Peter T Chattaway

John Carter

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Hmmm. Only 45 movies have grossed over $700 million worldwide -- and of those, 27 were sequels or prequels. The remaining 18 are:

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  • Titanic
  • Alice in Wonderland (2010)
  • Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
  • Jurassic Park
  • The Lion King
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
  • Finding Nemo
  • Inception
  • Spider-Man
  • Independence Day
  • E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial
  • Star Wars
  • 2012
  • The Da Vinci Code
  • The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
  • Up
  • Transformers

And at least one film on that list, i.e. Star Wars, didn't cross the $700 million until its 20th anniversary (although, when you take inflation into account, its original earnings certainly put it in this league anyway).

Of the others, Harry Potter and The Da Vinci Code were based on novels that were extremely popular at the time of filming (Jurassic Park was also a fresh best-seller at the time, though I can't recall if the book was as big a sensation as those other two books were; at any rate, the film had Spielberg and Dinosaurs and Revolutionary Special Effects going for it, in addition to the book's best-seller status), and The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia were based on 40- or 50-year-old fantasy classics that continued to have almost religious fanbases long, long after publication. Does John Carter have that kind of vitality, or will Disney's marketing team have to "educate" audiences as to who this character is, etc.?

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Based on the trailer, I'd say this movie will struggle to make $70 million, let alone $700 million.

That's not a comment on the quality of the story (which I haven't read) or the film (which I haven't seen, obviously). It's just that based on the trailer alone, even with the awesome Peter Gabriel/Arcade Fire song, this looks like a thousand other second-tier CGI action films, from Prince of Persia to The Mummy to heck, even the Pirates of the Caribbean films. Disney needs to do some fast and creative marketing if they want to set this apart.

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Does John Carter have that kind of vitality, or will Disney's marketing team have to "educate" audiences as to who this character is, etc.?

I'm not sure if that's a rhetorical question, but I'll answer it anyway.

No. The books are still in print, but my impression of the fanbase is that it's a very small (very passionate, but very small) subset of s.f. fandom.

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NBooth wrote:

: I'm not sure if that's a rhetorical question, but I'll answer it anyway.

Nah, it wasn't rhetorical. Or not entirely, anyway. I didn't want to assume that there wasn't some ginormous fanbase (at home or overseas) that I might not be aware of. (I say this, BTW, as one whose wife has a fairly big collection of sci-fi and fantasy paperbacks -- including most if not all of the books in the Princess of Mars series. I really should take those down off the shelf and read them soon, eh?)

FWIW, if we expand the list of films above to include those that grossed over $600 million worldwide, we find an additional 17 films, of which 8 are sequels or prequels. The remaining 9 films are:

  • Forrest Gump
  • The Sixth Sense
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
  • Kung Fu Panda
  • The Incredibles
  • Hancock
  • Ratatouille
  • The Passion of the Christ
  • Mamma Mia!

I don't see any based-on-a-hit-bestseller titles here, but it does occur to me that, apart from the Pixar titles, the other films that made it this big tended to be word-of-mouth hits (e.g. The Sixth Sense, or even the original Pirates of the Caribbean) or, in the case of Hancock, they happened to feature a Major Movie Star. The Passion of the Christ, meanwhile, is a rare example of a film on this list that did a heck of a lot better in the United States than it did overseas; most of the films that got this big (especially films like 2012, which grossed nearly FOUR TIMES as much overseas as it did in the U.S.) did so by appealing to the global audience.

John Carter doesn't have any Major Movie Stars, so Disney is presumably counting on the Pixar connection (even though this is not a Pixar film, and even though this is a live-action effort) as well as the foreign markets (where even films like Prince of Persia can be nearly three times as lucrative as they were in the U.S.).

And presumably they're also hoping for good word-of-mouth, of course, though the early buzz has been kind of so-so, at least as far as I can tell.

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There's a major feature story on Stanton in this week's New Yorker, which takes us to the set of the movie... and to an advance screening, which was apparently a huge success (even though Stanton, being Stanton, came out thinking about all of the things he plans to improve).

We learn a lot - including that "of Mars" was dropped from the title because it would scare away moviegoing women.

Edited by Overstreet

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Overstreet wrote:

: There's a major feature story on Stanton in this week's New Yorker . . .

Ahem.

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Oh well. It's too bad the whole feature isn't online. You can only read the whole thing if you're a subscriber. It's ten pages long, going into a lot of detail about the script revisions of past Pixar films, why directors were bumped off of projects, and how one scene in John Carter was developed step-by-step. I'm really surprised that I haven't read more about the Portland test screening. Sounds like it went better than Stanton had expected.

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Coincidentally, I was just going over the Pixar box-office stats in our Cars 2 thread, and I notice that, of the two films Andrew Stanton has directed so far, one (i.e. Finding Nemo) is their second-HIGHEST grosser ever worldwide (surpassed only by Toy Story 3), while the other (i.e. WALL-E) is their second-LOWEST grosser worldwide since the '90s (the only lower-grossing film of that period being the original Cars).

What this bodes for Stanton's claim that John Carter will need to gross $700 million worldwide in order to get a sequel, I cannot say. But I figured I'd toss that out there.

Side note: Only three Pixar films have grossed over $700 million worldwide: Toy Story 3, Finding Nemo and Up.

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JOHN-CARTER_810.jpg

John Carter fights a White Ape.

From the EW interview with Andrew Stanton.

[T]hey’re sort of an oversized gorilla in the books, and they’re kind of ubiquitous. They’re littered everywhere through at least the first several novels. They were always cool, just from a visceral standpoint, [but] they don’t really have a narrative function in the first book. So what we did is we made the White Apes a formidable creature that you kind of hear about throughout the movie, but you never really witness. There’s a subtle sense of anticipation for what these things might be like. Then Michael Kutsche — who did a lot of the designs on [the Johnny Depp movie] Alice in Wonderland – came up with this design on his own, for just their scale. He made them nocturnal, almost like moles — they stopped using their eyes, and just had a heightened sense of smell. We just love that. We needed a scene where Carter was going have to get out of his execution sentence in order to move the story forward, and we thought what better than having to go up against this formidable creature?

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Looks like an outtake from ATTACK OF THE CLONES.

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Looks like an outtake from ATTACK OF THE CLONES.

I'm afraid I had the same thought.

Of course, it could turn out to be that sort of thing done right.

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Looks like an outtake from ATTACK OF THE CLONES.

I'm afraid I had the same thought.

Same here, actually (although I guess that if I wanted to be pedantic I could argue that AOTC looks John Carter). Hopefully the next trailer (which I hear is due soon) will give us a better idea of what's going on.

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More images. Including Woola, John Carter's pet calot. Which, apparently, Beyond Hollywood is not letting me post directly here.

Gotta say, I kind of like Jon Favreau's version better:

4361674.jpg

In my own opinion, though, Woola should look more like this:

BostonTerrierPJ3Years2.JPG

Except bigger. And with ten legs.

Edited by NBooth

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l8I9eZGzNhM

The full-length trailer looks better than the snippit they showed on "Good Morning America," but I'm considerably less impressed with this than I was with the teaser. The arena looks very Attack of the Clones and the Green Men are just a bit more cartooney than I would like.

And I'm definitely in the anti-Woola camp. He looks nothing like a vicious Martian dog.

Still interested, though. How could I not be?

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The arena looks very Attack of the Clones

And the part where they're on the floating ship in the desert that gets blown up by a giant turret gun and there's a girl in a metal bikini is very Return of the Jedi. I kept waiting for Ewoks to show up.

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The arena looks very Attack of the Clones

And the part where they're on the floating ship in the desert that gets blown up by a giant turret gun and there's a girl in a metal bikini is very Return of the Jedi. I kept waiting for Ewoks to show up.

To be fair, Lucas stole the ships and the bikini from Burroughs, not the other way around. As I've said, this familiarity is going to be one of the movie's biggest hurdles.

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I've been listening to the Princess of Mars audiobook on my brand new cell phone these last few days, and it's been fun. But that trailer... some of the CG creatures still look *very* CG, and, um, yeah.

BTW, did I hear a snippet of the soundtrack for The Last Temptation of Christ in this trailer? Fitting, I guess, for a movie that features Willem Dafoe in a desert-like setting. :)

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Yes, that trailer cuts from Peter Gabriel's Passion to, I believe, P. Diddy's remake of "Kashmir," which is just one of the many, many, many reasons I will never see this movie. Wow. That trailer is terrible.

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I think it's just regular old Bond Kashmir, but I could also be wrong.

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I think it's just regular old Bond Kashmir, but I could also be wrong.

That's what I've been seeing it referenced as around the 'net. And, of course, if it's on the Internet it can't be wrong.

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As I've said, this familiarity is going to be one of the movie's biggest hurdles.

And I've seen nothing to suggest it will overcome it.

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As I've said, this familiarity is going to be one of the movie's biggest hurdles.

And I've seen nothing to suggest it will overcome it.

The teaser gave me hope, but everything I've seen since then has served to pull the movie down from "eagerly anticipated" to "anticipated." It'll take a lot for me to hate the movie, given my pre-existing affection for the books, but I want to love it, not not-hate it--and right now it's looking more like the latter than the former.

And Woola's wrong. All, all wrong.

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Yeah, I'm also in the "waning interest" camp. The teaser made me really excited, but this trailer makes me think that I'm more likely to watch it when I accidentally click on it instead of The Warriors on Netflix streaming.

Edited by Jason Panella

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They should have kept that arena sequence out of the trailer altogether. Sure, it's probably one of the biggest action/CGI scenes in the movie, but as many others have said, it simply looks too much like Attack of the Clones. Then again AOTC was almost a decade ago, so maybe they're banking on the fact that it won't stand out in people's minds after all this time.

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Wow. I've never heard of Bond. Their album cover needs more cleavage. I only listen to string quartet music when it's packaged in low-cut booty dresses.

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