“John Carter” is in trouble, and it has nothing to do with the monsters and aliens the character will have to battle in his upcoming movie.
Tracking numbers indicate that interest in the movie is low. Disney has invested heavily in the film, reportedly sinking $275 million into it (though Disney claims costs came in at $250 million). A positive debut is critical for the company.
“John Carter,” which stars Taylor Kitsch as John Carter, has struggled with pre-release identity issues. It began with Disney’s decision to chomp the name “John Carter of Mars” to just “John Carter.” According to reports, the “of Mars” was dropped because of Disney’s history with movie titles containing a reference to the red planet. They have not done well.
Disney has also run an ad campaign that has not always stayed on track. As the Hollywood Reporter points out “an indistinct billboard campaign has left some unclear that the film is an Avatar-like 3D epic.”
Many are also unaware that this is a classic story from Edgar Rice Burroughs. In the book, “A Princess of Mars,” John Carter is a former Confederate Army captain of the American Civil War. He is mysteriously transported to Mars, where he becomes embroiled in an ongoing war between the planet’s inhabitants.
“John Carter” is set for release on March 9. Until then, Disney will be running TV ads in an attempt to boost the movie’s credibility and build interest in the film.