Monday, March 26, 2012
I need to rant a bit.
I should point out that my ire comes strictly from the comparative marketing of each film, and is completely unrelated to the individual or comparative quality of the films on any level. I’m sure, based on reviews and fan opinions, that it’s safe to say that they are both wonderfully (and possibly equally) entertaining films, each for their own merits, and comparing their overall qualities is an apples/oranges situation.
Anyways, one thing has become glaringly clear with the case of these two films: Opening Weekend box-office numbers have NOTHING to do with a film’s quality. It has EVERYTHING to do with marketing, brand recognition, and word of mouth. And it’s surprising (and a little disconcerting) how many intelligent people out there just don’t get this absolute truth.
Arguments have been made that John Carter was simply unknown to the greater movie-going populace, and that no one knew who this innocuously-named character really was. Ok, I can agree with that to an extent. But, the movie is based on a book that was published, literally, a hundred years ago (1912), has been in near continuous print ever since, and is currently in the public domain and free to read for anyone with any kind of e-reader. Not to mention that A Princess of Mars (the original book’s title, more ranting on that in a moment) is a direct ancestor to nearly every epic space adventure we hold dear. Star Wars, Avatar, Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon…the list goes on and on. None of them would even exist without John Carter. So, you can’t tell me that the source material is in any way “obscure.”
my rant about Real Steel a while back). The point is, it’s not ground-breaking. It’s nothing really “new” so much as “repackaged.” And maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe this old story-type finally gets told right. Like I said, I have yet to see the film, so I don’t know.
So, from a pop-culture standpoint, I’d say that both films were on equal footing. John Carter has it’s loyal fanbase of sci-fi and literary geeks, and Hunger Games has a more-or-less equal-sized fanbase of modern readers of YA fiction. Fair enough.
The differences lay in the promotion. With John Carter, there were SO many ways it could have been promoted. Where was the mention of who Edgar Rice Burroughs was (you know, that guy who created Tarzan)? Where was the mention of the fact that it is based on a book that created a new and enduring sub-genre (Planetary Romance)? Where is the toy line? The John Carter Video Game? The Barsoom MMO? Ok, maybe I’m reaching with that one, but you get my point. Instead we get some idiot in marketing who removes “of Mars” from the original title for the film because “statistically speaking, no movie with the word ‘Mars’ in it ever succeeded.” That’s the dumbest crock of shit I have ever heard. I can understand not using “A Princess of Mars” considering it’s a Disney film. But come on, I can’t count the number of people who asked “Noah Wiley’s character from ER is getting a movie?” Stupid, stupid, stupid. Add to that the fact that critics were panning it weeks before it had even been pre-screened. It’s like someone WANTED the movie to fail. Ever see The Producers?
Yet Hunger Games gets a Facebook game, endless trailers, and positive promotion from EVERYONE with a blog or a weekly entertainment article. The media and the Internet is just dripping with Hunger Games praise. You can’t swing a bag of popcorn without hitting something that says Hunger Games on it.
I dunno. Maybe, as I was told earlier, I’m just bitter because me and my ilk (sci-fi/fantasy geeks) get constantly burned by Hollywood, one way or the other. Usually it’s in the form of crappy product (Conan), but this time the product is awesome by nearly ALL accounts. So they decide to screw us with marketing and underpromotion instead. We can’t win.
All that being said, I steadfastly refuse to see Hunger Games until I have seen John Carter (of Mars). Roll your eyes and snicker condescendingly if you like. I give less than a pile of Woola's shit.