejah looks at John Carter just after she is grabbed out of the sky. And we sit on the edge of our seats during the Warhoon battle that feels like a Frazetta painting. Every time we go, we get totally swept away by the movie and it feels as if Star Wars or Avatar or any of these other things that came after A Princess of Mars never existed and we are seeing the story unfold as if we’ve never even seen the movie before.

  • Haters gonna hate. Seems like more time and energy on the internet is spent hating on things, than world-building, creating something unique or praising those who do. Why ANYONE would waste their time and energy to come to a site DEDICATED to a sequel to a film they themselves hate is beyond me. My barometer for a film adaptation of ERB’s novel – Was it a good translation of a 100 year old novel? Yes, hugely so. Did it make me care about the story and the characters? Yes – beyond my expectations. Did it fill me with a sense of wonder, exciting and adventure? Hell, yes! Was it a literal interpretation of the novel or was it scientifically accurate? No, but….get this…these question ARE NOT IMPORTANT to me…This isn’t Kubrick’s 2001 people. This is pulp fiction. Haters of this film don’t get that. You will never convince me otherwise – so don’t try. All you’re doing in attempting to inflate your own ego. It’s a pointless endeavor. As a fan of the original books I recognize that changes would be made in order to get it on screen. But you will always have your books. So what are you complaining about? Do I feel that Stanton took more away than he added? Hell, no. He mapped this puppy out in order to tell a trilogy of films. What do I miss from the book one – nothing major. Was Burroughs making stuff up as he went all? You bet. Carter’s way of getting to Mars now is amazing and mysterious. Burroughs would liked it in my opinion. The Therns are pushed into this film in a big way because of their role in in the second and third books. Do I miss their blonde wigs from book two? No. Do you? Do I miss the atmosphere factory? Just a little…but don’t mean it couldn’t appear later, it was kind of tacked on to the 1st book anyway. Is everything in the film perfect? No. Would ERB be rolling over in his grave at this adaptation? Certainly not. He would have thought it was terrific in my opinion. He wrote pulp. This film is in the pulp tradition. All elitist arguments must end – you have no dog in this fight. Go pick on some other film – The Avengers already has A TON of fans lining up to see it and I don’t see ANT MAN or THE WASP anywhere in their line up!! Blasphemy! Go tell them they’re wrong to like it. Tom Bambadil says hello.

  • I think it was just one too many times hearing that about how the Mars in the film is just like the real Mars, built up on about a year of not saying anything about it— So much has been made of how the Viking missions disappointed dreamers and showed only a rocky wasteland that looks like our southwest backyard. The movie reinforces that view. The reality is that those are just the types of terrain we’ve dared to send landers. There is so much more to Mars that has never been attempted on film before, and this was just the latest missed opportunity. We can all agree that Barsoom is a Fantasy world, and some say this means why bother with any science. But ERB was serious about crafting Barsoom based on the knowledge of his day. It would have been awesome to mix more of the real Mars in with the fantasy, and I don’t think the opening ‘you don’t know anything about Mars’ was the best tone to strike, even if it was efficient.

    Sometimes you just have to rant.

  • Henreid wrote

    You want a good reluctant hero, with a wonderfully realized arc, look no further than Avatar’s Jake Sully — where the heroic soul emerges from the broken man in the wheelchair as the phoenix-riding Toruk Makto, when truths were revealed to him by an incomparable alien princess. There is sacrifice when he leaves behind his entire species, decides to stand and fight for his woman and for what he has now come to believe. John Carter is more recognizable in that character, to me, even in the reluctant mold, than he is in the Stanton film.

    Ya know, one of the sad things about the situation is that many people felt they had to take sides between John Carter and Avatar — and I just don’t know why. When Avatar came out I was THRILLED with how it took me on an ERB-like ride and I wrote about it: http://www.erbzine.com/mag30/3038.html. In some ways, to this day Avatar gives me as much of an ERB-like experience is John Carter does, even though John Carter is far more nuanced and is superior in many ways. Still, that pulpy thrill-ride with a hero I could root far, a love interest I could yearn for,and a world I could immerse myself in was wonderful.

    I believe John Carter has more substance, greater nuance, and more subtle charms than Avatar. But as a pulpy thrill ride wrapped around an interplanetary love story, with a good guy you can root for, a bad guy you can hate, and a world you can immerse yourself in — Avatar’s pretty damned good.

    But my larger issue is that I disagree that a modern audience couldn’t roll with the man on the page. I think we are long overdue for a return to that Errol Flynn kind of heroism, or some new flavor like it. With the right handling by writer/director/actor, I think the world is ready to embrace something like that, and it would feel blazingly original against the backdrop of all these other reluctant heroes. Beyond that, I think the youngest generation of boys NEEDS a figure like Edgar Rice Burrough’s John Carter of Mars as they step into our modern culture of celebrated greed and nihilistic cowardice. I thank the stars that my father introduced me to these stories at 8 years old. The character of John Carter has been such a positive, formative influence on my life that I can’t help but see this film as a wasted opportunity to have said something meaningful about manhood on a grand scale to a culture that needs it very badly.

    Well said and bravo. Damn! That’s where I would have gone with it if they had just let me direct it! 😉

    Seriously, I think he just needed a touch of loneliness and other-ness related to his failure to age normally — and then his transport to Mars needed to seem destined, perhaps almost supernatural (it could later be explained to have a scientific basis, but his experience of it needed to be profound, so his reaction/connection to it once there could have a spiritual feel to it). I think those elements could be part of him without creating a whole-sale “modern reluctant hero” version of him.

  • Well I’m glad I’m not on the hit list.

    I’ll just say some things and then we can hopefully put this behind us. First a big thanks to Tom and Henried for letting me know I’m not alone in my feelings about this film. I also have to agree with Henried’s comments about a need for “Errol Flynn kind of heroism, or some new flavor like it.” I love the idea of a hero who isn’t an emo whiner or The Dark Knight. And I think audiences can accept that. Look at Captain America. Everyone I’ve talked to about that film loved it. It proved that you can have a hero who isn’t some morally conflicted hero and still make him an intriguing and likeable character. And I feel John Carter could be that way. Instead Stanton went with what could be seen as the easy route. I felt it didn’t work. If anyone else felt it work then that’s fine. I have nothing against you feeling that way.

    Concering me coming across as a “bully” against Stanton, let me explain this: For the past 3 years all I’ve heard has been “Andrew Stanton is a genius.” “Andrew Stanton is brilliant.” “Andrew Stanton doesn’t make mistakes.” “Andrew Stanton is bigger than both Jesus and the Beatles” Well OK not the last one but basically close. All I kept hearing was how this man was infallible and you know after a while you get tired of hearing that. Especially when you start hearing “shape shifting Therns,” “moving Zodanga” and some of the other decisions Stanton made. And I admit I was skeptical. The track record of ERB adaptations and Disney’s live action films weren’t encouraging but mostly it was Stanton’s own words and the constant changes that I kept hearing that made me not like him. I wasn’t a fan to begin with so it didn’t help me change my mind about him or the fact that he was not the right person to make this movie. I understand Dotar that yes he’s not here to defend himself but you know what? He already did-in every interview he gave. He made it clear his position and at the time no one dared to question him or doubt him or not believe him. Also how do you know for sure what was going on in Stanton’s mind or why he made certain decisions? I remember on the IMDB board-before it became floptroll central-that the defense for moving Zodanga was that Stanton was attempting to correct Burroughs’ mistake when he gave different coordinates for in A Princess of Mars and Swords of Mars. But we don’t know that was the real reason. It’s a guess. And unless Stanton himself verifies it it’s just someone else’s theory.

    I hope that explains something. Peace!

  • There always has to be Troll-types that come along trying to be oh so clever or smarter than everyone else. It really gets BORING! You’re not smarter than everyone else, guys, you’re just covering up for insecurities of some kind. Growing up and going through this nonsense over and over and over again in life teaches you these things. Anyway, that’s all I need to say. Otherwise I just don’t have time for your overly wordy nonsense.

  • @Heinreid,
    Re your post about what Mars should really look like:

    My complaints were: 1) The blue sky that was just like earth, never changed, and produced a quality of light that felt exactly like Earth, 2) the lack of any interesting deep background structures that would have contributed to an “other worldly” feel, regardless of scientific accuracy, 3) the exaggeration of the jumping. Burroughs said JC could get to about 35 feet in the air and cover about 100 feet laterally with one jump, and that always seemed to make a certain amount of sense. 4) Phobos.

    I did a lot of looking for “true color of mars” pix and a series from National Geographic seem to be the most reliable, and they all show the sky looking more or less what you see in the video and photos on this page — definitely not bright blue. And the quality of light, coming from a sun twice as far away, is different. http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/video/player?titleID=1873838012#/?titleID=mars-space-exploration&catID=1

    Those were disappointments, but my disappointment has less to do with scientific accuracy than it has to do with achieving an “other-worldly” sense of transport, even if exaggerated.

    But I took Stanton’s version to be grounded not in false science, or failure to “get it” — I took it to be an aesthetic choice in which he got what he felt was the right balance of something that felt real, but credible. He put more cumin in the soup than I would have; less cilantro, and he left out the lemon altogether. But he put some clove in there……and all in all it’s a pretty good soup.

    What I don’t get is the “How dare he!!!!” tone, where is that coming from? Film-makers have made as many choices of how to depict Mars as there have been movies about Mars. What is it about this one that arouses such ire and disdain? Trying to understand where that’s coming from.

  • You make the most valid case for Stanton’s take on John Carter that I think it is possible to make. It sounds like that was what Stanton was going for, and there is certainly a strong case to make for it.

    Even though I admittedly despise the choice, I do think it might have worked if handled better. For instance, if the movie more significantly leveraged the Warhoon battle as his turning point. Did he really have to stay so reluctant for so long? It’s literally not until the spray-tan grandma monologue, where Earth is threatened, that DJC’s inertia finally, permanently moves. That takes all the power out of that transition for me – because there is still an element of selfishness about his decision to finally fight for Helium. Maybe Stanton was just being psychologically subtle, and I wanted it writ large. Maybe.

    But there’s also nothing believable holding him back from embracing who he is, for me. I don’t buy that a cave of gold on a planet that only holds terrible past personal tragedy is what a man with the new-found ability of near-flight is thinking about when faced with a living, breathing Dejah Thoris asking for his help.

    In my view, if you’re going to do the reluctant hero thing, then your big moment is all about that transition, about contrast — when your character shakes off their reluctance and becomes the hero. The difference between those two worldviews. Stanton muddles that, and even after he built his character’s crescendo he retreats from it.

    You want a good reluctant hero, with a wonderfully realized arc, look no further than Avatar’s Jake Sully — where the heroic soul emerges from the broken man in the wheelchair as the phoenix-riding Toruk Makto, when truths were revealed to him by an incomparable alien princess. There is sacrifice when he leaves behind his entire species, decides to stand and fight for his woman and for what he has now come to believe. John Carter is more recognizable in that character, to me, even in the reluctant mold, than he is in the Stanton film.

    But my larger issue is that I disagree that a modern audience couldn’t roll with the man on the page. I think we are long overdue for a return to that Errol Flynn kind of heroism, or some new flavor like it. With the right handling by writer/director/actor, I think the world is ready to embrace something like that, and it would feel blazingly original against the backdrop of all these other reluctant heroes. Beyond that, I think the youngest generation of boys NEEDS a figure like Edgar Rice Burrough’s John Carter of Mars as they step into our modern culture of celebrated greed and nihilistic cowardice. I thank the stars that my father introduced me to these stories at 8 years old. The character of John Carter has been such a positive, formative influence on my life that I can’t help but see this film as a wasted opportunity to have said something meaningful about manhood on a grand scale to a culture that needs it very badly.

    This is my view of the character, though I can also respect yours.

  • With all due respect, Mars is actually… a tannish/salmon color. It’s not red. It appears reddish in the sky due to our atmosphere. Look at Mars through a telescope (as I have many times) and it looks tannish/salmon with darker stretches of mountains and rock that are closer to slate. Mars’ sky is rayleigh blue and with dust, it has almost an LA look in pictures that haven’t been deliberately modified. You can even see the rayleigh blue effect on the horizon of shots of Mars from telescopes, though it’s much less than Earth’s due to the thinner atmosphere. When I first flew across the western part of the US, the first thing that came to mind was Mars. NASA has been known to tweak the color on its images. Take them into photoshop and color correct them… you’ll get a picture that looks like Utah or Arizona.

    Yes, the moons of Mars do not move like they barely do in JC. But there aren’t red men, giant white apes, Tharks or anyone else there. It’s called artistic license. And I’m glad Stanton did it the way he did. The leaping and his strength and wits are all that JC has. A little exagerration works in the style of this film. If you want scientific accuracy, watch Apollo 13.

  • To everyone who thinks the Mars of Andrew Stanton’s “Disney John Carter” has any scientific or historical basis beyond what promotional soundbytes require…
    (this is going to require some CAPS) –

    PARTS of Mars look just like Utah. Parts. The safest parts in which to land delicate scientific machinery, the only parts we’ve landed so far. Other parts of Mars would look more like Jordan, or the Sudan, with dunes towering over the size of any on earth. Vallis Marineris is a canyon as long as North America is wide —- the Grand Canyon would be an indistinguishable tributary. Olympus Mons is three times the height of Everest. And everywhere, EVERYWHERE the surface is cratered and scarred from billions of years of cosmic bombardment. No plate tectonics means the whole world has preserved it’s ancient origins, unlike our ever-changing Earth. Except for rare areas of [relatively] recent volcanic activity, you couldn’t go ANYWHERE without dealing with scores of glorious craters. Of all imaginable sizes.

    The world is half the diameter, meaning the horizon is always twice as close. Phobos tumbles, hurtles across the sky in about four hours, much like ERB wrote in UNDER THE MOONS OF MARS, not like the flat cliche’ matte painting Stanton threw up into the starfield. The disc of the sun would appear half the size it does from our orbit here. I just spent two weeks in the Utah desert (not far from where some of the filming took place)… and even where I was looked a helluva lot more like a bizarre, compelling Martian landscape than most of what I saw in Disney John Carter. Most of the sand was actually copper (not beige) to begin with. Sticking to his ‘historically accurate’ or scientific guns, Barsoom STILL should have looked alien and stunningly strange.
    Not to mention Red.

    My point is that MARS is a whole other planet, with landforms and features that often resemble, but alter or dwarf our own. It is similar to our deserts, but has fundamental, dazzling differences ripe for illustration in a film.

    Stanton didn’t bother to take into account all the wonderful things that make the Red Planet different than just shooting a western in the American Southwest. I applaud his use of real locations, augmented with CGI, but there is no vision or boldness to anything he did with the planet in order to actually treat it as another planet.

    Furthermore, the way Burroughs treated 38% Gravity and ‘the lesser air density’ is also both more dramatically believable, AND MORE SCIENTIFICALLY ACCURATE. [Disney John Carter’s uneven, inconsistent, uninvolving, preposterous jumping is a much larger – though connected — issue]

    Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote of a fantasy Mars that adhered to all we knew about the Red Planet in his day. It enabled generations to look up at that red dot and wonder if someone on Barsoom looked back up at you. Now we know more about our neighbor, and while that knowledge dispelled our fantasy, there were many interesting ways in which the film could have integrated that new understanding. It could have been far more transporting, far more surreal, far more romantic just by virtue of taking into account some details we’ve learned since then. At the very least, it could have been a motion picture that actually had something to do with Mars. But it really isn’t, not in any meaningful way. It could have taken place anywhere, any Tatooine or Geonosis you like. Hiding MARS in the trailers was indicative of the film itself.

    A John Carter film that embraces that legacy would be selling a lot more books right now, creating a lot more new fans, and making a lot more people look up into the night sky.

    A John Carter film that actually embraced MARS would be one worthy of the novels that inspired Carl Sagan to seek answers in the cosmos.

    So while you are welcome to enjoy the world he built, don’t get me wrong —— just don’t give me this ‘it’s a historically accurate Mars’ BS line Stanton shovels. He’s referring to his take on the culture anyway, not the geology. The same goes for saying Mars looks just like Utah. It’s a cop-out. He’s not saying what it sounds like he’s saying, and it’s typical uninformed, science-illiterate hype that is only true enough that you can’t call it a lie.

    And just like front-loading your exposition into a poorly-written monologue instead of allowing your character to explore his story… It’s lazy thinking.

  • @Tom Christiansen
    Any site like this is going to inevitably reflect the values of the guy who is laboring behind the scenes to put it out there, and for me the paramount values are intellectual honesty tempered by respect for an individual’s point of view and empathy for the other party in a discussion. MCR mentioned “honesty” and I agree that’s an important value — but “honesty” unmitigated by empathy and respect can just be an excuse for boorishness, arrogance, and a blatant disregard for others. My request: Stop for two seconds and try to imagine the other guy’s point of view, at least enough so that you can frame your response with a touch of respect. That “other guy” might be the person you are exchanging comments with here; or it might be the person who is the object of your criticism–typically Andrew Stanton. That’s it. MCR is so passionate about his points of view that he sometimes comes off as a bully whose picking on somebody — Stanton — who’s not here to defend himself. That forces me to rise to Stanton’s defense not because I always agree with him — but because he’s being “picked on” unfairly and isn’t here to make his own case. But make no mistake: I welcome healthy, emphatic exchanges and I thrive on the exchange of ideas. No one has ever been silenced here, and MCR is not on any kind of hit list. All are welcome, just heed my plea to be respectful.

    For my part, this whole experience with John Carter has been both satisfying and frustrating. It’s been satisfying because it’s enhanced my appreciation for ERB, and led to some new friendship and intellectual kinships. It’s been frustrating because it wasn’t a perfect adaptation and of course I longed for perfection, don’t we all? But I’m respectful enough to believe that my own idea of what the adaptation should be is just that, one idea, and there are other approaches that are valid as well. I’m used to being disappointed by literary adaptations and so my expectations were such that, when I saw Stanton’s John Carter, I was pretty happy. For me, it could have been a lot worse. I live and work in Hollywood and so I was conscious of the forces that would be driving the adaptation in certain inevitable directions, and those forces do not begin and end with Andrew Stanton. There is an entire culture here of what constitutes an attractive screenplay and most of the changes Stanton made were in line with the prevailing view here. I’m conscious of the $250m gamble aspect, and the fact that pleasing the small and largely non-moviegoing fan base of the novels numbering in the 10’s of thousands, is not high on the agenda of the entity investing 250m (350m with marketing) who needs to draw 50 million non-fans of the novels to the theater in order for it to be a success.

    I do think there is something “different” about what Stanton came up with that is difficult to pin down, and is intriguing. When I went to see the film on my third viewing, with a fresh reading of A Princess of Mars in my mind, I had my harshest reaction to it. I found myself second-guessing everything so much that I couldn’t appreciate wha twas there because I was too busy thinking about what I would have done, or what Burroughs had done. It really helped me understand those harsh critics like you and MCR and a few others.

    But then — as I have written elsewhere — when I let go of all that and just let Stanton take me on the journey HE wanted to take me on — not the one I wanted to go on — I found that it worked much, much, MUCH better.

    Which yardstick should it be measured by? My Burroughs infused viewing in which I dwelt on all the decisions I didn’t like? Or my laissez-Stanton viewing when I left all that at the door and watched it on its own terms, without reference to the novel?

    I’m not saying that you or MCR have to ever leave all your objections at the door and do what I did — but that’s what I did, and for that reason and all the other reasons I’ve recounted, I’m respectful of what Stanton accomplished and thankful to him for taking a side trick from a spectacularly successful career at Pixar to spend 5 years bringing my pet project to life. To excoriate him mercilessly for choices he made with the best of intentions is just not in my DNA to do, and when people “go off” to that extent on these pages, I’ll rise in his defense.

    But to have a civilized, insightful discussion of those choices; to consider the alternatives — that’s one of the main rewards of putting a site like this out there. So I will never squelch discourse but I’ll absolutely do my best to see that it’s carried out respectfully. I don’t think that’s too much to ask, and 95% of the time that’s exactly what goes on here. We’ll just deal with the other 5% as it comes along.

  • Well, I guess that the so-called “big picture”, “thing at stake” or “larger consideration” would have to be “convincing the powers that be that a sequel – at any costs – has validity and is economically sound”.

    I will take valid and respectful discussed criticism any day over fantardism, side picking or blind loyalty.

    Frankly, I find MCR’s comments – along with Dotar Sojat’s – among the most interesting to read on this site. I would hate to see MCR silenced, just because some of you fail to comprehend his point of view. He clearly know his stuff and has some valid points which are more interesting than the whole Rich Ross/MT Carney/Disney debacle.

    I remember seeing and reading various interviews of Stanton, thinking here was a guy dedicated to the task at hand, hoping that he had learned a lesson or two by watching the same sci-fi movies that we have all be watching for the past 20 year or so. Not necessarily making a page by page adaption – since that would be idiotic – but polishing and adding depth to an epic, picking up cherries/cues from such obvious movies such as Indiana Jones, Star Wars, Lords of The Rings, Avatar just to name a few.

    But having seen the movie, it was as if a gourmet chef had been talking about what an amazing dinner he has prepared for you – then hands you a bowl of cornflakes. After the initial shell shock, you would go: “Okay, this is just plain cornflakes. I know my cornflakes, since I’ve eaten them thousands of times – BUT wait a minute – not only are these cornflakes stale, the milk is lukewarm, too!” This well-renowned chef just served me a popular and well-known breakfast cereal, and a bad one at that.

    Without going into deep scene by scene analysis, Let me say it plainly:
    Some of Stantons choices are not simply poor, they are glaringly bad! While I can understand and appreciate what he wanted to achieve, that doesn’t actually make the movie any better. His intention might have been to add depth to the story, but salt and pepper only get you so far. And I am not just talking about nitpicking some obfuscated and undervalued part of the adaption, but plain simple character and story development, execution and pacing. It is as if he – from afar – was merging dissected pieces of a stage production into a movie, oblivious about how human nuances and interaction come across on the screen.

    While I do want a sequel, I don’t think that Stanton was/is the way to go. But I am aware, that most fanboys would certainly take whatever they can get.

  • Dotar Sojat,

    Yes to hold off revealing Helium and Zodanga would have made it more organic and stronger. Not lazy at all. Not only are the airships revealed from a distance and from below, i.e. from JC’s perspective, the cities could be revealed and experienced through JC and Dejah as well.

  • It would be fantastic though to see some of the before – between – after shots on the Blu-Ray, as seen in some of the released stills, to showcase the beautiful work done by DNG, Cinesite and all.

  • @ Dotar WAAAAHHHH! too bad. When I saw a pre-screen of Madagascar 3, there were also just penciled in drawings for some scenes. it was still really cool.

  • Bob and Rebecca,
    The 170 minute version will never be released because it was filled with incomplete VFX shots — not just things in the background like what you (Rebecca) saw when you first screeneed it at a Nielsen screening, but much more basic stuff. The best that an be hoped for is that some or most of the scenes that were cut will appear as deleted sceenes on the Blu-ray.

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