The big difference for me between John Carter and Avatar is that we knew Avatar was coming ever since Titanic was still in the theatres and Cameron's people never let us forget it.
No, that's not the big difference.
The big difference was that Cameron's movie was enormously appealing to most people who saw it, all over the world, who then recommended to lots of other people that they see it. That includes most reviewers, of course. Christ, the thing was popular enough in China
to annoy the government.
A lot of skiffy fans are underwhelmed by Avatar
or resentful of it in one fashion or another but that does not, as someone around here likes to say, entitle them to their own facts. Neither "Cameron's people" nor anyone else is able to market or otherwise game anything beyond the box office receipts for the first day or two, and quite often not even that.
For example Disney's people, who know a couple of things about marketing and have managed to produce more than a couple of films that lots of people have enjoyed, seem not to be able to accomplish much on John Carter's
What, you think with a 250 million dollar investment on the line they just, I dunno, lost a post-it note they wrote to themselves reminding them to promote the thing? Here's a thought: maybe based on all their research, experience, showing parts of the movie to people etc. they could not find any approach to presenting the actual product
that clicked with potential filmgoers who weren't already in love with the material.
The responses of reviewers and the movie fans online at places like, oh, Rotten Tomatoes certainly point in one direction: that the reactions of people watching the movie
range from excited to tepid to confused to bored without a sufficient preponderance at the "excited" end of the scale to avoid apparent disaster for the studio here. It's down to 47 percent at RT - falling bit by bit as people see the movie and report back on it - and this Chicago Tribune
review suggests just what might be one of the real reasons people aren't thrilled:
The major problem here is one of rooting interest. I hate to sound like a mogul, or a focus group ho, but at the center of this picture is a flat, inexpressive protagonist played by a flat, inexpressive actor.
If people who paid to watch Avatar
had felt the same way after seeing it that people watching John Carter
appear to, that movie would have tanked hard too. "Marketing," my ass.
I'll see John Carter
this weekend and expect from what I've seen that I'll like it a lot, but hell I liked Green Lantern
so I don't need to kid myself that what entertains me is a guide to what other people will like. The couple of people I know who are going to see JC because significant others insist on it are already uninterested and resentful in advance. Fans seem to like useless anecdotal "facts" of that kind, so I'll play too.