It’s not new information that movie studios are constantly on the lookout for tent pole properties to make into multi-film franchises. They make a lot of money, provide many opportunities for merchandising, and it makes their fat checks even fatter. Never mind that it clutters the movie theaters with adaptations and sequels every year, leaving little room for new, original stories to be told. But that’s just the bitter screenwriter in me clawing his way out and it’s a discussion for a completely different time.
The thing about big budget franchise-making blockbusters is that they’re huge gambles. Big risk, big reward. So what happens when one flops? The studios are out millions of dollars and they’re left with an embarrassing check in the lose column.
According to Deadline, Disney’s ‘John Carter’ might be the next huge film to bomb. However, Disney doesn’t want us to know that, even though they appear to be writing it off. An executive who works for Rich Ross, the chairman of Walt Disney Studios and successor of the last remaining Eisner man Dick Cook, said, “It’s the last leftover from the previous regime of Dick Cook. We’re not running away from the movie. Our job is to sell it.”
But Disney might be selling it too much. In fact, it might be getting shoved down our throats. Since changing its name from ‘John Carter of Mars’ to just plain old ‘John Carter’, Disney has been marketing the film to all audiences. Yahoo points out that there are three trailers circulating right now. The first trailer shows off the eye candy that the film has to offer in the forms of Taylor Kitsch and Lynn Collins. The second trailer makes the movie look super epic by showing off the action and the special effects. The third trailer takes a more comedic approach and is filled with one-liners. I haven’t seen the comedic one yet, but every time I watch TV these days, I’ve seen one of the other two trailers a few times during each sitting.
John Carter has a built in audience already because of the fans of the original Edgar Rice Burroughs books, and because of the fans of Andrew Stanton of ‘Finding Nemo’ and ‘Wall-E’ fame. But judging by the early reports, neither is doing anything for the flick. We’ll just have to see how the public receives it once it’s released on March 9th.
If ‘John Carter’ does in fact bomb, then it will be following in the footsteps of many films that could have been great. For example, WB was hopeful for ‘Green Lantern’ last year, but it lost a good amount of money on that one. Same goes for ‘Jonah Hex’, ‘Land of the Lost’, ‘Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li’, and ‘Speed Racer’. The list could go on and on. Studios really hoped that these films would succeed and produce sequels upon sequels like ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ and ‘Transformers’.
Tough luck, Hollywood. Not that I can prove this or anything, but maybe if you start putting money into advertising some original films properly like ‘Fanboys’ and ‘Scott Pilgrim Vs The World’ and other films that would make some big money. It’s all a matter of getting it out there to the interested parties. I mean, look at ‘Inception’. There’s an original movie that was promoted like hell and look how well they did. Then again, I’m not a Hollywood exec, so maybe they know something that I don’t. I am, after all, a lowly writer, so what do I know?