Space Ramblings

The Tragedy of John Carter

It’s easy to say that there’s something wrong when Avatar loads up with ridiculous amounts of money while John Carter seems doomed. A big giant Mars sized chunk of that can be put down to Disney’s dysfunction, but even its Clash of the Titans style ads for John Carter shouldn’t have sabotaged it that badly.

The name obviously does it no favors. It’s hard to say what John Carter stands for in most people’s minds, but it’s not this. And it hasn’t exactly been a good year for splashy adaptations of classic stories. Spielberg’s Tintin couldn’t even reach 80 million in the United States, but that also offers some hope. American classics are often better known abroad than in the United States. Burroughs has more of an audience in South America and Europe than he does in his homeland.

If the foreign arms of studios handle John Carter correctly, the movie can make more than enough money abroad. Just as Pirates 4 and Tintin did.

One more thing in John Carter’s favor is the lack of any real competition. In a weekend where the top competitor is the Lorax, where a trunk relic like A Thousand Words is being dug up, and Act of Valor is stumbling around as a mercy movie that’s the closest thing to being in the same category, John Carter may have a shot. Or not. I overheard Jersey Shore types chomping at the bit to see A Thousand Words, I doubt any of them had similar feelings for John Carter.

So what went wrong? The name. The confusing trailers. The ‘what the hell is going on here’ effect. Instead of hyping the special effects, presenting a somewhat coherent story in the trailer and keeping some of the goofier shots out, the marketing was botched badly. Which is a shame.

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