We here at Beyond the Bunker have decided to champion John Carter (alongside other sites such as Ain’t it cool). Somethings going awry here. According to AIC the mysterious story of John Carter of Mars wasn’t offered properly to potential audiences. Effectively a cross genre historical sci-fi epic it’s set a little before the time it was written (namely the late 1800s) on the mystical and mysterious planet of Barsoom (Mars). It’s also a forerunner of all of modern science fiction – bow down you puny mortals – so if it looks like old ideas that’s because this is where it came from. This fan trailer apparently nails it.
John Carter is a western hero employed by the Yankees in the American Civil War when we meet him (yeah -see) as has been revealed by the late arrival of a panic driven 10 minute preview (not seen here) released by Disney when everything appeared to be going south. One thing leads to another and he finds himself on Mars trapped in a conflict between two warring species.
Created by Edgar Rice-Burroughs, John Carter of Mars was serialised as Under the Moons of Mars in the pulp magazine The All-Story from February to July 1912. Disney have released the film to mark it’s centenary. He, and pretty much all of the associated characters also appeared in Alan Moore’s The Extraordinary League of Gentlemen: Volume Two. Disney was trying to bring back a literary classic – and one that inspired Star Wars and it’s like decades before there was anything close to it.
So you mother-loving philistines – get out there and watch it. While the spineless mainstream critics are scavenging around what they see as a blood spattered carcass feedback on a lot of forums are that it’s pretty good. So why not save director Andrew Stanton’s career and go and take a look?
It’s important you understand that I haven’t yet – too broke – but given the chance I’d support what is quite frankly a laudable attempt to bring back an obscure – but never the less important – literary classic of science fiction.
As an artist Disney, Pixar and Marvel are all ideal places to find yourselves. As cynical about it all we might be; Disney is a factory of dreams. It’s scale hasn’t stopped it from producing great films for families throughout it’s history. In recent years it has absorbed it’s main competitor; Pixar, it’s CEO and founder (a former Disney employee) finding his place as the director of the whole company. Some of the finest animated films have been produced under the Disney banner; the only real competition to Japanese animation with the steady decline of Looney Tunes and Warner Brothers as purveyors of animation outside of DC adaptations. To anyone who has ever been enthralled by Cinderella being dressed by birds and mammals, the death of Mufasa at the hooves of a rampaging wildebeest herd or watching a football match involving anthropomorphic medieval figures from the Robin Hood era little doubt can be left as to it’s legacy. And with every clown fish searching the open ocean and every new Iron Man movie Disney continues to grow. However, while Pixar and Marvel can be trusted at present to bring in the bacon – something decidedly unfortunate has happened. Initial reports on the release of it’s most recent; John Carter, have caused Disney to put out a prediction they would lose $200 million this quarter.
It’s been suggested it’s the biggest loss ever made by a film company in the history of film. In recent weeks audience tracking was beginning to alarm Disney; which is why a 10 minute preview was released online several weeks ago as well as a scramble of other material to try to generate greater interest. So far, the film about a former military captain who is transported to Mars, has generated $184 million in ticket sales worldwide. That is far shy from the audience needed to earn back the movie’s estimated $250 million production budget, plus tens of millions more that Disney spent on advertising.
It’s an enormous hit with Disney shares taking a 1% drop today alone. Even before the movie opened, Wall Street analysts had projected “John Carter” would lose tens of millions of dollars as industry tracking showed little interest in the film.
Making the situation worse is a strange attitude of critics to now wade in and pummel what is already a dying commodity. This is odd because public feed back, comments online etc etc are great – suggesting the film’s really good however scores of critics are panning it senselessly creating a very damaging gap between those who’ve seen it and those who are thinking about it. This potentially knackers Disney’s capacity to win back revenue at a later date, potentially threatening any new, innovative films coming out in future; much like the reportedly brilliant 2D animated Princess and the Frog in 2010.
So what’s happening? Mickey on the dole? Goofy washing cars at traffic lights? Nemo joining the Circus? Probably not. While it’s a fat loss and might make Disney think twice about it’s marketing campaigns (the John Carter one’s gave no context and only revealed effects images to a confused public) it doesn’t get much bigger than Disney. Production budgets for profitable sections of the company (Marvel Entertainment and Pixar for instance) are most likely ring fenced and will be doubly protected because the central mother company will be looking to them to cover the loss over the next year or so.
On top of which, Disney were smart by projecting a $200 million loss. They took the big hit early with a worst case scenario announcement – while the final tally after DVD, TV, web, merchandising and frankly word-of-mouth haven’t had a chance to influence the end result. Bad news is still no news and while John Carter was unknown be many before because of shoddy marketing, now many people who didn’t know about it now do – something that might make a modest impression on tickets sold. So we predict it’ll be a bigger climb than they hoped but Disney’ll be back this time next year.
One video this week has sent literal shockwaves of sentiment worldwide for the suffering of child soldiers under the regime of Joseph Kony, leader of the Lords Resistance Army. But nothing online reveals the ambiguity of ‘awareness’ and ‘message sending’ over such a heinous subject than this short – taking advantage of a popular meme involving a dictator who sent as many children into gas chambers during the second world war denouncing his modern equivalent.
To those unsure of the situation transpiring – we would recommend you watch this video which has already created a furore around the world and make up your own mind. It’s already being hailed as a tidal point in the internet’s capacity to bring issues to millions instantly but also denounced as an American plot to attack a poor nation. It’s confusing out there. Rumours they found oil there last week remain uncorroborated.
It’ll be interesting (and hopefully gratifying) to see if the internet can pull itself together and aid those with the capability to do it to intervene or (better) allow Uganda to deal with this issue. If children around the world can sleep soundly and safely forever it may be because of movements like this. Right now – it’s hard to say.
We here at Beyond the Bunker only hope that as a result something significant, positive and lasting takes place. And that arguments over the fact that the people trying to make the point are wearing hipsters drop further down the list of things we care about.
Myself and Dan were very specific a short while ago that 25,040 hits specifically was an important milestone in the history of Beyond the Bunker (not 25,000). After 10 short months we have steadily built up to the magic number from 18 hits in September 2011 to 4,724 in March. We’ve still got a lot to do and some of the stuff responsible for BTB’s reaching of 25,040 hits is linked down below. Moon 2, FH 2 and Unseen Shadows have seen new creatives join and cooperate with the Bunker and 2012 promises to be an interesting time for us – with old projects coming to an end and new ones already being planned. We hope you enjoy the upcoming stuff. Thanks from both myself and Dan for checking in on us.