John Carter: a potential blockbuster franchise poops its tunic

Reported by: James Eppler
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Updated: 3/12/2012 10:58 am

Hindsight is 20-20, as the saying goes, but it can also be pretty pricey. Disney execs can do nothing but sit around and wonder what went wrong after their tent-pole release "John Carter" failed to even beat a movie that was already a week old at the box office. "The Lorax" bested "John Carter" by about nine million dollars. That's just dreadful, especially when you consider the massive amount of money poured into the film.

"The New York Times" estimates between production and marketing costs, Disney sank about $350 million into the film. There's a fascinating article from the "Times" delving into the studio politics that played a role in the film's failure. From my perspective, though, the recipe for its poor performance is pretty clear from an audience perspective.

1. There's not a single big name in the cast. Of course, big films can work without them, but when you're dealing with character that's not well-known to the masses, you should compensate with a big name above the title. Taylor Kitsch is John Carter! Who is who, doing what now?

2. Disney overestimated the brand name recognition factor. I'll admit I had to look up John Carter to find out the character is actually a century old and inspired work like "Star Wars." That was news to me.

3. Trailers for this film started running many months ago, but I could never quite tell what was going on or why this was such a huge event film. Then Disney changes the title in the middle of it all, going from "John Carter of Mars" to "John Carter." The first version sounds interesting, at least. The latter version is about as generic as you get.

Perhaps word will spread over the coming weeks about this film, and it'll see a huge revival in ticket sales. But I doubt it. It's not a bad movie, but it's certainly not a very good one (read my review here).

Writer/Director Andrew Stanton says he has two sequels planned. But that might be wishful thinking at this point. There were two more installments planned for "The Golden Compass," too. Remember that one?

Exactly.



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