Daria Brooks is one of the key members of the Back To Barsoom John Carter II Facebook Group, and was the originator of Last Trip to Barsoom that succeeded in getting a bigger audience at El Capitan Theater for the last showing of John Carter than at any previous time, including opening night. As the first run of John Carter was coming to a close, Daria and her sister Madeline had seen the film in theaters about a dozen times (could have been a few more) …. but as it turned out, their greatest enjoyment of the film in theaters came after the first run was over, and the film moved to second run theaters where they continued going to see it, in the end seeing it 38 times in theaters.
I asked Daria — who is a young adult novelist (see her bio at the end) to provide some notes on her experience in the second run theaters to help me cover that part of the story in John Carter and the Gods of Hollywood. I’m sharing it here, as I think her description is worth reading and thinking about:
Enjoying John Carter’s Second Run
by Daria Brooks
While loyal legions of Los Angeles area fans said ‘goodbye’ to “John Carter” with their “Last Trip To Barsoom” fete on April 19, 2012, that date marked the beginning of a welcomed and lengthy run for the movie in hundreds of second-run neighborhood cinemas in the United States. My sister, Madeline Gann, and I were privileged to witness the staggering change in the makeup of audience numbers for this remarkably satisfying film, personally ‘nursing’ Andrew Stanton’s ‘magnum opus’ through an additional ten weeks of screenings. While my personal desire for “Last Trip” was to see the film’s initial run end in a celebratory bang rather than a whimper, Madeline and I used the successive two and a half-month run to document how “John Carter” went from anemic attendance numbers of 7-20 people to filling 300 seat auditoriums over the course of our 38 screenings.
It is important to note that nearly all advertising stopped for “John Carter” after March 10, and by its final day at Disney’s El Capitan, it had long left the first-run cinemas across the U.S. Even before it was briefly paired at drive-in theaters during the week of May 4 through May 10 for the States-side release of Marvel’s “The Avengers,” Stanton’s film had been garnering steadily increasing audiences night after night in hundreds of neighborhood cinemas. The film’s presence climbed to 349 theaters that week—the most exhibitors hosting it since April 12—allowing it to handily add $1,694,105 to its box office totals during that week alone.* In the midst of what became an eight-week run at the historic Academy Cinema in Pasadena, California, my sister and I approached manager Refugio Vargas to thank him for keeping the movie there long enough for us to manage twenty-five screenings. “Are you kidding?” he replied incredulously. “This film is packing people in every night and they seem to really like it!”
Indeed they did like it, for these second-run cinema audiences were the polar opposite of what we saw in Hollywood and several other first-run houses. At each screening we attended, the audiences grew in size from little better than half-filled 150 seat rooms to a surprising “I’m not sure there are any seats left,” the warning we received upon arriving a few moments late for a 285 seat 3D screening at the Picture Show At Main Place in Santa Ana. These audiences, who added more than $4.2 million to Disney’s coffers, could not have been more receptive: They laughed heartily during humorous scenes, cheered loudly for the heroes and audibly balked at Tardos Mors’ outburst at his daughter’s refusal of Sab Than’s proposal. Women openly sighed during John Carter’s proposal to his beloved princess, wept at the dramatic final scene of the film, and everyone from the smallest child to the eldest grandfather clapped for Woola, their new favorite fantasy pet. Most affirming of all, during the additional twenty-five shows attended between April 19 and the film’s final screening on June 28, we witnessed enthusiastic ovations at the end of nearly every show. It was this brand of bona fide enthrallment that caused these unsung fans and so many others to descend upon stores on June 5, snapping up millions of copies of the Blu-ray/DVD release to such a degree that store shelves across the country were bare in less than twenty-four hours. The long-beleaguered “John Carter” may have begun life in American cinemas with a whimpering lack of audience attendance, but its egress was nothing short of a spectacular success.
About Daria Brooks
Consumed by rock music, animation and superhero comic books since age four, writer D H Brooks studied Creative Writing and Comparative Literature at California State University Long Beach, working toward a degree in Electronic Media. Having developed a great interest in Atlantis-related subjects, Ms. Brooks first wrote of the aquatic denizens of Nereidia in comic book form in 1993. She supplied research notes for TechTV’s ‘pop-up’ version of the series “Thunderbirds” ™, as well as material she licensed to A&E Home Video for the DVD “The Best Of Thunderbirds.” A lifelong Southern California resident, the author lives in Los Angeles, never far from her beloved Pacific Ocean. “A Legacy Of The Pacific” is her debut novel. Visit www.alegacyofthepacific.com