Is John Carter Going to Be a $250 Million Flop?
February 21, 2012 - 6:09 am
That’s the narrative The Daily Beast pushes today in an article by Chris Lee.
Why the impending doom for the over-budget “vanity project” dogged by a perfectionist director’s reshoots?
Some executives claim the trailers are too confusing:
The sci-fi thriller lands in theaters March 9, and if you’ve seen the billboards or commercials, you’d be forgiven for wondering what it’s about. A hunk in a leather chest harness (Taylor Kitsch of the late, beloved, but little-viewed sports drama Friday Night Lights), identified as “John Carter of Earth,” battles aliens in a coliseum, faces down a stampede of four-armed beasties, and seduces a princess who resembles a va-va-voom version of Jasmine from Disney’s Aladdin. Is this Avatar meets Clash of the Titans? Gladiator meets Cowboys and Aliens? A 22-second “teaser” trailer that aired during the Super Bowl didn’t make things any clearer. “You know it’s gotta be bad when they start breaking up the scenes and doing something conceptual for a Super Bowl spot,” observed a ranking executive at a rival studio. “It’s like, ‘Guys, this is your Hail Mary?’”
Others regard the title change from John Carter of Mars to just John Carter as a fatal move:
Although the character has been known as “John Carter of Mars” and was envisioned as a movie trilogy under that name, Disney marketers dropped the “of Mars” part because of industry-think holding that female movie fans are more likely to be turned off by such overtly sci-fi elements. And after the big-budget failure of last year’s Cowboys & Aliens seemingly confirmed that modern audiences are uninterested in Westerns—or, by extension, vintage Americana—Carter’s Civil War connection has been all but excised from the marketing.
“You take out ‘of Mars,’ you don’t tell where he came from? That’s what makes it unique!” a former Disney executive said. “They choose to ignore that, and the whole campaign ends up meaning nothing. It’s boiled down to something no one wants to see.”
But I’m not worried yet. The unnamed ex-Disney execs and other studio bigwigs got this wrong: “The geek generation isn’t responding. It’s too weird for the family audience. Then it has the Disney brand and PG-13? I’m not sure who it’s for.”
Geek enthusiasm for the film seems high enough with the to-be-expected level of naysayers. Am I wrong?
Previously on John Carter here at PJ Lifestyle: