Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Michael Moore Says Clint Eastwood Threatened To "Kill" Him 10 Years Ago, Calls 'American Sniper' A "Mess" Michael Moore Says Clint Eastwood Threatened To "Kill" Him 10 Years Ago, Calls 'American Sniper' A "Mess" Woody Allen’s Next Movie With Joaquin Phoenix & Emma Stone Titled ‘Irrational Man,’  Sony Pictures Classics Nab Rights Woody Allen’s Next Movie With Joaquin Phoenix & Emma Stone Titled ‘Irrational Man,’ Sony Pictures Classics Nab Rights Paul Thomas Anderson Says 'Edge Of Tomorrow' Is "F*cking Great," Also Loves 'Grand Budapest Hotel'  Paul Thomas Anderson Says 'Edge Of Tomorrow' Is "F*cking Great," Also Loves 'Grand Budapest Hotel' 10 Unaired TV Pilots By A-List Directors That We Want To See 10 Unaired TV Pilots By A-List Directors That We Want To See The 10 Best Films Of 2007 The 10 Best Films Of 2007 'Kick-Ass' Creator Mark Millar Says A Hit-Girl Solo Movie Was Once In The Works With 'The Raid' Director Gareth Evans 'Kick-Ass' Creator Mark Millar Says A Hit-Girl Solo Movie Was Once In The Works With 'The Raid' Director Gareth Evans Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon & Leslie Jones To Lead Paul Feig's 'Ghostbusters' Reboot Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon & Leslie Jones To Lead Paul Feig's 'Ghostbusters' Reboot 30 Films You Forgot Were Oscar Winners 30 Films You Forgot Were Oscar Winners Watch: Tom Hardy & Gary Oldman Face Off In The First Trailer For Thriller ‘Child 44’ Watch: Tom Hardy & Gary Oldman Face Off In The First Trailer For Thriller ‘Child 44’ Review: Documentary 'Night Will Fall' Is A Powerful Reminder Of The Horrors Of The Holocaust Review: Documentary 'Night Will Fall' Is A Powerful Reminder Of The Horrors Of The Holocaust Harvey Weinstein Explains What Happened With 'Grace Of Monaco,' Says He Was Right About 'Snowpiercer' Harvey Weinstein Explains What Happened With 'Grace Of Monaco,' Says He Was Right About 'Snowpiercer' Harvey Weinstein Says Quentin Tarantino Has Changed The Last Chapter Of 'The Hateful Eight' Harvey Weinstein Says Quentin Tarantino Has Changed The Last Chapter Of 'The Hateful Eight' Sundance Review: ‘Slow West’ Starring Michael Fassbender, Kodi Smit-McPhee & Ben Mendelsohn Sundance Review: ‘Slow West’ Starring Michael Fassbender, Kodi Smit-McPhee & Ben Mendelsohn Watch: 8-Minute Video Essay Argues Steve McQueen's 'Shame' Is Actually A Critique Of The Modern Metropolis Watch: 8-Minute Video Essay Argues Steve McQueen's 'Shame' Is Actually A Critique Of The Modern Metropolis Watch: The Tampon Scene From 'Fifty Shades Of Grey' You Won't See In The Movie Recreated With 'The Sims' Watch: The Tampon Scene From 'Fifty Shades Of Grey' You Won't See In The Movie Recreated With 'The Sims' "Carry Bolt Cutters Everywhere": Werner Herzog Has 24 Amazing Pieces Of Advice "Carry Bolt Cutters Everywhere": Werner Herzog Has 24 Amazing Pieces Of Advice The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki Christopher Nolan Says His Howard Hughes Film Is Dead, But He'd Still Like To Do A Bond Film At Some Point Christopher Nolan Says His Howard Hughes Film Is Dead, But He'd Still Like To Do A Bond Film At Some Point

Anatomy Of A Flop: 10 Things That Went Wrong With Disney & Andrew Stanton's 'John Carter'

Photo of Oliver Lyttelton By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist March 12, 2012 at 1:48PM

The first mega-tentpole of the year arrived on Friday, with the release of Disney's "John Carter," the adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs' classic sci-fi pulp hero. The film was the live-action debut of the Oscar-winning director Andrew Stanton, the Pixar veteran who brought the world "Finding Nemo" and "Wall-E," which are among the top rank of Pixar's accomplishments both creatively and financially. But in the weeks and months leading up to release, the talks wasn't of a sure-fire hit, it was of a hugely expensive film that wasn't connecting with prospective audiences. The vultures circled, and as expected, "John Carter" opened to hugely disappointing numbers at the North American box office this weekend -- $30 million in three days, less than the $1 million budgeted "The Devil Inside" managed back in January. Overseas, the numbers were a bit sunnier with $70 million coming in, but all told, the studio is far cry from the $600 million they need to for this to start making a profit.
38
John Carter Taylor Kitsch

The first mega-tentpole of the year arrived on Friday, with the release of Disney's "John Carter," the adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs' classic sci-fi pulp hero. The film was the live-action debut of the Oscar-winning director Andrew Stanton, the Pixar veteran who brought the world "Finding Nemo" and "Wall-E," which are among the top rank of Pixar's accomplishments both creatively and financially. But in the weeks and months leading up to release, the talks wasn't of a sure-fire hit, it was of a hugely expensive film that wasn't connecting with prospective audiences. The vultures circled, and as expected, "John Carter" opened to hugely disappointing numbers at the North American box office this weekend -- $30 million in three days, less than the $1 million budgeted "The Devil Inside" managed back in January. Overseas, the numbers were a bit sunnier with $70 million coming in, but all told, the studio is far cry from the widely reported $600 million break even point for the film.

But numbers aside, for us, this is a story of creative disappointment. Stanton is an enormously talented filmmaker, and he had a top-notch creative team, including Pulitzer Prize-winning literary darling Michael Chabon as screenwriter, and, according to most sources, total creative freedom. And the film isn't a disaster -- it's rather likeable, has some neat moments, and unlike the majority of blockbusters, feels like a true work of passion. But it's also a mess. Which is curious, as Stanton comes from Pixar, a studio which has gained fame, and billions of dollars, by placing story first. Indeed, Stanton gave a TED talk on the importance of storytelling, waxing lyrical on how the form should lead towards a singular goal, a truth, with the ultimate aim of making an audience member care. However, none of that is easily evident in the final product of "John Carter." It's as though when he went into the live-action world, Stanton forgot most of what he'd learned about telling a story on screen.

Perhaps it was closeness to the material -- according to some, Stanton had dreamed of making the film for thirty years, and had a skewed perspective of the character's value, convinced that kids would come flocking at the mere mention of a "Princess of Mars" movie. Or perhaps it's simply that making a good movie is really, really fucking hard. But if you think this piece is bad, damn, you need to read this Brooke Barnes post-mortem/anatomy of a failure on “John Carter” that ran this Sunday in the New York Times when the corpse was barely cold (called tellingly “Ishtar Lands On Mars”).  It’s a pretty brutal and damning article that spends a good deal of time throwing Stanton under the bus for being recalcitrant, not listening to Disney execs and generally dismissing any creative feedback/constructive criticism from anyone other than Pixar folks. It’s a fascinating read.

The exact details of what exactly went down between Stanton and Disney we may not ever completely know, but here’s 10 things we felt went completely wrong with “John Carter.” SPOILERS AHEAD.

This article is related to: Walt Disney Pictures, John Carter Of Mars, Andrew Stanton, Features


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


E-Mail Updates