John Carter of Hollywood

(A response to the illuminating eloquence of Joltin’ John Caputo’s John Carter of Mars Movie Review–editor)

I am not an authority on Hollywood movies; I don’t know why they flop. Hollywood’s three biggest bombs were Cleopatra, Heaven’s Gate, and Howard the Duck. The biggest box office disaster was probably Cleopatra for Fox. It changed the studio, a change, people were laid off, scheduled movies could not be made, and those that were made had their budgets cut back. About a decade after the movie came out, Fox was to say it made a profit. However if they took all the money they invested in that movie and put it in the bank they would’ve made far more money.

[Graphic inflicted on poor Barry’s post by insomniac Webmaster]

Heaven’s Gate was not the biggest disaster in Hollywood history. Because Transamerica they sold United Artists the company soon after Heaven’s Gate, people felt it was that movie that killed the company. Howard the Duck actually lost more money, but the money was spread around. This was the era that cable TV and VCR sales began to take a stronghold of the moviemaking market. Since the movie was already presold to HBO and to the videotape industry no one was badly hurt by this movie. Having seen all three when they came out, I felt they had one thing in common. They were boring.

John Carter, not yet of Mars, will probably be an enormous failure but not big enough to bring down the studio. Why is this movie not working? It wasn’t boring.

First, and foremost, is why and how did this movie cost $250 million dollars? Since the movie theater owners get 50% of ticket prices, this movie would have to be one of the 50 top grossing films of all time just to break even when you throw in the ad budget. Excluding Star Wars, in this genre, Star Trek could be used as a good example. The Last one cost 150 million dollars to make the last entry in the series, and it took in $385 million dollars. Add to that the merchandising, DVD sales and cable TV rights the movie did very well. Whys wasn’t this movie budgeted correctly.

Many people say that the advertising was not very good. I agree, most people today never heard of John Carter, so I wish they had promoted the Edger Rice Burroughs name more. And the movie should have been called John Carter of Mars! The entire marketing was poor and the movie was never presented in a good light.

But I think it was a bigger problem. While this was the forerunner of so many movies like Star Wars, Conan, and Lord of the Rings, it had the sad twist of events that it was the last movie made. John Carter of Mars was a series that was great for its time, an era before rockets, and even before airplanes. Edgar Rice made his stories action and adventure, going from one battle and chase scene to another. Well today we seen those battles and chases onscreen dozens of time using great technology. Soon screen the John Carter stories show us nothing we haven’t seen before.

Taylor Kitsch did not have a great screen presence. He just did not carry you through the movie. While guys like action, most women like to have some plot and there is very little plot here. What plot there is you have seen before and you know what’s going to happen .This is at best a Saturday afternoon B-movie that you don’t take your girlfriend to. Now while guys will like Lynn Collins, I don’t think a girlfriend would like Kitsch in the same way, he just doesn’t have the stuff to carry you through the movie.

While there are a few famous actors that appear in the movie, they are all motion captured people. It really doesn’t matter that William Dafoe has a major role. He’s computer-generated as a forearmed green Martian and you never know who it is. Also, I keep reading how people don’t like computer-generated humans, one of the problem Jar Jar Binks had. Well a huge portion of this movie is with computer-generated characters.

No one wants to say this, but bad movie reviews often don’t hurt a movie that has a big buzz or great word-of-mouth. Well this movie did not open to a great buzz but word-of-mouth is killed it. While the fan boys may love it, no one else is wild about it. No one else thinks it’s exceptional or new.

This will not be the biggest bomb in Hollywood history by a long shot. Because of the overseas market it has taken nearly $200 million and will do more money on cable TV and DVD. If the avengers do well this summer the Stinger will be off Disney.

2 thoughts on “John Carter of Hollywood”

  1. It’s interesting that Disney jumped on the bandwagon against their own movie…helping to promote it as the “biggest flop” ever.
    Facts are…even if it flopped…it wouldn’t affect Disney in the slightest. as very little of their revenue comes through the movie division…
    As of today (3/26/2012) a mere 2.5 weeks since it opened…it’s pulled in $62 million domestically and $172 million in the foreign market…and the foreign market figures do not include the recent release in China…nor the upcoming April release in Japan…Which means so far it’s taken in $234 million in less than 21 days…Hmmmm…Disney should wish all their flops were this bad.
    Considering that over 60% of a movie’s income comes from foreign sales these days…and we haven’t even mentioned DVD and rental sales…I think John Carter is going to do just fine in spite of Disney…


  2. Stephan, I just disagree with you slightly. First, a $200,000,000 loss does affect the balance sheet and lowers profits and dividends, but it won’t kill Disney, of course. But I don’t think it “it wouldn’t affect Disney in the slightest” is accurate. But it will mean there be no sequels to the movie.

    According to Box Office Mojo the movie did do $10 mil in China and that is included in the figures. A point I made is that, you are right, this movie should have been made so $234 million made a profit, or even a break even. Where the heck is the money for this money, it’s not on screen.

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