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The Failure of “John Carter” and Analyzing Andrew Stanton

If you still haven’t had your fill of “Why John Carter Failed” articles, then don’t miss New York Magazine‘s lengthy read “The Inside Story of How John Carter Was Doomed by Its First Trailer.” The piece goes to excruciating lengths to absolve Disney marketing of any wrongdoing over the film’s US box office performance, and lays the blame squarely at the feet of Andrew Stanton:

While this kind of implosion usually ends in a director simmering in rage at the studio marketing department that doomed his or her movie, Vulture has learned that it was in fact John Carter director Andrew Stanton – powerful enough from his Pixar hits that he could demand creative control over trailers – who commandeered the early campaign, overriding the Disney marketing execs who begged him to go in a different direction.

The article, juicy as it is, should be taken with a grain of salt. Much of the information in the article appears to be sourced from public statements by Stanton, and only one anonymous “Disney marketing insider” is identified as having been interviewed. There are factual errors too that made me question the piece’s accuracy–the writer claims that Disney marketing approached the New Yorker in September 2011 to profile Stanton, when in fact, if you read the New Yorker piece, the writer of that piece said he’d been working on it since April 2011. At best, NY Mag‘s takedown offers one version of how the film’s marketing plan derailed. The real story is likely far more complex, and won’t be understood until some point in the future.

A more insightful piece is the aforementioned New Yorker profile of Andrew Stanton, which has finally been posted online. Unlike an earlier New Yorker piece about Pixar that left me unimpressed, this profile sheds much light on Stanton’s personality and his collaboration with the lauded Pixar “Braintrust.” In spite of the profile’s positive tone, Stanton comes off as overly self assertive and oblivious to the effect of his comments, like:

“We came on this movie so intimidated: ‘Wow, we’re at the adult table!’ Three months in, I said to my producers, ‘Is it just me, or do we actually know how to do this better than live-action crews do?’ The crew were shocked that they couldn’t overwhelm me, but at Pixar I got used to having to think about everyone else’s problems months before all their pieces would come together, and I learned that I’m just better at communicating and distilling than other people.”

(Illustration by Luis Grañena)

  • J.M. Walter

    JOHN CARTER : Andrew Stanton’s IRON GIANT.

    • Um… no. For so many reasons.

      • J.M. Walter

        I haven’t seen the film but it sounds like the only really bad thing about it is its Trailers.
        With that said…Brad Bird was not responsible for IROGIANT’s failure but looks like Andrew Stanton’s musical taste was responsible for JOHN CARTER’S doom.

    • Bud

      Big difference: Iron Giant was a great film. John Carter is a mess. Certainly parts are better than the whole.

      • What if Brad Bird had directed John Carter? I have the feeling the result og the film would have been awesome.

      • What if Brad Bird had directed John Carter? I’ve the feeling that the result would have been awesome.

        Even more: what if Brad Bird have directed John Carter IN ANIMATION? Then, it would have been too cool for words.

      • ya and if he married your father he’d be your mother.

  • “he was still essentially making an animated movie. (John Carter actually has more character animations than WALL-E or Finding Nemo.)”


    • It’s a long movie and there were a lot of CG characters that needed to be animated.

    • Jorge Garrido

      And certainly more actings than animations! This guy has great essayings!

      • tom

        people, please stop using the non-word ‘animations’. you do not say ‘i make musics’ or ‘the movie had lots of good musics in it’,do you? ‘animations’ is not a word. ‘animation’ is already plural…

      • Amen! I have been asking the same “musics” question for years. “Animations.” So lame… I drives me nuts.

        Also, it’s “Lego” and “ravioli.”

      • This topic has already been discussed on Cartoon Brew:

        Animation vs. Animations

  • Mike

    After “Mars Needs Moms” and “John Carter,” Disney can still take comfort in the fact that NASA has had more expensive failures on the red planet than any other.

    Still… maybe Pluto would be a more appropriate destination for the House of Mouse.

    • Tak

      Your wit is terribly punny sir! ;-) *Hat Tip*

      • Mike

        Why thank you, sir. It takes a special mind to appreciate bad puns.

  • Frank Ziegler

    I still think it’s premature to write the film off. A lot of the bigger critics actually recommended the film, saying it might be messy but it was fun! (Paraphrasing of course) The critics I read were A.O. Scott, Roger Ebert, Richard Roper. Making roughly 100 million in 3 days (worldwide) is not too bad. Adding to that most movie goers seemed to give it a B plus grade according to cinemascore. I know it’s not a perfect film but speaking for myself and my family, we all had a good time. Check the comments by Bruce Timm on your other Carter post. I think He’s right on the money about marketing dropping the ball. I’d say give the film at least a few weeks before declaring it dead. 3 days is a bit hasty.

  • Derik

    To be honest, the movie being made in general is just astonishing, whether it is good or not. Money is one thing, but when Andrew is on his deathbed he’s not going to think, “wow my movie did poorly at the boxoffice” (which might be what he’s thinking right now), but he’s going to be thinking “damn, I helped make some kickass films, f*ck everyone else”

    Seriously, the world needs to quit crying about money and just be glad that they had the chance to make something great, whether it made money or not. When I bake a cake, I don’t care who likes it, at least I baked the darn thing!

    • Schultz!!

      $250 million buys a lot of cake.

      • Bud

        But not enough crow.

    • Tak

      “World needs to quit crying about money”?
      Well maybe you’re part of the social upper crust Derik, but please do yourself a favour & check out The Renegade Economist.

    • mj

      i dunno…eating good cake is pretty good.

    • TheBandSnapsBack

      The cake is a lie.

  • Scooch

    A 100 million dollar opening weekend is a failure?

    • Schultz!!

      30 million domestic – which by the equations for such things means a likely total of about 100mill. The same as “Prince of Persia” which also had a 30mill first weekend and topped out at 90mill domestic. POP made enough overseas to give it about $330mill total, but with a production budget of $200 mill it needed $400mill to break even. JC will need $500 mill to break even, so if it doesn’t have better legs than POP it’s a money loser.

      • Occams Breadknife

        Marketing on Carter was 100 mil, and I thought it was similar (or a bit less) for PoP. Not sure why 350 mil for JC won’t have it break roughly even.

        Also, that does not count dvd/ rentals ( maybe 35-100 mill).

        I really doubt they will lose money on this, or lost money on Prince of Persia. But it’s no Titanic.

      • Zib Zabzo

        Dunno… Kinda feels like it hit an iceberg and is slowly sinking…

  • John Carter Needs Moms!

    • J.M.

      JOHN CARTER of Mars needs moms.

  • I feel bad for Stanton considering the culture shift at Disney’s feature marketing these past couple of years. MT Carney came in, did her best to change the mindset of the establishment, was kicked out, and the result was zero sum. Then, months later, you release a movie that took a couple hundred million bucks to produce? Not a winning scenario.

  • Oliver

    Andrew Stanton: the man who has the nerve to criticise ‘The Lion King’ for “wussing out” when it comes to depicting predation and death, then directs ‘Finding Nemo’… a movie in which a parent’s death occurs both off-screen and early on, never to be dwelt on again, and fish getting chased by ravenous sharks is played for laughs and 30-year-old references to ‘The Shining’.

    • E. Nygma

      Yeah, Finding Nemo was a huge failure.

      It was 10 times better than the Lion King.

      • Oliver

        Hey bud, April Fool’s Day isn’t for another fortnight, you know.

        Oh — and if we go by attendance figures not inflation-distorted dollars, ‘Lion King’ is *still* more popular and enduring than ‘Nemo’.

      • Dirge

        Oh YA? MY apples are better than YOUR ORANGES! NYEAH!


      • I like Finding Nemo but prefer The Lion King.

    • Jorge Garrido

      “a movie in which a parent’s death occurs both off-screen and early on, never to be dwelt on again,”

      Way to miss the entire subtext of the movie. Marlon acts the way he does toward Nemo BECAUSE Nemo’s mom is dead.

    • E. Nygma

      Oliver, Attendance figures don’t mean crap to me. Some of the best movies in history had low attendance figures while a pile of crap like “Avatar” set records.

      I’m talking about writing, story and outstanding Animation that will hold up over time. “Lion King” looks dated as hell to me now, while a movies Like “Sleeping Beauty” or “Lady and the Tramp” still look so elegant and great! Plus, just look at the voice cast: Whoopie Goldberg, Nathan Lane and all the annoying songs. The Disney classics from the 50’s and 60’s hold up way better.

      It’s a good movie, but up against Pixar stuff like Ratatouille, Finding Nemo, Wall-E and Up…it just doesn’t hold up. That’s all my opinion of course!

      • Yep… “hard work” existed in that time. In 50 years people will say: “Oh, the computer did it”.

        Just a silly observation I made the other day: I was scrolling down in a continuous way the infinte tumblr of DIsney Images from and the only sequence of images that “standed out” most was the limited palette of colours from Rhapsody in Blue. Weird, isn’t it? (sarcasm intended, ha)

        Even so, I’m still a fan of Wall·E. And also love the sense of loneliness in the sea, the blues, the idea of the watertank, etc. from Finding Nemo. “Hi, I’m Dory” will never come out from my head.

        So, conclusion: “But Tartakovsky
        But Sandler
        But Tartakovsky
        But Sandler
        But Tartakovsky” X)

    • Jane

      Did he really say that? What an egotist!

      The Lion King is brilliant, Finding Nemo is a good movie to watch with kids.

  • The ads geared towards the hispanic audience were fairly lame-they should have mentioned first and foremost that the writer of “John Carter” also wrote “Tarzan”,a character that has instant recognition throughout Latin America.

    • …not to mention the entire world. “Edgar Rice Burroughs’ ‘John Carter of Mars'” wouldn’t have hurt one bit

  • Pedro Nakama

    I’m actually waiting for the Billy Carter movie.

    • Jorge Garrido

      I can’t wait for the Nick Carter movie. (the original title “…of the backstreet boys” too long for Disney marketers.)

  • Tony McCarson

    what about disney’s feature marketing on disney’s rapunzel movie (“tangled”, I hate that name.)?

  • Andrew

    I’m not sure why everyone keep laying the blame for John Carter tanking at the feet of the marketing people. I’ve seen the movie and the trailers do a decent job of portraying what the film is about. Unfortunately, the film is a muddled mess of a story that moves along in fits and starts and barely comes together for the climax. Even the effects shots, which they keep saying would’ve turned around audience perceptions are basically background noise.

    Needless to say I wasn’t impressed with the film and I was very disappointed that someone with a Pixar pedigree would have a hand in a story that makes this little sense and is never truly engaging.

    • Bud

      You are correct. Certainly, the marketing did not help, but the film speaks for itself.

    • Funkybat

      I just hope that this does not do anything to further impede the development of “1906.” I was willing to accept going years with any new animated films from Brad Bird because he was supposedly devoted to this live-action SF earthquake epic. Then he goes and does MI4, I suppose to prove to the Hollywood honchos that “he can “do” live action.” Now I worry that the execs will think “animation directors can’t handle tentpole live action films” and nix “1906.” Maybe I’m just being pessimistic, but I have to wonder knowing how irrational and reactionary decision-making by the suits can be.

  • SKent.

    This film was never going to be a success. Everything about it looks generic, the designs, the cinematography, and to the mainstream audience, it is a film starring nobodies, directed by a nobody, based on a property they are not familiar with. It’s very hard to justify that kind of a budget. It will find an audience, but there is nothing there to bring out the mass audience it needs to succeed.

    • Jorge Garrido


      • SKent.

        A Cameron movie is an event. A Stanton movie is not. Unless it’s the new Pixar movie, in which case the only thing the audience notices is ‘Pixar’ made it. Ask 10 people on the street and see how many of them have heard of this Andrew Stanton.

        I’m not denouncing his talent, or commenting on the quality of the movie or even saying that it’s a good thing that name value makes a difference. It doesn’t automatically make it a better movie. But put a name like ‘James Cameron’,’Stephen Spielberg’, ‘Tim Burton’, even ‘Michael Bay’ in front of the movie, and you to varying degrees you will guarantee a bigger audience.

        Obviously Avatar’s success transcends that and there were many other contributing factors, but let’s face it, one of the key things the trailer told us was that it was a Cameron movie, and that that was a big deal.

    • Old Man Father Time

      Who directed this?

    • Old Man Father Time

      *looks it up*

      “Director: Andrew Stanton”


      Andrew Stanton is a nobody?

      • SKent.

        you’ve heard of Andrew Stanton, I’ve heard of Andrew Stanton. Because we take an interest in these things.

        But we are not representative of the kind of mass audience they need to reach.

  • Palmer

    In a way it restores balance to the universe that a member of the Pixar brain trust chose an oft-pillaged by others classic tale with the intent to tell it in a way that kept its integrity intact. Pixar has pillaged many a tale in its megahit run, seldom acknowledging the true source material. The basic stories used for “Toy Story I” and “Cars” are but two examples.

    • What’s the source material for Toy Story I? Some old classic short? Jim Henson’s The Christmas Toy? It’s a long time since I watched that one…

      • Wow, I just went and took a look at A Christmas Toy online. Not only is a lot more similar to Toy Story 1 than I remembered…there’s also a character that resembles LOTSO!

      • Tak

        Any idea can be stolen & sold to those ignorant of the crime if it is not widely reported. Also, the Pixar PR, Marketing & Behind The Scenes Featurette division is a total leviathan.

  • E. Nygma

    Good thing Disney Bought Marvel! The Avengers is going to clean house.

    They better hope Brave doesn’t tank.

    The saddest thing about this movie doing so bad for its budget is that Disney will be even less likely to take any risks in the future. That means Cars 3 and 4, Toy Story 4 and 5, Monsters Inc. 2 after the prequel and Tangled 2.

  • Lib

    I’m going to watch this tomorrow. I hated every single trailer they released with all my heart, but I love Andrew Stanton. He is literally the only reason why I’m watching the film, even though there’s a good chance I will be disappointed. We’ll see.

  • Sorry Mr. Burroughs

    The trailers are spot on… there’s absolutely nothing redeemable about it! What a forgettable movie. I’d rather stare at Frazetta’s artwork of John Carter for 90 minutes imagining how cool the movie could have been than have to re-watch this horrible thing.

  • John

    I believe this film failed because it doesn’t offer a story that was resonant with the public. Simple as that.

  • BT

    Huh. I don’t really see what Amid’s problem with Stanton is. In this and the previous post he talks about him like he’s some toxic asshole, then the examples he gives are completely tame. Ironically, “overly self assertive and oblivious to the effect of his comments” is a good description of how I feel about a lot of the posts here on Cartoon Brew.

    Oh well. Stanton seems like a nice guy to me in interviews, but it doesn’t really matter since I don’t know him. What matters is that his movies are great and full of humanity. I think John Carter will be well remembered even if it is a “failure” to Disney’s accounting department (who I don’t know either).

  • Nicolas Orizaga

    are we really supposed to root for a Civil-War era Confederate soldier???

    • Jorge Garrido

      That’s irrelevant to the success of the film.

      • Tim P

        Jesse James?

  • Jorge Garrido

    About 3 weeks ago I attended a “Business of Film” at an Imax theatre for Uni:

    Bruce Morrison, the senior vice-president of retail sales and marketing for Disney said this: “Disney has three pillars: storytelling, technology, and brand awareness. John Carter of Mars (he called it the wrong title a few times) is a great example of great Imax and 3d technology, (with Bruce was one of the top guys at Imax) but the storytelling is… ehhhh, not that great. Ooh, geez, I guess I shouldn’t be saying that!”

    He trashed the film 3 weeks before it came out and after showing us the trailer in Imax and calling it the wrong title.

    Whether it was Andrew Stanton or Disney Marketing’s fault, the marketing truly was HORRENDOUS for this film. “We can’t call it John Carter of Mars because Mars Needs Moms was a bomb! Let’s call it John Carter, that title is way more generic, less descriptive, and way more boring! We don’t want to excite the audience too much!”

    It’s not as if it’s “Tarzan of Mars” where the name would still be iconic enough to be descriptive without the rest of the title: “Tarzan.” People would go to see a movie called “John Carter of the Apes.” Nobody wants to go see “John Carter” if they didn’t know what it was about.

    The film’s legacy and pedigree was. Not. Communicated.

    • I have been hearing stories along the same lines from other people. It’s going to be a few years before we figure out what really happened and the screaming’s stopped (as is typical in the history of Hollywood disasters). One thing is obvious though, Stanton had to have made some enemies at Disney’s during John Carter to allow it to have the fate it did. Without Pixar’s brand name and marketing campaign that made as dumb and shallow a film as WALL-E seem as poignant as Kubrick, Stanton floundered.

      This movie is fun, though. Convoluted, but unpretentious, well-meaning fun. Go see it.

  • lanabon

    For me the problem roots being an animated feature director at the big studios. Stanton directed and wrote couple of brilliant animated feature, no question about that. But in these days Pixar, Disney and all the other studios make animated feature films based on one recipe. It is a perfect recipe though. Some studio can ‘cook’ it better than others, but still it’s only one recipe.

    This kind of film does not allow any director’s personality to be add for the film. Just imagine the likes of David Lynch, Polanski, Aronofsky or Christopher Nolan directing an animated feature. It would be so different because they are directors with their own directing style and voice.I don’t see these types of directors at Disney and Pixar. I don’t think many people from the audience even know the directors’ names from the Pixar films.

    Stanton made John Carter based on that recipe he knows well, but maybe… he needs another ‘cookbook’ soon.

    • Hank

      Stanton has only directed one film solo prior to john carter. Every thing else was co-directed.

    • Live action director Gore Verbinski just won an Oscar for “Rango….?”

  • Most big studios spend a lot of time and effort worrying about audience testing for the finished film. Seems to make more sense to put more effort into audience testing the trailers.

  • EJZ

    It’s still hard for me to understand, why is a film deemed a failure if it earns “only” 30 mil in the US, while taking in 100 mil in total worldwide?

    Are US commentators and writers not aware of a whole wide world outside of North America?

    Besides, having seen ‘John Carter’ twice now. It is a great adventure, especially so with it’s enthusiastic pulpy tone. Embraced without irony or cynicism. Which helps to give the film its transporting feeling. Compare ‘John Carter’ to many other recent genre offerings — including the ‘Star Wars prequels’, ‘Prince of Persia’ etcetera — and it’s clearly superior, in my opinion.

    As for people saying it has a ‘bland’ visual style. I disagree. It is a subtle, tangible and dusty style. With a similar viewpoint as ‘Lord of the Rings’, to take the material and imagine it as a historical film.

    When compared to ‘Avatar’, which has, to me, an overbearing and loud style, it is way more assured. ‘John Carter’ has superior compositing and integration of animation and live-action as well. It demonstrates that it can pay off to shoot on film. Expensive, maybe so. But the result visually, to me, is a success. I prefer it’s choices to ‘Avatar’s videogame aesthetics every day of the week.

    Go see for yourself.

    • Totally agree about embracing it without cynicism but totally disagree with the superior compositing comment.
      People just love to hate, give the movie a chance.

      • Tak

        We did, we watched it. Apparently that still didn’t make e’m enough of the money back.

      • Doug Abramson

        As far as the entertainment media is concerned, that’s true; but it made more money on Saturday than Friday, indicating good word of mouth. (I don’t know how it did on Sunday)I think everyone needs to give it a few weeks to see what the cumulative take is. The last Sherlock Holmes film was blasted for “flopping” opening weekend and wound up making over $180 million domestic, because it had good word of mouth bringing in business over six weeks instead of two.

  • Though it could have been much better, I quite enjoyed the movie but it’s strangely convoluted (while his other films are made more simple) and lacks emotion for a Stanton film. It’s not like I enjoy over-sentimental stuff but it had virtually nothing. The love story is kinda just there. Either that or the dialogue and acting of the main couple is not very good. It’s not so much that I disliked it but the fact that it doesn’t seem similar to previous Stanton’s work in that sense.

  • Gobo

    It’s a really fun movie, miles better than the bizarrely-successful AVATAR, but its inherent problem is that the Barsoom stories have been borrowed from so liberally that the story feels like its own retread. Stanton knew this and smartly emphasized the really original aspects of it — the Tharks, Woola, and Dejah — but it still feels like you’ve seen this story before.

    It’s still very much worth watching. A visual spectacle and tons of fun.

    It should be noted that it outperformed Disney’s estimates on opening weekend and made over $70m overseas. That’s not a bomb.

  • Was My Face Red

    Uk Response has been kinda.. huh…what? That looks a bit like Avatar but less distinctive. No one knows the books and DULL NAME isn’t a great title if it means nothing to you already. ‘Mars’ might have helped as that other mars film barely registered either, plus the Tarzan connection might have been a good idea. But – bottom line – in clips, trails and posters it looks like a milion things we’ve seen before so no one got very excited.

  • The_Animator

    I love how the movie’s only been out what… 4 days now? and it’s already a “flop” or a “failure”.

    Give the movie a freaking chance. Sometimes films make more money over time then on the “first weekend”. And considering it’s made $70 million total the first weekend (domestic and overseas), that’s a pretty damn good opening.

    John Carter, to me, is another Cars 2. It’s a film certain people have hated from the day it was announced and WANT to see fail, and when it doesn’t do absolutely HUGE Avatar numbers at the box office, they smugly cry “FLOP!”.

    • Tak

      Pretty much spot on said The_Animator.
      Clearly the ethos in Hollywood is rather Fffk’d up.

      Just another example of how the megalomaniac money investors wrought the world we live in.
      *Occupy Barsoom*

    • Keith

      That’s the culture we live in, now. “Our new TV show’s pilot didn’t pull top Nielsens and/or had a couple people send in complaints! Cancel it!” “This movie cost $X to make! It needs to earn 1/4 of X back opening weekend to be considered successful!”

      And lest we forget, domestically it was ONLY about $9 million behind Lorax; it earned 78% of what Lorax took in over the weekend. And $19 million ahead of the next highest-grossing film of the week.

      • Tak

        Breaking News!
        Economy screwed because rich people are insane!
        No, wait… we’ve known this since forever.
        Oh well, what can we do?

  • Skip

    ! saw John Carter twice, and enjoyed it’s both times. I feel that the film deserves more respect than it’s gotten.

  • akira

    it’s only a failure because it cost so much! what the hell were they expecting? avatar or star wars box office? are you kidding? advertising that john carter was before those movies? wtf? and the free preview clip that looks like it’s for a western? they did too many things wrong to even list on this one.

    if they wanted to adapt a literature classic they need to do it way cheaper. if they want to get huge box office they need to modernize the story OR get james cameron.

  • The Gee

    Serious question for those who’ve watched the movie:

    Does any part of the action take place in space? Any part, excluding establishing the order of the 3rd and fourth planets in the solar system.

    I’d hate to think somehow the night time sky on Mars or Earth is all that is shown of space.

    • jp

      Haven’t seen the film yet, but there’s no space travel in the first JC book. He’s transported almost as if by dreaming it so, in a kind of out-of-body experience leaving his earthly body in a cave sniffing fumes and awakening on Mars.

      • The Gee

        The reason why I ask is because I tried to read the books when I was in grade school but didn’t get too far. I knew the premise of how he got to Mars.

        For a movie that establishes his backstory, it really does seem like a Plus to have something in space. I don’t know what that would be for this story. But, you really need to transport people to Mars. It is such a long time since the books were written. Since so much more is known and exploration has occurred, including seeing the Martian surface via rovers, you really think the story, the film and the audience would do well to give what AND where Mars is some explanation.

        Maybe that happens. I don’t know. I don’t really care. My taste/tolerance of Sci-Fi is so hit or miss. However, hopefully any changes made to the film adaptation don’t keep it completely kitschy, campy or whatever the goal is for the film.

        I’m just glad that I have yet to hear:
        ” And then he shows up to confront him while wearing a t-shirt….”

  • Jason Campbell

    I haven’t seen the movie, I can understand the bottom line guys seeing the opening as weak, well, I accept they do even if I don’t really understand it, but I’m hesitant to call it a failure already.

    I do feel bad for feeling a little good that isn’t this massive success, as awful as that is. I just have this impression that so many filmmakers see animation as this jumping off point, like moving to live action is, how’d he put it? like getting to eat at the adult table or something to that effect? And as disappointed as I might have been in the Lorax it was nice to see an animated film do so well and remain a leader week over week. And if any film were to give these leaders in animated story telling pause when considering a jump to live action, even if only for my purely selfish reasons of not wanting to loose the likes of Bird and Stanton, it’s sort of kismet it was an animated one.

    I know they want to branch out and try new things and grow creatively and I really would only wish them success, I’ll just hope they’ll forgive me an evil grin if a animated film bests their efforts.


    • Gobo

      That’s called schadenfreude. Taking pleasure in what you see as another’s failure. I personally don’t smile at the perceived failure of someone’s lifelong passion project, and I think that given the sheer amount of animation in JOHN CARTER, chiding Andrew Stanton for his choice of medium is very silly indeed.

      • Jason Campbell

        It was tongue in cheek of course. I saw JC today and I really enjoyed it. I don’t get why the reviews were so bad.

  • As a Virginia native, I can’t hate a film that mentions Virginia about 1,000 times.

  • I blame John Carter’s failure on a Thern conspiracy.

  • Brad Constantine

    Andrew Stanton is, by far, one of the best storymen/directors in the business, with an outstanding box office record. He deserved to get the opportunity to do this film. I have not seen it yet, but his track record precedes him, and I would see it based soley on that.. Because it is based on stories that are not his creations, he is saddled with the limitations of that universe. I feel the same way I did when Treasure Planet opened up against LOTR or Harry Potter ( I ferget). Treasure Planet was a great film that deserved more marketing, and more respect at Disney, but got a bad release weekend slot…Now there’s a film that would be Great in 3D!!(Musker?..nudge nudge?).

    • Hey now

      “Treasure Planet was a great film that deserved more marketing, and more respect at Disney, but got a bad release weekend slot…”


  • I so wanted to love this movie. I grew up with ERB books, and really wanted to see Barsoom come to life. After spending $25 for my wife and I, and getting some popcorn,I was wanting to be blown away.
    Talk about disappointing.One of the richest veins of source material, and this film came off as a dusty derivative of ‘Dune’, ‘Avatar’ and ‘The Outlaw Josey Wales’,not to mention Superman-esque shots that were just puzzling.
    Not to mention that it seemed to drag on and on.
    I will say that there were amazing things to see, so kudos to the Art Direction.
    But I still want to know why the Martian Dog looked like a penis with legs.

  • Hal

    Its doing killer overseas, just like Pirates 4. There’s probably going to be a cg John Carter Disney XD series instead of a sequel, a la Green Lantern and Tron. Maybe cut out the post 3d conversion, just use all the R&D for the first film and make a mid range budget sequel after that, you got a franchise. Especially since Russia LOVES John Carter.

  • Rembro

    Avatar was a runaway success because it was bright blue. John Carter is having trouble because it is mostly brown. Hollywood has overused that color as a default in its cheapest product for years. John Carter is not cheap but, because of brown, the average person on some level thinks it is. You can take blue to the bank. James Cameron and Irwin Allen before him knew this.

    • Mike

      Interesting theory. But what about Raiders of the Lost Ark? Lawrence of Arabia? Patton? A lot of Earth tones in those.

      And I seem to recall a lot of blue in Waterworld….

    • Jane

      I agree that is a part of why this movie flopped. When I first saw the preview I thought it from the Scorpion King movie from ten years ago. I can’t tell any of these brown desert Hollywood movies apart.

  • My guess is that Disney making PG-13 movies, equals to box-office bombs.

    The same thing happened with Prince of Persia… I think the teenagers get scared when they see a “Disney” logo on a trailer or a poster… even, at some point I was wondering why Paramount logo still appears on “The Avengers” marketing material (when such movie will be distributed by Disney), and I presume that Disney doesn’t want to scare the young people with the pre-conception that Disney is kids stuff.

  • christy

    man this post is making me sad i wanna like this movie so bad!!! i will still go…
    here’s a pretty cool article about it also:

  • MissConception

    I haven’t seen the movie. But the initial opinion I formed over the trailers is that it looked like a generic action-based sci-fi flick with a generic shirtless hero who fights generic alien monsters. Seen it all before. Even if the story turned out to be decent, the marketing department still didn’t do its job. It didn’t get my butt in the theatre seat.

    This isn’t the 20’s where you could see two movies and an animated short for a nickel. Make something awe-inspiring, or you aren’t getting my nine dollars.

  • As usual, Hollywood loves to complain when a movie that has a blockbuster budget doesn’t do gangbusters at the box office. Well, duh! If your movie is $250 million to make it may take some time to recoup your losses. In all fairness though, this movie will do that ( if they don’t freak out and pull it) It’s entertaining and much better than I thought it would be ( based on the trailers) I’ll go see it again.

  • Serya

    Dunno, seems a pretty strange piece to me, the one on the New Yorker, full of contradictions.
    For example: Stanton always declared he had nothing to do with trailers and marketing – yet, the arcticle says quite the opposite, blaming the trailers for the flop.
    Stanton could have lied, but why dthen he didn’t care to mention himself with some title like “From the director of Wall-E and Finding Nemo” or even “based on E.R. Burroghs woldwide famous novels”, due to the fact that he is a huge fan of those books?
    Instead there was a DISNEY PICTURES all over…

  • OtherDan

    From the little I can gather from this blog post, I think Stanton is being portrayed badly as a scapegoat. And, the other remark he made seems taken out of context. He has good reason to be confident in himself and abilities. I think the real problems with John Carter were the title itself (who really knows of a John Carter?); and the cost of going to the movies…and, the unknown casting. The last one isn’t make or break, but big names do draw audiences when those first two factors are faltering. I remember when we saw the first trailers. My wife and I gave that sideways glance of approval and excitement that only good trailers elicit. So, the box office woes of John Carter have NOTHING to do with those trailers IMO. Sounds like a group of people who failed are trying to lay blame undeservedly to me.

  • Joe

    Stanton used the names of the characters, Mars, jumping and green four armed martians. Beyond that there is nothing of ERB’s book in this movie. Characters motivations and personalities were completely abandoned.

    It’s like if you remade Wall E and kept the desolate earth but Wall E was super confident and cool and he ends up saving Earth from an alien invasion.

    The reason the movie is a cliched mess is because Stanton didn’t trust the truly unique story and characters created by ERB. Stanton should be ashamed.

  • Just saw it…now THAT was some bad storytelling

  • Oliver A.

    I haven’t seen the trailer(s), didn’t know it was Andrew Stanton who directed it and didn’t read the book or knew anything about the movie at all and had a great time watching the movie! So did my friends. Maybe sometimes it’s just all about managing expectations and turning off your over-analytical minds.

    Could it be we became a little spoiled and overly demanding? I thought movies should be also about entertainment and a distraction from our all-day life, experiencing a fantasy world… I thought the movie did well on both. I felt way less engaged with the new star wars movies to be honest, but that’s a different story.

  • Jorgen Klubien

    One source of inspiration for Toy Story was ’48 Hours”. (Not that it matters much…)

  • Jorgen Klubien

    … oh, I liked John Carter by the way. Hope they get to do one more…

  • Joseph

    Maaaaan Pixar people need to get their heads out of their collective asses. This culture of “were the best, noone can touch us.” is so stupid. The only way Brave will win is if they call in some favors at the academy… Hopefully James Cameron vetos their asses! Maybe then they’ll wake up and smell the roses.

  • Karina Z

    I think Hollywood is full of intrigues and nothing happens without a reason (the golden compass anyone?). I guess Andrew Stanton made a few enemies or got in a way and was made aware to stay in his animation genre and not to compete with Cameron or Spielberg.
    Whenever I speak to someone who is very negative about the movie, I always ask them – why? Its interesting that many of them start mentioning the same things, the same negative reviews you see on the net. They always name the plot-holes, the cliche characters, poor 3d etc. Not one is open-minded once they have established whether they like it or not. You see, whatever I say, they always finish with the same exact argument – “well, it must be you, since the majority supports my point of view and the film has been regarded as the biggest flop by Disney itself”. Darn, how about disregarding the majority and just enjoying the movie unprejudiced, yes, a movie with minor plot-holes, but with awesome effects and action, just for the sake of entertainment?
    How come this movie flopped (besides possible conspiracy ;))? Well, it’s simple. The trailer was terrible, the title vague, you rarely saw any ads, so no ordinary folks (the mass audience) felt the need or interest to go to the premiere or see it in the first weeks (i speak for myself, my family and friends). The first wave of audience that went to see John Carter or Mars either knew the books or the story and this first audience (however small it was) could compare and point out holes and nag about different aspects, as movies often disappoint these book-fanatics. The rest, the mass audience which was unsure of this movie was now triggered into believing it was indeed a poorly made film.
    However, now, months later, the NASA events are doing the best marketing for this movie so far. I hope it stays this way and this movie will get more and more recognition. In fact, if you go to IMDB you will actually see that most people who’ve seen it give it a 7 or an 8, and IMDB staff gives it an average of 8,6. You will also see that there are only 2,4% who utterly hated it and gave it a 1/10 and 12,7% who gave it a 10 = meaning that there are still more fans than haters!

  • Richard McGraw

    I have read all the JC of Mars book twice, once when I was 13-14 years old and recently when I heard this movie was being made. I am now 65.
    I enjoyed the movie althought it didn’t follow the book real close but it was a fun movie.

    I read one critics review and his big reason that he didn’t like it was because “the one man flyer was taken from Star Wars, apparently the idiot did not realize this book was written way before Lucas came up with the Star Wars series (Lucas stole the one man flyer from JC books)

    Go see the movie it’s fun but better yet read the original books.