Interesting (and fairly brief) article from CNN regarding Disney chairman Rich Ross resigning from his position as chairman at Walt Disney Studios after the film John Carter cost the studio a $200 million dollar loss:
I suppose someone’s head had to roll after the failure of that movie.
The film’s score on RottenTomatoes.com was a very mediocre 51% among critics yet a decent enough 68% positive among audiences (read that here). While these results may not be superb, one can’t help but wonder why the film seemed to keep people away in droves.
Looking over the comments in that article, there is much speculation about why the film failed. Some felt that the movies massive $100 million marketing campaign was to blame, that they hadn’t even heard of the film until it was out and/or gone. Others speculated that the film was hampered by using unknown actors instead of more recognizable faces. Still others felt the fault lay in the very bland name of the film.
But the one thing I noted was that several posted comments, by people who appeared to have avoided the film entirely, noted that the whole thing looked silly and/or stupid.
The film’s failure can probably be attributed to all those things listed above, but I believe it is that last element that truly sealed the movie’s fate. I recall rumors seeped out well before the film was released that Disney Studio heads were uneasy about the movie, even as they pumped massive amounts of money into its budget. There was the feeling at least to me, that this film had the potential to be very bad. When the promotional material finally came along, an already bad situation got worse. Posters for the film were bland, plain and, frankly, underwhelming. The theatrical trailers, likewise, were uninspired. They didn’t give one much reason to think the final product was worth going to.
By that point, the early unease about John Carter became something much worse. With the combination of rumors and at best mediocre advertisement, audiences now anticipated a bad film. Not surprisingly, they were thus unwilling to spent their hard earned money on it, even in spite of early, generally positive audience reactions. Nothing could convince many to give the movie a chance, something I still see reflected in some of the comments on that CNN article website.
I suppose the bottom line is this: The studios need to try their best to keep any –any– negative early word from leaving their doors and making its way to the internet (I know, just about impossible to do). And if you’re going to spent $100 million on advertising your product, then make sure the firm you hired and spent that much money on actually does this well.
I suppose all this is easier said than done, hindsight is 20/20, and all those other cliches. Regardless, I still scratch my head at how colossal a failure this film proved to be, especially when, in the end, it doesn’t seem like it was all that terrible to begin with.