John Carter didn't have the easiest of times when it was released last year. It got something of a critical bashing, scoring a less-than-impressive 51% on Rotten Tomatoes and it also constituted a financial loss for Disney, losing anything between $100-200 million for the studio, depending on who you believe.
That's not to say that the movie is universally disliked. In fact, it's fair to say that John Carter has built up a sizable fan base since its release and one of those fans is none other than John Carter's own Matai Shang, played by British actor . In a recent interview for The Kermode and Mayo Show, Strong talked about his love for the movie and why he thought it failed to be a huge hit. He revealed:
Well I really liked it, and I thought people were really harsh on it. It suffered from the fact that we have seen everything in it before. It was written at the turn of last century, and every thing Star Wars, Star Trek, even Tarzan all comes from it really. The idea of science fiction, he (Edgar Rice Burroughs) was the granddaddy of it all really. So there was nothing in there that really surprised anyone, and it looked a bit dated. I really enjoyed it, my kids enjoyed it, and people I know enjoyed it.
Strong makes a very good point here. Edgar Rice Burroughs's book was the forerunner to all the big sci-fi franchises of the 20th century. The problem was, that by the time it finally got a big-screen adaption we'd already seen it all before.
That being said, John Carter the movie is nowhere near as bad as some people would have you believe. It's for sure not a masterpiece and it didn't live up to to it's astronomically large budget, but it's not a terrible movie. I think it suffered because of an awful marketing campaign, with the biggest mistake being to change the title from John Carter of Mars to simply John Carter. It tried to appeal to a wider audience that might get put off by mentioning a planet in the title, but what it actually achieved was to alienate a whole group of potential customers who saw the name John Carter and thought, "Who the hell is that, and why should I care?" It's one of the first sci-fi stories of the modern age and I really believe it should have been marketed that way.
What do you guys think? Was John Carter a great sci-fi movie or a massive turkey? Do you agree with me that the movie was marketed all wrong or am I way off the mark? Let me know what you think in the comments below.