John Carter Review
As you may be aware, during the last week or so Disney/Pixar has been forced to shamefacedly admit that they have screwed up big time with John Carter.
They spent $250m making the film, and an estimated $100m on marketing. They expect to lose $200m on the movie (about £126m). So far, the film has only taken in about $184m worldwide (and about half of that goes straight into the pockets of the theatres themselves). Disney has already announced cutbacks as a result of this, starting with new Johnny Depp film The Lone Ranger, which has reportedly had about $50m sliced off its budget.
It has to be said that John Carter is pretty bad. But there are plenty of films out there that are bloody awful and have still made a mint at the box office. The reasons for John Carter's failure are more to do with gross misjudgements of the market, meaning that almost nobody has bothered going to see the thing in the first place.
Depsite spending $100m on advertising, the campaign for John Carter seemed almost non-existent, and when you did stumble across a poster or a TV spot, it didn't exactly send you sprinting for the nearest cinema (probably because the story itself is so long-winded and ludicrous that it's impossible to coherently condense it into a decently tantalising advert). Plus, two almost complete unknowns were cast in the major roles, cancelling out any potential viewers that might have been swayed by the draw of some bigger names.
And then there's the title: John Carter. The choice to give the film such an uninspiring moniker is only really understandable once you have actually seen it; the whole 'John Carter of Earth'/'John Carter of Mars' thing. But to get people to actually want to see your film, you have to be a little bit more creative. Keeping a science fiction element in the title might have done the trick: Barsoom, A Princess of Mars, John Carter of Mars, Battle for Barsoom, Warlord of Mars, even A Tale of Two Planets. All of these would have been better than just John Carter, and the choice makes even less sense when you consider that Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote eleven, count them, eleven Barsoom novels, and all of their titles ended with the words 'of Mars'. Why they chose to ignore that obvious marketing technique, we will never know.
So there you have it, even good old dependable Disney occasionally puts their foot in it. Still, it is pretty sad that the worth of a film is based ever more on how much it can rake in rather than whether it's actually any good or not. Unfortunately it looks as though John Carter is scoring high in neither category.