On Martian Flops

Not that it’s any surprise, but John Carter is the new Waterworld. Or, it’s the new Mars Needs Moms. I feel bad for the red planet; don’t get no respect. (I also have to wonder about the reputations of its stars, director, and anyone else associated with the project; I’d feel pretty bad if this sinks anyone’s career.)

A melange of errors, hampered by an abysmal ad campaign and a giant-sized budget to make up meant the studio lost around $200 million. Damn, that’s a chunk of change; that’s the final nail in the coffin preventing any sequels, which could greatly enhance (or improve) the existing film.

Part of the reason is that Pixar is heavy on reshoots, the idea continual improvement; I read a while back that the film was supposed to release in 2011, and that Stanton turned in a two-hour fifty version to execs, who found it over-long and indecipherable. Ongoing updates and refinements came up with the version we see today, but all those reshoots eat up time and money, hence the film’s bloated budget. (A solid New Yorker article from last year holds all the info.)

I’m still at a loss as to the overtly hostile reception the film received from critics; I know a good half-dozen people who saw it, and nobody had anything as bad to say about the film as I did. I convinced my parents to see it, and they said it was enjoyable, having no knowledge of Burroughs’ creation. Even people I didn’t expect to like it did. It still has 70% user ratings on Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic. Granted, most of the people who liked it are SF fans, and who probably went into the film expecting to like at least parts of it. But I’m left wondering what film the critics saw, since it wasn’t the one I did.

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