That explains it.
Like others on here have said - I liked the movie. It felt like sci fi that I would have watched in my childhood although with today's special eefects. I think they picked the wrong demographic to market. I doubt many young people have read any ERB books like many of us older fans.
I liked the movie very much and thought the bad press it got was totally undeserved. For a crucial while back then it looked as if it was the trendy thing to do to speak ill of the movie, even though equivalent things were praised to high heaven.
I probably would have edited the film a bit differently. I think it would have worked better had we skipped the short intro about Sab Than and his getting that funky armlet; I'd have begun the film in the old west and let the viewer discover Mars just as Carter did. I would also have hinted a little more strongly that the reason Mars is a desert and dead planet today is not because our probes got it wrong, but because the Therns eventually won... (or I would have had Carter travel not only in space, but also back in time). Not that most viewers would care about implausible things in a fantasy movie anyway, though.
I'd also definitely have kept the "Princess of Mars" title, and emphasized the connection to Tarzan. Name recognition seems to be a big factor in this era of franchises and pre-digested pap.
It seems like there was a battle in the valhalla of imagination between Edgar Rice Burroughs and Walt Disney, over whose name would appear above the title--and Walt won. But I agree it would have helped the movie much more to have something like "From the Creator of TARZAN, Edgar Rice Burroughs' A PRINCESS OF MARS."
I would admit I didn't know much about John Carter, only the few Dynamite comics I read. But I thought the movie was good, it had a Conan with aliens feel to it. Would like to see a sequel, probably even include Tarzan in it.
New Avengers*Unity* Shadowman* RAI* TRANSFORMERS* AVP
I tend to split superhero comics fans into "People who like Krypto" and "People who don't like Krypto."
Basically, if you miss the wonder of a dog flying around in a little Superman cape, you're in the wrong hobby.
I missed the film in the theater (local theaters only showed it a couple times a day - while I was at work), but bought the DVD the day it came out. The kids and I have watched it multiple times and we love it. I'd say it was the best film of 2012 that I saw - yes, I enjoyed it more than Avengers.
The marketing was so bad - no mention of ERB, Stanton, Tarzan, Pixar, Mars, or anything that people unfamiliar with the source material would recognize. John Carter served as the inspiration for Superman, Star Wars, Avatar and hundreds of other things, but they didn't mention any of that either. (I now believe Disney knew their Lucasfilm deal was going through and sabatoged John Carter so they could focus on Star Wars going forward.)
I love the first three books in the Barsoom series and while the movie did change a lot (and incorporate pieces from different books into one story), it still felt like Burroughs to me. It took 100 years to get this movie, hopefully we get another Barsoomian adventure before another 100 years has passed (at another studio that knows what they have - the story is public domain, after all).
There are a variety of reasons that the film didn't do well.
Marketing is an aspect of that for sure, but I also feel that the lead was somewhat miscast. I feel that they needed someone with better acting chops and a more marketable name.
I think calling it John Carter: Warlord of Mars would have helped - but maybe not enough.
A great deal of the negative feedback from people who actually saw the film, may indicate why there wasn't enough word of mouth traffic/endorsement too:
Almost everyone I heard, and some of the less informed but still popular critics criticized the film for how imitative it was, citing Star Wars and other films as having tread this ground already - saying or writing this while being completely unaware (or at least failing to mention) that this material was in fact much of the literary inspiration for the films the claim were being aped by this film.
This could just mean that John Carter missed the window for ensuring it's own success by about 30 years.
It makes me wonder if even a good to great Flash Gordon movie would be likely to have a shot these days.
Having said all that, I feel that if the marketing had an angle to it that suggested and promoted the idea that this material at least partially inspired things like Star Wars, and that it was by the creator of Tarzan, the film would have had a slightly better edge at least.
I really think it needed someone more compelling in the lead too. He was fine. He's about as good as one could hope for in a former underwear model.
Last edited by Schnitzy Pretzelpants; 12-17-2012 at 04:18 PM.
Avatar, a deeply flawed movie itself, mind you, was actually a better ERB piece than the John Carter, to my mind - which is perhaps another reason JC wasn't as good as it could have been: were the film-makers afraid of being accused of stealing from Cameron's film?
Marketing? WHAT marketing??? I saw just a few TV spots and that was that!
I went to see this with a group of my gaming buddies that I play D&D with. All are fans of sci-fi and comics to some extent, but few were familiar with John Carter before the movie was announced, except for seeing my enthusiasm for the Barsoom tales and trying to get them to playtest an rpg set on Barsoom a few years back. None of them liked the movie. Those that took the time to read the Burroughs stuff beforehand liked it less than those who were unfamiliar with it.
Complaints included wooden acting, plot holes (mostly the result of them trying to mash up the first three books instead of staying true to one when I asked them for specifics), bad pacing throughout the film, scenes that added nothing to the story in their opinion, and that the performance of the actor as the main character dragged the film down to such a point that they couldn't root for him because they didn't have any reason to care for him. It was an unenjoyable film for them. Their sentiment can be summed up in the comment of one of my buddies as we exited-"Thank god the box office is so bad so the won't be sequels that I will get dragged to see."
These were people who should have been the target audience for the film and they went, but it didn't deliver for them. The one thing they were all aware of is the influence this story had on what came later-comments of "Ah, so that's where so and so got that bit" were common as we watched this, so it wasn't that they went in ignorant of the significance or had the been there done that sense some have described here. They just didn't like the product that was put up on the screen.
As for me, I thought it was mildly enjoyable, a poor adaptation with a few nice moments, and light years ahead of the Princess of Mars film I had seen on SyFy a few weeks before that featured Traci Lords as Dejah Thoriss. But mostly I felt it was a wasted opportunity. I had waited for years to see a John Carter film. I was excited when Rodriguez was attached to it and disappointed when he was dropped amidst his scuffle with the director's guild over Frank Miller's directing parts of Sin City. I lamented the abandoned animated feature that nearly materialized decades ago. This was a movie I wanted to love and wanted to do well, but it dropped the ball in so many ways. It's been on the premium cable channels recently and I just can't bring myself to watch it again. Sigh.
A lunatic is easily recognized...You can tell him by the liberties he takes with common sense...and by the fact that sooner or later he brings up the Templars.
We saw it on demand and liked it well enough. It pops up on Starz all the time now. I keep saying oh I should stop and watch it and then I don't. I think it is a bit too long for that kind of casual viewing, although it had to be long to fit in what they wanted, I guess.
"There's not much of a difference between a stadium full of cheering fans and an angry crowd screaming abuse at you. They're both just making a lot of noise. How you take it is up to you. Convince yourself they're cheering for you. You do that, and some day, they will. And that's how Sue Cs it."- Sue Sylvester, "Glee"
Though I missed John Carter in the theatre, I did see it twice on DVD. Wow, what an incredible film, which truly exceeded my expectations! Amazing effects, incredible scenery, good story, and great acting! The film makers were very true to the original Edgar Rice Burroughs story, while at the same time changing some things to make things more "cinematic":
- The green four-armed Tharks and the red-skinned/blue-blooded (but otherwise human-looking) people were close to what ERB described in the original books, and the vehicles/other tech seemed similar to the books as well. Also liked the elaborate costumes, amazing city-scapes, deserts, etc.
- The CGI was amazing, and you could really see texture in the skin of the Tharks, the fur of the white apes, etc.
- Though the whole film was excellent, two of the scenes that really stood out for me were the one where John Carter stayed behind to fight off all the evil Tharks alone (that were led by the bald Thern), as well as the arena scene, where JC fought against the large, four-armed white apes - Incredible!
- I liked how they changed the explanation as to how JC was transported to Mars to make it more pseudo-scientific/magical, i.e., the medallion was what transported his "consciousness" to Mars; in the original ERB novel, I don't think much of an explanation was given here.
As to why JC didn't do better at the box office despite being such an incredibly visually stunning & amazing movie, I have some theories - some of these have already been mentioned:
1) Timing: The film was released in March, and though that would initially seem like a great time for release since it didn't have to compete against the blockbusters that were coming out in May - July, I'm not sure it was the right move. If the film had instead been released in August (while people were still in the mode of seeing summer films) it may have done better. Then again, maybe not...
2) Obviously, the title. After seeing the film, I really can't believe it was called "John Carter" instead of "John Carter of Mars" or, even better, "John Carter, Warlord of Mars". Though we fans of the ERB novels & Marvel comic would have been familiar with the story, the general public had no clue that "John Carter" was a sci-fi film. In any case, adding "Mars" to the title would certainly not caused the film to do any worse at the box office than it already did. And, it was interesting that at the very end of the film (before the credits), they did show the title "John Carter of Mars"...As it stood, when an average joe off the street hears the name "John Carter", they would probably think of Noah Wyle's character in ER....
3) Lack of a toyline: Sure, I completely understand that toy companies probably didn't want to invest in the film since they were uncertain of how well it would do, but IMHO a small, limited series of 4-5 figures and 2-3 creatures at stores stores like Target, Wal-mart, etc. a couple of months prior to the film's release may have gone a long way towards making kids both aware of the film & wanting to see the movie. Of course, this may not have made much difference in this case, but it probably couldn't have hurt either...
In any case, it's unfortunate that the film didn't do better at the box office, which means there won't be any sequels...