America can’t even get to Mars at the movies
From Fredricksburg.com By Paul Akers
FINE, file this under “The Columnist Self-Indulges.” Nevertheless, I am not quite finished with “John Carter.”
I wrote about the Disney adaptation of the Edgar Rice Burroughs novel “A Princess of Mars” a month ago, extolling Burroughs’ idea of how men should behave toward women who capture their hearts. It’s a sign of our despair–read Kierkegaard along with Burroughs and you’ll get the big picture–that even that phrase seems quaint in the age of “hooking up.”
After decades of marination in radical feminism, pornography, and self-focused consumerism, the romantic impulse of today’s young American males is stunted and uncertain; with his gallant heroes and lovely damsels, Burroughs, it seems to me, can provide a remedy. Thus, I had hoped “John Carter” would be a cultural turning point in several ways.
Alas, “John Carter” at the U.S. box office was less touchstone than millstone, sinking Disney’s hopes for an all-time blockbuster and mine for national renaissance. The best guess is that “John Carter” cost $350 million to put on the Big Screen–$250 million to make because of its special-effects grandeur and another $100 million to market. As of Wednesday, it had grossed $67 million domestically–seeming to vindicate Hollywood watchers who had predicted that the adventures of a Virginia cavalryman on a dry planet would take a $200 million bath.
So, Paul, was the movie any good? Yes–very good. Oh? Then why did it bomb, smart guy? Well, I have theories.
Horrible marketing. I asked a discerning friend what he thought of the TV trailer for the movie. “Looked like just another Hollywood special-effects fantasy” was his reply–a reasonable one given the disjointed previews and, in fact, my chief worry going to the premiere.