Sifting Through the Vanity Projects in the Festival's Fourth Year
The Times is pretty brutal, laying the blame for the film's even-worse-than-expected opening at the feet of Disney's leadership and director Andrew Stanton. What was supposed to be Disney's Avatar has instead turned into a film that will likely force the studio "to take a quarterly write-down of $100 million to $165 million," and—holy shit, Deadline is even meaner.
This flop is the result of a studio trying to indulge Pixar… Of an arrogant director who ignored everybody’s warnings that he was making a film too faithful to Edgar Rice Burroughs’s first novel in the Barsoom series A Princess of Mars… Of the failure of Dick Cook, and Rich Ross, and Bob Iger to rein in Stanton’s excessive ego or pull the plug on the movie’s bloated budget … Of really rotten marketing that failed to explain the significant or scope of the film’s Civil War-to-Mars story and character arcs and instead made the 3D movie look way as generic as its eventual title… Disagree all you want, but Hollywood is telling me that competent marketing could have drawn in women with the love story, or attracted younger males who weren’t fanboys of the source material. Instead the campaign was as rigid and confusing as the movie itself, not to mention that ’Before Star Wars, Before Avatar‘ tag line should have come at the start and not at the finish. But even more I think John Carter is a product of mogul wuss-ism as much as it is misplaced talent worship.
JESUS. I wasn't crazy about John Carter—as a big fan of Stanton and co-writer Michael Chabon, I went in with high hopes, only to find that watching the movie felt kind of like sitting in a car while a teenager learns how to drive stick—but thanks in large part to Stanton's profile in The New Yorker, I was still kinda hoping Carter would do well. I have to imagine Stanton and Chabon's planned sequels would've been tighter, and in a time of reboots, rehashes, and remakes, it was refreshing to know that, no matter how it turned out, the people behind John Carter actually gave a shit about what they were doing.
The fact that John Carter airballed so hard isn't a surprise—hell, just from talking to people this weekend, I found that those who weren't turned off by the film's bland ads were turned off by the bland film itself—but still. Oof.