Can John Carter overcome troubled buzz?

Posted by David Konow

As we've reported before here on TG, the "buzz" you'll hear about upcoming films isn't always accurate. 

In the case of Titanic, many predicted doom before it became the biggest box office hit in history.

Many geeks were terrified X-Men would be another Batman and Robin before the film finally came out and delivered, and many thought Bridesmaids would be an unfunny disaster before it became a huge hit. It's now the biggest Video on Demand movie in history, and has made a ton of dough in secondary home entertainment markets.

On the other end of the spectrum, also don't forget many thought Bonfire of the Vanities was going be the big hit for Christmas before it became one of cinema's most notorious dogs. And who could forget Sony believing beyond a shadow of a doubt that Last Action Hero would be a huge smash before it got stomped to death at the box office by Jurassic Park?
 
There's a lot riding on John Carter, Pixar's first live action film. Besides the fact that live action's a big step away from Pixar's usual animation magic, John Carter's also expected make big bucks at the box office to recoup its reported $250-300 million dollar budget, about $700 million world-wide. While a story in The New Yorker claims John Carter got 75% "good" and "excellent" scores in test screenings, Deadline is now reporting that "tracking" on the film is "shockingly soft."
 
For those who don't follow the box office horse race, tracking means how aware audiences are of upcoming films, and how much they want to see an upcoming movie. Rival studios informed Deadline it has 53% awareness, 27% definitely interested in seeing it, and 3% first choice to see it. One source even told the site, "This could be the biggest writeoff of all time."
 
Disney is apparently quite nervous about all of this, even in good times it's always the end of the world in Hollywood, and John Carter also has a little problem of opening two weeks before what's sure to be this quarter's big box office juggernaut: The Hunger Games.
 
John Carter is hitting theaters all over the world the same day, March 9, and foreign the box office, especially during these dreary economic times, has been crucial for the success of many movies. No one ever bats a thousand, but as we all know Pixar's batting average is infinitely better than most, and the new John Carter trailers and ad campaigns I've seen look fairly promising. If the movie delivers, can strong reviews and word of mouth turn things around? We'll sure find out soon enough...