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John Carter


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John Carter

  1. 1. Free resource taken from Carter Commentary –– Alternate Hollywood Case StudyTaken from the telegraph:There will be long-term consequences to the box-office failure of Disney/Pixar’s sci-fi film John Carter,which the company itself concedes will show a staggering $200 million operating loss. A massive$250 million was spent on its production, as well as close to $100 million on marketing.Its inability to lure large audiences seems easy to explain with the wisdom of hindsight. Its story (based onan Edgar Rice Burroughs novel) isn’t that familiar.Leading man Taylor Kitsch isn’t a reassuring household name – except to fans of the American televisionseries Friday Night Lights. “John Carter” is a deadly dull title – and besides, wasn’t John Carter that serious-minded young doctor on television’s ER? The film’s marketing suggested nothing of its setting (on Mars) orits romance elements.Because of its spiralling costs and reshoots, Disney knew John Carter spelt trouble even before it opened. Igather the studio has cut back costs on at least one forthcoming big-budget movie, The Lone Ranger, withJohnny Depp as Tonto. Sources claim almost $50 million was lopped off its sky-high budget: a 20 per centsaving.Disneys "John Carter"The biggest flop ever?Mar 23rd 2012, 16:21 by O.M. | LONDON (Taken from the Economist)AROUND this time last yearthe Walt Disney Companyreleased a very expensive,very bad film: "Pirates of theCaribbean: On StrangerTides", which went on tomake over $1 billionworldwide. This year thecompany released a similarlyexpensive film—one that isnot just a great deal betterthan the misconceivedflotsam of Pirates, but also,as such things go, is not abad film at all. But "JohnCarter" has not gone on tomake $1 billion. Indeed,Disney says it has left the company $200m out of pocket, giving it a claim to be the biggest flop of alltime—bigger even than Kevin Costner’s 1995 fiasco "Waterworld" (which actually did reasonably welloutside America). What, if anything, can we learn from this?The first thing is that openings matter. Not just opening weekends (though they matter too) but theactual opening of the film. The screenplay of "John Carter"—an adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs’romantic, exoticised Martian adventure stories, as popular in their day as his books about Tarzan—is inmany ways a nice bit of work. The writers, Andrew Stanton (also the director), Mark Andrews andMichael Chabon, a novelist, have refined the plot and created clear (if not deeply drawn) characters.But the film begins with a truly terrible piece of back-story in which people you know nothing about—and cannot readily distinguish from each other—are fighting about something obscure. The narrator istelling you what they are all called and that one side is good and the other bad, but who knows whichis which? The editor and art director have done nothing to help matters: who are these new baldpeople turning up out of nowhere? And what’s with the blue light and the sort of exoskeleton glove
  2. 2. Free resource taken from And whose airship just exploded? And...why?Johnny Carson, the king of late-night, had a motto for comedy writing: “Buy the premise, buy the bit”.If the audience knows what’s going on, they will see the humour. An apt corollary is “Blow theprologue, blow the film.” However neat the subsequent plotting, the opening sequence of "John Carter"left the audience confused, and there they remained.To see how blockbuster films should begin, check out Peter Jackson’s "The Fellowship of the Ring",which also had to set up a conflict between various weird factions unknown to the audience. MrJackson’s fellow screenwriters worked hard on that prologue, ensuring it was evocative yet exciting,with clearly delineated sides and as few proper names as possible (Gil-galad? who’s that?). Theessential story was clear: buy the Ring, buy the bit, and all the other subsequent bits, yea even untothe many endings of "The Return of the King".As to the opening of "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides"—who knows, or cares? The fact thatI remember that it opens in Greenwich, England, is purely a function of my living there. But this filmdidn’t need to sell itself in its opening minutes. Audiences knew what they were getting: Johnny Deppdoing ironic swashbuckling with occasional special effects but now with added Penelope Cruz andunderlit and uninspiring stereoscopy. This brings up the second problem with "John Carter": marketingmatters, especially to a big and expensive film without forebears. "John Carter" was marketedabominably.To begin with, the title. Who, other than diehard fans of the TV show "ER", wants to see a movie called"John Carter"? Mr Stanton’s original title, "John Carter of Mars", was apparently nixed by Disney’smarketers on the basis that viewers don’t like Mars, or indeed science fiction, very much. This willcome as a surprise to James Cameron, whose "Avatar" didn’t do too poorly at the box office, despitethe handicap of being a spectacular piece of science fiction involving—just like John Carter—a woundedwar veteran travelling by mental projection into an exotic alien landscape of noble savagery, six-limbedbeasts and vast machines that eat up the environment. But if you really don’t want to tell the audiencethat they are about to see a piece of science fiction, you really ought to tell them what they *are*going to see. Burroughs’s world is one of high adventure, huge spectacle and heady romance of a sortthat might be called bodice-ripping were there any bodices being worn. But the marketing campaignnever really conveyed any of this. A dull red poster of man with a prosaic name against a poorlydefined background doesn’t cut it.No one should doubt that Mr Stanton will make more films, and indeed more good films. The greaterrisk may be for his leading man, Taylor Kitsch. Having been made into the sole focus of the filmsuseless marketing campaign, the failure of "John Carter" cannot help but cast a shadow over hisprospects as a leading man, and raise the ante for his next outing, "Battleship", in cinemas in April. Yet"Battleship" could work out. It is directed by Peter Berg, who as creator of the magnificent televisionshow "Friday Night Lights" (in which Mr Kitsch first demonstrated both his gift for acting and hisaversion to shirts), deserves all benefit of the doubt. Yet it is based on a children’s game, and itstrailers make it look disturbingly like a cross between a "Transformers" film and "Waterworld". MrKitsch better hope that the prologue grabs the audience very firmly indeed.WEB 2.0 Comments:People dont like Mars? Total Recall did pretty well.In addition to the poorly titled movie (my son thought it was about basketball; no, thats "Coach Carter"), how could you market themovie and not use the line "from the creator of Tarzan".Seems like someone at Disney wanted this one to fail.I paid the $15.50 for the 3D version, having recently read (for the first time) the entire 11 book series. I thought it was very well done,and followed the first book ("A Princess of Mars") as well as can be expected when compressing a multi-year saga into two hours.A good clue to the poor marketing was that a coworker who had been planning to see it did not know it was out yet. There was no six-month media build up, no toy tie-in - where are the flying toys at McDonalds? The Thark plushies? The video game - Tharks andHeliumites vs. Zodangans? I wonder if the movie might have brought in more teenage girls if it were named "A Princess of Mars" or "JohnCarter and the Princess of Mars" or something equivalent.I still have hope that, despite this poor financial result, that Disney will proceed with a sequel that is equally well done. There isprecedent - the first Star Trek movie was not well received (though I liked it), but the movies became one of the most successfulfranchises.I like Mars. It is one of my favorite chocolate bars.
  3. 3. Free resource taken from hunter disney merchandise campaigns sgall.phpParamount production (background info taken from Wikipedia)Producer James Jacks read Harry Knowles autobiography, which lavishly praised the John Carter of Marsseries. Having read the Burroughs novels as a child, Jacks was moved to convince Paramount Pictures toacquire the film rights; a bidding war with Columbia Pictures followed. After Paramount and Jacks won therights, Jacks contacted Knowles to become an adviser on the project and hired Mark Protosevich to write thescreenplay. Robert Rodriguez signed on in 2004 to direct the film after his friend Knowles showed him thescript. Recognizing that Knowles had been an adviser to many other filmmakers, Rodriguez asked him to becredited as a producer.[28]Filming was set to begin in 2005, with Rodriguez planning to use the all-digital stages he was using for hisproduction of Sin City, a film based on the graphic novel series by Frank Miller.[28]Rodriguez planned tohire Frank Frazetta, the popular Burroughs and fantasy illustrator, as a designer on the film.[29]Rodriguezhad previously stirred-up film industry controversy owing to his decision to credit Sin Citys artist/creatorFrank Miller as co-director on the film adaptation; as a result of all the hoopla, Rodriguez decided to resignfrom the Directors Guild of America. In 2004, unable to hire a non-DGA filmmaker, Paramount assignedKerry Conran to direct and Ehren Kruger to rewrite the John Carter script. The Australian Outback wasscouted as a shooting location. Conran left the film for unknown reasons and was replaced in October 2005by Jon Favreau.[28]Favreau and screenwriter Mark Fergus wanted to make their script faithful to the Burroughs novels,retaining John Carters links to the American Civil War and ensuring that the Barsoomian Tharks were 15feet tall (previous scripts had made them human-sized). Favreau argued that a modern day soldier would notknow how to fence or ride a horse like Carter, who had been a Confederate officer. The first film heenvisioned would have adapted the first three novels in the Barsoom series: A Princess of Mars, The Gods ofMars, and The Warlord of Mars. Unlike Rodriguez and Conran, Favreau preferred using practical effects forhis film and cited Planet of the Apes as his inspiration. He intended to use make-up, as well as CGI, to createthe Tharks. In August 2006 Paramount chose not to renew the film rights, preferring instead to focus on itsStar Trek franchise. Favreau and Fergus moved on to Marvels Iron Man.[28]This type of merchandise will onlyappeal to niche audiences and fans ofthe original novel. Where’’s the game?
  4. 4. Free resource taken from the original film release date was June 8, 2012, in January 2011 Disney moved the release date toMarch 9, 2012.[11][17][44]A teaser trailer for the film premiered on July 14, 2011 and was shown in 3D and2D with showings of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2; the official trailer premiered onNovember 30, 2011. On February 5, 2012 an extended commercial promoting the movie aired during theSuper Bowl,[45]and before the day of the game, Andrew Stanton, a Massachusetts native, held a specialscreening of the film for both the team members and families of the New England Patriots and New YorkGiants.[46]Critical receptionOne week before the films release, Disney removed an embargo on reviews of the film.[47]John Carterreceived mixed reviews from critics. As of March 16, 2012, it holds a 51% rating on the film-criticsaggregate site Rotten Tomatoes based on 189 reviews; the general consensus is "While John Carter looksterrific and delivers its share of pulpy thrills, it also suffers from uneven pacing and occasionallyincomprehensible plotting and characterization."[48]On Metacritic, the film holds a rating of 53% based on36 reviews, signifying "Mixed or average reviews".[49]Box officeJohn Carter has earned $62,347,000 in North America and $172,100,000 in other countries as of March 25,2012, for a worldwide gross of $234,447,000.[5]In North America, it opened in first place on Friday, March9, 2012 with $9.81 million.[65]However, by Sunday, it had grossed $30.2 million, falling to second place forthe weekend, behind The Lorax.[66]Outside North America, it topped the weekend chart, opening with $70.6million.[67]Its highest-grossing country was Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States, where itbroke the all-time opening-day record ($6.5 million)[68]and earned $16.5 million during the weekend.[69]Despite strong overseas numbers, however, Disney revealed that the film was expected to lose as much as$200 million in the their second fiscal quarter ending March 31.[16]As a result, media reports began to referto the film as a box office bomb.[70][71][72]Studio Walt Disney Pictures[1]Distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion PicturesRelease date(s)March 7, 2012 (France)[2]March 9, 2012 (United States)Running time 132 minutes[3]Country United StatesLanguage EnglishBudget $250 million [4]
  5. 5. Free resource taken from collected from several newspaper websites.John Carter is a great alternative case study to use, especially as a compare and contrast example of how a mediaconglomerate like Disney can get it so wrong. If you use John Carter, you should compare the similar expectationsthey had for Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. This film had a similar budget to John Carter but made inexcess of $1 billion dollars. You might also want to contrast this film against the success of Battleship which alsofeatures Taylor Kitsch.Overall, this is a film that had a terrible marketing campaign. See the trailers, online reviews and opening sequenceposted on Youtube to see why so many people couldn’’t decide whether it was a western, sci fi or period drama.‘‘From the creator of Tarzan’’ might have helped, as would have keeping original title John Carter of Mars.Above left –– a review from Rottentomatoes (better received by audiences).Left, a nice conceptual poster –– but do wereally have these connotations with thename ‘‘John Carter’’?Below, taken from IMDB with a ridiculousplotline summary.