Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Andrew Stanton Vs. Disney

I recently saw Disney's new live action picture, John Carter. I realize that we are not quite a fourth of the way through 2012, but so far, JOHN CARTER is the best movie of 2012. The script (adapted by Michael Cabon no less) is transcribed from Edgar Rice Burroughs' nearly century old story into 21st century vernacular. There's great action sequences and most of the special effects are seamless (there's only one scene that isn't). The movie has the potential to introduce a whole new audience to Burroughs' John Carter novels.

However, the movie had one of the worst marketing campaigns I've ever seen. The movie made $30 million in it's opening weekend, which was better than Hollywood number watchers were expecting, but far below the $250 million+ budget. The film did better on Saturday and Sunday than Friday, which suggests the film had some good word of mouth.

Disney seems to be throwing Stanton under the bus. "Reports are now surfacing" that Stanton was the one responsible for the poor advertising/marketing campaign. Really? I know Andrew Stanton wrote a huge amount of blockbuster animated films and directed several of those, too. But, this is a Disney picture. Disney is a king of marketing and cross-promoting. The trouble with the JOHN CARTER campaign started because Disney execs got scared when last year's MARS NEEDS MOMS bombed so bad. That movie bombed so bad that they forced Andrew Stanton to rename the movie from JOHN CARTER OF MARS to JOHN CARTER. That in itself was a very foolish marketing and advertising mistake. John Carter found fame on Mars, not Earth. The execs should have embraced that, but were too scared because of MARS NEEDS MOMS. There's so many ways that they could have marketed the film so it would get some buzz, but they didn't. Now they are blaming Stanton. Personally, Stanton probably was so involved in the actual making of the movie, that after they pulled the "OF MARS" from the title, he was so ticked off it probably made things worse.

With that said, you should go see JOHN CARTER. It's got something for everybody (men, women, kids, and old people). The story is well told. There are some really great effects that for the most part are seamless (there's only one scene in the whole movie that looks fake). It's the best movie of 2012 so far.

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