It’s been 10 whole years since Andrew Stanton’s John Carter landed with a disastrous thud to become one of the biggest box office bombs in history, but the sprawling sci-fi epic is arguably more popular than it’s ever been.
While it would have been preferable for audiences to turn up and pay for a ticket while the mega budget blockbuster was playing in theaters to prevent such a catastrophic financial loss, we’ll have to make do with the fact that it secured a reputation as an underrated and unjustly overlooked cult favorite a long time ago.
Stanton’s plans for a trilogy went up in smoke when John Carter wound up an eye-watering $200 million in the red, nixing sequels right out of the gate. Disney doesn’t even have the rights to the source material anymore, but that hasn’t stopped star Bryan Cranston from gazing wistfully on his contributions to the film in an interview with Collider.
“I love Andrew. He’s great guy and a really terrific director. I had a really good time on John Carter. You know what? That would be a good study. When you look at all the successful films, they go, “Oh, yeah, look at all these wonderful films that did incredibly well.” Go back and look at films that did not do well at the box office and say, “Why? What missed? Where did it miss? Is it the story, is it marketing, is it-? It gets that label and then you can’t shake the label.
I’ll tell you one more thing that’s frustrating to me. When I was young, there used to be really good film critics to come on the air during the news and to tell you, artistically, what they responded to, what they recommend you go see. A tiny little art house movie or a big budget movie, whatever, and somewhere in between. They gave you their artistic impression with complete relativity and you then made your decision. Now they fired all those people and what they have instead are the news readers, the anchors, reading what the box office successes were for the weekend. As if the five top box office numbers, that’s a recommendation to go see that movie because it made that much money.”
It sounds as though Cranston remains a little sour that John Carter didn’t take off with either critics or paying customers, which is fair enough when a whole heap of people feel exactly the same way. The world-building was phenomenal, the visuals were sumptuous, but a bland marketing campaign didn’t do the intergalactic epic any favors at all, even if remains a perennial favorite.