I just saw Percy Jackson has a sequel coming out in 2013, despite the first movie under-performing at the box office, pulling in only $88m domestically and $137k foreign. Since its budget was less than half of John Carter’s, it’s not really an apples-to-apples comparison, but if JC can ride positive word of mouth and fan activism to a gentle decline this weekend and then show some legs through April until the Summer Blockbuster Onslaught begins in earnest, it’s all but guaranteed to beat PJ’s total box office by a wide margin, largely on the strength of its foreign appeal. And Disney, of course, knows the value of a global brand better than most companies.
The question, though, is whether or not Disney actually WANTS to establish and nurture a new franchise?
Beyond its flawed marketing campaign, I totally missed one of the biggest red flags of all: there was/is ZERO merchandising for John Carter. According to WIRED, there was an explicit decision to only “license John Carter to higher-end collectibles manufacturers“, which absolutely blows my mind
No John Carter video games or action figures; no Woola plush toys; no Dejah Thoris lingerie; not even a fucking BARSOOM! t-shirt?!?!
[Slight correction: Disney does have some traditional merchandise, though it’s apparently only on their website, and a step above CafePress’ selection.]
The only thing close to notable I’ve seen was a rather meh Marvel Comics “prequel” that was published to little fanfare, and an anthology of short stories that apparently had no direct connection to the movie at all.
Licensing decisions are made well in advance of the release of a movie, so I have to wonder if this had anything to do with Burroughs’ estate, what’s considered public domain and who has the rights to what’s not, but it’s difficult to justify treating this movie like a niche play—not with a reported $250m budget on the line.
Anyway, the book’s not anywhere near closed on John Carter and Barsoom, and the backlash against the mainstream media’s schadenfreude is starting to pick up steam as fans of both the movie and Burroughs’ original stories take to social media demanding, “Take me back to Barsoom!”
I definitely want to see a sequel—hell, I want John Carter to get the full transmedia treatment—so this here’s my two cents towards helping to make it happen!