Dominic West (Sab Than) has gone on record with some interesting comments about John Carter and Disney’s marketing campaign. It’s in an interview in A.V. Club. Here’s the section dealing with John Carter.
AVC: John Carter!
DW: Ah! [With overdramatic bombast] My finest role to date! [Laughs.] I don’t know what it was about that film. I don’t know why it’s done so badly, or that it’s perceived as being the Hollywood flop in Hollywood history. It’s not that bad at all.
AVC: No, it isn’t.
DW: There, you see? [Laughs.] No, but I thought it was a brilliant film. As you’d expect from Andrew Stanton, who’s a fucking genius. And I don’t know what happened, except I think it’s to do with Hollywood politics that it was just put in the bin. And I think it’s really unfair. I had a great time doing it. We shot in London, then we were out in Utah, and it was just fantastic. And he’s the nicest man on the planet, Andrew, and anyone to do with Pixar, who were there all the time; they have such drive and such a life-affirmative attitude. I loved it. They were great people. So I wish it wasn’t panned so badly. In fact, the critics didn’t mind it. It wasn’t a critical problem.
AVC: Bryan Cranston is very much of the mindset that the problem lies with the constant reporting of box-office figures. But the marketing campaign didn’t exactly help, either.
DW: It was terrible! And it was completely changed! I saw it two years ago, after we shot it, and they had the marketing campaign already out and it was amazing. But for some reason they got rid of all that, and they failed to mention that this was the granddaddy of science-fiction adventure stories, so everyone was going, “Why haven’t they got people who sound like the ones in Star Wars?” When, in fact, the whole point was that John Carter inspired Star Wars. So I think they did mess that up a bit.
His comment that “it was completely changed!” is one of the strongest statements of this type that have come out so far from anyone deeply involved in the production — calling it “terrible” is also a tad more forthright than anyone else has been.
I think his reference to “constant reporting of box-office figures” is also an interesting one, as for sure the whole media and popular fixation on box office was a significant part of the problem with John Carter.