Posted by: sweeneyblog | March 20, 2012

Brief Sci-Fi Rant: John Carter

Hello Loyal Readers,

Yes, yes, I will get back to interviewing Congressional candidates and talking about the impending Cherry Point terminal soon, I just have a brief rant first. As some of you know, I am a big science fiction fan, and occasionally that spills into this blog (see my history of comic books here, or my dissection of optimism for the future in Science Fiction here). So induldge me for for a moment.

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Disney Studios? Can we talk?

The first novel in the John Carter of Mars saga

Look, you secured the rights to the John Carter books. Congrats! A true science fiction pulp epic, penned by Edgar Rice Burroughs, one of the titans of early pulp writings. Tarzan was a big hit for your guys, and John Carter is basically “Tarzan on Mars”. It has an incredibly inventive cast of characters, an immersive world and lots of fresh ideas.  Let me just spell out the opening sequence in the first book. A Confederate soldier, after the civil war goes prospecting for gold in the new West, Arizona, and finds a huge vein of gold, but then is attacked by Indians. He flees into a sacred cave, where he is mysteriously transported to Mars.

You haven’t even got to the multi-armed aliens and already this is a thrilling story. He falls in love with an alien princess, and quickly becomes involved in warring races of martians. It is a sword and sandal epic.

Alright, so you brought in some fantastic animators, and dumped over 200 million into producing this film. Looks good, high-quality acting talent, great sets and costumes. You hired a solid director, who while he isn’t famous has turned out some good work. Overall,  it seemed like everything was on course to be a solid film.

There’s just one problem. The trailer for the film. You know, the thing that is supposed to explain the general premise and convince me to see the film. Something that whets my appetite but gives me a clear idea about what I’m going to be seeing. Something straight forward.

Movie poster for John Carter

Yeah, this was their first and most seen trailer. What the heck! I first saw that trailer sometime around the holidays and if I didn’t already know about the books, I would have NO FREAKING CLUE what the movie is about? Your other trailers you released? Still not helpful. The name doesn’t even help. It used to be “John Carter on Mars” which at least lets people know it is a science fiction film. Drop the “on Mars” and it could be a drama, a comedy, who knows? The point is you spent 100 million dollars marketing this film, and no one stopped to think, “Hey, maybe we should let people know what it is actually about?”

So don’t act all surprised that people haven’t flocked to the theaters, they don’t even know what your film is about. Now, the weaknesses in the script, I can understand that is suppressing box office sales a bit. But this could have easily made back its money. Worse films have (*cough* Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland *cough*). But you blew it. So shake of the fist to you Disney for ruining another one of my favorite novels.

Alright, back to your regularly scheduled programming.



  1. Didn’t you do a focus group where 4 out of 5 dentists surveyed say they most like your political commentary?

    • Yup and Pop Culture stories were the kind of posts that people were LEAST interested in. But I’m a maverick and this really bothered me.

  2. They didn’t really ruin the movie; almost everyone who sees it likes it. They just blew the name and the marketing, thereby insuring that no more books will be adapted into film. I think Stanton did a pretty good job on the film. I just wish someone with a brain had been in charge of publicity.

  3. Agreed, loved the stories and the film is actually really good…but the marketing department should all be fired. I’ve heard all kinds of rumors that they dropped “of Mars” because they thought girls wouldn’t want to see the film and they didn’t want to call it “Princess of Mars” because boys wouldn’t want to see it …however this doesn’t explain the confusing and pointless trailer and complete lack of marketing. Disney has no one but themselves to blame for this film not making it’s budget back.

  4. […] the following is one of my pop-culture articles (such as my rant about John Carter, or my simplified history of comic books) so if ramblings about these things bore you, feel free to […]

  5. […] of politics. Occasionally, I share my thoughts on subjects like Cynicism in Science Fiction, the marketing of John Carter or the viral nature of the Guy Fawkes mask. You can find all these articles under the heading […]

  6. […] a dead giveaway, I love pop culture. Check out my condensed history of Comic Books, why John Carter the movie was terribly marketed, my recommendations for a fresh board game, a discussion about the future of television and my […]

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