Under an Outlaw Moon: “The John Carter You’d have liked to see.”

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From Under an Outlaw Moon:

There’s an excellent column here exploring the many insipid and wrongheaded ways that Disney dropped the ball, or flat-out abandoned the ball, with John Carter and ultimately fucked over its filmmakers as well as the many fans who would have gotten to enjoy sequels to the film that will now never be made. I definitely recommend it.

I think one of the biggest contributing factors was that the executives who started the project had all been canned by the time it came to actually prepare it for release. And the new executives, in no way responsible for the material and not wanting the guys they replaced to have a hit, threw it under the bus. Now they can point to John Carter as a huge flop and say, “See? Aren’t you glad  we’re in charge now?” This kind of pettiness is all too common in Hollywood (and in publishing, for that matter).

One of the results of this crappy attitude was a marketing campaign that hit no high points, that did nothing to capitalize on any of the selling points of the film (Two-time Academy Award winning Pixar director! Pulitzer/Hugo/Nebula-winning novelist as screenwriter! From the creator of Tarzan! A classic book which inspired many classics in turn finally on the big screen!). Even removing the “Of Mars” from the title stripped it of cool; aside from SF fans, who the fuck knows who John Carter is, these days, except maybe the boyish doctor on ER? (As I said before, it should have been called John Carter and The Princess of Mars, which incorporates the title of the original book, captures the pulpish science fantasy romanticism of the piece, and indicates that the film offers up not just a dashing hero but a cool new Disney princess who can actually kick ass.

Anyway. They blew it. But if you want to see what the marketing department could have done, check out this trailer put together by a freaking fan, who didn’t have Disney’s millions and supposed marketing savvy to draw on…then watch the cheestastic trailer actually released by Disney (which, among its many sins, stupidly shows Carter engaging in over-the-top physical feats that look ridiculous because they give them no fucking context).


  • Great comment, AC. Like you, I feel betrayed by Disney. It seems like the movie reviewers, Disney, and the marketing people all conspired to make sure this film flopped. I knew we were in trouble when they dropped “of Mars” from the title, it was the kiss of death.
    But it should be too early to see if it’s a flop, it might have to take time to turn a profit. Now a lot of time as Disney stabbed it in the back. What about DVD sales?
    What I’m most upset about is the fact this should have been the start of a great franchise, now it all slipped away. Star Wars can’t hold a candle to JCM. Can you imagine going to Disney World and finding Barsoom there? The Disney stock holders should be up in arms the way the the company was so quick to write off $200M without even trying to stem the lose. That happened to their vision, their imagination, their dedication? The movie was not perfect, but FAR from being a flop. It deserved better. Edgar Rice Burroughs deserved better.

  • Amen! I’m sick of people acting like JC was a financial failure because of some problem with the source material or the film itself, that a complete load. Most people who opted not to see this film didn’t do so because they knew what it was all about and thought it was lame, they opted not to see it because they had no idea what it was about. All I’ve heard from friends and co-workers with whom I’ve dialogued is: “What is that movie even supposed to be about?” or “John Carter is such a dumb name, Disney could’ve given it a better name, that name doesn’t explain the concept of the movie” but in all instances once I’ve explained the premise to them they’ve shown much more interest, not in seeing a movie about a realistic conception of Mars but a movie about a fantastic adventure on a fantastic world based on a classic book that has inspired nearly all the great scifi film makers in one way or another. There was huge marketing potential in that avenue, don’t tell me Ross or Iger were ignorant of that, don’t tell me Stanton fouled it up while the Disney execs wrung their hands knowing they’d lose money. Disney knew, Disney didn’t care, Disney has other projects they want you to focus on, here’s their loss statement in a nutshell: “John Carter’s failure won’t phase us, and neither should it phase you, we’ve got the Avengers and Brave coming up, so move along, nothing to see here.” Well I’m not forgetting this great film, I can’t believe how passionate I’ve become over a movie I was expecting I’d hate, but I feel in love with it, sure like all other fans I’ve got issues with some of the deviations from the novel, but this was a great movie and it doesn’t deserve to be sidelined. This move was so much better than Avatar or any of the Star Wars prequels, so much batter than almost any sci fi film for the last twenty years and I for one am going to stand up for it. “I yet live.”

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