Those who have been following the march of John Carter and the Gods of Hollywood and, more importantly, Disney’s John Carter, know how this goes: Passionate fans of the film on one end of the spectrum, dismissive critics of the film on the other.
Writing the book John Carter and the Gods of Hollywood posed a unique problem in that on the one hand the goal was to present a fair-minded, even-handed and accurate account of what went wrong with the release, while on the other hand making the case that the book series on which the movie is based is an extraordinary treasure worthy of more films, and thus what happened in the making and marketing of it by Disney was an affront to that treasure and to the legacy of Edgar Rice Burroughs.
In the early days after releasing the book, the first readers to find the book, read it, and comment on it were — not surprisingly (and intentionally as far as publishing strategies go) — friends of the cause who want to see a continuation of John Carter in cinemas. Thus the first round of user reviews on Amazon were all positive. In fact, the first five reviews all gave it 5 stars and one of these, by Rick Barry, is solidly ranked as the “most helpful”. To establish the positive side of things, here is that review:
22 of 23 people found the following review helpfulA story worthy of Edgar Rice Burroughs himself, December 2, 2012ByAmazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)This review is from: John Carter and the Gods of Hollywood (Paperback)
Michael Sellers has taken a story worthy of Edgar Rice Burroughs himself and told it with style, skill, fairness, thoroughness – and great affection for the original material. He narrates the gripping saga of the 100-year-old novel’s long march to the big screen, during which time much of Burroughs’ creative genius was ‘strip-mined’ by such later icons as Lucas and Cameron. Along the way Sellers treats the reader to an insider’s view of today’s ‘gods of Hollywood,’ who are not the autocratic and capricious moguls of a bygone era but equally aggressive, corporate warriors navigating the narrow straits between ever-adjusting, long-term, strategic visions and those pesky, quarterly earnings reports. In this world, cinematic artistry becomes a consumer product; and even a $250-million tentpole film can be sacrificed on the altar of an executive coup or the next acquisition.
In true Burroughs style, this timely tale ends with its own, real-life cliffhanger: will the concluding installments of the Burroughs/Stanton trilogy ever see the light of day, or, more to the point, the warm, inviting light of an IMAX theater? Against all odds, Sellers shows how that just might happen.
Enter the Naysayers
1 of 7 people found the following review helpfulPassionate, if a bit fanatic tome for a middling movie, December 6, 2012This review is from: John Carter and the Gods of Hollywood (Paperback)
A not particularly critical look by a fan who’s fanaticism over a middling movie out of place and time is mildly entertaining, but not for the reasons one might suspect. It’s a glimpse into an uber fan’s well meaning, if obviously skewed love of the pulp novellas and it’s translation into one of the biggest motion picture blunders ever. The film itself couldn’t convince audiences to care–it never rises above just another content filler for late night cable tv filler.
The information on the films mishandling by marketing is certainly the most interesting part of this book. Why would Disney not properly promote a film, no matter how weak, that it spent so much money on? It’s certainly far better, as a film, than dreck like Tim Burton’s moneymaker Alice in Wonderland and the bomb Tron Legacy.
Ultimately, the book can’t shake it’s “fan-boy” status, and it’s passionate argument for a sequel isn’t very convincing. Taken with a very large grain of salt, it’s more interesting as a peek into the culture of fan-dom than a serious look at the perils of Hollywood moviemaking.
To each his own. I haven’t read the book but have it ordered. As for your take on the film, well, the studio dropped the ball on marketing and there’s no mistaking it was done with intent. Whether the book delivers on the reasons or not is yet for me to determine. That said, there’s a reason a lot of the people who saw the film liked it and liked it a lot. I was set to dislike it like all of Hollywood’s horrid attempts at adapting pulp adventure to the big screen. Stanton surprised me in a very big way. It’s too bad he didn’t do the same for you. I hope you’re laying the fanboy accusations on too thickly. I work in the industry and grow leery of such fandom (if I never see another lame tattoo of a pop hero/heroine/hobbit/droid etc. it’ll be too soon) but on rare occasions it’s warranted. Like it or not (your well intentioned but misguided cynicism being duly noted) this film has a loyal following and a large support group. Still, you’re opinion is not completely dismissed, just a footnote I’ll consider when I read the book. The risk was always there because of the passion of the fans and the shabby treatment of the film by the studio (no studio in the history of the medium has declared their film both a loss and a bomb while it was still in the theaters).
Could not have said it better, Richard
My Take On It
“The information on the films mishandling by marketing is certainly the most interesting part of this book. Why would Disney not properly promote a film, no matter how weak, that it spent so much money on? It’s certainly far better, as a film, than dreck like Tim Burton’s moneymaker Alice in Wonderland and the bomb Tron Legacy.”