Title talk: “John Carter and the Gods of Hollywood: How studio politics and super-sized egos wrecked a 100 year classic”

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I want to thank everyone for all the inputs and especially Khanada Taylor who came up with the main title that I’ve tentatively settled on: John Carter and the Gods of Hollywood.

I’m sure this will go through some more review and thinking, but here is the thought process that leads me to this one. First of all, to an outsider, I think “Gods of Hollywood” resonates even if you know nothing about “God of Mars” and little about John Carter. My thought is — and this should be tested — is that anyone who knows that John Carter is a movie and a character would see this title and “get” that “Gods of Hollywood” refers in some fashion to the power players in Hollywood who had control over John Carter’s destiny. So …. while a little indirect, it should resonate okay with mainstream audiences and perhaps get them to read the subtitle.

As for the “core constituency” who have been following this blog and the overall John Carter saga and are fans of the ERB books, the Andrew Stanton movie, or both — this seems to me to a really good title for them. Almost all of them know that the “Gods of Mars” is the second book in the trilogy that Disney optioned, so it resonates that way. It also resonates as suggesting a kind of epic adventure/conflict between John Carter and those Thern-like dudes in Hollywood who controlled, or have tried to control, his fate.

I do wonder whether I should make it: “John Carter vs The Gods of Hollywood” but even though I liked the “vs” formulation, somehow “and” feels better. Welcome comments on that aspect (or any aspect).

As for the subtitle: “How Studio Politics and Super-sized Egos Wrecked a 100 Year Classic” , I have become convinced, on the advice of experts, that I need to state the thesis in the subtitle and this does that while leaving it a little (artfully I hope) indistinct as to precisely which politics and whose super-sized egos wrecked APOM. I also removed the “and lost millions at the box office” because of advice which I agree with that to on a casual reading this may seem like I’m taking a shot at the movie itself. Mind you — the movie itself does not get off scot free. The book mirrors my own view that the adaptation is good and the movie is good ….. but it’s an objective fact that it did not get the kind of 90++ critic and audience rating that Stanton got on his previous movies and it’s obvious that Stanton does have the ability to achieve those kind of numbers — and had he achieved those kind of numbers, we would have sequels in progress now in spite of Disney’s marketing misfires.

So there you have it.

By the way, in my experience with movies, titles often end up being an ongoing source of exasperation until you finally reach the point where you have to pull the trigger and just go with one. The only exception I’ve experienced was my film “Goodbye America” which was one where the whole idea for the film sprang into my head with the title attached. That one was easy. Everything else has been tough, and this one is no exception.

Goodbye America Trailer from Quantum Releasing on Vimeo.


  • May I suggest “crashed” instead of “wrecked”? “Crashed” suggests a both an error by those in control, and a drop or descent, as in the lower-than-expected box office. It also avoids suggesting the the movie itself is a “wreck”.

  • I still think “doomed” is best, because it conveys the best the idea that the movie was not intentionally sabotaged, as you wrote, Abraham Sherman, it was just left alone to succeed or not on its own merits only. And for “attention-getting”, I don’t know, “doomed” seems pretty strong.

  • “Sabotaged a 100 Year Classic”
    “Doomed a 100 Year Classic”
    “Wrecked the Chances of a 100 Year Classic”

    All three are good. The first one is forceful, but perhaps a bit over-stated. The second one is less accusatory, but arguably less attention-getting. The third one is clear and straight-forward, but wordy. Not bad options, but there could still be something better out there.

  • In my opinion ‘doomed’ sounds so light – not very striking…. I’d really prefer to say it like it is with the stronger word ‘sabotaged’. I want people to recognize that this is a serious injustice done to ERB and John Carter. And “sabotaged” sounds very interesting and attention grabbing!

    I was also happy with ‘wrecked’ because you need to have a good product in order for it to get “wrecked” (A BMW doesn’t come out of the production line wrecked. ) We could always keep wrecked but reword the end of the sentence a bit to make sure its clear we aren’t talking about the movie itself.

  • What about something like “…Failed a 100-Year Old Classic”, to emphasize that the marketing etc., let John Carter down.

  • “Doomed” is better for keeping it from sounding too much like the damage was intentional. It’s an attention-catching word also, and implies lost opportunity.

    and the
    How Studio Politics and Super-Sized Egos Doomed a 100 Year Classic

    Should there be a hyphen between 100 and Year?

  • Abraham Sherman wrote (and Pascalahad also wrote something similar)

    “Wrecked a 100 Year Classic” does kinda sound like the subtitle is describing the movie itself as a wreck, when really it was the film’s popular perception and potential for box office success that were wrecked. The movie is not a wreck, but its reputation is, for many people.

    Yeah, you’re right. What I mean to say is they wrecked the prospects or wrecked the chances…….”sabotaged” is a very strong word and is an active verb that implies direct intent, so it’s a little stronger than what would be ideal — but may work in the subtitle, which can exaggerate a bit.

    What about “doomed”……? “Doomed a 100 Year Classic”……

    We’re getting close.

  • Hi Heather — yes – in both. Print and eBook! Thanks! Stay tuned….it’s coming.

  • “Wrecked a 100 Year Classic” does kinda sound like the subtitle is describing the movie itself as a wreck, when really it was the film’s popular perception and potential for box office success that were wrecked. The movie is not a wreck, but its reputation is, for many people.

    GODS could be spelled with a lower-case “g”, to communicate that the powers-that-be weren’t all they were cracked up to be. But perhaps that might give too strong of an impression of the book being a hit piece. Or maybe it would work just fine. At its best, the little “g” would help the main title “say” more. At its worst, it might come across as a gimmick.

    “Wrecked” is a good, powerful word, but as others have suggested, a similar word might help clarify that the movie is good, but forces worked against it achieving its potential.

    Here’s an idea for the whole title:

    and the
    How Studio Politics and Super-Sized Egos Sabotaged a 100 Year Classic

  • Will this be available in print or e-book? 🙂 Looks very interesting, I know I want a copy.

  • Very good title and I applaud Khanada for coming up with it. I DO all of a sudden wonder about one word in the subtitle .. Does the word “wrecked” suggest “bomb”, “flop”, or “dud”? Maybe hit the Thesaurus on that word or replace it with “damaged” or “hurt”. After all, the fans of the movie are in it to change the end of the story and “wrecked” seems a little too permanent.

  • It still reads as if you are taking a shot at the movie itself. “How Studio Politics and Super-sized Egos Wrecked a 100 Year Classic” could mean that the movie was a wreck to the casual reader, in my opinion. “How Studio Politics and Super-sized Egos Wrecked a Movie 100 Years in the Making”, or that kind of subtitle would be better to convey a more neutral stance towards the movie itself.

  • Man, I’m honored! This is so cool and I really do think the “and” is better than “versus”. I think that since the book is taking in the whole story, from the beginning, it’s less, ‘vs” because the war portion is happening now as a result of the rest. We fans are fighting for John Carter as a result of what happened.

    And I love how, like you said, Gods is understandable for those who don’t know about the second book/film, while having multiple meanings to those of us who are familiar with it.

    And the subtitle is very good, too. I’m so excited for the book, it’s going to be amazing!

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