Even two years after the movie flopped into theaters, the sad plight of John Carter still bums me out. Director Andrew Stanton’s take on Edgar Rice Burroughs’ classic tales of Mars/Barsoom wasn’t a perfect movie by any stretch, but it was a lot of fun and had the potential to launch a fantastic franchise…if only anybody had seen the damn thing. Unfortunately, John Carter suffered the same fate as this past weekend’s Edge of Tomorrow: it was an expensive film undeserved by a confused marketing campaign that didn’t seem to have one single clue about how to put asses in seats. Well, while we will probably never get to see Carter’s further Barsoom adventures — at least not until somebody reboots it — Stanton has shared the smallest glimpse of what might have been, courtesy of title logo treatments for the proposed second and third John Carter films.
Stanton shared the images via Twitter, along with a pair of messages. For the Gods of Mars image up top, he said, “Could have been cool. Had big plans…”
Which was followed by the image for Warlord of Mars, with the caption, “…That would have led to even bigger plans.”
Ugh. That seriously stabs me right in the gut. John Carter was so obviously a passion project for Stanton, it makes me sad both that he didn’t get to make the sequels he wanted, and that I won’t ever get to see them.
Released on March 9, 2012, Disney’s John Carter had a production budget of around $250 million, and only went on to earn $284 million worldwide — with only $73 million of that from theaters here in the United States. All told, Disney reportedly lost around $200 million on the project, making John Carter a perfect example of how much of a risk these huge tentpole films can be. Even when they’re done well, as John Carter was, that still does you now good if you can’t figure out how to convince people to go see it. (Other times, as with The Lone Ranger, you’re just left wondering how the hell anybody thought it was a good idea in the first place.)
There was plenty of fan campaigning and speculation that foreign box office might prove enough to justify a John Carter sequel — as may happen with Guillermo del Toro’s proposed Pacific Rim sequel — but in the end, the math just didn’t work and John Carter became a Hollywood cautionary tale, a reminder that sometimes even if you’ve got the right person for the job, the movie still might not be a success.
But for the record, Andrew Stanton loved Edge of Tomorrow just as much as we did.
— andrew stanton (@andrewstanton) June 8, 2014