Disney has already taken a bath on John Carter, so the likelihood of a sequel is pretty much extinct at this point. John Carter was slated to be a tentpole franchise that would be relied upon to be a cash cow for the next decade or two. This was supposed to be Disney’s Harry Potter*.
John Carter is steadily exiting theaters now, making room for The Avengers and Battleship and other widespread releases in the coming weeks (Note: I wrote this a few weeks ago). Can John Carter the film franchise still be salvaged? I think so. Here are some suggestions:
1. A re-release as part of a late summer double bill. Disney sibling The Avengers is one of those rare films that warrant repeat viewings in a theater. In the box office dead zone known as August and September, a double bill pairing John Carter with Avengers would bring more exposure to the overlooked Carter. This would be a break-even exercise with Theaters pocketing a bigger chunk of the gross, but the fanbase for Carter would grow and would convert more rentals of John Carter into purchases when the film hits home video.
2. Invoke the good name PIXAR for the home video release, albeit a different flavor of PIXAR. They didn’t market John Carter as a PIXAR film because of the violence and adult themes, which makes sense. Just as I have oft-mentioned that Cars 2 would be better served with a PIXAR Kids or PIXAR Family moniker**, John Carter could be buoyed by the PIXAR name if skewed for the adults. It would need a Criterion vibe; something like PIXAR Revue, PIXAR Cinema, or PIXAR Spotlight. This brand would give the film further credibility and perhaps a spot on the list of Disney PIXAR video collectors. Remember: strong video sales can give birth to a film franchise. Worked for Austin Powers, which tanked at the box office.
3. Acknowledge the different fan bases and provide alternate titles for the home video release. I haven’t done a Blu-Ray design here for a while, apologies. But for John Carter’s Blu I would include 2 additional covers for the box depicting alternate titles: A Princess of Mars and John Carter of Mars. This way fans can display the box with the title of their choosing. I’d go a step further and include those titles as being displayed when the film plays. Yes it would take a bit of trickery to allow for the choice and to swap titles on the fly, but it is do-able. This way fans can adopt the film title they like, and that adds a bit more appeal when it comes time to purchase.
4. Day one Director’s Cut. Film studios like to pocket Director’s Cuts for ‘double dip’ film releases down the road (usually opting to release a vanilla version first). Disney typically doesn’t do that, usually selling feature-rich combo packs to start off with. But for John Carter it would serve Disney well to throw in everything and the kitchen sink. That means a plethora of features and some game-changers like Director’s Cuts or Extended Editions. This release has to turn a lot of heads and get the cinephiles talking up a storm.
5. Supplemental media. This film must have been a merchandising nightmare. The books for which it is based are public domain, and you can’t do any toy tie-ins. How do you nurture a film franchise when the film is such a standalone product? In this day and age merchandise is a huge piece of the pie, and I’m a little surprised Disney sunk $250M on a film that relied almost entirely on box office alone. The Barsoom books were re-released in a shiny John Carter polish, but that was it. Put your Marvel acquisition to work Disney! Graphic Novels and Motion Comics would have introduced Carter to a new generation. These inexpensive mediums would grow the fanbase and expand the Barsoom lore.
This also addresses the lack of awareness for the John Carter character and Barsoom books. It seems to me that the film was released under the assumption John Carter was as engrained in the pop culture zeitgeist as Batman or King Kong. John Carter didn’t really have a built-in audience, at least not in this century.
*And Tron Legacy was supposed to be Disney’s Star Wars. Been a rough few years for the house that Mickey built.
** Cars 2 is not the same caliber of previous PIXAR films. I suppose Cars and even A Bug’s Life could be re-purposed for a kid-friendly PIXAR moniker too.
Be sure to check out the other entries in my “Salvageable Film” series.
Excellent article on the botched marketing for John Carter at Vulture.com.
1. A Communal Car Repair Garage. This is like a co-op artists studio, but for the mechanically inclined. You’d be able to rent a garage bay to fix your car for more demanding repairs. Sure you might have a garage and set of tools at home, but there are times when you need to get underneath the car. Or maybe you need an engine hoist and an industrial air compressor – stuff like that.
Got this idea when I owned a Ford several years ago (har-har, go ahead and laugh), and so often I would’ve liked to have access to a communal garage setup like this. I also think they had something like this in that film Christine.
2. Local Municipal Garbage Depots. Landfills are way out in the suburbs, and require a truck. Or you gotta pay an arm and a leg to some company to haul your stuff away. I propose ‘garbage depots’, which are set up in warehouses throughout the city, much like recycling depots. Garbage trucks that are not filled to capacity would stop in here, and collect junk until full or when it is needed to do another pickup route.
People would pay a fee to drop their stuff off here, but that is the cost of convenience. It would also maximize loads for trucks, allowing for optimal efficiency.
3. Restaurants With Retractable Roofs. It’s not just for sports stadiums anymore! You could turn the whole restaurant into a patio. It would be like that restaurant scene from Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs, minus the falling food (unless you have a clumsy server).
Speaking of servers – I imagine they’d love this idea. They’re not too fond of heading out the door to the patio with food, or collecting outdoor furniture at the end of the night.
Also: tall building rooftop bars. Those alcohol commercials lied — you never see those in real life.
5. Themed Drinking Holes And Restaurants — which are actually cool. If they made a bar based on Cheers, the Brick, or 10 Forward, it would be the busiest in the city. I’m telling ya, franchises to be had there. As for restaurants, I’d say ones based on those featured in Pushing Daisies (I think? Wasn’t there a pie restaurant?), Seinfeld, Goodfellas, Office Space, and that’s all that comes to mind. As long as it’s not too over-the-top like Planet Hollywood (forgot about those, didn’t you?)
6. Party Room Conference Centers. This is a building that would feature a dozen or so ‘party’ rooms, and a communal bar and/or restaurant. These rooms would house something in the area of 10 – 30 people. Some rooms would be equipped with large screen TV’s and seating, ideal for film marathons or gaming sessions with your buds. Other rooms would just have tables and chairs for poker or Magic: The Gathering parties. A stereo and a dance floor could fill another room — whatever you need for your party. This type of conference center would promote social activity – a dying art.
If I ran such a place, I’d charge about $100 – $200 per room per night. And if all the party-goers bought a lot of food and drink, I’d offer a rebate.
Hotels have many conference rooms, but let’s face it — these are snooty establishments. At least that’s what I learned from Home Alone 2.
7. Themed fitness clubs. Three words – Pokemon Training Center. All the geeks would be tricked into staying in shape.
I still get e-mails from time to time asking where this can be purchased, so I decided to touch it up and upload it to Imageready, where you can buy it commission-free, at least until Miramax asks me to remove it (in a violent, yet critically-acclaimed fashion). Hit the link or the image to go to the store listing.
Recommend the smaller sizes for this print — 14″ x 11″ is close to the painting’s size from the film. Also because I suck at painting digitally, and a smaller print can hide that. I did my best (I painted the outer 30% all around), but it won’t hold up to close scrutiny. At a glance it bears a passing resemblance to what is seen in the film.
I did e-mail Miramax and alert them this was a popular item (I still get traffic hits daily for this painting, and it’s been up over a year or so), in hopes they could add it to their merchandise line. No response, of course, and that is to be expected. Just saying I tried!
One thing I don’t get, is when Will Hunting is describing this painting, he says “It’s also a Winslow Homer ripoff, except, uh, you got whitey rowin’ the boat there.” But you really cannot determine the race of the boat’s occupant at all, or even the gender. It could easily be Paddington Bear in that boat, navigating a harsh sea of marmalade. Doesn’t that thought just cheer you up??
Lately I’ve noticed this print and ad campaign asking people to try and prevent waste caused by wrapping for holiday presents. I believe the motto is “Give Memories, Not Waste” or something like that. I can’t cite any stats, but we produce so much waste with all the wrapping and ribbons and bows and cards every year. A lot of waste for such temporary use.
So my solution is to create the means where people don’t have to use wrapping paper. This is a Christmas Tree shelf, which can store numerous presents behind curtains. You could toss the presents unwrapped behind the curtains (B.), or put the presents into burlap sacks and tie the drawstrings to the shelves, which would have wagon-wheel like spindles to tie to (A.).
To avert prying eyes it would be best to conceal presents in burlap, but you could also tie the curtains shut as well. You could also be a Grinch and use a locking system I suppose. I think a bunch of noisy bells could alert parents.
Basically this is merging the tree with stockings. It saves on wrapping and it saves trees. I believe this is much more practical and user-friendly than a pine tree (fake or real), especially when it comes to setup and tear-down.
Other features: This tree could feature built-in lights (C.) and maybe sound effects too. You could easily decorate this tree as well. The tree would revolve on a stand, allowing full 360-degree access to all the loot. This would be quick to set up and tear down, or you could remove all the Christmas-y stuff and have a nice shelf available year-round.
It would be much pricier than an artificial tree, especially with built-in lights and sounds. But think of all the money you’ll save for years, especially on wrapping paper.
One major flaw: this is much more friendly for cats, who love to climb curtains and attack tree ornaments. *sigh!*
I saw this article on Boing Boing today, and I thought I’d up offer up a solution. It’s not that I must compulsively solve everything, or feel it is my place to do so. It’s just that I often brainstorm for solutions when I see a problem*. Here is the video:
In my experience here in Canada, people who are vision-impaired would rely on some kind of braille imprint or texture (like thick or abrasive ink applications) to determine the value of the bills they are holding. The problem with both is that eventually the bills are worn down from extensive use.
The video showcases American currency, which has zero features to assist the vision-impaired. Mr. Tommy Edison demonstrates a system in which he remembers the order of his bills. As he admits, this doesn’t always work for him.
Some countries use indestructible bills with durable imprints (like New Zealand, I believe. I tried to rip the bill apart, and could not). Which seems to be the way to go. You can easily add braille to this semi-permanent bill. The only reason (I can think of) as to why this type of bill is not used by more countries – they are probably too costly to produce.
So on to my solution: create a set of bills where each denomination has a different shape. The corners of the bill are rounded in varying degrees to indicate the value of the bill.
In the illustration above, the $100 bill has very small rounded corners, while each smaller denomination features rounded corners that are progressively larger in scope. The $1 bill almost has a capsule shape. Note: forgot to include the $20. My bad.
This range of different shapes telegraphs the following: the smaller the corner, the larger the surface area of the bill. Larger bills = larger denominations.
The awesome part: This has a built-in security system. You cannot add to the shape of a smaller bill. For instance: it is impossible to turn a $1 bill into a $100. You could trim down a $100 into a $1 shape, but why on earth would you do that? To give someone more money than they want?
Corners on bills get a lot of wear and tear. Rounding them off would prolong the life of a bill. No more dog ears. No more folding/flattening bills for the vending machines.
Traditionalists might wag their fingers at me for this idea, but I don’t think it’s too earth-shattering. Coins have varying shapes, so why not bills?
The only downside are the corners that would need to be cut (Battlestar Galactica style!), which would add more production costs. Fortunately the excess paper can be recycled (try not to get too much ink on the excess parts!).
*Except with girls, who would prefer to keep me guessing as to what is wrong, rather than allow me do anything about it.
If I were to open a car dealership the first order of business would be a sign, one that is essentially a giant Hot Wheels package containing an actual car.
Not only would it serve as eye-catching signage, but it would also serve to highlight a particular car – much like dealerships do when they place a single car on a ramp or display stand to make it stand out from the lot.
This sign would also illicit smiles from those who see it because it triggers feelings of nostalgia, particularly the experience of car shopping when you were a kid. Because back then all the cars were in card packages sitting on pegs.
This type of signage makes it clear the car is a purchase item, and also implies the car is really cool and fun to drive.
It would only work for car brands that had a few cool models in their lineup. Seeing a Mustang or Challenger enclosed in the sign is appropriate. A compact or a station wagon, not so much.
Reminds me of this Acura commercial from the early 90′s, which has the greatest tag line at the end:
While it would be nice to feature the Hot Wheels package design, you could easily make the card backing compliment the dealership in appearance (like the image above).
I imagine this would draw people just to take their picture with it. People love giant touristy things.
There has been much hoopla these past 24 hours regarding the announcement of Nike’s Air Mag shoe, which is an official Back to the Future licensed shoe. They are based on those futurustic ‘power-lace’ shoes Marty McFly wore in BTTF II. Read more about them here.
Sadly, the shoes do not feature power-laces, probably due to cost of motors needed to execute the lacing gimmick. This has soured some people on the product.
I’d like to propose an automatic lacing system that does not require any motors. How it works:
Gravity does the heavy lifting. Place your foot in the shoe, which presses down on a spring-loaded platform (the spring doubles as foot support!). The platform locks into a clip located by the back heel, allowing the shoe’s wearer to walk or run around without issue. The platform is connected to a bunch of drawstrings – the type you’d find in a hoodie or sweatpants – which fasten the ‘ankle belt’ snugly. The shoe basically fastens as you insert your foot.
Here is the best part: that clip is accessible from the back, so to get your foot out of the shoe you step on the clip with your other foot to release the platform. It is exactly like how you take your shoes off now, only this clip triggers the removal instead of the back of the heel.
The drawstrings would be embedded into the shoe lining, so it wouldn’t feel like stepping into a net.