The Sad Ballad of John Carter?

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Missed this the first time around.  It’s worth reading, particularly the last paragraph where the author attempts to extract some meaning about American moviegoing habits when it comes to “geeky” films that are “instantly accessible like Spider Man”.  

The Sad Ballad of John Carter

by Dominick Mayer via Heave Media

Disney’s John Carter is among my favorite movies of 2012 so far. I feel like saying so as a relatively published film critic is akin to lighting a blunt in church, with respect to the canonized list of shit you just don’t do. Though the film has its defenders, however few, far more people are talking about what an unmitigated disaster it is, a big-budget flop that will live in infamy alongsideCutthroat Island and Waterworld as a quintessential example of what happens when a movie studio’s unbridled hubris comes back to bite it in the ass. There’s just one little problem: John Carter isn’t actually tanking. In fact, it’s doing pretty damned well and everybody needs to slow their roll for a minute.

Statistics time: John Carter has indeed flopped by U.S. box office standards. Relative to its estimated $250 million budget, so far it’s only pulled down $68 million and counting. At most, it’ll top out around $70 million in theaters before trying to recoup on DVD. What most people don’t realize, though, because evidently America = the whole world forever with respect to box office, is thatCarter has also made over $200 million overseas and is currently placing high on several other countries’ box office charts. The domestic grosses combined with those worldwide paint a very different picture of Carter, one that suggests the film will at the very least break even. It won’t be the franchise-starting hit Disney probably wanted (a similar situation happened with Tron: Legacy, though that film was cheaper to make/market), but it’s by no standards a flop. Hell, while I’m on the apologia train, Waterworld was actually profitable when you include the worldwide grosses, and Cutthroat Island…nope, that one stilltanked.

Read the full article at Heave Media


  • “there’s a certain suggestion that the superhero/cultish/otherwise outré properties have to have a certain aesthetic coolness to them (Chris Nolan’s Batman series) in order to be palatable on a mass level. John Carter not only didn’t have that, but was almost defiant in its world-building feel, one more akin to Star Wars than to the instant accessibility of, say, the Spider-Man films. John Carter may not reinvent the wheel, and sadly, it may not even get the chance to deepen its universe in a second go-around.”

    The unfamiliarity that most potential audience members had with the source material was the main thing that undercut the “aesthetic coolness” that John Carter needed, according to the article’s critical framework. People simply didn’t know enough, and weren’t told enough about it to sense if it had the “coolness” or not.

    John Carter desperately needed two things if it was going to tap into the best hype enjoyed by other films in its genre:

    (1) Extensive, purposeful education about every remotely cool thing that could be said about the source material

    (2) “Coolness” bumps from as many other aspects of the production as possible. In hindsight, it is looking very much like John Carter needed either a big-name fantasy/sci-fi director, several big name actors, some kind of unmistakable technological breakthrough, glowing recommendations from industry luminaries, or all of the above.

    DJC, as it was, needed everything outside of the film itself to go right, and too many things simply went wrong.

    If another film is able to be made, it will benefit from the name-recognition that was generated by DJC. To a certain degree it’s true when they say “any publicity is good publicity”, in this context. If that day comes, and the flop narrative that will still exist in many peoples’ minds is to be reversed for the publicity benefit of a sequel or a reboot, may the fighting man of Virginia be accompanied by a cadre of industry octane-providers. Perception-wise, John Carter is going to need his own avengers.

  • MCR you are grasping at straws for things to complain about, and it is getting annoying.

    If you have genuine complaints voice them, but dont twist peoples words and grasp at straws.

    Your unending complaints are enough to drive a person mad! Which they are in fact doing.

  • Oh brother. Quote “breathlessly imaginative throwback to not only Edgar Rice Burroughs’ original novel”

    Further proof that people don’t read.

    Beyond that maybe the reason people went to the first two Spider-Man movies is they were good movies. (I have no defense for the third one, it was crap.) Also comparing it to the “world building” of Star Wars. Was this guy indicating that Star Wars also failed? He said “John Carter not only didn’t have that, but was almost defiant in its world-building feel, one more akin to Star Wars than to the instant accessibility of, say, the Spider-Man films.” It seems funny for a franchise that is only second to Harry Potter in box office to be consider unaccessible compared to Spider-Man.

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