“We open on a lone soldier walking through the desert. The year: 1861. The place: Mars!”
Who wouldn’t want to see that movie? A lot of people, apparently. Disney’s John Carter isn’t doing so well at the box office, nor with critics. It’s bringing back memories of Mars Needs Moms, one of last year’s biggest flops.
Should studios give up on the Red Planet? A look back at space sci-fi films does reveal a trend. The recent movies set on Mars—Red Planet, Mission to Mars, Ghosts of Mars—have not performed all that well. Total Recall was a hit, but it featured Arnold back when he was a movie star, not a politician.
So, what do moviegoers seem to like? Aliens are great, as long as they’re on our turf: War of the Worlds, Transformers. And alien worlds seem to work, as long as they’re imaginary. Think Avatar and Star Wars.
Disney can at least take solace in the fact that John Carter isn’t bombing on the order of the Adventures of Pluto Nash. That 2002 Eddie Murphy lunar comedy made only $7 million on a $100 million budget. Maybe they should have given the money to JPL.
[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]