Did you know that marketing decisions can be condescending and sexist? It’s true! (and those two qualities usually go hand-in-hand so you shouldn’t be surprised) I’ve been puzzled as to why Disney changed the title of John Carter to John Carter of Mars. To me, “of Mars” is the hook. John Carter is “Some Guy” particular because of his generic name. If his name was “Captain Billyboots Spaceship” then I can see dropping the “of Mars”. So why did half the title disappear?
Director Andrew Stanton recently told BleedingCool that the title had already been changed from A Princess of Mars because it was a “truth” that boys wouldn’t go see it if they kept author Edgar Rice Burroughs’ original title. But then, when they changed it to John Carter of Mars, Stanton believed it was also a “truth” that girls wouldn’t see it because apparently girls hate planets. So the compromise was to make it John Carter and now no one will see it. Hit the jump for more from Stanton and my thoughts on this idiotic decision.
It’s the word “truth” from Stanton that bothers me on this decision. He says the title John Carter works because “It’s about a guy becoming John Carter. So I’m not misrepresenting what this movie is, it’s John Carter.” Whoopity-doo. It tells no one anything about the movie. Also, his name is already “John Carter” when the story begins. Guess where goes? Again, “of Mars” is the hook, and it’s condescending to both boys and girls to change the title because some market research says you’ll alienate one gender. Also, half of an audience is better than no audience at all.
Stanton also believes he can change the way movies are made, and apparently that way is making it like a Pixar movie. But live-action doesn’t work that way, it’s a completely different system, and Stanton’s experiment has cost Disney a budget rumored to be $400 – $500 million. Stanton tells BleedingCool he finds no embarrassment in asking for more reshoots. He explains why he believes that’s the right way to go about it:
It’s like me saying to you, you can all go and write a piece about what we talked about today, but you only get to write it once. You don’t get to change a word once it’s set down. And that’s how movies are made, and it’s fucked up. It should be that you should somehow be able to balance economics and let the artist be an artist, and not be afraid of failure or trial and error.
Even if Stanton has managed to make a great movie out of this process, Disney may have no idea on how to sell it, which is why you have a bland title instead of one that tells people why they should see the movie. Watch the new trailer and see if you’re more excited to see the flick: