Monday Morning Quarterback Part I
By BOP Staff
March 13, 2012
They should have gotten Noah Wyle
Kim Hollis: John Carter, which you may have heard was kind of expensive, opened to $30.2 million. What are your thoughts regarding this result?
Bruce Hall: Disney sure picked the right character for a $250 million action movie, didn't they? They sure gave it a catchy title, didn't they? And they sure went out of their way to market it well, didn't they? I suppose the good news is that in addition to the rather soft domestic opening, the film picked up another $70 million overseas. And Taylor Kitsch seems like a nice guy, so there's that. Critical reception to John Carter has actually been better than any of the Transformers movies, but giant fighting robots blowing shit up is a known quantity that people seem to have no problem embracing. Meanwhile, outside of a relative handful of bookworms and science fiction buffs, the general public is by and large completely ignorant of John Carter. So, it would seem appropriate to have put together an imaginative marketing campaign. Who is this guy? What is he doing jumping around like that? Why is he surrounded by strange monsters, crazy looking spaceships and evil guys with British accents? In other words, prospective viewers needed at least a baseline answer to the question: "What the hell is this?"
The ad campaign for John Carter was notoriously confusing and vague, providing viewers absolutely no point of reference and no motivation. Even if your story is hard to describe, you at least need to have a visual or thematic hook that makes the movie look positively unmissable - a la The Matrix, or Independence Day. Sadly, John Carter had none of these things. The bleeding isn't quite as bad as many had predicted but when you figure in the rumored marketing costs, this movie has next to no chance of ending up in the black. When the dust settles, John Carter will be in the conversation for Goat of the Year.
Brett Beach: Random thoughts - Why did Noah Wyle's character from ER get a multi-hundred-million dollar Disney movie made about him? And why is someone named Kitsch starring instead? Is it a prequel, like The Carrie Diaries? Con-fu-sing. I won't second guess the Disney team but it seems transparent that "of Mars" got dropped in the wake of Mars Needs Moms (No John Carter of Mars Needs Moms jokes then?) in an attempt to avoid the "red planet" curse. I see this as Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader time only without the first two films in front of it. A $70 million overseas opening is great and it looks like that is where this is going to have to count on its future grosses. I have heard they already committed to a sequel. Bless them for their faith.
Tim Briody: In and of itself, $30 million's not terrible. It's the negative cost that's going to make this an albatross. You don't spend this kind of money on the first entry in a franchise where probably 10% of the audience was familiar with the source material, and I'm probably being generous there. Yes, it's playing well overseas but Disney was hoping to establish a new franchise with John Carter and it didn't take.