John Carter of Mars (as it was named originally before becoming simply ‘John Carter‘) was meant to be the next huge franchise. At least, that was what Disney had hoped for anyway. Disney have had great success with the average Pirates of the Caribbean franchise but have failed to replicate this in recent years with The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Tron: Legacy and Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. John Carter, the budget suggests, was thought to be a sure fire hit.

Unfortunately, Disney has recently announced in a statement to shareholders that John Carter has made substantial losses. £126 million to be exact. So why did the film fail? Here are a few possible reasons.

Taylor Kitsch had a lot of expectations thrust upon him.

 

The Cast: The films boasts some recognisable names: Thomas Haden Church, Dominic West, Mark Strong, Willem Dafoe and Bryan Cranston and usually this bodes well, but as good as they are none of them are that familiar with huge blockbusters (minus Dafoe in the first Spider-man film) or have a lot of mainstream cinema fans. The big risk was putting a relatively unknown actor in the lead role; Taylor Kitsch had a small part in X-men Origins: Wolverine but is best known for his role in television series Friday Night Lights. My point is, he is not a leading man, he is barely even a supporting man. He is not someone that Disney should have rested such huge expectations on.

 

The Marketing: This movie was given a lot of promotion, there have been trailers all over the television and internet for weeks, maybe even months. But none of the trailers really showed the audience what the film was about, there was nothing that could appeal to the audience or pull them in, nothing to hook viewers. Also, the name change from ‘John Carter of Mars‘ to just ‘John Carter‘ was a mistake in my opinion. At least with the reference to Mars in the title there is something different, it might interest science fiction fans more than just a person’s name would. The film could be about anyone!

Andrew Stanton: One of Pixar's finest but a risky choice?

The Director: This is not an insult to Andrew Stanton at all, more of an acknowledgement of the risk that was taken in his appointment. Stanton co-directed A Bug’s Life and directed himself Finding Nemo and Wall-E; all three are terrific films and he did a good job on them. But there is a difference between directing an animated film and directing a huge scale, big budget blockbuster. It was a risk taken by Disney, but if you’re not going to have an accomplished leading man then surely an accomplished live-action director is a must.

It’s All Been Done Before: The books on which John Carter is based were written over 70 years ago. They have influenced much of modern science fiction and therefore offers nothing new to the film scene anymore. Avatar, for example, used a similar storyline but did it on a much bigger scale. The characters were stronger, the inhabitants of another planet looked better and all in all the special effects were like nothing anyone had ever seen before. Newer science fiction, whilst based on John Carter, has left the source material behind leaving nothing fresh for that audience to see here.

Obviously there are more reasons that John Carter has flopped and these are just a few of my theories behind the huge losses. Disney may be slightly worried by the losses at the minute but with Pixar’s Brave coming up and Marvel’s The Avengers also arriving in cinemas over the next couple of months they can be in no doubt that they will make that money back easily.

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