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Getting Carter

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Mark Kermode | 16:38 UK time, Tuesday, 13 March 2012

The long-awaited John Carter opened last weekend.

The film cost $250 million to make and the box office figures are so far pretty underwhelming - but does any of this matter?

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  • Comment number 1.

    They spent $250.000.000 on that? And Andrew Stanton doesn't care? That's one hell of an expensive bad home movie.

    And they wonder why piracy is rife when studios spend obscene amounts of money on rubbish like this and then they cry about losing money through piracy.
    I don't condone it of course but really Hollywood is like a child that's just completed a join the dots or colour by numbers picture and shown it to a parent and the parent has said 'That's nice honey, could you not draw your own picture next time...'

  • Comment number 2.

    I think it will end up right at $400 million worldwide. If China decides to pick it up as one of the few foreign movies they allow each year, that total could jump up to $500 million or more. China has been a huge box office over that last few years for film such as Avatar and The Dark Knight and have helped propell them to being two of the top five grossing movies of all time

  • Comment number 3.

    I haven't seen the film and i won't be going to see it so I'll place no opinion on the film except it didn't really entice me enough to be interested. I like disney and I don't really like to see a film flop because losing money is bad for the film industry. It does makes me realise all the money they spent was wasted when it could have been put into better use, like a good movie for instance. I also feel bad that Andrew Stanton who is terrific has kind of failed with this film if I go by your opinion Mr.Kermode (who wouldn't?) hopefully he can succesfully get back on his feet after this.

  • Comment number 4.

    I have just seen it and i've got to say it's not the best. Well thats an understatement to be honest but if you're going to make a film that long, and lets be honest that silly, surely it should be fun just and you should just enjoy the ride with your brain switched off. But it just wasnt. I dont think it would be better if it had a big star like Tom Cruise and do i care about big budgets? Well, no i dont. I also watched Equillibrium on the weekend and that had a budget of about $20 million ten times less than John Carter and yet Equillibrium was at least ten times better. However, that is not to say i dont care about how much money the film eventually takes for two resons. Firstly if it is awful and takes loads of money, ie Transformers, we will undoubtably suffer having to see a sequel made. But secondly if it is a brilliant film that doesnt do too well then it will never get a sequel but more inportantly the people who made it, I'm thinking Terry Gilliam etc, will struggle to find funding for other projects. No matter how good a film is the sad fact of life dictates that if it doesnt make money then the makers are unlikely to get another chance any time soon.

  • Comment number 5.

    I think the problems were only exacerbated when the filmmakers themselves seemed to lose confidence in the product. The director was defensive in his interview on the Five Live show and the studio clearly feared they had a turkey on their hands with this Avatar apeing tripe. So the question is why is there no A List star if, as you say Mark, that makes a guaranteed moneymaker more likely?

  • Comment number 6.

    I was thinking of going to see it until I saw what the critics thought of it. It appears that Dr K hated it, Roger Ebert gave it 2 and a half stars and Empire magazine gave it 3 stars (and found the movie horrifyingly average) and Christopher Tookey gave it a turkey rating.

    I think the problem with John Carter is that when it was a pulp scifi book, it was ground breaking but that was back in 1911. Since then all the major scifi movies have taken ideas from it and now John Carter looks very, very tired. With a $250 million budget, people were expecting a lot more and when you combine that with 3D added in post production, the people seem to be saying "we don't give a fluffin muffin about this movie in either 2 or 3D!" If a studio is spending $250 million on a movie, then it should be good. What Disney has done is throw a massive budget at a shopword story and ended up with a movie that in the minds of the critics (and more importantly the audience) is mediocre to very poor.

  • Comment number 7.

    Hi Mark,
    I saw it in Paris last week. I was worried about the 3D (which I dislike and try to avoid when I can); however, to me it was a pleasant surprise. I thought the story worked, the creatures were great, and I liked the fact that the director didn't take himself too seriously, there was humor and I could see the man behind Wall-E in it. I wasn't even greatly put off by the 3D, as I had been, for example, in Hugo (I know you liked it, but honestly, it was just as cheesy as any of Audrey Tautou's Jeunet films).
    The funny thing is I remember having seen Kenneth Branagh's Thor following your quite glowing review and finding *that* one to be a complete turd, utterly ridiculous from beginning to end. Perhaps I should take your 3D blockbuster reviews with a grain of salt in the future -with the exception of Transformers movies, of course. :-)

  • Comment number 8.

    Box office: embraced when it bolsters opinion (loved the film and it cleaned up / hated the film and it bombed), dismissed when it contradicts opinion (loved the film and it bombed / hated the film and it cleaned up). FIN.

  • Comment number 9.

    Dr K,
    I did see John Carter, except when I did, it was called Conan the Barbarian, Troy, Immortals, 300, and Prince of Persia. I’m (almost) through complaining about these lousy, overwrought movies. It's become difficult to even get frustrated that this is the kind of movie I have to look forward to in the theater.

    There is a silver lining in that movies like John Carter motivate me to catch up on old classics I haven’t seen yet.

  • Comment number 10.

    No, I haven't seen and I'm in no particular rush to.
    But what I have seen is Mark Atkins' "Princess of Mars" (2009) which, I'm prepared to bet, is a far more entertaining movie made for a fraction of the catering costs for "John Carter".

  • Comment number 11.

    I think Mark seems to have a bias towards this sort of material in general. If it has a lion cloth and sword he just doesn’t like it. He were none too kind on Immortals too. I say this upon the hearing silliness he placed on things like the names and places in the movie. I guess Twilight doesn’t deserve this level of ridicule despite the many avenues of approach?!
    I for one loved john Carter movie. I love this material. But it was bit lacking in some parts and was clearly heavily interfered with. It was not brilliant but it was still really enjoyable and not a turkey like many critics suggest. Conan The Barbarian was a true turkey.
    Yes the deserts got boring and yes some parts felt a bit dull. But then I thought The Assassination of Jessie James was unbelievably boring and I fell lacking. I am not going to dump on a film because I personally found it boring. If I do not like something, I am not going to tell folks it is bad when it clearly is not. It’s just not my sort of movie.

    The reason I want John Carter to succeed is because I love this material and I want more of it. This sword and planet material is true cinema popcorn fun in my opinion.
    It seems many critics have been dying to dump on this movie and now it has not done well, they feel all vindicated. I am not saying that Mark is one of these but here, it feels a bit like, “ha, I told you so”.

  • Comment number 12.

    I think what Andrew Stanton meant when he says he doesn't care is about the box office, was that he concerns himself in making the best possible film that he can stand behind. Although, John Carter, ahem...(of Mars) is silly, badly written and has clearly had studio interference, but it is never boring. I predict that it will under preform at box office and be remembered as a flop in witch some science fiction film fans will revisit.

    So do it care if it cost $250.000.000? No!

    Do i care if it makes that money back? Only if i want a sequal.

    So no.

  • Comment number 13.

    I have no interest in this film whatsoever. The fact that it cost a quarter of a billion dollars to make, makes no impact on me whatsoever. That said I'm a 30 year old man and perhaps I'm not the sort of demographic that gets impressed by how much money is spent on a film, unless it's a tremendously small budget and the film has an amazing word of mouth buzz going, or the subject matter is not the usual fare and has had a stupendous amount of money spent on it. The last time a budget truly impressed me was Titanic. 200 million, a truly Titanic budget. But only if a film had a budget of say half a billion dollars, or something that was astronomically huge would it make me sit up and take notice. As it is, the title of this film was uninspiring, the trailer made it look like Prince of Persia vs some Aliens, and it failed to inspire me to even consider going to see it, and I don't have any friends who have mentioned it to me, save for a die hard movie freak friend of mine who seems to see every theatrical release going. I think becoming interested in a movie just because it has a big budget is at best superficial and shallow, and at worst that notion just doesn't sit well with the current economic climate of the Western world. Extravagance and luxury are anathema to what most of the English speaking world is experiencing right now. We want films made by underdogs. I'm personally rather glad that this movie is not going to be a financial success. Slapping a big budget and Disney onto a movie does not a great cinematic experience make.

  • Comment number 14.

    If John Carter doesn't do well at the box office then we have to say that Disney have taken a spanking this year. Mars needs Moms lost bucket loads and John Carter could be another nail in the 3D coffin. I doubt that John Carter will warrant a sequel.

    I was really excited to see john carter after I heard of its influence on the history of science fiction however, after the wave of poor reviews I'm not so sure any more.

  • Comment number 15.

    I don't care if it makes money or what it costed and I could care even less about the film, I have no desire to ever see it.

  • Comment number 16.

    I saw it and have to say 10-20 minutes in I felt my life force draining away and knew I would fall asleep at some stage. The film was boring, overlong, derivatively constructed of a dozen or so much better films and worst of all for me born alienating and tired screen play which made no sense at all.

    But a question Mark - Are weekend figures still the legitimate marker for the industry to use? Its very rare that anything is packing out Friday and Saturday nights, most Multiplexes do cheap Tuesdays as well as Orange Wednesdays which seem to be the big nights these days.

  • Comment number 17.

    Isn't it interesting that so much of the media coverage about this film has been from an industrial/financial point of view?

    What does that portend for the film, the film industry, the media, and our societal response to the above?

  • Comment number 18.

    While the good Doctor's review didn't fill me with optimism I decided to view this movie with an open mind.I came out with an sense it was underwhelming and uninspiring and instantly forgettable,although the ' flimflom of the twididum ' language made sure you were concentrating,but even so sometimes it did disappear up its own ' tredalpip ' but to label it boring is in my view a little harsh,I think lost would be a better word.All the wizz bangs of the special effects made me think I've seen it all before and I think that's one of its main problems;the story has been plundered over the years from so many Directors and Writers there's nothing original left on its carcass.The studios panicky fingerprints are all over it;throwing everything they can at it to make it more palatable to a mainstream audience.This may be the most over egged pudding of a movie due to their interference.

  • Comment number 19.

    Well I enjoyed it. I saw it in London at the weekend. I haven't seen Troy, Immortals, Prince of Persia, etc. so clearly I didn't notice the lack of originality. As a female rapidly approaching middle age, I'm probably not in the studio's target audience; but I did enjoy spotting all the British actors in supporting roles!

  • Comment number 20.

    Seems like everybody want to dump on this movie even when they have not seen it. I think there's a touch of snobbery going around if I may say it. Though both folks on Film 2012 liked the movie.
    I am confident that if one were to rummage through each hater's DVD collection, there would be something that cost a lot, bombed in the box office but they felt was a decent movie. Mark has Howard the Duck.

  • Comment number 21.

    There is a piece about this film that can presently be seen on the front page of The New Yorker’s website. It’s called “Second-Act Twist” by Tad Friend. I won’t post a link, but it’s easy to find. I thought Andrew Stanton was having an off day when he was on the Radio 5 Live show, however, he seems to be a “Gluteus Maximus Opening” of the first, maybe even the Grand order, and this was his normal forthright state of being.

    Sorry for being subjective, rather than objective for a moment. Anyway, it is definitely worth a read for more background on the film and, more precisely - its troubles. Reading that review put me off ever watching the film. All the Martian names and mythology was Danny-Dire. It was so utterly dreadful that I physically couldn’t read it line by line – that’s how awful it was. Coming across like that in prose, there’s not a chance of it redeeming itself on screen.

    There are always calls for there to be a spending limit on electioneering in this country, perhaps there ought to be a maximum amount of spend on a film. And if it goes over a certain amount, a proportion of the excess must be put into something your local Independent cinema would show.

  • Comment number 22.

    I saw John Carter in 2D and thought it was merely ok. I've never read the books but after seeing the film it's clear how much of an influence the source material has had on science fiction cinema. This seemed to cause a sense of over familiarity that reoccurred throughout the movie. While the effects work was good, for some reason it didn't seem like all the $250m was up there on screen; unlike Avatar where you could spot the dollar signs in the pixels. Taylor Kitsch makes for a passable leading man but I couldn't help but think that an A-lister would have made the film more of an 'event'. I'm sure Disney are feeling the same right now.

    As for Stanton, I have a theory why he's very testy when the subject of money is brought up - he's never had this pressure on him before. All his previous work has been with Pixar who are always guaranteed to deliver a hit (even supposed artistic failures like the Cars movies have been reported to make over $1bn in merchandising alone).

    Before John Carter's release all Stanton has known is critical and commercial success. I'd say he's pretty envious of Pixar buddy Brad Bird who also recently moved into live action but wasn't asked similar financial questions with the hugely lucrative Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. Maybe he should have cast Tom Cruise as John Carter after all?

    And I think film fans should always care about how well a blockbuster does at the box office as it has a massive impact on what movies we can expect to see in the future. Imagine a world where Batman Begins was a flop - no The Dark Knight, no Inception, no Chris Nolan being able to spend whatever he wants to make quality blockbusters - and where The Adventures of Pluto Nash was so profitable that we'd currently be awaiting the release of a third sequel of Eddie Murphy's escapades. Let's all let out a collective shudder.

    Whether we would like to admit it or not - money will always be the deciding influence on what we will see on our cinema screens. Now where can I buy my IMAX ticket for The Dark Knight Rises? NOW.

  • Comment number 23.

    A little off topic here, but I'm confused as to why a film needs to make double its budget at the box office to make its money back - surely by definition, it would only have to take back as much as it cost? Is this something to do with the fact that the budget is underestimated, as you mentioned, or are there other costs?

  • Comment number 24.

    Havent seen the film,but hope it loses BIG money,this might make Hollywood rethink making these so called blockbusters and make some decent smaller movies in future like Martha Marcy May Marlene and Take Shelter,these should be the films people see.

  • Comment number 25.

    Can't comment on the film as I haven't seen it and nothing about it entices me into the cinema to see it either. I'm reminded of the old adage though that you're only as good as your last film. Stanton should have stuck to the world of Pixar since I suspect (from the trailer and clips I've seen) that there was more humanity in WALLE-E than in Carter.

    Having said that, the adage doesn't really work in the case of Zack Snyder does it!!

  • Comment number 26.

    #23 there's the cost of making the film and then there's the cost of marketing and distributing the film (I can't remember which is which, but one's above the line, the other's below), that's the economics of block busters.

    It's also why when there's a "sleeper" hit, which does well despite lack of marketing push, everyone goes crazy trying to explain it and how to do the same again (put down that shaky cam, it won't make this into Blair Witch). They make more profit 'cause they spent less.

    I'm not rushing to see JC, but I don't care how much it cost or whether it does well. I don't mind reviews mentioning the budget, but I hate when talking about the budget becomes more important than the film (I feel the same way when 3D is discussed instead of evaluating the film).

    I do think the name change is actually the own goal here. John Carter of Mars just sounds so much cooler than plain old John Carter. Maybe makers of certain chocolate confections objected. I'm thinking of having my named changed to .... of Mars. Who wouldn't? (Perhaps the other half of the demographic would plumb for ... of Venus)

  • Comment number 27.

    Have I seen the movie? ...Yes and I agree it's an overblown, turgid, mind-numbingly boring cure for insomnia.

    Do I care whether it makes its money back?...No.

    Do I care that it cost $250m?....Yes. I care because its such a profligate waste of money. Christopher Nolan spent $185m to make "The Dark Knight" and spent $165m on "Inception." If Nolan can make such quality movies with considerably less money then Andrew Stanton must feel suitably embarrassed if this is the best he can come up with.

    I love a good blockbuster as much as anyone but when the megabucks have been spent and the final product is at best a tedious waste of time it tends to leave a bitter taste in the mouth when considering they many ways in which that money could have been put to better use.

  • Comment number 28.

    On the other hand I'd like bad movies to perform badly financial, and good ones to make gobs of profit. It's only through economic stimuli that we can alter the behaviour of the film industry beast.

  • Comment number 29.

    The amorality of copyright guarantees that this will make its money back, if it takes a decade or two, it will - because copyright guarantees you can keep making money of a job you just did once.

    But to answer your questions.

    No I don't care if it makes its money back (except repulsion at the laws which makes it certain that it will) - nor do I care how much they spent because as we know that is no guarantee that it will be good (on the contrary usually the more money the more it has been dumbed down for the people on the street)

  • Comment number 30.

    I didn't see John Carter, why, reviews were bad and the trailer looked predictable. Do I care how much it cost and whether it makes it back, yes, because I want it to bomb, they could have used that money to make something really good, instead they shut their eyes and tried to predict what could be their next killer franchise, I blame Pirates of the Caribbean for this, Disney are just looking for their next Pirates, and it gets worst, we have Battleship to look forward to.

    If major blockbuster keep failing like this they will stop producing big budget movies like this, you might say great, but then what are we left with, Adam Sandler/Judd Apatow comedies, a fate worst then death.

    When in the right hands big budget can be great, look at T2, True Lies, Avatar, Jurassic Park, The Dark Knight, LOTR etch, but you have to have ideas and the right director. They could have used the money to make any of the great what if movies alejandro jodorowsky’s Dune or paul verhoeven’s Crusade; no instead they made $250 million turkey, who makes an action movie without any decent action, what are the Disney Executives smoking?

  • Comment number 31.

    SORRY BUT(!)

    I wish you would respond to questions posed in previous video blogs(especially when the responce is so high) before starting a new topic.

    love you loads,

  • Comment number 32.


    I agree John Carter(of mars?) would have been more appealing if it had an established credible lead actor instead of some pretty boy bouncing around with his top off.

  • Comment number 33.

    It doesn't matter how much it cost. Actually it doesn't matter what any film cost ever since film journos would not shut the hell up about Waterworld's budget, so all that harping has dulled my attention on that matter. All I care about is that the film entertains me.
    No I have seen the trailer several times earlier in the year and always looked like some extend scenes from Stars Wars: Attack of the Clones. So I knew immediately that film would be awful and long an dull so I wouldn't have seen it. The some young cousins came a'visiting, with their mum and dad and they were dying to see it. So off we merry-go down to the Vue, my soul filling with dread on the 2hrs of ridiculous tedium. I am an insomniac most of the time, so sleeping is difficult (I think you know what's coming) I got into over the 30 minute mark and the goings on ON MARS (f you Disney for needlessly, and pointlessly removing that part of the John Carter title) this my review of the rest of the film - zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
    Leaving the cinema I thought my cousins would be made at me for sleeping through it, but I learnt from their dad (my uncle) that one of them so bored of it too he clung onto his mums arm and dozed off too.
    So as a movie it drab, boring, worthless. As an aid to cure insomnia it's priceless.

  • Comment number 34.

    I saw the trailer in cinemas and it left me completely uninterested.

    The last trailer for a big fantastical action-adventure movie that intrigued me was a trailer for X-Men: First Class. Much like with John Carter, I knew nothing about the source material and I didn't recognize any of the actors (except Kevin Bacon, but he wasn't a big draw for me to be honest).

    But it interested me because the trailer made X-Men look like a movie that focuses on its characters and their motivations, with special effects and action scenes in between to heighten the reality. The John Carter trailer just looked like a sub-standard Avatar with even worse story telling and even blander characters.

    Which makes me wonder - does the sci-fi genre really turn off so many potential viewers? I'm not an expert, but isn't Avatar the movie with the highest box office in the history of movies ever? And the latest Star Trek movie seemed pretty popular, too.

  • Comment number 35.

    I haven't seen it yet. I want to, and still intend to despite what I've read and heard. I don't really care about the cost of the film, film budgets are often ludicrous in my eyes, but I'd happily watch anything, that catches my interest. John Carter is a film I'm interested in, so if it doesn't profit the likelihood of another film in a similar being made on a similar scale are small. Which is a shame in my opinion.

  • Comment number 36.

    I saw it as a podcast devotee almost as a bizarre sense of commitment and man was it hideous and egregiously dull. The very essence of folly and direness, flawed 3d and all manner of other unwantedness. The only possible blessing would be that it sinks big time and studios of all types go back to making real films.

  • Comment number 37.

    its very rare these Giant budget movies are any good, unless they are connected to an allready popular franchise ie. starwars,bond,hmmhmm transformers, so why do they bother.

  • Comment number 38.

    Haven't seen it yet but may be one of those that helps it recoup its losses by renting it on DVD.
    They kind of lost me when they got rid of 'of Mars', I felt like they were ruling out the one thing it had going for it; old fashioned, cheesy entertainment.

    Dr K, you may be able to answer this; is the moviegoer who is actually put off a film by news of a massive budget a relatively new thing? The last time I remember a huge budget NOT putting me off was Terry Gilliam's 'Baron Munchausen' - possibly because the studio seemed worried rather than boastful...
    Are there actually still people who think '$250 million dollars -that'll be worth seeing!? At least until fairly recently that would mean (on the most basic level) spectacular sets etc - but shouldn't epic films actually be LESS expensive in the cgi age?

  • Comment number 39.

    Well, I care about the 250 million budget in that in a world of imbalance and need it would be nice if a film that expensive could at least try and justify its cost by being good too (but since justifying the cost of most films is a difficult task in a purely moral sense for me, to take certain films to task over others feels a bit like ingratitude for my beloved 'Cinema', except that I will say that at least bad expensive movies are often shamed publically for all to see. This is a good thing really, it discourages them from repeating the mistake)!

    Except when it's not a good thing, which is when yet another expensive sci-fi gets a good old critical kicking and a public-ignoring and fuh-lops like John Carter. Like Dune and Waterworld before it, JC proves it's not about size but what you do with it (ahem).

    If this discourages filmmakers from making adventurous sci-fi undertakings and instead opt for something safer, or another box office record breaking movie about space Smurfs then that's a shame as good, honest sci-fi that is actually about STUFF is rare. Crowd pleasing romps are ten a penny, and less satisfying.

  • Comment number 40.

    #34 "Which makes me wonder - does the sci-fi genre really turn off so many potential viewers? I'm not an expert, but isn't Avatar the movie with the highest box office in the history of movies ever? And the latest Star Trek movie seemed pretty popular, too."

    I don;t know about people being turned off by scifi but all too often studios seem to think that scifi = massive budget and no story. Sometimes it comes as a major surprise that scifi can come up with an absolute gem. 3 years ago after seeing (for my sins) Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and Terminator: Salvation in one month, I saw Moon which was low budget and had an interesting story so occasionally scifi can be intelligent. The trouble is, that intelligence doesn't normally come from Hollywood.

  • Comment number 41.

    The title's the thing. Maybe the studio is right, and I am in a fine minority, but I would go and see a film called 'John Carter Of Mars'.

    'John Carter' is a boring name. Apologies to Johns and Carters everywhere.

    If you're changing the title, why not change the character's name, too? Something like Jack Trigger, or Chad Sexy.

    So the title is why I haven't seen it. The film being rubbish is why I won't see it.

  • Comment number 42.

    Did anyone else notice that the clip at the end had a styilised version of Led Zeppelin's 'Kashmir' playing in the background. On it's own this is nothing however 'Kashmir' was sampled for the song 'Come with Me' that was the theme to the American version of Godzilla. It might just be a coincidence but maybe every film made that has a piece of music that sample that song its going to flop. The Matrix doesn't count by the way as 'Wake Up' was recorded in '92 and The Matrix didn't come out in '99.

  • Comment number 43.

    I saw John Carter. It bored the hell outta me. I didn't actively hate it, I was merely bored out of my skull. I say "merely", but the thing of it is, being bored could actually be the worst type of reaction to such a film. One can come to terms, perhaps, with such a vast sum of money being spent on a bone-crushingly bad film (Transformers, Pirates) firstly because we that has happened since the beginning of cinema (I think) so we ought to be used to it, and secondly because such films can be fountains of unintentional humour. But BORING? When Disney, of all studios, spends so much money on a film that fails to make an emotional connection with its audience on ANY level, they got problems.

    So I sincerely, sincerely hope John Carter loses an enormous sum of money and forces a major reevaluation of the current situation, and also makes its pitiful director Andrew Stanton consider the audience in the future, rather than just himself. ($100m worldwide after just one weekend suggests losses won't exactly be "enormous", but hey, a man can dream.) Hollywood really needs to get its house in order; I can live with big budget romps occasionally being rubbish, but when they actively become boring, that indicates that we live in truly dismal times.

    Truly but not totally dismal. I loved Super 8 last year - that was romping, stomping Hollywood nonsense at its very best, and apparently was comparatively cheaply produced. And Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol was genuinely one of the most sheerly pleasurable cinematic experiences I've had in years - directed by Mr Stanton's fellow Pixar alumni Brad Bird, who clearly knows what he's doing unlike Mr Stanton, who, if the interview on the Kermode and Mayo show is representative, is a profoundly unendearing and unconvincing character.

  • Comment number 44.

    Did I see it? Yes. It left me appalled and ashamed after having dragged three friends along with me. We jointly spent 52€ for four tickets to a dim, blurry 3D mess of a movie. After I realized it was not going to be the actively awesome movie I had been expecting, I hoped for some mind-numbing entertainment on the par of reality TV like "America's Next Top Model" or what have you. But that was not granted us either. Instead, I became increasingly passive-aggressive towards the terribly narrated story and purposefully blocked out what little information was successfully conveyed in order to keep my mind in a constant state of "and what the hell is this supposed to mean".
    Yes, I care that it was so expensive and ill-spent. And the movie was so bad that, unfortunately, I am hoping for its utter failure. May the people and moviemaking customs that made this film possible become quickly, mercifully obsolete.

  • Comment number 45.

    Saw the trailer for "John Carter" a few times. Meh! Didn't inspire me to see it. I don't mind a good sci-fi saga. Although some great Brit actors are in it, even they can't make me feel inspired enough to see this.

    I think we've just had too many of these movies in such quick succession. Disney certainly won't be happy if they don't at least make their money back. They generally do good entertainment movies for families. But all these CGI movies just leave me cold.

    Give me a good story well told and filmed and I'll be there. No matter how much it cost.

  • Comment number 46.

    I'm not going to see it because I don't want to see a movie about John Carter. What is this movie? Is John Carter a politician? A postman? A Sport Journalist?

    Oh he's.... OF MARS!!!

    Also movies don't stop making money after their theatrical release, do they? I mean there's DVD sales, Blue Ray sales, On Demand, rental right, television rights. Oil rig rights. Moive to be shown ON MARS, rights. John Carter OF MARS! will make it's money back, eventually, won't it?

  • Comment number 47.

    To me budget of a film or it's takings do not matter. There are good films and bad films, wheather they cost 100$ or 100,000000$ it dosen't matter, what matters is if it's any good.

  • Comment number 48.

    I remember once hearing an (apparently inaccurate) anecdote about how Lukas Moodysson's 1998 Swedish film 'Show Me Love' took more at the box office in Sweden than 'Titanic'. While the anecdote may be untrue, I know that, in my opinion at least, 'Show Me Love' is by far the better film. Both are about young love that thrives in the face of adversity, but Titanic's stodgy self-indulgence and cartoon-esque characters gives me a distinct feeling of nausea, despite the big budget and special effects. Living up to its name, Titanic is a bloated blimp of a film. Show Me Love, on the other hand, is a far more interesting evocation of what it's like to be outside supposed social norms, and to fall in love. That said, it's a shame that 'Show Me Love' had to change its name from the more interesting original. I suppose this shows that, be the budget big or small, blandness has a tendency to sell.

  • Comment number 49.

    This is the 1st occasion in 5 years of following wittertainment where I have found myself at odds with the good doctor's opinion so I feel compelled to comment on this subject. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying John Carter is any kind of masterpiece (far from it) however I did enjoy it and find myself in disagreement with Mark's lambasting of it.

    First of all the 3D aspect of the film irked Mark greatly which is totally understandable as I share completely all his views on this pointless gimmick. Fortunately for me, not being a professional film critic, I am not in anyway obliged to view the film in this medium therefore I chose not to and this particular aspect of the experience did not apply to me. I suppose the downfall of being a critic is that you are required to view films as the distributors would ideally like you to.

    The matter of the title also seemed to create great consternation. I kind of understand the points raised but I guess it's of so little consequence I can't see how it can be so bothersome. It just doesn't matter that much. I actually thought come the end of the film when the central character contemplates what he's been through, I really did feel that he'd taken the journey from just John Carter to John Carter of Mars so this worked just fine for me.

    Thirdly there was much criticism directed at the references to the many Barsoomian (???) races/creatures/'biddlybongs' etc. Going into the film, I had to accept the fact that I was entering a rich, fictional universe with which I would be 99% unfamiliar so inevitably I knew there would be a likelihood that I might not fully grasp every single detail that would be heading my way. I guess I managed my own expectations on this matter so I wasn't too fussed if thing got a little too 'Barsoomy'.

    Like I said it's no masterpiece (the script is fairly unengaging, plenty of unanswered questions) but I liked the central performance with Taylor Kitsch making a good rugged leading man and was convincing enough as the disillusioned soldier searching for some meaning in his life. I thought the inserted back story regarding his family gave the character a nice bit of added depth and I found the scene in which Carter battles an army of evil Tharks single-handedly, fuelled by the loss of his loved ones genuinely rousing. The story is a complete one and, while not always engaging, I do believe Andrew Stanton's intentions when he says that he made the film that he wanted to make. Sure there may be peripheral crowd-pleasing aspects to the film (the aforementioned 3D being most prominent) but I do

  • Comment number 50.

    ... but I do believe there are also elements to the film which the studio probably saw no need for and would only be included by a fan i.e. the young Edgar Rice Burroughs framing device which I can imagine the studio would rather lose as it is distinctly lacking in alien action and I'm sure Stanton included it because that's the story he grew up with and the Rice Burroughs character is there to convey exactly how Stanton himself felt reading this fantastic adventures growing up.

  • Comment number 51.

    Two words: Stanton's Gate

    Copyright Will Chadwick 2012. I got there first.

  • Comment number 52.

    Problem here is "PITCH"

    A big money spinner like this NEEDS and simple pitch to work.

    I think that this movie is far too busy and after 20 trailers you can't really make out what the hell is going on!!!!

    At least Transformers, Avatar and Clash of the Titans are very clear about their intentions up front.

    If you just wanna grab all the CGI you can get and have a big mash up then for hell's sake pile around and basic set up so that people can switch off their brains and enjoy a royal rumble.

    That's what these movies are about - FUN - simple as, we aren't looking for INCEPTION here we just want a few hours of action that is easy to digest.

    This guy makes WALL-E and goes on to this?????????????

    That's a bigger problem than this film making it's dollar back!

  • Comment number 53.

    As a mathematical rule doubling sucks, a 10 million dollar movie only needs 20 million to break even? Surely the cost of advertising and whatever media junket the film company assigns determines the figure?

  • Comment number 54.

    Hi Mark.

    I am going to see John Carter at the weekend. I think one of the reasons why so much attention has been on the film's budget might be because in these financial conscious times a movie with a big budget that is receiving lukewarm reviews from critics and is under-performing (I quote studio talk) at the box office just seems a waste.
    However l am drawn to the film because it's adapted from a old sci fi source, it's directed by a guy who learned his craft in animation and it stars an actor who has only done a few supporting roles. Playing it safe, this isn't.
    Surely Mr Taylor Kitsch will not be as bland and boring as Sam Worthington was in Avatar?

    Or will he...?

  • Comment number 55.

    A movie titled "John Carter" isn't putting butts in seats? What's become of this great industry!?

  • Comment number 56.

    I have had no plans to see this film since seeing the first trailers. They looked exactly as rubbish as Mark assures us is the case in the full film.

    My first inclinations that this might be the case are given in the exhaustingly long amount of time that film magazines have been trailing this product. It seems the more pre-, in, and post-production marketing is done to the movie-geeks (I would go with fanboys but as as I'm a woman in mid-thirties reading the same stuff it seems a bit stereotyped) the higher the likelihood that the actual film is going to disappoint.

  • Comment number 57.

    i couldn't care less how much money it cost to make, but on my well worn theory that the more expensive a movie costs the worse it is going to be, (apart from King Midas Nolan himself who defies all known logic), I won't be rushing out to see this at my local cinema any time soon. give me a low budget, gripping Clive Owen vehicle anyday (I saw Trust at the weekend and even now I am still disturbed by it's quiet yet chilling brilliance)

  • Comment number 58.

    Why take 'of mars' out of the title? do you thinks Disney through 'Mars needs Moms did really badly and this films has Mars in the tiltle, ho no people might thinks its a sequel.'

    Can you imagine if other Sci-Fi's had there Sci-Fi elememt removed, Forbidden Planet - becomes Forbidden, , Close encounters of the Third Kind - becomes Close, Galaxy Quest - becomes Quest, The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy - becomes The Hitchhikers Guide, Spaceballs - becomes Balls and Moon - becomes Moo.

    I have no daut that John Carter OF MARS will make it money back, and thats becouse dispite it failings its in 3D and we all know that it cost more to see a 3D film then to see the same film in 2D. Therefore Hollywood needs less people to see the film in 3D to get the some return they would with a 2D film. Thats why the push and push 3D dispite the fact that no one wants it.

    P.S. As mentioned above, Mark please post you responces to our previous threads. Thanks

  • Comment number 59.

    So Mark, the box office figures don't matter for this film because you liked it. Yet a few blogs ago you were comparing the box office figures for both versions of Girl with the Dragon Tattoo to support your opinion of the originals superiority. Make up your mind Mark, either the box office matters or it doesn't. The figures can't just matter and not matter when it suits you.

  • Comment number 60.

    Have not seen it and do not think I will. but to answer your wider question 'does it matter if a film does not make a profit'. My answer would be no because it is about the quality of the film not whether it is a commodity.

  • Comment number 61.

    I have seen it, and the thing that both depresses and bores me more than any aspect of the film itself is the infantile sledging by other critics, borne out of the discussion of box office performance. People are seeking who to blame and how wide to measure the fallout in a way that brings the word "schadenfreude" to mind, and it's enough to make me want to give up trying to engage with them altogether. At the end of the day, I would rather have a thousand JOHN CARTERs - i.e. movies which set out to create something noble, in this case a fun sci-fi romp mined from rich source material, and make the occasional stumble in doing so - than a single other TRANSFORMERS or BATTLE: LOS ANGELES, which stoops to demographic-corralling antics that play to the worst instincts in its viewers, thus fulfilling its horrible mission statement perfectly.

  • Comment number 62.

    *I acknowledge that the re-titling of the film is demographic-corralling in its own way, but I'm speaking within the realm of the films themselves, not their advertising.

  • Comment number 63.

    Do you think there is a decent film set on Mars? Look at the following: Mission to Mars; Red Planet; John Carpenter’s Ghosts of Mars or last year’s box office bomb Mars Needs Moms – if you do then you really must live on another planet, perhaps even Mars, in which case you should write a script about your experiences since there is a complete absence of good films set on Mars with the possible exception of Total Recall, I can't think of anything else....Can the good Doctor and is loyal Martian followers?

  • Comment number 64.

    The reviews on this seem largely lukewarm, with a couple of friends comparing their disappointment with the abomination which is I Am Legend. They happen to be huge fans of Burroughs's source material and have been very underwhelmed with its transition to the screen. I was unfortunate enough to get a little way through Harry Knowles's self-indulgent ejaculation of a review on Ain't It Cool News. Thankfully, all of these drawbacks haven't put me off seeing the film and deciding for myself, as I sometimes disagree with the good Doctor's appraisals.

  • Comment number 65.

    To answer Mark's questions;
    1) I've seen the film and liked it quite a lot. I'll probably see it again and will certainly get it on DVD. I am, it should be said, already a Burroughs fan and have been waiting for a film of John Carter for far too long to remember so I might be biased just a little. Even despite not having read the books for decades I didn't find any of it confusing or too hard to follow though you did have to pay attention a bit, but that's how I watch films anyway so no big deal. It's the films that I don't have to pay attention to that I find boring. Saw it in 3D because that's what was available but it didn't add anything I couldn't have happily lived without. I'd expect that word-of-mouth in the admittedly niche market of fans of this sort of old-school science-fantasy will give it good long term popularity regardless of first week performance.
    2) Do I care about the money? Only in as much as I'd like to see more of the story and the numbers will be used to determine whether or not a sequel gets made. It is unfortunate that the potential for enjoyment of a film apparently has to be filtered through some kind of actuarial lens these days as it's not something that I'd normally think about. What about Art, dammit? :) (I'm not claiming John Carter as Art, though like Bladerunner when it first came out I can see myself going to see it again just to look at the mise-en-scène and costume and prop details around the action.)

  • Comment number 66.

    WHY didn't I listen to Rotten Tomatoes and yourself, Mark? I'm nursing the beginnings of a headache after enduring this. I feel as if my very being has been pervaded by its stultifying and plodding dullness.
    I was reduced to seeing lights and colours on screen and feeling apathetic towards the vast majority of it.
    Stanton cares about the box office as he said in the MoviesIreland interview.
    I suppose I'm curious to see how much a film cost, esp. a tentpole blockbuster, whose very existance is to finance the studio and other smaller films, right?
    On this evidence though, I REALLY don't wish the product well. If it's a success, Stanton will threaten a sequel and it'll lead to other sub-par sci fi fantasy franchises being made by Disney.
    I'd rather re-watch the Power Rangers movie than John Carter again!
    A disaster of EPIC proportions. A risible thing that takes itself FAR too seriously.
    Only: Purefoy, Strong and the main Tharks(Morton - she emotes so well!) leave with their reps intact. The main couple, particularly Kitsch is just stoic and laboured, while Collins is histrionic at worst, but passable mostly. Woola the dog/toad creature was cute, but it can't save it!
    Didn't they realise the name Helium can't be delivered in a oratory, portentous voice unless you're parodying something? My first 'worst of' 2012.

  • Comment number 67.

    Not even 'so bad it's good' such as The Room *shakes head* What in Jarsoom did I just watch? Has Stanton's talent been transferred to Disney's vault (on moratorium till a certain date), so he's now an empty shell being controlled by suits?
    Please let The Hunger Games be good, please Lord! I need my goodwill to return.

  • Comment number 68.

    The whole John Carter thing reminds me of that story of the foolish man building his house on the sand... the script was duff, thus the end product is. Why someone as acclaimed as Stanton didn't correct this is one of the biggest blunders in recent memory.

  • Comment number 69.

    Makes me wonder if the same opinions would be held if someone other than Stanton had made it with the same results esp. from the defenders.
    I bet a newbie director would be in 'movie jail' had they produced this.
    Stanton's a fortunate man to be in his position of having his former work be so well received.
    Sorry for posting so many times!

  • Comment number 70.

    I saw Virginia of Barsoom in 2D last Friday Mark and I have to disagree with you. I liked it. I didn't love it. I do agree that the names alone will make the film inaccessible to many filmgoers, but personally, I was already familiar with them, since some of my favorite artists (Bernie Wrightson... Frank Frazetta...) have been associated with John Carter of 'that place'... And I've been commissioned to draw characters like Dejah Thoris in the past, so I didn't have the difficulty following the story as others might.

    The film could have used a better editor (or at least someone to tighten the storytelling up a little), but I didn't find it nearly as tedious as you. I didn't think the film was too long. It flew by for me. Sure, it's dumbed down summer fare come early, but the strength of the film is that it has a sense of humor. That goes a long way, at least with me. If I laugh (and I laughed often during this), then I can sometimes forgive a film's inadequacies. I thought the Tharks were a lot of fun, even if the film didn't always make sense. And I wasn't the only one that enjoyed it. The crowd that I saw it with seemed to be having a good time, also. I dare say that they seemed to have a much better time than the tiny smattering of people that turned out when I viewed 'The Artist'. There was much more of a response for JC of Barsoom than that silent, smiling Frenchman.

    Lastly, I usually only care about box office figures when I like a film. A film's quality is not validated by box office success, but it does indicate that people are actually interested enough to check it out, whether they like it or not. I hope John Carter makes a substantial amount of money because I would actually like to see a sequel. No, I'm not kidding...

    My own review here:

    And Dejah Thoris cartoon art here:

  • Comment number 71.

    Mark, can you please, please, please, please stop saying that a film needs to make double what it cost to make money. It is a gross-simplification, and seems to appease your intellectual laziness, failing to account for the way in which film distribution/exhibition works.

    I will use this example: say John Carter and Battleship makes $700 million, but they do so in two ways: one, BS does this business in a week, and, two, JC does this business in two months.

    Which film makes the most money? Well, according to your "formula," both make the same amount of money.

    Right? Well, wrong.

    You see, in the first week, the distributor will make more in the first week (say 70%), and then every single week the exhibitor will take a greater percentage of the money, giving them an economic incentive to keep the film in theaters for longer.

    You see, so even if both films make the same amount of money, BS will come out on top because they were able to share a greater percentage of the profits.

    You may think that spouting "2 x Budget = Profit" makes you sound intelligent. It doesn't: it just shows your unwillingness to engage with the economic factors of the film industry. Seriously, no one with half a brain in this industry thinks that way, because it is dangerous and lazy.

    But you know what? That's OK - I do not understand why film critics need to talk about budget, as that falls into entertainment reporting more than anything - but stop repeating this idiotic statement because others might not read further into the matter and simply accept it on face value.

  • Comment number 72.

    I don't care about seeing John Carter or 95% of the mega-budget films that come out of Hollywood. The only live action, mega-budget movies that I care about in 2012 are Prometheus and The Dark Knight Rises. I'm looking forward to seeing Jafar Panahi's This is Not a Film. People who care about cinema should be HAPPY when film like John Carter do poorly at the box office.

  • Comment number 73.

    Also, adding Tom Cruise into the bargain may have increased the grosses, but he might have signed a first-dollar deal, which means the initial profits would have gone into his pockets, not the studios.

    Why do you think Paramount was so pissed with the Cruise in 2006? Was it because they felt strongly about his relationship with Katie Holmes? No, because they knew that there wouldn't have been enough money from the MI3 grosses to satisfy their stockholders.

    This is why so many no-name actors are being thrust into the spotlight to headline these comic-book films. The studios do not want to pay the actors a percentage of the profits when they likely have to accommodate the owners of the film's property or the hot-shot director/producer/writer who has his or her finger in the pie.

    Seriously, Kermode do not talk about the economic side of film if you have have not bothered to research the subject matter.

  • Comment number 74.

    John Carpenter Of France is a pretty good example of what is wrong with Hollywood at the moment. Big OTT movies with wafer-thin plots that compensate by going totally overboard with the spectacle in the hope that the audience will be too distracted to notice how shallow it all is.

    It doesn't surprise me that it's not doing as well as they hoped. The trailer alone will have put off a lot of people even before they read the reviews.

  • Comment number 75.

    Also, on a more creative level, I find it smug that Kermode is criticizing the director because he wanted to make the film for himself.

    Well, Stanton is an artist. A Bug's Tale, Finding Nemo and Wall-E (as well as the Toy Story films, which he co-wrote) were successful precisely *because* he is an artist, willing to listen to his own voice and those of his fellow filmmakers. Yet - when because the film has not been financially successful - Stanton is suddenly an aloof Hollywood-type, with no concept of the outside world.

    Kermode is just another blogger, gleeful of the film's fiscal failure, and more than happy to snipe at Stanton behind his back (and not when he was actually on the program).

  • Comment number 76.

    In answer to your questions, no, no and no (seen it, care about the cost, care about it making money).
    What I do care about is the appalling treatment of Led Zep's Kashmir going on in the trailer. Bah!

  • Comment number 77.

    I've nothing but apathy for this film.

  • Comment number 78.

    You have to worry about this film franchise, will it be another "Golden compass" do you think? a first part of a supposed trilogy that did have major stars and still was seemingly aborted after one film. And i bet it cost less than a quarter of a billion dollars!! Still being positive we could see "John Carter the early years" coming to a cinema near you in 5 years time (oh the horror!)

  • Comment number 79.

    While I agree that JC looks pretty pump and the studio and marketing team have clearly made huge blunders with their handling of the film, I'm going to have accuse Dr K of having huge double standards here because I don't remember him getting all flappy-handy and irate about the fact that the studio made Scorsese change the title of his film 'The Invention of Hugo Cabret' twice - first to just 'Hugo Cabret' and then to simply 'Hugo'.

  • Comment number 80.

    I saw John Carter in 2D, which was fine. I agree with Mark that the film was uninvolving, but it wasn't as offensive as - say - Transformers 2 and 3, both of which took much more than double their budgets WITHOUT an A-list star (Shia LaBeef is definitely not up there yet).

    I think that the key problem with John Carter is that the fantasy world simply didn't draw you in, in the way that even Avatar's Pandora does. Secondly, the film was marketed as an action movie which, in the end, it really wasn't. The movie had a lot of expensive looking effects, but was light on real action sequences (aside from the third act). Yet again, the problem is not really in the acting or directing but a poor script which has far too many talk-heavy scenes of clunky expositional dialogue.

  • Comment number 81.

    @ Burnett - I expect a full P/L on my desk first thing tomorrow with links to real examples from the film industry! Good discussion but less grandstanding.. my personal response is that money = Good Gossip in any context and films and Hollywood/big studios perhaps several times so? I remember reading about Bollywood and how fickle the success of films over there are too from a producers pov...

    I met an artist working on JCOM just after Avater had released and he was selling it as "the real avatar" to me in our conversation: I kinda suspected it even then.. "Is that the best you can say about the project and you're one of the boffins making it?!"

    #9 Mechagodzilla: quote-unquote: Prince Of Persia, Transformer... *YAWN*... making them films is tantamount to studios trying to print money...

    IMO you're better of watching the Saturday cartoon or playing Persia in DOS on your computer or in the case of JCOM, lending that or another suitable sci-fi book from your local library.

    Another way of talking about the value of entertainment options/cost of a film and if a film really is the best way of spending some squid to appreciate it is the economics of making it so big it can't fail can be grotesquely fascinating!

    A few best of the best blockbusters (usu. expensive to make) are a trip to the cinema to savor for the extravaganza of the spectacle but a flood of them is best avoided I find.

  • Comment number 82.

    Oh, and not sure if anyone's mentioned this, but in my hometown, Glasgow, JOHN CARTER... of mars... and the city centre Cineworld (where I spend half my life) are being used to pioneer the FOURTH DIMENSION!

    That would be D-Box, a profoundly uncomfortable cinema seat that rumbles and shakes in tandem with the action scenes of a movie.

    It is of course optional, like 3D. It is a matter of choice. So a person now, in this glorious day and age, has the opinion to spend over ten pounds to see an extremely boring movie in muddy, murky 3D while being vaguely shaken around the place.

    Youse seen the new "Hate Piracy" skit that's being played before the Orange ads? It depicts an Odeon in the future, unused, empty and covered in dust. Well, that could be a reality. But to save the cinema, the industry must shun such superficial gimmicks as 3D and... ugh, D-Box. All we want are well-made, entertaining and involving films, films which connect with us as an audience and tell an interesting story. That would be a great place to start.

  • Comment number 83.

    I haven't seen it - and won't be going to see it either because, frankly, it looks like all the money has gone to CGI - to try and disguise the fact that this isn't really an interesting or entertaining tale.

    And CGI movies have very quickly become so-o-o boring.

  • Comment number 84.

    Kermode - what a snobby and dismissive attitude you have to certain types of films.

    John Carter was no masterpiece, but it was an enjoyable romp which I don't regret spending money on. It had some flaws, can't argue with that, but I go to see films to be entertained, and JC entertained me. I'll be buying the Blu-ray in a few months.

    Why not let your hair down for once (once you've washed the oil out of it) and try and enjoy yourself?

  • Comment number 85.

    Haven't seen it, although I will probably watch it on DVD as any film with Mark Strong and Dominic West cannot be all bad. As for budgets it is not something that will attract or dissuade me from watching a film. However a good review and a star that interests me will. And as you said this film lacks the vital element of known name with public magnetism. Lets face it Wicky wicky wah and I am Legend were truly terrible films. However Will Smith has that likeable funny quality that will persuade me to go and watch MIB 3 and of course Bad Boys 3. Maybe thats another element of the 'Blockbuster formula' a director who guarantees to treat the film like an experiment in accountancy, so un film de Michael Bay, Zack Snyder (said in a high pitch voice), McG (with Fries) and Gore 'The accountant' Verbinski always seem to give the 'people' and the studios what they 'want'.

  • Comment number 86.

    Disney have pretty much lost their touch when it comes to quality big budget movies that stray from the ‘classic’ animation or Pixar formats. Last year it was Mars Needs Moms, this year John Carter, next year it could be The Lone Ranger, with Depp looking suspiciously like Capt Jack from the POC series [they hit lucky with POC 1, now are just milking it until the cow dies…]
    (And Depp playing an Native American in this day and age too! There are plenty of good Native American actors ya know Disney.)

  • Comment number 87.

    I do not wish to, or have ANY interest in seeing John Carter. Not because of how much it cost, didnt make or because Tom Cruise was not in it.


    Because when the trailer makes the film look like a 'Star Wars - Attack of the Clones' spin off, I immediatly want to slit my wrists.

  • Comment number 88.

    I have absolutely no intention to watch this kind of rubbish. With so many good films made in the last century, life's too short to give any attention to boring ones.

    What I don't understand however is how the the relevance of a film can be measured merely by how well a film did at the box office over a single weekend. Even worse, that a film's content and increasingly important marketing campaign are geared towards scoring on the opening weekend. Surely such short termism largely contributes to Hollywood growing mediocrity. Some of the best films take years to gather the acclaim they deserve.

  • Comment number 89.

    I haven't been able to see the film, nor is it one that really appeals me.

    All I will say Mark is that I DO care if a big film makes money or not, because I worry that if they don't then it will make studios even more wary about giving out big budgets, which could stop some really great films becoming really great or even happening if budding and upcoming directors aren't trusted without having their hands tied completely.

    I point you towards The Rock(Dwayne Johnson). You may not like him but over the past 10 years he's made a name and career in Hollywood for himself. His last 5 films, with GI Joe still to come this year, have grossed over $1.2bn combined, is he an A-List actor, or an A-List Star? I think it's the latter, and somebody like him, just with a name, would have made a bad film in John Carter its money back, Journey 2 which you hate has made nearly 4 times its budget back.

    I worry that the next Inception's of this world won't get made by other directors because unless its a select group of directors nobody will put their money in the pot, which is a shame, you're closing the door on an industry where there are plenty of really talented, creative people who can make great films and at the same time make studios their profit. If it's really good, the gossip will spread and people will go to see it, with the modern media outlets it's impossible for the gossip not to spread.

  • Comment number 90.

    Well it wasn't that bad. But where the Hell did they spend the $250 million?

  • Comment number 91.

    I haven't seen the movie and have no intention of doing so, although oddly enough the despair it has generated amongst fans of the book make me want to read them instead!

    I found it difficult to approach your second question, so I have made a formula instead. Introducing.....The Michael Bay formula

    (terrible script + underwhelming performance of actors + beloved concept + unasked-for 3D + studio nitpicking + director-who-should-know-better + insane budget + shameless marketing campaign + exhausting action sequences) MULTIPLIED BY (adoration of fanbase + lowest common denominator + summer release date) = GOLDMINE + more-often-than-not significantly terrible movie that is worse to watch than developing appendicitis.

    (I should know - it cannot be coincidence that my appendix tried to kill me after hearing the news that Transformers is due for a fourth installment)

  • Comment number 92.

    Sorry, I meant Dominic West! Not James Purefoy as one of the highlights :D

  • Comment number 93.

    I adore Andrew Stanton but I thought John Carter was a fairly miserable affair. The CGI and special effects were mind-blowing but the performances and story were dismal, plus the actual landscape of Mars was a surprisingly dull place to spend two odd hours in.

    I reckon it'll make about $400 million worldwide overall which is still an immense feat but it ain't enough dollar for Mickey!

  • Comment number 94.

    in response to the Do you Care about Box Office question from Mark - of course. Not only is it always sort of fascinating what flops and what hits in its own right, it sends suggestions as to what the studios will want to make next. So while not indicative of the quality of the movie itself, what films take at the BO is important.

    Haven't seen JC(OM) myself yet, but I will do over the next week as I like Stanton alot. But my expectations have been lowered.

  • Comment number 95.

    John Carter is utter dreck.

    I don't really care about what it cost to make or even if it makes any of that loot back. The real crime here is that, in a cinematic landscape of remakes, re-imaginings, sequels and three-quels, John Carter should have been an original risk worth taking. I'm sure we will all be the first ones moaning when Disney jumps straight back onboard the Black Pearl for another round of Pirates with Depp and co. Shame.

  • Comment number 96.

    I saw it over the weekend and I totally agree. It was far too long and totally boring

  • Comment number 97.

    "John Carter" is a terrible title for any film. Wasn't it the name of a doctor in ER? The trailer looks like just another Clash Of The Titans film. I won't judge the film beyond that because I'm not going to see it, it looks boring, but Hollywood is in a terrible quandary. In order the beat the online pirates they need mega opening weekends, which means mega budget movies - in other words huge spectacles. Small films, even successful ones, just won't do because they don't earn enough to pay all the wages. And they too are hit by piracy, but through word of mouth and over a longer length of time. So you see, any of you out there watching pirated films are actually affecting the types of films being made. Think about that next time you borrow one from your mate at work, won't you?

  • Comment number 98.

    I haven't seen John Carter. I haven't been to the cinema in about 4 months, except to see The Muppets (which was disappointing). From the trailer John Carter looks like 300 (honest to god one of the worst movies I have had the displeasure of seeing) in space. I have liked Andrew Standton in Pixar but this looks like another example of an animation film maker having a stab at live action and finding it difficult to crossover and direct actors. I have recently become disinterested in cinema going because of the a) the inflation in price and b) the service you get. I think Vue adding VIP seats is rubbish. I think its horrible that they have decided to add a value to a seat that didn't exist before. Its cheeky and I think its something like that that is at the fault of the slump cinema is in and possibly why films like this or any film that don't make as much at the boxoffice. It has put me off big time and so any major release (transformers etc) that has made money didn't come from my wallet. To go back to the point, I think the budget shouldn't matter and I've always fallen in love with a film based on the films values and always hated a film based on its faults artistically speaking. I don't care that this will fail but I personally don't care if a good film (Scott Pilgrim) fails to capture the imaginations of the public. I know its a good film and there have been others like it. A good film is a good film and bad film is a bad film, regardless of how much CGI, actors, money and hot women you throw at it. Then theres taste but thats a whole kettle of fish for a different discussion.

  • Comment number 99.

    HI Mark,
    Quick question I've heard you say in the past and again in this blog entry that a film has to make 2X it's budget to make its money back. I don't understand, surely if a film costs £250m then to make it's money back it would need to recoup £250m at the box office not £500m, care to explain?

  • Comment number 100.

    I saw John Carter and thought it was horrible. I feel that its problems serve as exemplification of why Avatar needed to have a simple plot that we were familiar with. James Cameron said this was intentional in order to introduce everyone to the world in order for them not to feel lost. In John Carter one of the problems of the many there were was that it felt like this was supposed to be a sequel. I was confused and lost the entire time. I do care about the budget because when I see 250 million dollar budget I plan to see it all on the screen. That movie did not look like a $250 mill. As a sci fi fan I also fear the repercussions of how this will affect future sci fi releases or prevent any. If Disney was already so afraid to have "of mars" I am sure they will be staying for away from similar genre films. I just hope other studios dont do the same


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