John Carter: How motivated fans can actually make a difference
Frankly, this should have been smooth sailing. One of the beloved novels ever being adapted by the genius director of Wall-E with plenty of budget to get it right, a great cast, state of the art special effects….what can go wrong? When we started this site, we imagined that by now, a little more than two weeks out, John Carter would be tracking like gangbusters en route to a $60m-70m opening weekend, sequels would be almost assured, and long suffering ERB fans would be on the verge of a once in a lifetime moment of something pretty close to pure ecstasy.
Instead, two weeks out, we are having to endure a constant onslaught of bad news. The tracking is bad; interest is low; critique of the promotion is getting very bloody. The latest is Newsweek saying that the buzz around Hollywood is that John Carter is Disney’s Ishtar — and if you aren’t old enough to remember Ishtar, that was the all time epic big studio fail. Being compared to Ishtar is basically apocalyptic.
On the other hand, every advance review that has slipped out into the blogosphere has been favorable and then some. The film itself seems poised to deliver the kind of great viewing experience that you’d expect when you put Edgar Rice Burroughs and Andrew Stanton into a petri dish for four years.
The question is this: In this day and age of social media, we the fans have more power than ever at any time in the past. We can say things, do things, that have impact far beyond our own geographical community.
Is it possible that a grassroots #gobarsoom effort could really make a difference?
On the one hand — I know it feels futile because Disney is out there spending $100m or more. How can anything we do make a difference?
But I’m here to tell you it CAN make a difference and I want to get some dialogue started about what people can do, and what we can do at JCF, to positive effect the outcome on opening weekend. Oh – and let me add one thing. There is a tendency among fans to just shrug off the promotional problems and say don’t worry, when it gets in theaters, word of mouth will take over and it will be fine.
Please do not fall into this trap!
Believe me when I tell you that if Disney — and we — don’t get enough warm bodies in seats on opening day, word of mouth alone won’t save it. If John Carter opens devastatingly low like many are now predicting — 20m or thereabouts — the most that word of mouth can be expected to do is carry it to 100m or so domestic gross and that’s a “fail” for a film with a 250m budget.
Here’s the reality — John Carter really truly needs to open with at least a $40m opening weekend to have a realistic shot, WITH good word of mouth and good reviews, to get to where it needs to go to generate a sequel.
In all probability it’s traveling toward an opening somewhere in the low thirties unless Disney suddenly figures out a different way to promote it (unlikely).
In that situation, can a fan community working together and being smart and savvy about how to do things actually have an impact on the outcome?
We think so.
Here is a preliminary list of things that we have thought of, and will support, and are asking fans to join in and help make happen:
Vigilance at Your Multiplex
Go to your local theater anytime, starting right now, and take pictures of the lobby displays for John Carter and the other upcoming pictures. Is John Carter properly represented? Send in your pix and/or your reports to us here, you can do it as a comment on any post or on this post in particular, or send it to email@example.com. Be sure to tell us the name and location of the theater. Disney has field operations people whom we will notify. You can also talk directly to the theater management and let them know your thoughts — but please make sure you share it with us as we will make sure the right people in positions of responsibility are alerted. It’s their job to make sure that things like lobby displays are competitive in every multiplex but they have a lot of multiplexes to worry about. We can help.
Really use the power of Facebook, Twitter, and other Social Media
Use those buttons on posts you find here which you think are helpful. Share to Facebook is the easiest one and the one that gets used the most, but do you know how easy it is to use the “Reddit” social bookmark? You just sign up once, and after that, anytime you see an article you like, you click on the reddit button and it posts to reddit where you just mark it for “movies and entertainment” and it gets exposed hundreds and sometimes thousands more people. Unlike Twitter and Facebook — you can start using Reddit today and have an effect, you don’t have to build up a list of followers before it becomes effective. Stumbleupon is another easy one to use. We will put up a page about how to optimize social media, and if you want to help but are confused, just reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will un-confuse you. It’s really simple and each person can make a real difference if you use these things wisely. (Is anyone in our community an expert? Make yourself known because if we have experts on call, and willing fans wishing to learn — we can match them up and optimize the result. Volunteer to teach, or be taught.)
Don’t be afraid to go to the IMDB Message Board and other boards
The IMDB Message Board for John Carter is a battleground and a lot of people are hesitant to pull out their sword and go into battle — just do it. Here is the link. IMDB John Carter Message Board. Also send in links to other message boards and we will consolidate all of them into a page that tells people where they can go to weigh in on active discussions. It can be frustrating but it helps.
Reach out to local media for fan generated news articles, tv clips, and radio interviews.
We are going to make this easy. By next week John Carter Files will have put together a #gobarsoom grassroots digital press kit that will make it easy for you to reach out to local media and tell them that you’re part of a grassroots fan group that is doing its own promotion for John Carter. The press kit will give them the basis to do an article or a special which includes an interview of the fan that reached out to them, and more about John Carter and fan engagement. We will provide more details about how to do this but it’s simple. It’s a good story for them, and now it’s easy to find the right people in local media. We will support you in this process.
Retweet Andrew Stanton’s tweet about our fan trailer and/or send people to view it at Youtube.
At this point we know for a fact that the JCF fan trailer is getting the best response of any trailer or TV spot out there. The focus group poll showed it winning 86%-14% and now Andrew Stanton has given it a big push. People who see this trailer generally react better so help get more people to see it. And if you see other pieces of fan generated media or art, let us know about it and we’ll help spread the word.
Great fan trailer! They get it! youtube.com/watch?v=-BxeHQ… #gobarsoom
— andrew stanton (@andrewstanton) February 20, 2012
Let us know your ideas, or help refine the ones we’ve put forward. You really can make a difference.
UPDATE : I just checked — 1000 views of this article in the first five hours it’s up here. What’s up with that? Are you people hitting the social media buttons or what? This is great — it shows that people want to do something, and I’m hoping that it’s showing the power of using those social media buttons just down below.
Here are the stats of the the first five hours — seriously, it must be people picking up on the social media buttons. For an article like this I would normally expect a few hundred views in the first day. See — we CAN make a difference! TY. DS
Here are the stats for the first five hours – click and you can read them.
Certainly, Patrick. I’d love to. You have my email address through this site, yes?
Finally! Loved this trailer! Please Disney take this and run with it. Also, lose the apes in the trailers, the story is way more important. Will be first in line to see.
Yes, yes, yes!!
Here’s some good tweets I found
Devin Faraci @devincf Reply Retweet Favorite · Open
JOHN CARTER Twitter embargo is lifted! I can say that I will be giving the film a Fresh review.
Steven Weintraub @colliderfrosty Reply Retweet Favorite · Open
Also the effects were amazing. The action scenes inspiring. And the music was fantastic. Seriously….JOHN CARTER is not to be missed.
10m Steven Weintraub @colliderfrosty Reply Retweet Favorite · Open
JOHN CARTER is a great movie. For 2 hours I was transported to another time and place. Can’t wait to see it again. Don’t miss it
I rated it it on rotten tomatoes cuz I already know it’ll be five stars and I posted that on my Facebook page. An uncle of mine didn’t know about it, but he saw my post and liked it. So he’s bound to go see it now, and if it’s good ( which it will be), he’ll recommend it to his friends and they’ll see it etc. simple objectives can accomplish a lot, and posting a status on Facebook is the least I could do. Imagine with more effort.
A Princess of Mars is available at the Library of Congress here. http://read.gov/books/pageturner/princess_mars/#page/8/mode/2up
I’m one of those guys who had an inkling about John Carter, but never knew the legacy. I’ve since started to find out about that legacy and have been working my way through the books, currently at book 9 ‘Synthetic Men of Mars’, and I’ve loved them all so far. In fact, dare I say, because of the books (I’m now a big fan) I’ve not been this excited about watching a movie in a long time, and I’m not afraid to tell everyone about it! As a result I’ve started to big up any news about the original books and the film – interviews, trailers, music, concept art, posters etc on my blog – http://geekynerfherder.blogspot.com and bouncing it to both Twitter and Facebook. I’ve been less than enthused with the Disney PR machine on John Carter and it’s good to see devoted fans doing their/our bit to spread the word. And unfortunately here in the dear ol’ UK, there’s hardly been much of a peep. Will keep doing my bit, however small, right up until the release day. I can’t wait.
Henreid, can we enlist your aid in spreading the word about the reading program? Here in Texas, I’ve contacted school districts throughout an area 250 miles long by 200 miles wide. We need to do the same throughout the country. Let Dotar Sojat, Rebecca, or me know and we’ll get you started.
I fully respect that, Michael, and commend you grandly on the reading program. My greatest hope for the film is that it gets kids reading these books again. The world ought to be reminded of these stories, and this storyteller to whom we owe so much.
Well as you know — we’re promoting reading the original novel with our teen reading group and every day I send out tweets to read the novel with a link to our page where they can download it, listen to it, read it at the library of congress (where they have a cool first edition for each page)….Here is that page. So far over 2,800 people have downloaded the novel from that page…..
I think my point would be that …. for lifetime ERB fans who would like to spread the word about the books and get people to read them, the movie — however imperfect — is a tool to get people interested. My only comment would be take the “making people interested” benefit from the movie that exists — and use it to get people to read the books. For 9 people out of 10, seeing the movie will heighten their interest in reading the books.
Oh well … thanks for sharing your thoughts. I understand, up to a point, where you are coming from. Make no mistake our goal here is not for about Disney – it’s about ERB’s legacy and the chance, once in our lifetime, to revitalize that legacy. That’s what we’re trying to do — not pimp for Disney.
Right with you MCR. I can’t say until I see the film whether or not I want him to get to make a sequel.
Guys, interest is low because it doesn’t look very good to the world at large. The marketing is terrible, sure, but you have to consider that it might be accurate. We’ve heard promising reports, but I’m not going to scream that everyone should go see this movie if it doesn’t represent what I love about the books.
While I admire your efforts to support a financially successful Disney John Carter, I can’t quite go there…
So what I have been doing is getting friends to read the original novel, and promoting that to all I know.
That I can stand behind, and the movie makes a good deadline to push toward, so I’m pushing that hard. Those who do (and I’ve been successful with more than a few) tend to love it (my girl even wept @ the bittersweet, sacrificial finale the movie isn’t using). These people are certainly more likely to see the film now, and I didn’t have to endorse something I don’t trust.
Thanks MCR ….and by the way everybody MCR’s blogsite is:
Those old arguments about Stanton and whether he did this or that seem like friendly ‘in the family’ squabbles compared to the garbage that is coming through the door at IMDB now.
As for whether you can get behind the film or not without seeing it …. my suggestion would be to think of this way. The film is an advertisement for the books, which you love. Even if it’s imperfect, as it surely will be, it should stimulate people to read the books. My thought would be that you can take a neutral position on the ultimate outcome of the adaptation but still push the movie as a way of getting people interested in the underlying material, and reading it. That way … even if the film has deficiencies, it’s served a good purpose and is worth seeing — and hence you can push it in good conscience even if you have doubts about Stanton.
It’s like — hey guys, Stanton may not have gotten it exactly right, but after you see this, you’re gonna want to read the books, believe me!
Is that too convoluted?
I understand the need for this and I’ve been using my blog and talking to people outside the web about the film. The problem I guess I have is I need to see the film before I get a 100 percent behind it. I don’t want to give it a glowing endorsement and then have people coming up saying “That film sucked and I went because you recommended it” so I guess it’s a tightrope.
That said I did post your trailer on there so I hope you don’t mind. And while I know my blog doesn’t get many hits at least that’s something I guess. Also while I’ve had no prolem going on IMDB-and have my “Supertroll” reputation to prove it-even I’ve gotten tired of the lack of intelligent discussion about the film and the “This fill will flop and you’re an idiot if you think otherwise” mentality that’s taken hold. At least before if people had problems with the film they were fans who had issues with Stanton’s handling of the material. Now it’s people who couldn’t care less really about the film, they’re just there to annoy people.
Sorry for the rant. Continue your good work!
I have mentioned the movie or the book to many of my friends-all of whom had no background information whatsoever. I think I made it clear this is the movie I’ve been the most excited about, ever. Hopefully that will help. I’ve also been periodically posting on message boards, but I don’t think I can stomach IMDB anymore. I’ll try to utilize some of your other suggestions.
Time is critical for contacting newspapers. Deadline for a Sunday entertainment section is usually the previous Monday or Tuesday. To get an article generated for the Sunday, March 3 paper — the edition a JC promo must appear in — entertainment editors have to be contacted no later than February 26 or 27. Do it now if possible.
Thanks Khanada and Daniel — you guys are awesome.
And basically my hole family I invited to go watch this film, including some friends. Heck, I will go watch John Carter in 2D with the family and I will go again the next day to watch 3D.
Ever since I saw the first Teaser for John Carter, I read A Princess of Mars. Trailer 2 came out, and I have been trying so hard to motivate people to watch this movie. If only I had a camera, I would go to the theaters and take pictures of the displays. I’ve been replying to a lot of comments on youtube as well, to all the people that bash on this movie.
Let me just say that ever since I started posting links and my joy over the film, and the books, I’ve turned on quite a few friends to them who are now very excited for the film. I know what we do works and even if it’s not 100 people, their excitement will alert others and so on and so forth. I may not feel like I can stomach all of the message boards (IMDB) but I’ll go and do what I can where I can. I am a bit JC obsessed at the moment so it’s very enjoyable!! 😀