Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...

Dominic West Says The Original Marketing Plan For 'John Carter' Was Way Better Than What Was Eventually Used

by Kevin Jagernauth
November 28, 2012 1:25 PM
  • |

As 2012 draws to a close and the year in movies gets reduced to a bunch of lists, when folks look back on the flops, Disney's "John Carter" will be at the top of the pile next to "Battleship." The studio's long-in-the works sci-fi adventure completely missed with audiences, divided critics, and was at best viewed as a missed opportunity, or worst as an expensive folly. Disney took a $200 million hit on the project, it may have cost Rich Ross his job, and while a small contingent of fans are clamoring for a sequel, that's probably never going to happen. Instead, we can continue to nitpick what went wrong with the movie, and most everyone can agree the marketing did "John Carter" no favors.

The AV Club recently chatted with Dominic West, who played the villain in the movie, as part of their Random Roles feature, and he reveals that the original marketing plan he saw was leagues ahead of what was eventually used. "It was terrible! And it was completely changed!" he exclaimed. "I saw it two years ago, after we shot it, and they had the marketing campaign already out and it was amazing. But for some reason they got rid of all that, and they failed to mention that this was the granddaddy of science-fiction adventure stories, so everyone was going, 'Why haven’t they got people who sound like the ones in Star Wars?' When, in fact, the whole point was that 'John Carter' inspired 'Star Wars.' So I think they did mess that up a bit."

Indeed, it's been reported that director Andrew Stanton spearheaded and controlled the marketing of the film, and rejected many of the ideas Disney's own team came up with, which seem to be the materials West had seen earlier. In any case, it's another interesting nugget in the story of "John Carter," the kind of mistake Disney hopes to never make again. And indeed, it's probably no shocker that their next space adventures are going to be founded on the safe and beloved "Star Wars" series. 

  • |

More: John Carter, Dominic West

Free Indie Movies and Documentaries    


  • Rick Tucker | June 8, 2014 3:41 PMReply

    The stated assertion that Stanton was in charge of marketing and that he rejected better marketing is a big fat fiction and I'm surprised it was allowed to be included. Directors do not run the marketing of their films for the simple reason that marketing literally starts while the film is being made and it's always handled by someone more closely allied to producers. The reason is simple; producers lined up the money and are responsible for turning a profit or sinking the ship if they think they can't. It's a very political process, not a creative one. Top that off with much earlier statements from the actual marketing director and how she complained their wasn't enough of the finished film to exploit for trailers (high FX content is always a bane and being tweaked even within days of a film's release), so given that how could the film director be in charge of marketing the film? Then there is another fact and that's the producers complained that Stanton didn't have enough, or any "help" from the studio, that indeed they resented his closed door approach to making the film. So he's control freak behind and in front of the camera? No director is an island cut off entirely from all the influences of those who got together the funding. He also can't be ten places at once, like the guy overseeing every aspect of film making AND running an entire promotional campaign.
    Whoever made the suggestion that essential this is ALL on the director is part of the same problem the film was plagued with- the effort to undercut it for reasons they are loathe to come clean on. And what about Stanton's own tweets to fans encouraging them to see the film in spite of the trailers used in the big campaign?

  • ade | January 10, 2013 8:55 AMReply

    Wouldn't have hurt anyone to put, "From the director of Wall-E" on the poster, would it?
    The awful photoshop job that publicised the film here in Sweden was almost like they wanted it to fail.

  • Dan | December 17, 2012 12:00 AMReply

    Well, I'm a big ERB fan and I will say that there was a good film embedded within John Carter, but the film's three different openings and material setting up for additional sequels should have been jettisoned along with the Disney-esque Martian dog. Also, this is the first time that I heard Stanton was responsible for the marketing failure of the film. I think the reason that the big chunk of Disney's marketing team quit was because they dropped the ball. Disney has had a long history of not understanding sci-fi movies and John Carter is its most recent example.

  • PJC | January 4, 2013 6:58 PM

    I completely agree. This film had a good story to tell, but then it zigged when it should have zagged. Get rid of whatever's not in the actual "A Princess of Mars" story (the god-like beings who can change form were unnecessary) and you still have a great—a better—story to work with. Fiddling around with something that's already wonderful just makes it less so. I'm surprised Disney didn't have someone on top of this. Did they even know what they were making?

  • Justin | December 7, 2012 3:28 PMReply

    John Carter is an amazing film. I think it should be pretty obvious to everyone now with their acquisition of lucasfilm why they dumped JC...even though JC made Star Wars possible.
    I am also of the opinion that Disney should relinquish the JC rights and let another studio do the rest of the trilogy. Or maybe Stanton has already made a back room deal to so the next after Finding Nemo 2...that would be cool.

  • rick | December 3, 2012 11:25 AMReply

    Just saw the flick on the movie channel. Awesome...just amazing. Whomever is of the opinion that the movie was of little calibre has no knowledge of the original story and it's origins. A sequel is definitely needed to rsuscitate the franchise. And a better marketing campaign.

  • Maegan | November 29, 2012 1:09 AMReply

    I thought John Carter (of Mars) was a lot of fun. It's a shame it doesn't get the recognition it deserves.

  • 44 | November 28, 2012 9:44 PMReply

    People can make whatever excuses they want, but the movie just sucked. John Carter isn't going to be remembered fondly -- not because the marketing dept. took the wrong approach -- but because the movie was lame

  • John Allen Small | November 29, 2012 9:57 AM

    "John Carter" most definitely did NOT suck! As far as I'm concerned it's STILL the best movie that's been released this year. The movie got a STANDING OVATION from the audience I saw it with - movies that suck do not get that kind of response. I hope ERB Inc. brings the property to another studio and the actors return for a sequel; this movie surely deserves one more far more than a great many other films I can think of that were truly lame but got sequels anyway.

  • Robert Coplin | November 29, 2012 12:02 AM

    I have to disagree with you about the movie John Carter being lame because myself and a lot of other people people think the movie should have done a lot better at the boxoffice then it did.Let me say we are trying to get Disney to do a sequel to John Carter.

  • Jan Austin | November 28, 2012 4:16 PMReply

    GREAT interview and comments by Dominic West! Yep, that just about sums up what happened to John Carter. And really a shame, because for every negative critic, troll, or naysayers who have come along, there are literally thousands and thousands of people who have joined those of us who do want to see a Sequel say how disappointed they were, after viewing John Carter on DVD, that they listened to Disney/Critics and never had the chance to see it on the big screen. John Carter was a brilliant film, had an excellent cast, excellent effects and characters, and Andrew Stanton did a fantastic job making this film. A shame politics entered in to the marketing of this film. Go Barsoom!

  • Chuck | November 28, 2012 4:09 PMReply

    Just saw this a couple of months finally and loved it. Such a shame...

Email Updates