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.