Our long-wished-for ERB adaptation is already, a few days before opening, the latest Hollywood disaster, with comparisons to ISHTAR and other mega bombs. The Daily Beast has a super-lengthy expose on the Game of Thrones-like studio politics of former head Dick Cook, who greenlighted the film, and current head Rich Ross, who has enemies of his own:
In fact, heads have already started to roll right out of the Team Disney building and onto Dopey Drive in Burbank. In January, Disney Studios worldwide marketing chief MT Carney, who arrived with much fanfare in 2010 from the New York advertising world, was out after a string of failures (she said at the time she was returning to New York to be with her kids). Meanwhile, at studio commissaries around town, the long steak knives are already out for Disney Studios chairman Rich Ross, who’s managed to make more than a few enemies in his short time at the helm. Disney insiders say that Ross has the backing of CEO Bob Iger, who plucked him from Disney’s television division to run the studio in 2009, and that the failure or success of John Carter won’t change that.
Despite this, Monday Morning marketing directors are already tossing out rope lines of advice, hoping Disney can glom onto one. The bizarrely lame marketing campaign—presumably overseen by the departed Carney— is the target of the most armchair analysis, such as this piece: John Carter: 6 Ways To Fix The Poor Marketing Campaign. Among the suggestions: use the above fan-made trailer, which is infinitely superior to anything the studio has rolled out.
Another post at She-conomy points out that JOHN CARTER’s tracking among women has been miserable. Women simply hate it—what am I, chopped liver?—but that doen’t have to be so:
This is a text book case of marketers looking at women through stereotypical lenses. Which, as we have discussed, can be even more dangerous than not targeting them at all. In a botched attempt to engage women, Disney marketers have abandoned the fundamental significance of the creative concept of the movie, further alienating even the most loyal of fans.
They claim that women do not like “overtly sci-fi elements.” So, they solve this by taking the words “of Mars” out of the title? Okay, to begin with: It’s. A. Martian. Movie. Not to mention, it’s considered one of the landmarks of science fiction. Yet, they have decided to “hide” this to dumb-it-down for women? Taking “of Mars” out of the title degrades the creative genius of Edgar Rice Burroughs and the rich history of the John Carter of Mars™ series. Facts that would actually make it even more interesting to women by the way.
While it’s tempting to see the tattered Disney marketing exec standing bewildered like a reality show contestant as the crowd throws out dozens of conflicting suggestions, there’s one in the Moviefone post that really makes sense: Why in a movie with no stars but plenty of characters, didn’t they release those character one sheets that EVERY movie does? Character would have connected better with female movie goers than just a trailer and Arcade Fire, I think.
As fleeting as the hope may be, to paraphrase Carter’s catch phrase, “This movie still lives.”
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.