The Morning After: What can fans do?

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The last 4-5 days, starting with March 7 when the reviews started to come out, and ending with the posting of weekend estimates for domestic and international box office on March 11, have been enough to leave John Carter fans exhausted .  There has been the unexpected pain of seeing reviewers split down the middle, (unexpected because Andrew Stanton’s track record with reviewers suggested a much higher acceptance rate), and the equal pain of seeing a weak opening box office result — paired with the exhilaration for many of getting to actually see the movie we’ve been waiting for.


Now what?

Is the battle over — is it time to go back to being what we were before, which is lifelong ERB fans?  Or is the battle still on for the success of the movie and the possibility of sequels?

Well, here at JCF the next thing we’re looking forward to is the release, later today, of box office actual figures, as opposed to studio estimates, which what the Sunday reporters are based on.

We will be looking for signs of a potentially strong hold, which is the only avenue remaining for John Carter to climb to a level of success that could generate a sequel.

The data already in suggest that JC had a strong “Saturday bump” in which it performed 25.4% ahead of the opening day figures, and that is usually a positive sign suggesting good word of mouth.

If indeed the Word of Mouth is gaining more than normal traction, there will be clues in the figures that are released today.

Just to refresh everyone’s memory — when Avatar was released the Sunday reports pegged it at $72M and the Monday actuals had to revise it to $77M.

That’s an extreme case and there is no reason to expect that anything like that is about to happen for John Carter.  Could it edge upward past 31M?  Yes.  More importantly, could the Sunday figures, estimated at 8.5m, be revised north of 9m?  They could, and if that were to happen it would be the best news yet.

But if they aren’t revised upward — what does the opening weekend performance mean?

The general consensus is that, absent an unusually strong hold,  John Carter seems to be on track to turn in Prince of Persia numbers.  What are those numbers?

Opening Weekend: 30.1M

Domestic Total: 90.6M

Foreign Total: $255M

Global Total: $335M

Those are disappointing numbers to be sure.  However — there are some indications that the film might outperform Prince of Persia enough to get to a global box office of 400-450M.

The question is — do even the more aggressive predictions of up to 450m get the film into the range where a sequel is possible?

The fact is, the list of sequel-ready originals that did 400m at the global box office and did NOT generate a sequel is very short.  As in — we can’t come up with one.

JC is supposedly a different case because the budget of 250m raises the bar.

But how much?

Another problem is simply one of  image.  Like it or not, John Carter has been branded a flop in the media and although there is now a second wave of mildly revisionist reporting coming out acknowledging the overseas strength and admitting it’s not a “bomb” …. it’s unclear whether this will be enough to change the narrative and the image of the film.

So what can fans do?

First, go see it again and drag some friends along.  Not just one — try to get a group together.  Out of that group, there will be some who will be stunned at how good it is and they in turn will go see it again.

Secondly, tweet about it, blog about it, talk about it on Facebook.

So far the best tools for getting people interested in seeing the movie seem to be …well, our fan trailers.  Post them to your Facebook wall, and/or post them to twitter.

Here are the URLs.  If you simply copy/paste these URLs onto your Facebook wall, or into a twitter post, the video will embed, then write a short note.

John Carter Fan Trailer 1

John Carter Fan Trailer 2

We will be back with more thoughts and analysis after the actuals come out.


  • Well, I predicted back in December here that JC would get terrible reviews and “flop” in the U.S. But I am glad that the critics are DEAD WRONG about this film. It’s an instant classic. One day, it will be appreciated. Remember “Blade Runner”, “Dark City”, John Carpenter’s “The Thing” and many other SF movies that were not appreciated when they were first released. JC will have his day, even if he has to wait a bit to be fully appreciated. Meanwhile, we’ll all have to deal with JC’s false rep as a “bomb” and endure another Summer of “Batman” (shudders) as if 1989 & 2008 were not enough of that…

  • Dotar, you’ve done yeoman’s work to give us ideas how to promote the film and done very professional promotional work yourself. Thank you so much!

    I work for a newspaper and have been evangelizing for the film since the fall. However, the younger set of editors seem to be blasé about something so straightforward as an action-adventure film. It’s as though a film has to be coolly self-aware and ironic before these critics will accept it as worthwhile. Too many knowing looks at the camera breaking the fourth wall have spoiled a number of these younger editors of my acquaintance — to my way of thinking. They’ve limited their taste for film. By extension, I think some of the negative reviews bear similar viewpoints.

    Yet, that hasn’t stopped my evangelization efforts nor my own multiple viewings. Word of mouth is still useful. Whether or not it will result in a sequel, who can say. But I’ll have done my part in my portion of Jasoom.

    Keep up the good work, Dotar Sojat!

  • I’ve been doing a lot of pushing on Facebook for the last several weeks, and only over the weekend did I receive any sort feedback. To be fair, I’m probably the biggest geek of my Facebook friends…
    While we didn’t get the box-office results we all hoped for, we at least got a movie beyond what we could have wished for I think. And for that I am very grateful. I have a Barsoom movie I can easily watch over the years and be very happy that I have it. And I suspect that years from now it will earn some respect – once the blood in the water has thinned out, and perhaps some reviewers have the grace to feel a bit sheepish over their part in the trashing of this movie and give it the chance it deserves.
    I plan on sitting down and writing a thank you letter to Stanton – and perhaps Disney, even though they botched the marketing. Not that I think it will help get a sequel or anything like that. I just wish to express my gratitude to what was given to me. I’ve waited 40 years for this film, and I loved it.

  • Don’t worry Dotar, I will keep fighting. Numbers may be depressing but if we can still make a difference then by all means lets do it. Thanks so much for this site and all the wonderful ideas! Its been so much fun.

    That said I really loved the movie, and I have no complaints whatsover. Yeah it wasn’t exactly like the books, but it still captivated the martian chronicles. Andrew did an AMAZING job and it was his first live action! He is a genius!

    “I still live!!”

  • Exactly! I still stand by my belief that the film will do okay financially. hopefully will get the sequel announced once the films run ends. I mean if G.I.joe can get a sequel after its first film made 300 million worldwide then I’m sure john carter will do just fine! “We still live!”

  • Well said. The rumor is that Disney studio insiders hate JOHN CARTER. We can only speculate on the reasons at this point. Of course, it may be political. The movie business has long operated on the principle that is not enough to succeed but others must fail. That might account for what I can only describe as one of the worst marketing and advertising campaigns that I can remember for a major release.

  • I had one friend who actually bought a ticket, but then couldn’t come. We’ll be going again this weekend. And I did post a review on my blog (as well as having blogged about it several times before). The international numbers and the uptick from Friday to Saturday do give me reason to be cautiously hopeful about a sequel, when combined with the limited other merchandise and especially the DVD sales whenever those come out.

    But I’m doing what I can. Thanks for the ideas, Dotar. Though it was still lower than some might have hoped, I’m still amazed that a movie that makes $100 million in 3 days can be considered a bomb. What?

  • well said, and I have to add, yea, we’re luck to have it, but man, my appetite is SO gnawing for more now!! I’m sad and frustrated, but it ain’t over till it’s over, so I’m promoting away in my tiny little world of followers and friends and hoping still for the best, or at least the not so bad we don’t get any more than this one film….

  • Glorbes and Khanada are right. I glean that JCM fans are pretty smart! Myself? I expect to write to Disney, cuz this preestablished, echo-chamber narrative described by the Forbes article, which was great, is so very lame. Lets thank Dotar for this great forum and site! (and dont go to IMDB to be incited by high trafficing floptrolls)

  • Some very good thoughts that will resonate with many of us. At this moment it’s not yet game over in the quest for a sequel…but you point out something that true fans and admirers of the books and the movie should keep in mind. ” With time it will become a classic in its own right, much like Blade Runner, or even A Christmas Story, but it has to move past the baggage that has been heaped on it.” So true. And it will be the fans who ultimately cause it to be defined that way — not as Ishtar or Waterworld.

  • But ‘I still live’?

    In Finland it didn’t start out strong, but one lucky coincidence is that our largest theater chain has a discount day once a month, and this month it happens to be next Wednesday. Movies at half price. Theaters are usually pretty packed, and a lot of people who might not have been tempted to check it out will see it. And it does seem to get good word of mouth here too, which might show afterwards.

  • I think we have all been so keyed up — the last 10 days, can you imagine? The ECOF, seeing the movie, waiting for the reviews, watching them not be what we expected….then seeing the film in theaters….box office disappointments…..some hope (Saturday bump)…..

    And now….kinda inevitable to feel wrung out and depressed but take heart from the fact that the film has many loyal fans and with a strong hold it can creep up into the zone where a sequel is possible.

  • Keep reading, Thuvia. The first wave of articles were all pre-determined — the second wave is now starting to come out. “John Carter shows Strength Abroad”; Hollywood Reporter: “John Carter dominates overseas”. It’s disappointing but it’s not game over, not yet.

  • It breaks my heart that John Carter has become the whipping subject of a bloated, and stupidly managed Hollywood machine. Not one of the horrible Transformers sequels…not Pirates of the Caribbean 4…but John Carter. There have been a handful of movies that cost a ton of money, but the second there was a hint of blood in the water with this one, everybody took the bait and ran with it. I’m no fan of Disney, but they have managed to acquire a lot of my favorite properties and have managed them with success…why John Carter had to be the chosen property for people with an axe to grind has nothing to do with the movie itself.

    I don’t know if one party is to blame…be it the hubris of the film makers (I doubt it), the Disney suits (who thought they were doing their job, but blew it royally by making it so nobody cared about this movie), the fact that this movie was greenlit with such a massive budget, or the eagerness with which people in the insular entertainment press took up the story of a high-profile flop that rivalled Waterworld and Ishtar. What I’m amazed by is the fact that supposedly such a large sum of money was spent on marketing, and yet I have NEVER seen a commercial for this thing on tv. I’ve seen previews online, people blogging and linking, and photographs from other cities that have big posters on buildings.

    I think John Carter is a great example of how in Hollywood, nobody knows anything. There is a lot of luck, there are demographic charts and properties that have a supposedly built-in audience, but when it comes right down to it, every movie is a gamble.

    We can try our hardest as fans to get the word out, but when it comes right down to it, we’re lucky we have this one movie in the can. I’ll buy the extra special edition blu-ray…I’ll try to see it in 2D if I can find a showing that isn’t in the middle of the day in a town three hours away…I’ve got the expensive book with the movie’s concept art on order…I may even buy the high end merchandise that’s produced in limited quantities. But this movie has been tagged a failure, and will be treated as such for quite a while. I wish in my heart of hearts it wasn’t, because there are films more deserving. With time it will become a classic in its own right, much like Blade Runner, or even A Christmas Story, but it has to move past the baggage that has been heaped on it.

  • My heart hurts after all the energy put into this over the past weeks, but I still hold out hope that we’ll see something good in those final numbers… also, that word of mouth and repeat viewings will make this a sleeper hit. Maybe it will hold on longer in theaters and as more and more people give it a whirl and take friends and family to it, it may do better in the long run than it’s started out, here in the US anyway. Overseas the numbers are GREAT!

    Nervously awaiting the latest later today… Kinda trembly inside, actually…

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