Deadline reports that "tracking" (re: "do audiences care?") numbers for Disney's impending "John Carter" are looking pretty poor, despite good early reviews starting to slip out. Blame is being laid at the feet of bad marketing and the Mouse House's seeming indifference to the project (which was begun under a different regime than currently runs the show there.)
Below, a comment of mine from Jeff Wells' reporting on the same story:
The advance word is actually pretty positive, but the marketing has been ATROCIOUS. Starting with the awfu re-titling and continuing through the nonexistant print campaign and trailers that keep showing the same basic scenes and locations (the shorter promo clips show there's WAAAAAY more to this than the Arizona-with-aliens stuff) and deliberately making the fairly outlandish plot and events sound as generic as possible ("our world is dying..." etc) ...a lethal combination of chickenshit marketing goons ("don't say Mars! Don't say Mars!") and Stanton etc. leaning way too hard on saving the "good stuff" for theaters.
Hell, they haven't even TRIED for the "prestige boost" - i.e. like LOTR reminding audiences at every turn that they didn't just pull this out of their ass, that it was "THE" movie of this massive decades-long cultural phenomenon. For fuck's sake, every schlock airport novel that gets adapted has "BASED ON THE #1 BESTSELLER!!!!" screaming at the top of it's trailer for the VERY reason that it makes the public go "wait.. am I not in on something? maybe I need to see this, I don't wanna be left out." But Disney somehow decides it's NOT pertinent to tell people that this is based on one of the most important and influential works in the entirety of genre fiction? That it's endured for a CENTURY? That it's the source of Flash Gordon, Star Wars, LOTR, Avatar and damn near every other fantasy/scifi blockbuster thats ever been produced?
Disney does not give, and has not given, a fuck about this movie for a long time; that much is obvious. Like "Tron: Legacy," (and the stalled 20,000 Leagues remake) it's production is a leftover from the Dick Cook regime, when the big push was to build a "Disney Boy Brand" to compliment the princess brand and they were greenlighting every action/scifi tentpole that came across the desk... then it became easier/safer to just BUY a pre-built "Boy Brand" aka Marvel - why "waste" time on a question-mark like John Carter when you've got all-but-garaunteed blockbusters coming via Avengers and it's sequels PLUS at least two more Captain America, Thor and Iron Man sequels AND whatever else Marvel wants to run up the flagpole? -- ME.
It's wholly plausible that the film is good, even great - but if so, it's looking like this could be 2012's "the good guys lose" moment a'la "Scott Pilgrim." Pic opens March 9th.