HOW TO MURDER YOUR OWN STUDIO
Okay, kiddies. It's time for your old Uncle Feo to tell you about is childhood.
How old am I?
I'm so old I saw the original Star Wars, episode 1, in the theater!
No, this was not in 1999, but 1977!
Today that movie is called Episode IV! But that's mere revisionist history to flog an inferior second set trilogy.
So back when I was a kid, I saw STAR WARS in 1977 and I was dumbfounded!
Sure, it featured a dopey exposition boy as the hero; had a ridiculously fussy robot for a comic sidekick that looked like a cross between the METROPOLIS robot and an Oscar statue, and featured a second banana, Han Solo, as the real lead (and the only iconic image of the first Star Wars trilogy besides Darth Vader himself). But besides its shortcomings, facepalm bad science (sound in space), gaping plot holes (hiding from the awesome might of the empire? Change your name from Obi Wan Kenobi to Old Ben Kenobi!) and mediocre acting (I like Mark Hamill, but seriously).
Despite its flaws, Star Wars amply made up for it all in a storyline that was both simple and
intricate (so much so that it needed a very long scroll to get us up to speed before we see anyone or anything). It had music that soared and threatened, emotionally bringing us to exactly where we needed to be and giving the movie a greatness that could have easily been cheapness in the hands of lesser composers. Above all, it not only had flawed characters you could recognize, but they were capable of heroics you wanted to emulate. And all of this was within a massive, far-fetched environment tat was somehow realistic while being jaw-dropping in its imagination and ability to amaze.
Since 1977 I've never seen anything else
to equal it. THE MATRIX came close, but its hideously bad sequels destroyed whatever powerful legacy it might have achieved.
Since 1977, Star Wars remained the game changer, though nobody knew that at the time. In its opening weekend, Star Wars was outgrossed at the box office by Smokey and the Bandit.
So why am I telling you all of this in a review of a 2012 movie? Because after watching JOHN CARTER, I believe I've seen the Star Wars equal.
In the time leading up to the release of JOHN CARTER, I absolutely did not expect to be writing this and I said so. The movie posters released in the U.S. are horrible! They appear designed to mimic te posters of the CONAN THE BARBARIAN reboot, and that was a failure!
This is not said as merely a matter of personal taste. Look at the billboards Disney posted everywhere! After nearly a year of watching Disney promote JOHN CARTER, and now having seen the movie, I can only add my voice to so many others who are appalled at the inept handling of the poster and billboard advertising of this film.
The trailers for JOHN CARTER are awful!
the trailers and posters is responsible for losing the movie a fortune at the U.S. box office and very likely a deserved cinematic legacy as well.
HOLLYWOOD AND MARS MOVIES
So far, Pixar & Disney's JOHN CARTER, the mega-budget movie based on Edgar Rice Borroughs second most popular literary creation is... Well it's not doing so great.
SO expensive, its success so vitally important, that Disney wisely decided to hire Oscar winning Director and co-Writer Andrew Stanton (MONSTERS INC.)! ... who had never wrote or directed anything but animation.
Then, they hired Pulitzer Prize winning writer Michael Chabon! ...who had only co-wrote a single feature film screenplay, SPIDER-MAN 2.
But they also hired writer Mark Andrews, who made his name by ... never writing feature films, only silent animated shorts and DVD extras like Jack-Jack Attack (THE INCREDIBLES on Video).
But when you send a whole lot of untested newbies into the fray, you put your best leaders in there to provide structure! So Disney went all out and hired the following Producers:
Lindsey Collins in her very first job producing anything (also stars in)!
Jim Morris in his very first job producing a live action feature film!
And Colin Wilson (CASPER, JURASSIC PARK: THE LOST WORLD, THE HAUNTING , LARA CROFT: TOMB RAIDER, TERMINATOR 3: RISE OF THE MACHINES, WAR OF THE WORLDS).
JOHN CARTER is a... "Troubled" production, and no one at Disney can understand why!
Right now, the Trailers are all looking very CONAN - 2011.
The big question for me is, "Who would have died?"
Suppose Disney had first greenlit a smaller budget live action feature film in the neighborhood of, say, $2 million or even $5 million. Suppose they let these untested, very talented folks work with real actors who have to really move, emote, and act. Act as flesh and blood people act, not as cartoon characters act (which is an altogether different emotional expectation of the audience). And suppose the writers had to write a story that took flesh and blood, not cartoony characters, into account in what they did and how they did it?
Suppose the Disney execs said, "Hey, if we're going to spend a whopping $250 million on this feature film, not including marketing and advertising, shouldn't we at least let the folks we're putting in charge of this movie have one practice run around the block?"
But Disney didn't do that. Instead, the same mistake they made with TRON: LEGACY, they repeated with JOHN CARTER. And that raises the big question in my mind. "Who would have died if Disney had allowed these (otherwise very talented) folks some experience first?"
MISSION TO MARS,
which launched on March 10, 2000, seemed to have a pedigree.
Brian DePalma was in the director's chair and was known, in 2000, for having very few hits and a ton of misses. Still, the man had feature film experience and when he did hit, Brian hit big with movies like PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE, CARRIE, Scarface, and MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE.
The screenplay was written by the Thomas Brothers, Jim and John, known for PREDATOR and...uh... WILD, WILD, WEST.
Yet Hollywood has a sterling reputation for its big kind heart and gave these guys another chance.
But only this chance: MISSION TO MARS was their swan song while the third writer on the screenplay, Graham Yost, when onto greater success.
When the smoke cleared, the $100,000,000 dollar MISSION TO MARS grossed only $110,983,407 world-wide. And in case you didn't know, the theaters showing the film get about half that.
With Tom Jacobson onboard as producer, and David S. Goyer onboard as one of the co-producers, on paper MISSION TO MARS looks like a decent risk. Unless the paper you are looking at is the script and the overly high budget for a script that modest. From cast to crew, everything about MISSION TO MARS looks great except that script and the budget it got. Whew!
Still, the writers and director of JOHN CARTER have more experience than the guy who directed 2000's RED PLANET. When Village Roadshow took on this turkey, Director Antony Hoffman had zero experience working on a movie, much less directing one (and he's never directed since). So, a guy who has zero experience directing? Let's throw an $80 million dollar budget at him!
At least screenwriters Chuck Pfarrar (DARKMAN, BARB WIRE, VIRUS) and
Jonathan Lemkin (THE DEVIL'S ADVOCATE) had some feature film experience prior to RED PLANET. Although judging by the credits at IMDb, only Lemkin has had a career AFTER RED PLANET.
When it launched on November 10, 2000, the story was so amazingly stupid that even NASA, which will routinely come onboard to offer science advice even on space farces that feature Sound! In! Space!, washed their hands of RED PLANET.
Now consider: you're making a hard core science fiction movie, you are advertising it as such, you are spending the money to attract that specific audience, and NASA - which even offered Science advisors on INDEPENDENCE DAY and ARMAGEDDON for Cthulhu's sake, has to Talk-To-The-Hand!
You would think that'd be a bright red flag, but not to Village Roadshow. "We have the budget boys, now let's spend! Spend! Spend! Screw the box office and screw the investors! We're producers! We got paid upfront!"
With a production budget of $80,000,000, RED PLANET's world-wide take was less than half that with a grand gross of $33,463,969. Ouch! And remember, the theaters get about half the gross.
After the twin disasters of RED PLANET and ANGEL EYES, Village Roadshow CEO, Bruce Berman wisely decided to get his fingers out of the creative mix as a producer, and just be an executive producer (the money man). His success following that decision proves its wisdom.
GHOSTS OF MARS
When audiences started kicking MARS movies to the curb in 2000, it was too late to turn around for John Carpenter's GHOSTS OF MARS. Already in the can, it was merely waiting for its debut.
After the twin disasters of MISSION TO MARS and RED PLANET, little Screen Gems just kept pushing the release date back and back.
GHOSTS OF MARS was finally launched on August 24,
2001 and opened at #9. When the worldwide box office receipts were in, GHOSTS OF MARS had a grand gross take of about half of its budget.
Why? Well we saw the movie trailers for one thing.
Carpenter, who also co-wrote the screenplay, had broad fan appeal in 2000 (his previous box office disasters, THE THING and BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA, have scary long legs in home video), but they wouldn't see his movies at the theaters. His last modest hit was 13 years earlier in 1987 with PRINCE OF DARKNESS, and his last box office disaster was everything that came after that. With a budget less than half of RED PLANET, Carpenter's "cowboys vs body-modification goth ghosts in space" turkey couldn't even rise to that lowered expectation.
So it's about 12 years later, we have a new Mars movie with a title that, coincidentally, shares the initials of the last director to make a big budget Hollywood Mars movie.
It's not like we don't want to see a movie about Mars. We'd LOVE to see a movie about Mars.
We just want to see a good one!
Jan 12, 2012
JOHN CARTER NEWS FROM AROUND THE WEB
January 25, 2012
John Carter director finds humanity on Mars
EMERYVILLE, California - He stands nine feet tall, and is equipped with four arms and tusks. The elongated body, covered with green skin, may seem emaciated, but be warned: This creature comes from a mighty warrior culture and can be a ferocious adversary.
His name is Tars Tarkas, and where do you find him? On Mars, of course - or rather on Barsoom, the name bestowed on the Red Planet by writer Edgar Rice Burroughs a century ago for a series of cult science-fiction novels which have been now disinterred by Disney for its new $250-million adventure, John Carter.
Continued at Vancouver Sun.
January 24, 2012
'John Carter' New Hi-Res Still – A Boy and His Woola
Walt Disney Studios has provided us a new hi-res still from its upcoming release of John Carter. The new still features John Carter (Taylor Kitsch) along with the Woola.
Continued at StitchKingdom.
January 11, 2012
Disney's $250M 'John Carter' Gamble: Otherworldly Hit or Cosmic Bomb?
The exit of Disney marketing president MT Carney on Monday creates yet more drama around "John Carter," the $250 million sci-fi epic that may be the biggest studio gamble since "Avatar."
The film doesn't hit theaters until March, but reports are rampant that "John Carter" has gone over budget and required costly reshoots.
Continued at TheWrap.
July 11, 2011
Everything You Need to Know about Disney's John Carter Movie
Can Wall-E director Andrew Stanton capture the pulpy greatness of Edgar Rice Burroughs' A Princess of Mars, in his first live-action movie? We've been keeping all our appendages crossed. Here's the first inside scoop on Stanton's John Carter movie — including a first ever shot of the alien Tharks!
Continued at i09.
This article copyright 2012 E.C.McMullen Jr.
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