Tank

Captain! Captain! German U-boat sighting off the port bow! Torpedos heading this way! Hard left rudder, man! Harder! Do you want this ship to sink?

Disney’s $250 million John Carter, a sci-fi fanboy adventure pic that opens in three weeks (Friday, 3.9), is in some kind of trouble, and maybe worse than that. A couple of hours ago Deadline‘s Nikki Finke reported that it’s all but dead due to soft tracking. (“Dead” in relation to the huge cost and prospective return, I mean.) There’s even concern, voiced by a rival studio exec, that “this could be the biggest write-off of all time.”

Maybe it’s as bad as all that or maybe not, but the situation obviously isn’t good .

“Our world is dying,” a female voice says on the Carter trailer. “You may be the only one who can save us.” I hear awful dialogue like that and I look at the blatantly CG-ish effects, and I just turn away. Pathetic.

The marketing exec who would be tickled pink if Carter goes down says that tracking is “2 unaided, 53 aware, 27 definitely interested and 3 first choice.” I’m not a tracking expert, okay, but I know enough about it to know that these numbers are not what anyone would call encouraging. A second studio guy tells Finke that the tracking report “just came out [and] women of all ages have flat out rejected the film.”

Captain! Water pouring into the engine room! Tell the crew to put on lifejackets and prepare to evacuate! Brrnnng! Brrnng!

Slashfilm’s Peter Sciretta tweeted last night that “the first big press screening of John Carter happened tonight but no one is allowed to tweet their reactions.” Does that mean it blows or…? If John Carter is taking on water and possibly in danger of foundering, wouldn’t Disney publicists at least want some spirited geek buzz flying around to help raise the stock?

Calling all geeks and fanboys! John Carter needs your help! Sciretta! Devin Faraci! Katey Rich! All the freeloaders attending the John Carter press junket in Carefree, Arizona…we need you! Wait…is Ed Douglas there?

“Disney is nervous, really nervous, but trying to hold out some hope,” Finke writes. “‘We know that we have a long way to go,’ a Disney insider confides. ‘It’s still four weeks out, and the bulk of the media hasn’t hit yet. Our Super Bowl ad did what we intended it to do: have a pop of awareness. On Sunday we launch a full campaign with 90% of all of our media ready to go.”

76 thoughts on “Tank

  1. Myles on said:

    I hear it’s actually damn good.

  2. Really? $250 million? Well, the money sure didn’t go to buy A list actors. So what did it go for?

    And this could only be good if you think Edgar Rice Burroughs is high art.

  3. Flash forward 2 months….

    Jeff: “Whaddya mean you can’t approve me for the screening???”

    Studio Flack: “We do read your site, you know?”

  4. Mars is like a box office curse. Mars Needs Moms, Red Planet, Ghosts of Mars, and now John Carter of Mars. Perhaps they should start using Jupiter as a setting instead.

  5. I hate when bad films happen to good directors but this looks just dreadful. My 12-year-old and his two friends were even mocking it last time they saw the trailer.

  6. >And this could only be good if you think Edgar Rice Burroughs is high art.

    That’s an idiotic thing to say. How about if you think Edgar Rice Burroughs is entertaining pulp?

  7. What is there to gain from talking about this failing, or rooting for it to bomb? Even if this is terrible, it wouldn’t feel that right cheering its failure. Unless the ads lie, and this is some sort of deeply racist, misogynist piece of Michael Bay shit.

    I hate these soft-tracking sky-is-falling stories, because it always feels like studio executives leaking shit to fuck with each other.

  8. @Gabe: Yeah, I think it’s wrong to gloat over a film’s possible failure unless it’s just monumentally wrong or moronic or lazy. John Carter just looks misguided and overpriced. But I don’t think REPORTING on soft tracking breaks any rules of conduct. I dunno, a lot of these films will look like disasters stateside and then you find out the made 300 million overseas. We’ll see.

  9. Visually, this looks so similar to the second half of “Attack of the Clones” right down to the desert colloseum setting and CG creature effects.

    I have to think that the film will at least be OK. It’s based on existing source material so at leas the story won’t be totally aimless the way the Pirate films were. Andrew Stanton is a real talent and the whole premise has had a ton of money thrown at it.

  10. “I hate these soft-tracking sky-is-falling stories, because it always feels like studio executives leaking shit to fuck with each other.”

    Didn’t I strongly indicate that in the piece?

    “The marketing exec who would be tickled pink if Carter goes down says…”

  11. Wells to Myles: “I hear it’s actually damn good,” you say.

    Okay, maybe…but I don’t think so.

    You know why? I’ll tell you why. Because the CG is obviously the same old video-game Clash of the Titans/Phantom Menace hard-drive crap that all the other sci-fi adventures feel compelled to use. And because any film that uses the above-quoted line (“”Our world is dying…you may be the only one who can save us”) is, in my mind, instant dogshit.

  12. As BoulderKid points out, this looks like the worst aspects of ATTACK OF THE CLONES without any of the nostalgia.

    Also, I’m sure this was a terrific tale of adventure when Burroughs wrote it 100 YEARS AGO, but since then even first graders know nothing exists on Mars. So the whole thing just kinda falls apart.

    I cannot believe this got past the discussion stage at Disney before someone said, “Absolutely not.”

  13. Did no one read the profile of Andrew Stanton in last October’s New Yorker? It contained quite a bit about the film, including some very encouraging descriptions of an early test screening.

    I’m confident in Stanton as a storyteller, and that article only boosted my enthusiasm to see this. No, the trailers haven’t been very exciting, and the “Clones” similarities are obvious, but trailers for Pixar movies have rarely given us a good sense of the films themselves.

    I wasn’t excited by the trailers for M:I-4 either. But Brad Bird delivered. We’ll see…

  14. It’s actually a great story. The problem is that Star Wars, Avatar and just about every other sci-fi movie of the past 50 years has stolen something from it so it looks like you’ve seen it all before. The casting of Taylor Kitsch and the banal dialogue obviously doesn’t help either.

    The main problem is the title. It’s like Fox deciding that Avatar should be called Jake Sully. A fatal box-office blow I think.

  15. Markj74 beat me to it. So many sci-fi and fantasy films have borrowed stuff from this series over the last 100 years that it’s going to look derivative, no matter how good it is. The original stories pre-date Tarzan and various studios have been trying to make movies about them almost as long as movies have existed. YouTube has a test reel by Warner Brothers’ animator Bob Clampett that he did in the 1930s.

    I loved the books as a kid, so I’m looking forward to this. But marketing it to today’s audience is going to be an uphill climb. No way they should have greenlit a $300 million plus budget.

  16. And I wouldn’t be surprised if the answer to the budget bloat is motion capture. The main alien guy is portrayed by Willem Dafoe, who did an Andy Serkis kind of thing. I’m sure that’s the case with the other characters.

    Why is straight-up animation, costly as it is, still so much less expensive than mo-cap?

  17. The trailer I saw was an instant turn off (despite using the Peter Gabriel Track) because it looked like a sci-fi channel Christian movie. I can see them getting the crowd that eventually turned out for KNOWING, but personally if I wanted to hear a sermon, I would go to a church.

  18. The advance word is actually pretty positive, but the marketing has been ATROCIOUS. Starting with the awfu re-titling and continuing through the nonexistant print campaign and trailers that keep showing the same basic scenes and locations (the shorter promo clips show there’s WAAAAAY more to this than the Arizona-with-aliens stuff) and deliberately making the fairly outlandish plot and events sound as generic as possible (“our world is dying…” etc) …a lethal combination of chickenshit marketing goons (“don’t say Mars! Don’t say Mars!”) and Stanton etc. leaning way too hard on saving the “good stuff” for theaters.

    Hell, they haven’t even TRIED for the “prestige boost” – i.e. like LOTR reminding audiences at every turn that they didn’t just pull this out of their ass, that it was “THE” movie of this massive decades-long cultural phenomenon. For fuck’s sake, every schlock airport novel that gets adapted has “BASED ON THE #1 BESTSELLER!!!!” screaming at the top of it’s trailer for the VERY reason that it makes the public go “wait.. am I not in on something? maybe I need to see this, I don’t wanna be left out.” But Disney somehow decides it’s NOT pertinent to tell people that this is based on one of the most important and influential works in the entirety of genre fiction? That it’s endured for a CENTURY? That it’s the source of Flash Gordon, Star Wars, LOTR, Avatar and damn near every other fantasy/scifi blockbuster thats ever been produced?

    Disney does not give, and has not given, a fuck about this movie for a long time; that much is obvious. Like “Tron: Legacy,” (and the stalled 20,000 Leagues remake) it’s production is a leftover from the Dick Cook regime, when the big push was to build a “Disney Boy Brand” to compliment the princess brand and they were greenlighting every action/scifi tentpole that came across the desk… then it became easier/safer to just BUY a pre-built “Boy Brand” aka Marvel – why “waste” time on a question-mark like John Carter when you’ve got all-but-garaunteed blockbusters coming via Avengers and it’s sequels PLUS at least two more Captain America, Thor and Iron Man sequels AND whatever else Marvel wants to run up the flagpole?

  19. Burroughs’ Barsoom novels are revered by pretty much everyone, but this looks like Lucas-esque infantile schlock.

    Every time there’s a big, CGI-centric movie, especially if it involves magic or otherworldly realms (Clash of the Titans, Prince of Persia, Percy Jackson, Sorcerer’s Apprentice, etc), people always like to give it the benefit of the doubt (“it looks cool,” “it might be good”) But deep down, they know exactly what’s in store.

    Seriously, if you’re going to bastardize classics, at least make it look like you give a shit.

    And Taylor Kitsch… who? He’s like the Justin Bieber of the cinema world: I don’t really have a good reason to hate him, but I do anyway.

  20. “Wasn’t Harry Knowles a producer on this at one point in time? Is he still involved?”

    Nope. He was involved with the Kerry Conran version and that was it. Knowles actually didn’t sound like he was looking forward to anything about this version – probably for obvious reasons – so his positive reaction has maybe a little more backbone than his typical hyperbolic ranting.

  21. And yes, it’s the marketing, starting with the asinine decision to call it “John Carter” instead of “John Carter of Mars.” I know they keep saying that they retitled it to bring in women (apparently the title tanked with women when ‘of Mars’ was included), but the current title appeals to NO ONE. Half the people I know don’t even know what it’s about with the current moniker. Way to leverage that brand awareness, guys.

  22. POSTED on 2.14.12…

    http://www.aintitcool.com/node/53561

    Harry interviews Andrew Stanton about JOHN CARTER, GODS OF MARS & WARLORD OF MARS…

    Published at: Feb 14, 2012 12:34:21 PM CST

    “Hey folks, Harry here… Watching Andrew Stanton’s JOHN CARTER and then having an hour long interview was a bizarre experience for me that really can’t be adequately explained. I worked on essentially 4 different versions of this movie at Paramount, years before Andrew got the rights. Working with directors like Robert Rodriguez, Guillermo Del Toro, Kerry Conran & Jon Favreau. The film changed radically with each director. We wound up with different scripts, different Tharks, Woolas, Banths… Different skies, landscapes, flora and fauna…

    “On a film like this, that is what happens. The director becomes the taste maker of the project – and it was one of the great joys of my life to go through development discovering each of their visions for Barsoom and John Carter.

    “Yesterday, I got my first complete view of JOHN CARTER, a spectacular vision of Burroughs’ story – and had a chance to talk with Andrew about the film, his choices and what is yet to come still for lovers of these Barsoomian tales. Here ya go…”

  23. I actually, seriously, think this looks kind of fun, or at least NO WORSE THAN ANY OTHER JIZZED-OVER COMIC MOVIE– like, why is THIS the punching bag and not CAPTAIN AMERICA, or THOR, or AVENGERS? They’re all THE SAME FUCKING MOVIE. It’s like how everybody sharpened their knives for Green Lantern for some imperceptible-to-me reason– Lantern or Jonah Hex are perfectly amusing junky 2.5-star movies… and Thor or Iron Man are perfectly amusing 2.5-star junky movies; NO difference.

    Also, where do GEEKS hear of this shit? Like 10 years ago I did read AICN (usually just for McWeeny), and Knowles was somehow involved in this property or at least talking it up, talking it up BIG TIME.

    WHERE, WHERE, WHERE would a kid have hear of JOHN CARTER OF MARS? I was a kid in the 1970s same age almost exactly as Harry Knowles, or probably Faraci or Drew… and I NEVER EVER EVER heard of anything ANYTHING called “John Carter of Mars” until reading about it at age 30 on AICN. It’s like TINTIN to me– it just WAS NOT prevalent or even heard of…

    In general, maybe you guys didn’t grow up in SPORTS TOWNS, but little kids where I was from idolized football players and baseball players, their heroes were Terry Bradshaw and Franco Harris, not IRON MAN and JOHN CARTER…. I didn’t know a single kid who was into comic books. Wait, IS this a comic book? Is it a NOVEL? Is it a cartoon? What was JOHN CARTER?

    Also WHY IS THE LEADING LADY OLD? That’s gonna be a HUGE problem– Kitsch is this super good-looking 22 year old type dude, but the leading chick in this is some GRANDMA who looks Botoxed and haggard…. Worst squack since CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK… Why didn’t they cast some hot 18-25 year old for John Carter? Instead it’s JACKMAN’S WIFE FROM WOLVERINE, who if I’m being CHARITABLE looks like a 48-year-old half-Native American, and isn’t sex at all.

    That’ll cost it money right there… What’s Gemma Arterton up to these days that they couldn’t go with her? She was in every one of these movies 2, 3 summers ago, now seems to be MIA.

  24. @Lex,

    Speaking only for myself, I grew up in Boston which is as close to a “sports town” as you’ll get in the civilized parts of the country (at least we keep our insane devotion to PRO teams instead of treating fucking High School football as this sancrosanct ritual…) and I knew of this stuff as a kid because you’d come across them in libraries/bookstores or whatever and they usually had the naked-chick/broadsword/monster thing happening on the cover; plus if you had friends further up the nerd food-chain you’d eventually hear about it.

  25. “WHERE, WHERE, WHERE would a kid have hear of JOHN CARTER OF MARS? ”

    There was this amazing place, you see, and it was called…a library. Fuck’s sake. I grew up in a town of 8k people and tons of kids I knew read Burroughs.

    Lex, sometimes I think you’re one big cultural aneurysm.

  26. Yeah, kids STORM THE LIBRARY to read BURROUGHS in RURAL PENNSYLVANIA. Get the hell out of here, dude.

    This is like 3 years ago when everyone tried to tell me that WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE was some formative kiddie thing, too… Never heard of that growing up either… BUT at least that’s something a parent might’ve read to a real little kid… What kids WENT TO THE LIBRARIES to check out JOHN CARTER OF MARS?

    When I was real little, kids read whatever Richard Scarry or Judy Blume kiddie books were around, and then by the time they were 10, 11, 12, they were into S.E. Hinton or the early Stephen King books– and that’s like the 5 out of 100 kids who would ever think of reading for fun. It was all football, football, football. No kids READ.

  27. Flipyourface:

    I would be excited about JOHN CARTER OF BARSTOW. But then, had I been a Studio suit back in the mid 70s, I would have been excited to make HUSTLE, not STAR WARS.

    TASTE ASIDE, I have to laugh when Jeff puts this down by comparing it to CLASH OF THE TITANS and PHANTOM MENACE.

    The first title has generated about $1 billion in revenue (approx $500 mil global bo) and the other has $1billion bo and God knows how many billions in ancillary/licensing.

    Which brings me to the REAL point of Disney making JOHN CARTER.

    CARS 2 will generate about $1 billion as a MOVIE, but about $10 billion as toys and shtuff.

    If JOHN CARTER can do CLASH numbers as a movie HALF the CARS numbers as toys and shtuff, everyone keeps their jobs and no one turns the Disney lot into tract homes.

    THIS IS WHAT IT’S ALL ABOUT.

    HOLLYWOOD 2012 = FRANCHISE FACTORY.

    So Jeff: Please think again about passing on SXSW because THAT’S about the kind of movies Jeff Wells is looking for.

    And the Studios ain’t in that biz no mo. And that would be ok if there were more of a freeswinging/risktaking/less Sundancey formulamaking attitude in the US indie world.

    But those days appear to be gone or maybe never happened.

    SO…since there will be no 2012 HUSTLE at SXSW or anywhere so I will stay in the Batcave hooked up to TCM lifesupport, looking forward watching to my VHS copy of MIAMI BLUES with Fred Ward and Alec Baldwin.

    A man’s gotta do what he’s gotta do.

    But beating the crap out of the Studios for making big popular entertainments that generate billions of $$$$ and provide fun for billions of people?

    Fuggedaboutit.

  28. “Yeah, kids STORM THE LIBRARY to read BURROUGHS in RURAL PENNSYLVANIA. Get the hell out of here, dude.”

    Oh lordy. I lived in a fucking sparsely populated, redneck-spawning, hyper-conservative Central California farm community. I lived in the meth capital AND teenage pregnancy capital of the United States. If kids knew Burroughs there, they knew him anywhere.

    And one thing I’m sure of – you aren’t representative of anything. (Which makes you rather interesting, but don’t present yourself as a paragon of normal experience or observation. :) )

  29. Yeah, there is no hot girl factor here. Even with being 10 ft tall, blue, having cat eyes and a tail, you still wanted to fuck Neytiri. Same with Portman in Clones.

  30. Wow, Lex. You’re a fan of rap metal, Taylor Swift, not going to libraries, and racism. Just because you don’t go out and search for things in pop culture doesn’t mean the rest of the world doesn’t. I had Wild Things on my bookshelf as 5 year old, and my older brother was reading Mars around that same time. This is LCD Soundsystem all over again. This is why you’re alone.

  31. When I was little, growing up in fucking NEW YORK, I had no idea what John Carter of Mars was, or Princess Of Mars, or whatever. I knew my Bradbury, though. Whatever, it’s just not that weird to be unfamiliar with some of Burroughs stuff as a kid.

    And I do agree, casting Moon Bloodgood 2.0 didn’t do this movie any favors when they should have had one of those pulpy-vavoom princesses. I understand they want that Disney PG-rating, but it can’t be that demanding a role. Are these guys too fancy that they can’t bring in some Playboy playmate, one who could have held her own against Liev “Cats, Now And Forever” Schrieber and Hugh “Jazz Hands” Jackman in Wolverine?

    Again, that title. Bad titles deserve most of the blame when people are marketing a bomb. You can’t have the fancy space stuff and the aliens and the special powers and then just call this “Some Guy.” Why couldn’t they call this “Warrior Of Mars” or something? I understand anything involving Mars didn’t “test well” or some shit, but if you ask someone about Mars and they say “not interested”… well, what the fuck ARE you interested in? It’s on Mars, it’s got aliens. You’re saying you won’t go with it, but you’ll TOTALLY GO WITH IT.

  32. SASHA GREY OF MARS would look great on a marquee.

    Also, come on, look at the sales numbers. LCD Soundsystem are great, but no one outside of the coasts listens to them.

  33. “Why couldn’t they call this “Warrior Of Mars” or something?”

    They had something similar already for that was going to be the third movie in their planned trilogy, “Warlord of Mars.”

    And yeah, I get that not everyone grew up with Burroughs, but hell, I’m wondering if there’s ANYTHING LexG grew up with besides twink-girl fantasies.

  34. “WHERE, WHERE, WHERE would a kid have hear of JOHN CARTER OF MARS? I was a kid in the 1970s same age almost exactly as Harry Knowles, or probably Faraci or Drew… and I NEVER EVER EVER heard of anything ANYTHING called “John Carter of Mars” until reading about it at age 30 on AICN. It’s like TINTIN to me– it just WAS NOT prevalent or even heard of…”

    Yeah, I gotta go with “did you never walk into a fucking library or even a drugstore?” I grew up in Kansas and every drugstore had rows and rows of genre fiction, Louis L’Amour for the western fans, Christie and The Executioner for mystery/crime fans, and sure enough, long-dead Edgar Rice Burroughs with Tarzan and John Carter all over the fantasy and scifi section right along with Perry Rhodan, The Sword of Shannara and all kinds of stuff. I mean, I think I bought the first Gormenghast book in one of these places, for crying out loud– if something that twee can make it to Kansas, anything can.

    Burroughs was one of the giants of the industrial age with Henry Ford and Thomas Edison– the guy who gave every kid stuck in an office a fantasy of preindustrial adventure to get him through the day; and he created two legendary characters who lasted a century. If you can’t make money off Edgar Rice Burroughs you’ve seriously screwed it up.

    So what the hell were you reading then, Lex?

  35. “All are right about the title. Joe Popcorn thinks John Carter was president 50 or 100 yrs ago.”

    Or Noah Wyle in E.R. He played that role for over a decade, and it was a pretty big show in its time. It’d be like launching a new franchise called MEREDITH GREY or JOHN LOCKE.

    I don’t think it looks that bad, but it doesn’t look that interesting, either. It also looks very much like Cowboys & Aliens (to Joe Popcorn, at least).

  36. So what the hell were you reading then, Lex?

    Honestly, I never grew up with people who read for fun. That kind of boggles my mind that there are kids, early teens who did so. It was either movies, sports, tv, or just hanging out. Reading, by comparison, is just so boring.

  37. Gaydos,

    That’s one of the reasons that Disney is really bombing this thing; there is no merchandise. At all.

    Toy Fair was this week, and I don’t recall seeing ANY licensors with John Carter stuff. And this is a very toyetic property. But then, Disney has never known how to pitch toys that aim higher than 6 year olds. Whatever they paid for Marvel is still a bargain.

    Stanton aside, everything about this movie seems wrongheaded. Avatar (and Star Wars in 1977) were huge hits because they showed us something we had never seen before. And Avatar had terrible advance word, almost right up until its release.

    John Carter is showing us uninspired designs, a landscape that looks like the old west, costumes that look like every cliche, and terrible casting. And a terribly bland title.

    Studios these days think they need to spell out every last little thing for audiences. And (as everyone agrees) if so many movies have now stolen from Burroughs…then why not change it up entirely?

    This may turn out to be a good movie, but with these ingredients I just don’t see how it can be a great movie. Hope you get another shot at live action, Stanton.

  38. But Lex shits on his hometown all the time. Hence why he fled. But now, all of a sudden, there’s nothing wrong with the culture there.

    And for someone who searches for and knows about some pretty OBSCURE films, it blows my mind that he mocks those who do the same with music and books.

  39. My personal biographer up here.

    I have a degree in ENGLISH LITERATURE, it’s not that I don’t read… I hung out at goddamn libraries the whole time I was a nerdy, Coke bottled dork wearing Bob From Halloween’s wardrobe, anything to avoid playing football or whatever…

    But I never, EVER heard of this. That’s all the fuck I’m saying. Even now, when you guys throw the name “Burroughs” around, there’s only ONE Burroughs anyone’s ever heard of in the literary world, and it’s not whoever this no-name is.

    Never ONCE, NOT ONCE had I heard about JOHN CARTER OF MARS as a kid.. I GUARANTEE YOU JEFF WELLS never heard of it either as a book, EVER. GUARANTEED.

    If you don’t have the “geek” bone, you don’t know or CARE about this shit. I read Ian Fleming Bond novels starting when I was 12, and Stephen King, and Joseph Wambaugh…. but anything with some SCI FI COVER, I wasn’t interested. I didn’t CARE.

    Why is that so goddamn beyond the pale for anyone to comprehend? NOT EVERYBODY IS A GEEK. Not everybody has parents who buy them BIG TITTY COMIC BOOKS WITH SORCERY ON THE COVER.

  40. As for me, I agree with Lex that it doesn’t seem that shitty, at least compared to Avatar. But there’s no reason that it needed to cost that much, either.

  41. I am not the audience for a film like JOHN CARTER. Are the two creatures featured mythological, meant to be recognizable like a cyclopsl? I have seen the same “monster” in at least a half a dozen films in the past ten years. $250,000,000 budget and a 50 yr old plus moviegoer- who knows nothing about fantasy/sci-fi – finds your creatures derivative!?!?!

  42. Is it really tracking THAT bad?

    Or is this gonna be one of those things that everybody’s bagging on in advance and predicting this huge flop, then it comes okay and does okay after all (Green Lantern) or does gangbusters (Avatar)?

    Same question, THIS MEANS WAR. EVERYBODY going off like it’s some done deal that’s gonna flop– I bet it makes 30 mil this weekend.

  43. Ohhhh Lex. Books don’t stay well-read for going on a century just catering to a geek audience. And the number of times you claim to never have heard of something – pop culture, politics, you name it – well, write your own witty put-down about the vast swaths of things you don’t know anything about.

    And I wouldn’t call it a credit to compare your literary reference points with Wells’. I can’t remember the last time he ever talked about reading a book.

  44. Yeah, I’m from L.A., a few months away from an English degree, and I’ve never heard of John Carter either, not even thrown around by the hipster geeks. Big, superduperfamous comic heroes were big, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Narnia, Tintin kind of, but not John Carter.

  45. Jason Geyer: That is truly fascinating and if true totally perplexing! Thanks for adding something of substance, something enlightening to this discussion.

    For the record, that’s ALWAYS my hope when I visit Hollywood Elsewhere

    All of this Studio Franchise stuff makes me SO GLAD I’m NOT a Studio exec. What a grind! I’d drown in flopsweat the first week on the job.Takes heartier souls than I.

    “The only reason I make movies is so I can edit them. And I smoke. And Hollywood won’t let me do either of those things. So, no, I don’t want to ever make a movie in Hollywood.”

    - Krzystof Kieslowski to Steven Gaydos circa 1993.

    .

  46. “Even now, when you guys throw the name ‘Burroughs’ around, there’s only ONE Burroughs anyone’s ever heard of in the literary world, and it’s not whoever this no-name is.”

    Degree in literature and you’ve never heard of the creator of Tarzan.

    Get your money back.

  47. @JLC: Oddly enough, Burroughs never came up in any class I took in high school or college, either. I read Tarzan because I think my Grandpa has a copy, but Burroughs is definitely outside the American “canon” for whatever reason.

  48. But if you’re getting a degree in literature, enjoy movies, and also have the internet, one would think you’d stumble upon such information at some point. Or just focus on writing things like…

    SEX

    SEX

    SEX

  49. Jason Geyer FTW:

    Yep, checked with one of our VARIETY experts and you is absolutely right. The toys generally aren’t greenlit in a big way on a live action film until it’s proven itself.

    HOWEVER…does anyone know of JOHN CARTER theme park plans?

    And here’s one I didn’t know: The TRON RAVE at California Adventure is a big hit!

    DIGRESSION WARNING…

    I guess that’s why my proposal to Disney for a “IN A LONELY PLACE” section of their theme park went over so poorly.

    I envisioned interactive martini bars where you could have fistfights, floozie torch singers as entertainment, a drunken car crash ride and simulated murders in the streets, all part of my bigger concept:

    NOIR LAND, as imagined by Jame Ellroy and Mike Davis.

    THEME SONG: T Bone Burnett’s HEFNER AND DISNEY.

  50. Lex, it’s okay if you never heard of him, but at one time he was the biggest selling author in history. And that one time is within living memory, if not GenX pop culture addict memory.

    It’s kind of like the story about Mickey Spillane leaving his fishing shack in Florida and visiting Simon & Schuster and asking to see Michael Korda. The secretary, disdainfully looking at the knobby-faced old rummy in front of her, says “And who should I tell him is calling?”

    “Mickey Spillane.”

    “And you are?”

    “The guy who bought you this fucking building.”

  51. Give the film a chance. The tracking is awful, and I’ve heard a lot of negaitivity from people who have heard the film is out in a few weeks but have no idea what it is about (can’t blame them – the title is beyond terrible and the trailers don’t give you the full picture).

    I was at the press screening last night and can’t say anything re my thoughts on the film itself (it is embargoed).

    It drives me crazy that people are calling this derivative or shitty, based solely on a couple of terrible trailers. What *is* shitty is the marketing. It’s inexcusable. But as for the movie itself, there might be a quite few surprised reactions.

  52. We’re making a movie about John Carter on Mars, and its based on a book called JOHN CARTER OF MARS, but we haven’t the faintest idea how to sell a movie called JOHN CARTER OF MARS to women, so lets just call it JOHN CARTER as that’ll make the women much more likely to see a movie about John Carter on Mars, and calling it JOHN CARTER OF MARS would appeal too much to E.R.Burroughs fans and make them think it was a film based on the actual book or something. For fucks sake… Disney really should have just called it JOHN CARTER OF MARS and pushed it hard for months in every comic/geek/teen market available, put a documentary about Burroughs on TV, brought the first three books back into print and pushed them into every High School in the US, anything but dribble the movie out in the piss-weak way they have. I guess we’ll know for sure whether they can land this sucker in a few weeks, but hoo boy the retrospective analysis if it tanks badly will be fascinating to read.

  53. It was dead on arrival the moment they casted that shallow manboy boytoy hunk for the hero. Conan made that same mistake, instead of casting a MAN like Arnold had been and lo and behold the rest of the movie sucked too. It’s like you know what kind of morons are gonna do the movie annd how bad it’s gonna be just by looking at the casting. I mean just like at Scorcese, you can just figure he’s lost his mind ever since he started hiring Leo over and over and none of his films are gonna be good from now on. The Departed was a fluke.

  54. “Disney really should have just called it JOHN CARTER OF MARS and pushed it hard for months in every comic/geek/teen market available, put a documentary about Burroughs on TV, brought the first three books back into print and pushed them into every High School in the US…”

    Exactly so. What’s so frustrating about this – aside from he increasing reports that they have a really good movie on their hands – is how obvious the correct marketing strategy shold be. This is the centenary of the damn series, This should have a feeling of, it took a century to get to he screen – prepare to be amazed. If they want women, emphasize the relatable Southern gentleman stuff on Earth in the beginning. And EXPLAIN THE STORY.

    Instead, they seem dedicated to giving us the biggest misstep I’ve ever seen in a marketing campaign.

  55. Late to this… but my 2cents is simple… Disney should have stuck with one of the actual titles from the canon.

    I think Warlords of Mars would have worked… or heck if they are worried about the women out there… then call it Princess of Mars… but then they would say it would leave out the boys… arrrgh. Then call it John Carter and the Princess of Mars for christsake!

    Anyhow… the bigger issue here… is that perhaps to the general flyover country public… they are only aware of Tarzan seeing how movies and TV shows have never translated John Carter to the big screen.

    And to add insult to this marketing tragedy… Disney doesn’t even have the decency to call this Edgar Rice Burroughs John Carter.

    THe movie might actually be good… great even… for its genre… but this is a total F for marketing and this from one of the greatest Marketing machines in Film history…. go figure… maybe if they had had a ride pervious to this they could have figured it out.

  56. Thing is, Disney’s marketing machine has historically ONLY good at targeting pre-teen kids and women – they’ve gone tits-up trying to “crack” the boy market pretty-much every time they tried. “Tron” was a (minor) exception because there they had an active fanbase that’d been waiting 20 years for ANYTHING called “Tron.”

    Just as an example: it was after my time and I’ve never been a “fan;” but the “Power Rangers” is something like the longest-lived non-car-related “boy brands” of all time, but Disney SAT on the license for close to a decade and did nothing with it other than keep greenlighting new episodes and ordering up a minimum of reissue toys from Japan.

  57. “I think Warlords of Mars would have worked… or heck if they are worried about the women out there… then call it Princess of Mars… but then they would say it would leave out the boys… arrrgh. Then call it John Carter and the Princess of Mars for christsake!”

    Even just good old “John Carter of Mars” would have worked just fine. “Of Mars” is your selling point, at least for the first one. I can’t believe they can’t see this.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>