I joined the Back to Barsoom Facebook Group when I first learned about it but I haven’t been feeling well the past few months so I only joined the discussions there a couple of days ago. While there are only 8,000+ members so far the core group of participants are very dedicated to their cause.
After all, for a “major flop” the “John Carter” film has managed to bring in almost $300 million so far this year. And while “John Carter” has completed its first run in US theaters for the most part, the DvD and Blu-Ray will be released on June 5 — which is still more than a month away.
The Carter fan group leaders estimate they need to help drive about $200 million in revenues for Disney in order to build a business case to greenlight a sequel. Technically, this is achievable. Other “failed movies” have generated millions of dollars in post-box office revenues. In fact, Saul Zaentz proved that merchandising rights tied to bad movies (such as Ralph Bakshi’s “The Lord of the Rings, Part One”) can be very, very lucrative. Had Zaentz not kept that candle burning in the window for 20 years there might have been no Peter Jackson trilogy.
Star Trek fans brought about a movie franchise launch 10 years after their TV show was cancelled. And from the movies sprang up four TV shows.
So what the fans of “John Carter” propose is not just wistful dreaming. All they have to do is bring together enough people to drive a couple hundred million dollars in DvD and merchandising sales. And these folks have connections with ERB, Inc. and the Disney Co. and PIXAR — they might just be able to arrange the right meeting of marketing minds to kick off a merchandising campaign to put Saul Zaentz’ Middle-earth Enterprises to shame.
Stranger things have happened.
To that end, discussions are under way (with some input from me, so understand I am NOT an unbiased reporter) for establishing a more public face for the John Carter fan group. They will most likely keep the Facebook group going for strategic discussions. That makes sense. But ideas being considered for now include:
- Starting a scifi convention circuit where volunteers reserve and man fan tables
- Special promotional artwork for posters and flyers to be distributed at conventions, book stores, DvD stores, comic book shops, gaming shops, etc.
- Letter writing campaigns (one is currently underway now)
- Asking science fiction bloggers to write about John Carter a couple of times a week in advance of the DvD release (I have offered to help promote those blogs by linking to them across my network)
- Starting a Web forum for John Carter fans (most likely on the central Back to Barsoom fan site
- Perhaps putting together a legal entity (a corporation) to take on some licensing (custom merchandise or things that can be manufactured through out-source and on-demand providers)
The letter writing campaign I mentioned above is called Operation Woola and I shared details at the SF-Fandom forums.
There is, by the way, ANOTHER Facebook site — a fanpage (basically a Facebook public forum) called John Carter Back to Barsoom – The Sequel Campaign where the founder is hoping to collect LIKEs to show off to Disney and potential merchandisers.
These are some very determined people. If they see the news media say anything negative about “John Carter” they are all over the articles with comments pointing out the movie’s worldwide box office take, the fact that millions of people DID go see it and love it, and to show their support for the film to Disney.
Having joined a few “save the show” fan movements in the past, I go into this with my eyes open — but frankly, to avoid doing something simply because it seems so daunting is not in my blood. I do it because I love the challenge and because I love my favorite TV shows and movies and books.
I do it because I am a science fiction fan.
So the clarion call has gone out. Come join us. You don’t have to have anything more than your teeth, your passion, and a love for “John Carter” and Barsoom.