It’s been a year of major ups and downs at the movies, where the winners and losers were pretty clear.
The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises dominated, and Battleship and John Carter went in the toilet. In fact, both films were resoundingly embarrassing flops, two of the most notorious in recent memory, and John Carter ended up costing Rich Ross, the chairman of Disney, his job.
And ironically, The Avengers, which was released via Disney because it owns Marvel, went on to incredible box office heights right after Ross got the boot, which really added insult to injury.
The Hollywood Reporter tells us that Battleship is currently topping VideoScan’s First Alert sales charts, even beating Hunger Games on Blu-ray by a reported 2 to 1 margin, and I figured John Carter would potentially find an audience on home video as well.
It’s definitely got its fans who’ve been defending it on the ‘Net, but may be destined to be a cult film with a smaller group of fans. Clearly Disney had much higher hopes for the film, which took a reported $200 million write-down. (According to the LA Times, Carter cost over $250 million, and made $280 million world-wide).
Now Andrew Stanton, who directed Finding Nemo and John Carter, spoke to the L.A. Times, his first interview about the failure of Carter, which was obviously quite a fall from grace after the mega success of helming hits for Pixar. (Stanton also directed Wall-E.) Stanton recalled when the bad buzz on Carter started to build, because there were extensive reshoots, which is typically a sign of trouble in Hollywood.
It was usually different at Pixar, where everything is re-tweaked repeatedly until it’s as right as you can get it, but as Stanton recalled, ”There was this weird air the before of schadenfreude, of doomed to fail. It isn’t a nice atmosphere to be in, but what can you do about it?” T
here were also many who felt the marketing of the film was all wrong, to which Stanton said there was “never serious contention,” with Disney over this. “The truth was everyone tried their very best to crack how to sell what we had, but the answer proved elusive.”
Recently, reports surfaced that Stanton is going to helm a sequel to Finding Nemo, but in the face of criticism he and Pixar are playing it safe. “I know I’ll be accused by more sarcastic people that [Finding Nemo 2 is] a reaction to Carter not doing well, but only in its timing, but not in its conceit.”
It’s definitely tough for a filmmaker to recover from a bomb, although another Nemo should put Stanton back on top, even if it does feel like a safe, less than risky film to tackle next. Really, it’s too bad that John Carter didn’t make it, but for just about every artist a flop comes sooner or later, and without failure, there’s no success because you can learn a lot from failure if you’re willing to pay attention to its lessons.