Is Disney Doing Right by John Carter or Not?

I am so frustrated with Disney’s abysmal attempts to promote the “John Carter” of Mars movie. They have waited until virtually the last minute to release promotional posters and videos. They have barely allowed the actors to talk to the media over the past year or so, and when they do talk it’s mostly about the other films they are appearing in.

For a company that has invested $200 million in the first of what is supposed to be a 3-film run, Disney is acting like it’s setting up “John Carter” to be a huge tax writeoff. I don’t know how much Andrew Stanton is behind the decision to keep the Edgar Rice Burroughs fans locked out of the advanced publicity process but whoever made THAT decision was the wrong person for the job.

Disney has treated this movie like it’s just another assembly-line animation film. They have given no thought to building up a franchise fan base that will support the movie regardless of how good or bad it is (although as a fan of the John Carter books I would rather support a GREAT movie). You’d think that after 15 years of studios benefitting from the power of Internet fandom that Disney would have finally read the memo: REACH OUT TO THE FANS.

Now it’s probably too late. There is hardly any buzz about the movie. Sure, you can read about the posters and trailers on various entertainment blogs but those are not FAN Websites and communities. Even is just another commercial Website (albeit one that seems to finally have some passionate leadership). Waiting for machine-like blogs to fit an occasional John Carter post into their endless spew of low quality entertainment blurbs is not a great advance promotional campaign. It’s a lazy, formulaic approach to marketing that has more failures than successes to attest to its efficacy.

At SF-Fandom we’re trying to do what we can to share news and publicity material in our Edgar Rice Burroughs and John Carter forum (and new member FilmGuy has done a superb job of looking for videos and posters to share in the forum). All we lack is something real from the studio in the way of substantial outreach.

The most detailed interview with Taylor Kitsch, the star of the movie, is a canned question-and-answer press kit piece that is making its rounds on entertainment Websites.

Come on, Disney! Fire your marketing department or fire them up! Get someone out there to talk with the Edgar Rice Buroughs and John Carter fan communities. Get some people to visit the general science fiction and fantasy forums and have them post updates about ALL your films on a regular basis (you know, like PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN).

Unfortunately, all the marketing departments seem to think if they just push a Facebook page they have done their jobs. Facebook doesn’t cut the mustard. There are a lot of people who don’t use Facebook despite the big numbers they claim for members. Many of those 800 million accounts are fake, abandoned, or completely passive (family-member-only access).

I’ve been waiting for this movie for a long, long time — as have millions of other Edgar Rice Burroughs readers. And here Disney is so embarrassed about the movie it changed the name from “John Carter of Mars” to “John Carter”. Rumor has it they abandoned the “of Mars” because of “Mars Needs Moms” (like anyone would confuse the two movies — PUH-lease!). I don’t care why Disney has been such a screwup on this franchise so far — I’d like to see them change their bad promotional habits, get their heads out of the Facebook propaganda, and do some real outreach.

Let the fansites do some interviews with actors.

Give some exclusive publicity material to Barsoomia and a couple of other fansites.

Run some contests to get some fans to the premier.

Sell some freaking merchandise rights.



2 responses to “Is Disney Doing Right by John Carter or Not?

  1. Jeff Chenault

    I totally agree!!! WAKE UP DISNEY!!!!!

  2. Unfortunately, I read on a headline this morning that the marketing exec who designed their prefabricated campaign has left Disney. Whatever promotion they do is already set in place and the movie will have to succeed or fail on the basis of that.