If some reports about moviegoers having low awareness or anticipation for Disney’s JOHN CARTER are true, perhaps it’s because the Mouse simply isn’t setting up Carter’s story as told by author Edgar Rice Burroughs and now interpreted on-screen by director Andrew Stanton.
Recently, Disney has pushed the film’s marketing to emphasize that Burroughs’ John Carter tales pre-date the fantastic sci-fi adventures we’ve seen in STAR WARS, STAR TREK and so on. This is true. But the problem is Disney and the filmmakers are selling this point by showing lots of CG-heavy action clips which audiences are seeing, and now take for granted, long after these franchises have unspooled in theaters. “John Carter was here first, even though you’re meeting him after Luke Skywalker and Captain Kirk” is the unavoidable outcome of this bumbled message.
What definitely was there first was Burroughs’ imaginative story of a Civil War soldier who disappears from a cave in Arizona and wakes up on Mars — or Barsoom, as its inhabitants call it. Wow! The concept was a mind-blower in 1917, as you can imagine. In effect, it’s COWBOYS & ALIENS in reverse, only Burroughs beat that story to the punch by a good nine decades as well.
So why not set up this simple, impressive story dynamic in a straightforward trailer to get 2012 audiences up to speed with Burroughs’ original tale? Disney tried this tack with the first JOHN CARTER trailer, but it skipped over any depiction of the hero’s mysterious transportation to Mars. Watching this, audiences get no sense of joining Carter’s desperate adventure on another planet — we’re just as confused why we’re there as he is. This was a good attempt at an incomplete pass, which is a very surprising (disappointing) result for a master storyteller like Stanton, given his excellent pedigree of hit Pixar films.
Now the fans at The John Carter Files have created their own trailer to clear up this confusion and clarify Burroughs’ own highly intriguing story, and they’ve succeeded mightily. If you’re not yet on board for a cinematic trip to Barsoom, watch this trailer and you might want to book your tickets early. FilmEdge hears very encouraging things about JOHN CARTER from sources who’ve seen it — this trailer may well present the best case for the film’s success when it opens March 9th.