Opinion: How the miss-steps in the John Carter promotion have lowered the bar for getting a sequel

GoBarsoom Media Campaign, John Carter News

The furor over the perceived clumsiness of the Disney promotional campaign for John Carter may have a silver lining in that it has to have lowered the threshold of global box office needed to generate a sequel. Think I’m crazy? Hear me out.

First, there can be no doubt by now that Disney knows that millions of dollars are being left un-captured due to the miss-steps of the promotion thus far. And since there has been a shake-up at Disney with the departure of MT Carney, anyone who would argue that this is the case is probably gone. Disney now can be assumed to be in damage control mode, trying to do the best they can in the remaining weeks while privately acknowledging that the promotion has fallen short in various measurable ways.

So what does this have to do with generating a sequel?

Let’s say that, assuming the whole promotion ran smoothly, the “Sequel Generation Point” was $500m worldwide box office gross. (I know some have said it’s as high as $700m but I never bought that because it fails to recognize that there are a lot of 1990’s development costs, financing charges, and other one-time costs associated with the cost of the first film that would get amortized over a series if a series happens.)

So … if the “we get a sequel” figure was $500m before the promotion hit an iceberg, what is it now? I would argue that Disney would have to be recognizing that for any sequel, they could get the promotion in alignment with the film and the fans a lot better than they did this time. And if the miss-steps this time cost, say, $50m in global gross (an understatement), then the sequel generation point could arguably come down by that much. In other words, the green eyeshade guys would say: “Well, we did $450 but the promotional miss-steps cost us at least $50m, so for analysis, we’re at $500m.”

Now, this only really works if the $450m is also accompanied by strong reviews and a a passionate and organized fan base. Well, Andrew Stanton has delivered a film that will get fans excited, we’re sure of that. And we are here to help get fans organized and motivated to use their voices and make them be heard.

Stay tuned. There WILL be a sequel. We just have to work our butts off to make it happen. And we will.


  • Terry, thinking further about this. Remembe that the people that green lit the movie are still around, and the marketing team that set the marketing plan is gone. Internally at Disney, there will be a strong need/desire buy the greenlighters to justify their choice, and they are the ones that are there. So there will be pressure to rate the film a success coming from that quarter. Also it’s in the nature of a public company to want to report good news to investors. The pressure is to say — we had a success — not, we had a failure. So if you can spin it as a success, that’s generally the way you want to go. Now, if indeed a sequel would not have an audience and would fail, then it’s better to just eat it. But what do you do in a situation where the film is “on the bubble” between sequel/no sequel, and you know the marketing misfired a bit? You say — we learned something and we had enough success to warrant doing it again and getting it right, because the reward if we do that are great. And, in the subtext, this approach also says — our original decision to green light this project was a good decision. So …I’m not so sure they will “sweep it under the rug and start somewhere else.” I think there are pressures pushing it in another direction.

    But then I’m occasionally accused of being delusional. -)

  • Well, we’ll make so much noise it’ll be hard for them to do that. It seems that Andrew Stanton has delivered a truly good movie and that is different than something like Prince of Persia where the story wasn’t that great and people didn’t get that excited about it. Also, remember that Disney’s whole purpose in risking so much in the first place was to establish a franchise to basically replace Pirates of the Carribbean. Anyway, I’m going to take that line of reasoning and hammer it home until they “get it”. (Delusional, I know.)

  • I like your reasoning. But it’s been my experience that ‘Suits’ don’t admit to anything, they just sweep it under a rug and start somewhere else.

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