As it’s been noted, generally speaking, the Edgar Rice Burroughs story of John Carter was brought to the silver screen and after all was said and done, was marked as a box office failure.
John Carter pulled in $283M worldwide, but Disney still lost $200M after marketing and other costs were factored in.
Disney even tried valiantly to boost those numbers by severely limiting 2D screenings, trying to squeeze out as much buck for the bang with 3D screenings. Yet that gamble also did not work.
Though I can’t imagine the failure wasn’t because there weren’t’ fans wanting to see this John Carter of Mars movie. The movie itself lingered in the top-10 DVD sales for quite some weeks, showing there was a market for the movie. So this will be one of those home entertainment stalwarts that will keep on selling because fans want to see it.
But what happened? In article on the issue, director Andrew Stanton goes on and on, towing the company line and backing his boss at the time Disney. You can’t blame him there. He’s a good man and likes working in Hollywood.
“he was taken aback by the creative and cultural leap between animation and live action”
Yet the poor marketing didn’t help either. I remember the ads and the clips gave nothing up to compel you to want to see a movie. Yet sadly a non-Disney affiliated fan generated a video compilation pulling together the best of the preview clips and made anticipation for the movie exciting. (Disney needs to hire this guy. He saw past the other vids and saw the bigger picture that connected to this fan at least.)
But Stanton says
“The truth was everyone tried their very best to crack how to sell what we had, but the answer proved elusive.”
And in the end, he had a very fascinating take on the ordeal,
“You loved the doing. You’ve spent every waking moment thinking about its birth, worrying about it, raising it. It’s an empty nest syndrome. Whether your kid went to college or went to jail, it’s an empty nest.”
But because of the marketing failure and abysmal performance, we’ll probably never see a sequel to this incredibly popular Edgar Rice Burroughs title. Despite the box office loss, the real losers are the fans.
Source and maybe more insightful read to fill in some more details: LA Times.