‘John Carter’ leaves Hollywood wondering what happened

The box-office performance of Disney’s “John Carter” this weekend has left some Hollywood observers wondering what happened. The movie adaptation of the century-old Edgar Rice Burroughs tale pulled in only about $30 million in ticket sales, not enough to beat “The Lorax” in its second weekend.

My money didn’t contribute to the “John Carter” take, but more on that in a minute.

The New York Times featured a good analysis of why John Carter didn’t do well and is highly unlikely to recoup its $250-million-plus costs, but the article boils down to too much indulgence by director Andrew Stanton (who made Pixar’s classics “Finding Nemo” and “Wall-E”), a badly handled marketing plan and too little interest on the part of moviegoers for the story from the creator of Tarzan.

Maybe the movie will do well overseas. Maybe it will be considered an overlooked classic.

I’ll be able to judge the latter better when I see it. I didn’t see “John Carter” this weekend, even though the Burroughs tales were among my favorites when I was a kid, because the movie had very limited non-3-D showings locally.

I’m convinced that 3-D has become as much of a liability as a draw for some moviegoers, including me. The movies I want to see more than anything else in the next few weeks, “The Hunger Games” and “The Avengers,” will no doubt play in 3-D but I’ll probably have to seek out a theater in which to watch them in good old 2-D.

I’ve heard too many bad reports about how dark and murky 3-D movies can be as they’re projected in our standard movie theaters. “Thor,” a very fun movie, was apparently almost unwatchable in some theaters.

Other moviegoers no doubt think the $3-or-more surcharge for 3-D is also unwelcome, and it is, until 3-D projection is perfected.

In the meantime, movies that cost too much, don’t have a very good marketing campaign, don’t have enough broad appeal and can’t entice people to put up with 3-D projection will suffer. It happened with “Green Lantern” and I think it happened with “John Carter.”

 

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