Sunday, April 22, 2012

Who Is John Carter?

2012 has witnessed one of the worst busts in movie history with Disney’s release of “JOHN CARTER” which has resulted in a predicted $200 million loss to the studio and the resignation of its Chairman Rich Ross. (BBC: Disney film bossRich Ross resigns after John Carter flop).  This year also marks the 100th anniversary of writer Edgar Rice Burroughs most acclaimed works, TARZAN and PRINCESS OF MARS which were both originally published in 1912.  John Carter is the hero in PRINCESS OF MARS and the ten books that follow in Burroughs’ series of Mars adventurestories.  I wonder how the “JOHN CARTER” movie would have fared at the box office if Disney had marketed it as “a science fiction classic from the writer of Tarzan.”  That would have caught my interest?  Instead I remember seeing trailers for this movie that I thought looked like a rehash of scenes from Star Wars, Flash Gordon, Buck Rodgers, and Dune.  I hate to admit but I saw these trailers and didn’t know who John Carter was until I did a little looking into it. Well in reality, Edgar Rice Burroughs’ PRINCESS OF MARS and its sequels were some of the earliest science fiction that inspired people like Philip Nowlan, Alex Raymond, Gene Roddenberry, George Lucas, James Cameron and Stephen Spielberg.

Some Edgar Rice Burroughs fans created this trailer that gives a more interesting portrayal of the movie than the Disney trailers:

In PRINCESS OF MARS, John Carter is a Confederate veteran who goes prospecting in Arizona after the conclusion of the Civil War.  While searching for gold, he has a conflict with the local Apaches and ends up hiding in a sacred cave while the tribe searches for him.  While in the cave, Carter stumbles across an ancient artifact that mysteriously transports him to the planet Mars.  On Mars, he finds himself with superhuman strength and agility due to the lesser gravity of the red planet.  From there the adventures begin and continue through ten more novels:  The Gods of Mars (1918), The Warlord of Mars (1919), Thuvia – Maid of Mars (1920), The Chessmen of Mars (1922), The Master Mind of Mars (1928), Fighting Man of Mars (1931), Sword of Mars (1936), Synthetic Men of Mars (1940), Llana of Gathol (1940), and John Carter of Mars (1964).  If you would like to enjoy reading these novels, has them available for FREE to download to a kindle or kindle app for iPad/iPhone.  CLICK HERE to download these free e-books.

I’ve never thought much about the marketing of a movie figuring that if it was good people would hear from word-of-mouth or critic reviews and go see it.  Disney’s JOHN CARTER fiasco shows that the value of having a good advertising/marketing/public relations plan and team in place to ensure the profitability of a production. If Disney had marketed the movie more on its sci-fi history it probably would have done much better at the box office.  I haven’t seen JOHN CARTER yet (probably will add it to my Netflix list when it comes out on DVD) but I have friends who have seen the move and said it was pretty good.  In fact, it has received some good reviews from critics too with Bonnie Fuller of HollywoodLife writing “if you want to escape and be totally entertained by a far better sci-fi action film than Captain America orThor —definitely get your 3D glasses on and get to John Carter!” and RogerEbert giving it a positive thumbs up as well in his review for the Chicago Sun-Times noting that the John Carter stories by Edgar Rice Burroughs played a part in inspiring him to be a writer and critic himself. 

Now that we know who John Carter is, this flick definitely is worth checking out.  Interestingly, Disney spent more money to film/produce JOHN CARTER than James Cameron spent creating the blockbuster hit AVATAR; yet Cameron said in an interview with the NEW YORKER magazine in 2009 “With Avatar I thought, do something in the Edgar Rice Burroughs mould, like John Carter of Mars.” Oh the irony!

For more on Edgar Rice Burroughs visit his official website: 

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