Many people aren’t looking forward to John Carter, the adaptation of the 100 year old story, A Princess of Mars, that’s been in development since the 30’s. Either they don’t know anything about the Barsoom saga which inspired Star Wars and Avatar, or are turned off by the way it’s presented. Or maybe they do know and still accuse it of being a rip-off of the movies that “ripped off” the story, and others like Conan the Barbarian or Prince of Persia. I hadn’t heard of the story until 2006 or 8 when I saw news on Pixar’s development of the film, but due to a large female audience rejecting the film, it could be a huge flop.
I’m thinking positive of the film, as not only is it the first ever successfully made film of the John Carter character (The Asylum’s film doesn’t count), it’s written by Pixar veteran Mark Andrews and both written and directed by Andrew Stanton, director of the two best Pixar films ever made, WALL-E also being possibly the second best animated film I have ever seen. If Brad Bird made Mission Impossible better then I hope Pixar will really make up for that mistake last year, because the only Oscar nomination they got recently was for a short film.
I asked people at school if they’ve heard of A Princess of Mars, and none of them have, which could very well lead to being a box-office bomb unless the PSA telling kids to read actually works. I’m still halfway into the book, which can be read online for free, and it’s fascinating and well worth the attention. That, and just from reading the character descriptions I can see that Andrew got them exactly how Edgar Rice Burroughs would’ve imagined them. That’s the magic of mo-cap today, as it would’ve been hard for George Lucas to do had he stuck to the plan instead of Star Wars.
To many people, the trailers look stupid either because they aren’t familiar with the franchises that came much later, or it’s just Disney. I blame Disney, as they tend to ruin their company more and more. They butcher their own name by ignoring their biggest icons by hiring random teenagers and turning them into weird singers, drooling over the weakest (though still enjoyable) Pixar movie in order to put pressure on the studio into making their absolute worst, torturing more puppies and placing films like Tangled, The Muppets and their recent hand-drawn films into the same release times as films that are bound to make more money even on the second week (Twilight…), and even delaying films internationally for no reason whatsoever. For example, the British had to wait four months for Up. FOUR MONTHS. That’s a third of a year! If Disney were smarter, here’s what they would do to make John Carter look better:
1. Improve the title to make the potential franchise look the way it was meant to. Hugo was more identifiable to audiences than The Invention of Hugo Cabret, but everyone still prefers the longer title, even Scorsese himself (“Hugo… The Invention of Hugo Cabret”). Shorter isn’t better, as we would need something catchier. A Princess of Mars sounded too feminine, and John Carter of Mars sounded too much like the last book. John Carter was a bad move for many, and people could even compare it to the guy from ER. Someone who posted a comment at Topless Robot suggested the name in the title of this post, and I couldn’t agree more. Speaking of shorter isn’t better…
2. Don’t market it as just “Disney”. The name ‘Disney’ has been used singularly for years, but would be of much better use on merchandising. Shortening ‘Walt Disney Pictures’ to one word not only looks too cheesy for such a film, it pays even less respect to Walt himself.
3. Learn that hardly anyone wants to see 3D anymore. John Lasseter obsesses over it, but Brad Bird doesn’t approve of how dark it can be, and although Andrew had to convert this to 3D and says that some scenes look better in 3D, he knows that people don’t have to see it in 3D, and he personally prefers 2D. The last 3D film I saw was Hugo which was flawless. Timing forced me to see The Lion King in 3D, and it was completely useless and headache-inducing. 3D lowered the Rotten Tomatoes score of The Lion King down from 92% to 89%, but George Lucas’ 3D release of The Phantom Menace is such a cash grab that it turned it into the only Rotten entry to the Star Wars saga. It didn’t even make as much money as The Muppets in the UK! 3D’s losing more and more money, so what’s the point? Disney’s 4D theme park shows are more immersive anyway.
4. Add credits to the end of the trailer. People want to know who made the film so they can judge for themselves. We know a Disney Animation/Pixar film when we see one, and we know that The Muppet was going to be a good one because it made us laugh. But John Carter is none of this, and not everyone does research, so they wouldn’t know that one of Pixar’s top directors is involved, and that the story was written by the same person who invented Tarzan. His name only appears in a copyright at the end of the second trailer, and people who have only seen that trailer wouldn’t have seen the appearance of an actor playing Edgar, which was seen at the beginning of the teaser. But only his surname was spoken. Wouldn’t it be better to say “From Edgar Rice Burroughs, the acclaimed author of Tarzan”? That way it would make it seem a little more interesting.
5. Improve on the trailers and posters overall. As cool as the music in the trailer is, Avatar made money out of a trailer that used a bombastic orchestral score, and a story that takes place back in the time where black and white was the only colour in film is too vintage for such a style. The font used on the title in the teaser trailer seemed to fit a lot more. Also, cut it out with the constant fading to black, even though that request should be given to the whole of Hollywood, and put more focus into the story. The movie also deserves better posters, as quite a few of them are a bit too red, even for a movie than takes place in Utah on Mars.
Sure Taylor Kitsch may be a little, well, kitschy in his performance from what we’ve seen so far, but John Carter has potential that is bound to be ruined by Disney. I just don’t want this to be like Miramax’s godawful cut of The Thief and the Cobbler which people accused of being a rip-off of Disney’s Aladdin. Wait until the reviews for John Carter come out. They might be a disappointment, but then they might not. Maybe even read the book first and then decide whether the movie looks faithful. But Disney just makes it look unfaithful by concentrating on the action and seeing it as a CG-fest. I’m just hoping that under all this bad treatment, it isn’t as dreary as TRON: Legacy.
Thanks for the heads up. I thought the trailer looked dreadful (populated with an army of Jar Jar Binks’). Had no idea that it came from an Edgar Rice Burroughs novel or that Andrew Stanton is directing (why on earth is that not a MAJOR selling point). I must say the project now looks a good deal more promising. And your right, John Carter and the Princess of Mars is a much stronger title. John Carter couldn’t be more generic.
I tried reading that book in High School (late 70s) and could not get past the third chapter. After Verne and Wells it was a huge disappointment. Never read the Tarzan books either.
Huh, interesting. Judging by the trailer I had thought it to be another awful action flick for kids. Slightly more optimistic now, Ill see what the general consensus seems to be.
Im way too in love with Tim Riggins to risk seeing John Carter
the trailer looks horrendous
Today we need less Edgard Rice and more William Seward.
hey guys I just read this interview and will answer a few of the questions you guys are asking but yes… this film needs to turn the marketing muscle up to 11 asap! That said the tv spots are pretty kick ass.
In case anyone’s interested, here’s a fan trailer than improves on the rest: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-BxeHQY1NuM