Monday, December 5, 2011

Disney's Marketing Department Confuses Me

Next year Disney Studios is releasing a big-budget movie based on the Edgar Rice Burroughs book A Princess of Mars. The book is the first in the John Carter of Mars series, all about the titular hero and his adventures on the red planet.

Disney, in their infinite wisdom, has decided to rename the movie and call it simply John Carter. Whuuuh?

OK, I can understand why they didn't want to call the movie by it's literary title of A Princess of Mars. John Carter is the main character after all, so the Princess title would be a bit misleading. It also implies you're going to see some kind of Sailor Moon girly movie, which would keep young males away in droves. Calling it John Carter: A Princess of Mars wouldn't be a very good idea either.

So I get why the title had to change. But why then didn't they simply call the movie John Carter OF MARS? Burrough's wrote eleven books in the series, the last of which contains that title. It's unlikely they're ever going to adapt all eleven books, so why not go ahead and use that title?

It's a sci-fi movie after all. I can only speak for myself, but as a science fiction fan I would be much more likely to go see a movie titled John Carter of Mars than the ridiculously bland John Carter. Adding "Of Mars" would at least give me an inkling that it might have some sci-fi element to it. Calling it John Carter tells me absolutely nothing about the movie I'm going to see. Is it a new Tom Hanks drama? A historical epic starring Mel Gibson? A movie about a reformed mobster? Who knows? It's like instead of Star Wars, George Lucas titled his movie Luke Skywalker.

Plus ever time I see the title John Carter I think of this:

Update: Apparently I'm not the only one who's vexed by this title. John Carter director Andrew Stanton recently gave an interview to try and explain himself. According to him:
"Here's the real truth of it. I'd already changed it from A Princess Of Mars to John Carter Of Mars. I don't like to get fixated on it, but I changed Princess Of Mars ... because not a single boy would go."
"And then the other truth is, no girl would go to see John Carter Of Mars. So I said, 'I don't won't to do anything out of fear, I hate doing things out of fear, but I can't ignore that truth.'"
"All the time we were making this big character story which just so happens to be in this big, spectacular new environment. But it's not about the spectacle, it's about the investment. I thought, I've really worked hard to make all of this an origin story. It's about a guy becoming John Carter. So I'm not misrepresenting what this movie is, it's John Carter.
"Mars is going to stick on any other film in the series. But by then, it won't have a stigma to it."
Let me tell you, that is some might pretty Markletspeak© right there.

7 comments:

  1. I've heard that after the massive flop of "Mars Needs Moms" earlier this year, the Disney marketing department decided that the problem was that audiences don't like Mars, so they hastily removed the "...of Mars" from the title here, thus unsuspecting Mars-hating audiences won't realize the movie is about the hated red planet until Disney's already got their money and it's too late.

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  2. Wow. That sounds like something a corporation would decide. Although the idea that the public has any feelings one way or another about the planets in our solar system...

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  3. At least if Star Wars were called 'Luke Skywalker" the character has an interesting surname that seems to have a bit of sci-fi flare. John Carter is about as bland as John Smith.

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  4. True. "John Carter of Mars" makes me think, "Say, John Carter sounds like an Earth name. But it says he hails from Mars. How could this be? I must see this movie to find out!"

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  5. Totally agree with you, Bob.
    Even the poster design is bland, with an wrong typo design. I think my custom fan poster is better: https://twitter.com/#!/jbautyoficial

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  6. @Dawn: I was hoping ER wasn't too long ago for people to remember that name.

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