Such a fine line between A bomb and THE bomb, isn’t it? I almost called this post “Why John Carter Sucks”, but I don’t know if it does or not. I haven’t seen it. And actually, I’ve heard it’s a pretty good film. So where did Disney go wrong in this, one of their biggest flops ever?
Marketing… And usually the Disney marketing machine is really on top of this stuff. But they forgot to talk about the one thing everyone expects of a great Disney film…. The story. SOMEONE must have heard Walt’s ghost in the hallways yelling, “The story! Talk about the damn story!”
My first exposure to the film was at last year’s D23 Expo in which they kept showing the trailer while we waited in the obnoxiously long lines for the arena events. My first thought was, “… and what’s it about?” I saw lots of action and cgi and stuff blowing and… that was it.
And honestly, I’m really sick of overly-CGI’d films full of explosions. Even my girlfriend didn’t want to see this film based on the trailer and she loved all three Transformers movies. (She may have been dropped on her head as a child.)
As I saw more trailers, it didn’t make me care anymore for the film because I still didn’t know what it was about.
Their second giant boo-boo was the title… “John Carter”… Booooooring. If you had seen any visuals, what do you picture a film called John Carter as being about? A Wall Street banker? Some sort of everyman turned vigilante? Starring Denzel Washington again, of course. I don’t picture sci-fi or aliens at all. The original title was “John Carter Warlord of Mars” which would have opened it up a little bit at least.
Which leads to their third and final marketing sin… Disney fans love a good back story. But nobody knew this film was based on a book by Edgar Rice Burroughs. I wasn’t even aware of it until my better-read brother told me about it. I don’t necessarily believe in underestimating the public (though I’m proved wrong time and again), but you can’t expect people to mentally latch onto a book from decades ago that most probably haven’t read. It’s not like remaking Huckleberry Finn.
It’s like they haven’t learned anything from Twilight or Hunger Games. They should have released a new printing of the original book a year before the movie came out. Hype the crap out of that and tie it into the film after.
For a company that’s all about developing their verticals, they missed the boat on this one. I’m pretty tapped into the Disney community and what’s going on with the company. So if I didn’t get the message, the average Joe didn’t even know the thing existed.
So hopefully, they do a better job with the Avengers and Brave in the next few months. Their stock didn’t take too bad a hit on that one, but only on the hope that they won’t blow it again.