Disney, there is still time to save John Carter!

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Well, maybe.

Our long-wished-for ERB adaptation is already, a few days before opening, the latest Hollywood disaster, with comparisons to ISHTAR and other mega bombs. The Daily Beast has a super-lengthy expose on the Game of Thrones-like studio politics of former head Dick Cook, who greenlighted the film, and current head Rich Ross, who has enemies of his own:

In fact, heads have already started to roll right out of the Team Disney building and onto Dopey Drive in Burbank. In January, Disney Studios worldwide marketing chief MT Carney, who arrived with much fanfare in 2010 from the New York advertising world, was out after a string of failures (she said at the time she was returning to New York to be with her kids). Meanwhile, at studio commissaries around town, the long steak knives are already out for Disney Studios chairman Rich Ross, who’s managed to make more than a few enemies in his short time at the helm. Disney insiders say that Ross has the backing of CEO Bob Iger, who plucked him from Disney’s television division to run the studio in 2009, and that the failure or success of John Carter won’t change that.



Despite this, Monday Morning marketing directors are already tossing out rope lines of advice, hoping Disney can glom onto one. The bizarrely lame marketing campaign—presumably overseen by the departed Carney— is the target of the most armchair analysis, such as this piece: John Carter: 6 Ways To Fix The Poor Marketing Campaign. Among the suggestions: use the above fan-made trailer, which is infinitely superior to anything the studio has rolled out.

Another post at She-conomy points out that JOHN CARTER’s tracking among women has been miserable. Women simply hate it—what am I, chopped liver?—but that doen’t have to be so:

This is a text book case of marketers looking at women through stereotypical lenses. Which, as we have discussed, can be even more dangerous than not targeting them at all. In a botched attempt to engage women, Disney marketers have abandoned the fundamental significance of the creative concept of the movie, further alienating even the most loyal of fans.

They claim that women do not like “overtly sci-fi elements.” So, they solve this by taking the words “of Mars” out of the title? Okay, to begin with: It’s. A. Martian. Movie. Not to mention, it’s considered one of the landmarks of science fiction. Yet, they have decided to “hide” this to dumb-it-down for women? Taking “of Mars” out of the title degrades the creative genius of Edgar Rice Burroughs and the rich history of the John Carter of Mars™ series. Facts that would actually make it even more interesting to women by the way.


While it’s tempting to see the tattered Disney marketing exec standing bewildered like a reality show contestant as the crowd throws out dozens of conflicting suggestions, there’s one in the Moviefone post that really makes sense: Why in a movie with no stars but plenty of characters, didn’t they release those character one sheets that EVERY movie does? Character would have connected better with female movie goers than just a trailer and Arcade Fire, I think.

johncarterimax ref for printer Disney, there is still time to save John Carter!

Meanwhile, Mondo has released this amazing poster. Director Andrew Stanton, who made two near perfect movies in FINDING NEMO and Wall*E, is pleading for people to just give it a chance.

As fleeting as the hope may be, to paraphrase Carter’s catch phrase, “This movie still lives.”

Comments

  1. I’ll be going to the theater to see it….the CGI & special effects look amazing! Plus, this is a sci-fi classic…

    Come on fellow Geeks, step up & give it a chance! If this bombs, like Tron Legacy….what are the odds that Disney shells out more greenbacks for future sci-fi films?

  2. Snikt Snakt says:

    I really don’t know much about John Carter and I’m willing to go see this movie. The trailers make it look interesting enough, I think.

    I’m going in w/no expectations, so…

  3. Comic2read says:

    Why don’t they put in the ads “From the creator of Tarzan”

  4. Torsten Adair says:

    How difficult would it be to grab an hour from ABC, either a Sunday at 7/6 (like the old Wonderful World of Disney slot), or a Friday at 8/7 for a road show special on JCM?

    Show how the movie was made, interview the actors and explain the characters. Give some history on ERB and the books, maybe show the Clampett test animation. Explain the plot.

    How much promotion was there for the film at conventions? What’s the buzz among fangirls?

    Looking at the stills at BoxOfficeMojo, Dejah Thoris looks quite capable, and nothing like the Dynamite versions. (Here’s hoping Dejah Thoris outfits replace Slave Leia’s among cosplayers.) How about a “Princes of Mars” trailer aimed at the female demographic? Or will Hollywood just assume that female action heroes don’t sell tickets? (The Catwoman Falacy)

    Why not get Kitsch, Collins, and Defoe on The View? ABC…

    Searching images on Google for movie posters, there’s not single one featuring Dejah Thoris! (Lots of the JCM headshot.)

  5. That trailer is fan-made? Wow. Hire that person!

    And ditto Comics2read’s suggestion. Most people don’t know who or what John Carter is, but everyone knows who Tarzan is.

  6. I’ve been waiting my whole life to see it!!! What the hell is wrong with Disney — don’t they know how to market totally awesome movies?

  7. Chris Hero says:

    I can’t wait for this movie. I love the books and love Andrew Stanton’s work.

    MT Carney was a disaster on ice. She had no clue what she was doing with marketing movies. From what I can tell, she’s not worth much outside of a couple shock buzzwords. (Naked Advertising!) Every success Disney had with her was from an outside firm.

    Rich Ross isn’t long for this career. He’s made sooooo many enemies by blaming everything on people he has to work with and aligning himself with outsiders like Carney. It’s just dumb politics and it’s sorta amazing he got the job in the first place.

  8. James Van Hise says:

    Women don’t like Sci-Fi? I don’t think Avatar could have become the most successful film of all time unless a lot of women saw it, multiple times.

  9. I almost get the sense that Disney wants the movie to fail, just to shame certain bigwigs into quitting before they can be fired.

  10. After experiencing the awesomeness of the Dynamite comics, this movie just seems a little flat to me. I’d catch it on TNT or Spike, if it were on, but it’s just not seeming like the hottest ticket outside of the books… which by the way Dynamite captures the source mood of perfectly, I feel. The public domain is a good place for E.R.B.

  11. @Christopher: Tell that to ERB, Inc.

  12. The Hunger Games is going to eat this movie for lunch.

  13. ERB, Inc. doesn’t want to hear it. They’re in the money over content mindset. Creativity always loses, there.

  14. R. Maheras says:

    Y’know, that poster IS beautiful — very beautiful!

    Unfortunately, to someone who knows even a little bit about Mars, it’s poorly researched to the point of amateurish.

    What do I mean? Have you ever seen pictures of the two Martian moons? They aren’t eve CLOSE to being perfect circles — they look more like lumpy, squat potatoes. In addition, they are so small, from a vantage point on Mars, Phobos would appear as a small whitish blob about 1/3 the size of our moon and Deimos would look like a bright star — not enormous disks with visible surface features. And the only reason Phobos would appear even THAT large is because its orbit is so close to its host planet compared to the orbit of Earth’s moon. In fact, Phobos and Deimos are so tiny there are dozens — perhaps hundreds — of asteroids zipping around our solar system that are bigger. To put their size into perspective, the diameter of Phobos, Mars’ largest moon, is 43 times smaller than that of Ceres, the solar system’s largest asteroid.

    There may be a planet with a view like the poster’s somewhere in the universe, but not on Mars.

    But I digress…

  15. horatio weisfeld says:

    Wow- So John Carter is not tracking well? Really?
    So what does that actually mean?? — what it means for me is that a bunch of well paid people in film marketing have no confidence in their JC campaign (which may or may not kill the movie) so they paid a bunch of other people (who supposedly do “market research”) to produce a bunch of negative tests to cover the marketing dept’s ass.

    Why do I make outrageous statements like this … well, I remember the day I got hired by a (large/national) company that tests the reaction of ongoing Hollywood campaigns for upcoming movies. First thing: my boss gave me an article from the Wall Street Journal which (seemingly was written as an expose of film industry corruption) and said just about exactly, as in word-for-word, what I said above, and he told me, “It’s true. That’s really what we do. Take that as your job description.” And after that, that’s exactly what we did.

    So now the movie can become a, “Surprise, sleeper, word-of-mouth hit” (LOL) or maybe NOT.

    The Shadow knows and time will tell.

  16. I share Russ’s concern that the poster falls short of Burroughs’s high standards of scientific accuracy. One can only hope that the film won’t show such signs of sloppy research.

  17. R. Maheras says:

    Nyuk, nyuk, Jesse.

    In actuality, back when Burroughs wrote his first Martian novel, his standards of scientific accuracy weren’t all that bad — especially for the relatively unsophisticated audience he was writing for.

    The most far-fetched part of that novel was how Burroughs transported John Carter to Mars. Other than that, based on what was known about The Red Planet at the time, the rest would have seemed plausible to most of his 1917 audience.

    And that was Burroughs’ forte: Sprinkling in just enough reality in his fantasies to make the impossible seem possible.

    But the poster above wasn’t done in 1917. Audiences today are more knowledgeable and sophisticated, but even more important is the fact that Mars and its moons are no longer blurry little specks in a telescope — and haven’t been for more than 45 years.

  18. He Sets Me On Fire says:

    I’ve been living in SK for two years and missed out on a lot of hype around this movie.

    Just saw the (a) trailer on the Diz website. Not all that good. I mean, yeah, the special effects were good – so were the ones in Emmerich’s Godzilla. It looks like the same ol’ “Been there, done that” hullaballoo that you see every summer. Nuts.

  19. My husband and I saw it 4 TIMES at the theater, pre-ordered the DVD, and just watched it 2 more times over the past couple days. I have been posting on Facebook and my book blog as much as possible while it was still at the theater, but now I will try to encourage people to buy the movie. I was VERY SAD when I found out there is NOT a stuffed Woola ;___; I will be 40 this year, I’m a fantasy writer myself, and I find this lack of simple understanding for such an amazing film to be very disheartening and just plan ridiculous. Disney should have marketed it better because Andrew Stanton made a spectacular film that even my 81 year-old mother enjoyed immensely yesterday because she did understand the basics of the movie, and she doesn’t even believe we landed on the moon! Come on, people, let’s actually use the thing inside our cranium for something more than texting poorly written English. GO BARSOOM! GO JOHN CARTER! GO WOOLA! GO ANDREW STANTON! JOHN CARTER ROCKS!!!

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