Vids I Dig 409: Filmento: ‘John Carter’: How Disney Lost 200 Million Dollars

From Filmento’s YouTube description: Although 2013’s The Lone Ranger might’ve become the biggest box office flop of all time, Disney was not resting on their heels in that time period because just one year earlier they released another huge summer blockbuster flop, John Carter. This project was based on a book that was hot in the early 1900s, A Princess Of Mars, and ultimately became the first film in history to lose more than 200 million dollars. Business reasons aside, the core factors that contributed to this are quite similar to the main problems with The Lone Ranger, but only functioning in very different ways. So, in today’s Anatomy of a Failure, let’s see what Disney did with John Carter that broke the record of a 200 million dollar box office bomb. Well, firstly it’s like a mix of Lone Ranger and Mortal Engines which is not so great box office wise, but maybe there’s something else too.

Comic Review: Warlord of Mars, Vol. 1

Published: October 12th, 2011
Written by: Arvid Nelson
Art by: Lui Antonio
Based on: A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs

Dynamite Entertainment, 275 Pages

Review:

I never was a big fan of the Barsoom stuff by Edgar Rice Burroughs. That’s probably because I never read the books and have just had vague knowledge of the characters John Carter and Dejah Thoris. However, since Thoris has been appearing in lots of crossovers with other characters I’m a fan of, I wanted to check out her earliest stories. Also, with the Star Wars, Star Trek and Doctor Who franchises putting out a lot of bullshit the last few years, maybe it is time to give the Barsoom franchise a shot.

This was a cool story and I like the world that these characters live in. I also recently watched Disney’s John Carter for the first time, as I wanted to compare two different versions of this same story. Both this comic and that movie are adaptations of the first Barsoom novel, A Pricess of Mars.

For the most part, the film and this comic are pretty close, narratively. There are some small differences and I’m not sure which is closer to the novel but I definitely prefer the look of the Martians in the comic and the more adult tone. Here, the Martians look like four armed Hulks with orc-like heads and tusks. In some ways, it reminded me a lot of the Planet Hulk storyline.

The story is well presented and it flows nicely. My only real complaint about this was the art. It’s not terrible but it feels rushed and a bit overly fantastical. Also, Dejah Thoris is basically naked minus her pasties and loin cloth. I’m not sure if that’s how she appears in Burroughs’ book but it felt a bit unnecessary and I’m no prude. I’m a fan of boobies for sure but I felt like an old perv reading this while waiting for my order at Five Guys.

Warlord of Mars was amusing and entertaining though. I’ll probably check out more of these stories by Dynamite, in preparation before reading some of Dejah Thoris’ crossovers with Vampirella and Red Sonja.

Rating: 6.5/10
Pairs well with: Dynamite’s other Barsoom related comics.

Film Review: John Carter (2012)

Also known as: John Carter of Mars, A Princess of Mars, Barsoom (working titles)
Release Date: February 22nd, 2012 (Los Angeles premiere)
Directed by: Andrew Stanton
Written by: Andrew Stanton, Mark Andrews, Michael Chabon
Based on: A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs
Music by: Michael Giacchino
Cast: Taylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins, Samantha Morton, Mark Strong, Ciarán Hinds, Dominic West, James Purefoy, Willem Dafoe, Don Stark, Bryan Cranston, Thomas Haden Church, David Schwimmer, Jon Favreau

Walt Disney Pictures, 132 Minutes

Review:

“Did I not tell you he could jump!” – Tars Tarkas

I got to be honest, I didn’t think I’d get much out of this film but I was pleasantly surprised.

I never planned to watch it but I recently started reading Dynamite Entertainment’s comic book adaptations of the Barsoom stuff (titled Warlord of Mars) and I wanted to see how similar the comic book version of A Princess of Mars was to this film, a live action version of the same story.

They were pretty close, for the most part. Having never read the novel though, I’m not sure which is closer to the source material. I’d assume the comic though, as Disney loves to put their own stamp on their adaptations.

This is an action packed, epic adventure story. It’s grand in scale, is a hell of a lot of fun and is basically a swashbuckling romp on Mars. It’s like if you merged Disney’s Prince of Persia and Pirates of the Caribbean movies together and then threw them into outer space.

This was also one of the most expensive movies ever made but completely flopped at the box office and has become one of Disney’s biggest failures. The sad thing is that it wasn’t shit and the film did a fantastic job of world building: setting up future sequels. Honestly, having seen this now, I wish it would have evolved into a franchise.

I thought that Taylor Kitsch was convincing as John Carter and his chemistry with Lynn Collins’ Dejah Thoris was pretty good. But I actually preferred his relationship with his badass Martian dog, Woola. I smiled every time this cosmic canine was on the screen.

Plus, the Michael Giacchino score is superb. I loved the themes in this picture.

My only real complaint about the movie is that I didn’t like some of the character design. I’m not sure how true to the books the look of the Martians was but I preferred the bulkier, heavyset versions in the comics, as opposed to these skinny ones in the film. Still, the actors that played the Martians (primarily Willem Dafoe) did a solid job.

Additionally, the CGI was questionable in the quality of the characters. The special effects work great for the ships, vehicles, landscapes and architecture but the living, breathing characters felt artificial. And that’s kind of baffling considering the immense budget of this top tier motion picture.

None of the flaws are enough to distract you though. The total package is good and I enjoyed it enough to not want to nitpick the shit out of certain things that don’t wreck the film.

I hope that this being a massive flop won’t deter future filmmakers from taking on the Barsoom material. John Carter is a worthy enough character to live on in various forms forever. I just hope that someone can eventually make something that the people want to see because the Barsoom mythos is rich and deserving of further adaptations.

Rating: 7.5/10
Pairs well with: Disney’s Prince of Persia and Pirates of the Caribbean movies, as well as the first two Brendan Fraser Mummy films and Aquaman.