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Why Can’t Disney Make Boys’ Movies?

So, John Carter has officially become labeled as a flop (despite reasonable reviews and a decent worldwide take), joining Tron Legacy and Prince of Persia on the list of failed attempts to kickstart action adventure franchises in recent years. Why can’t Disney seem to get a foothold in the live-action male market?

The odd thing is, there’s actually a similarity (for me, at least) between the three movies. Not in plot, of course, nor even in genre as such; I mean, I guess that Tron and John Carter are both science fiction, but they’re very different within that genre, with Tron‘s coldness and “I am a rich douche finding out about the real world for the first time here in this virtual world, woah irony” thing and John Carter‘s self-consciously “epic” reach and delving into sword and sandals and romance and kinda sorta super heroics and Star Wars-esque stuff (All of which, of course, came from the original ERB novels. Woah, irony, indeed). No, the similarity is in… feeling, may be the best way to put it.

Whatever their faults, none of the three are exactly bad movies, as such, but they also somehow miss out on being good at the same time. They’re all “good enough” movies, ones that are entertaining if particularly hollow and unengaging, as if they’ve been created by committee and too much of an eye towards the audience and bottom line; movies that might be more enjoyable on DVD or Netflix months later, when you’re feeling lazier and less impatient or demanding of whatever it is you’re watching because, really, if you miss a bit because you’re talking or eating pizza you can always rewind to watch it later. There’s a feeling of emptiness and lack of heart there that you can ignore if you’re not really paying attention, but if you’re there in the theater and have paid $MoreThanYouWould’veWantedIdeally to watch the damn thing, then somehow it’s all you can see.

Ultimately, that might be the problem: That Disney is being too cautious and self-aware about their action-adventure movies, a sure sign that they’re doomed to failure. Action-adventure movies require many things to work, it’s true, but I’m tempted to say that a cautious approach isn’t one of them: Think of things like the Fast and Furious movies, or Crank, or even the Marvel movies: There’s a sense of slapdash, flying-by-the-seat-of-your-pants throughout the whole thing, of the movie being slightly just a little bit out of control that feels part of the appeal, even if it’s not actually the case. Compared to those movies, Tron Legacy, John Carter and especially Prince of Persia feel a little too clean, and a little too safe, to truly appeal to their target audience.

And so, the question maybe becomes, should Disney just stop trying? There’s an argument for that position, especially when you consider that the Disney Corporation already owns the seeming leader in that particular demographic in Marvel Studios. With Marvel in its portfolio, Disney could, if it wanted, comfortably relax with the knowledge that at least one of its subsidiaries had the male moviegoer market sewn up, and save itself the cost, hassle and embarrassment of trying to bring one more much-beloved nostalgic franchise to the big screen, only to disappoint all but the most faithful.

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Comments

  • Beast

    “Boys Movies”? What’s with the gender stereotype labeling?

    It’s 2012 for Christ sake, arn’t we beyond such backwards mentality as this? Jesus wept.

  • Mr. M

    Is there going to be another Tron movie? Anyone have the latest scoop?

  • Brian

    You realize, of course, that the Marvel movies ARE Disney movies now, right? The Avengers is a Disney movie.

  • AdamH12110

    The problem is that it’s true.  Disney’s awful at marketing to boys and creating stuff for a young male demographic.  It’s what Disney XD was supposed to fix.  They didn’t know how to market Power Rangers when they had it.  And their animated version of Jack and the Beanstalk (probably the most male-oriented of popular fairy tales) has been shelved a couple of times.  They even worried about marketing their Rapunzel movie to boys so much that they renamed it “Tangled” to take the focus off the female lead.

  • Bass Guitar Hero

    Yes, but it’s likely not going to begin production until 2014 because the director is tied up with other projects until then. So it’s currently going to be sitting in the script phase for awhile.

  • http://twitter.com/JayDieterich Jay Dieterich

    but the difference is the studio that makes it, its marvel studios not disney studios.  just like ESPN is disney but have no problem marketing to “boys”, difference is ESPN produces the show not disney, per se.

  • Lyle

    I think its interesting that Disney does do so many ‘Girl Movies’ well and better than their ‘Boys Movies’ when every other studio has the exact opposite problem. They have made millions off of movies like ‘Little Mermaid’ and ‘Beauty and the Beast’ effortlessly, whereas if another studio makes a ‘Girls Movie’ like ‘Twilight’, it is considered an odd aberration and the studios act as though they are shocked that there is a female audience out there.
    I can’t help thinking that the Disney studios should just do what they are good at, because it provides a niche that other studios are either incapable or unwilling to fill. You make it sound that this is some horrible problem Disney has, but considering they are a multi-million dollar company, I think they are doing okay for themselves.
    I did see Tron:Legacy, and found it to be a cold movie as you said, since none of the characters really stood out in it and I had a hard time caring about any of them. I’m curious if the main character was Kevin Flynn’s daughter instead of his son if that would have given it some much needed heart.
    I also saw John Carter, and thought it was a lot of fun. I felt it had two things going against it: 1) A really bad add campaign that did not properly explain to those not in the know what it was about and which was foolish enough to just call it John Carter. I bet a lot of mundanes thought it was about the guy from ER. Why did they not just put the word Mars in there somewhere, so the mundanes would know it was sci-fi is beyond me. 2) John Carter fell into the same trap Sherlock Holmes fell into years ago. Sherlock Holmes, when first invented, was really revolutionary in that he utilized crime solving techniques never utilized before, but, now, with CSI and so forth, he often comes off as quaint and antiquated. I thought Moffett’s Sherlock television show really shows him in a proper context for a modern audience. In the same way, I found it interesting that the writers of John Carter really followed the original novel so closely that it all felt kind of antiquated and like an old fashioned sci fi movie, when the original book was actually pretty revolutionary in that nobody had ever written anything like this before. I doubt turning John Carter from a Civil War veteran to a Gulf War veteran would have worked, but I can’t help feeling a little more effort to update the story so it felt as fresh and new as when it was first written could have helped.

  • David Lee Ingersoll

    Pirates of the Caribbean. 

  • Plotkilla

    Why must almost all of Graeme’s  are structured in the form of a question and contain   a flawed premise????

  • Johnson!

    The Princess movies are geared to KIDS, unapologetically so, but these “boys” action movies hedge their bets enough to try to appeal to adults also, and manage to lose both audiences.  I’ll bet if they were more clear about this being an “all ages” movie it would have done better.  Not blockbuster better, but better.  

  • Jim

    Whether you liked it or not (and personally I thought it was awful), I really don’t think Tron Legacy can fairly be called a flop or a failure; between an over $400 million box office worldwide, the plans for a sequel, the upcoming prequel animated series, or the dvd sales, it’s been at least a financially successful movie.

  • Claudio Pozas

    John Carter is one of the best action-adventure movies ever. Word of mouth is very positive, and it is funny how reviewers seem to *want* it to flop.

  • Chris

    I’ve wondered the same thing for a long while, especially in their animated features. When I was a kid, Disney animated features weren’t so self-consciously designed around princesses. Pinocchio, Dumbo, Bambi, Robin Hood, the Rescuers, Sword in the Stone, Fox and the Hound, 101 Dalmatians, Jungle Book, Black Cauldron…  all of these appealed to mixed gender audiences by a) following something other than the fairy tale formula and b) featuring strong male leads. As a little boy, I didn’t feel awkward wanting to go see a “Disney Movie.” Today, my own sons are likely to se a Disney flick as a “girl movie.”

  • James King

    I’m guessing you didn’t read the last paragraph.

  • http://twitter.com/hawkingbyrd hawkingbyrd

    How was Tron: Legacy cold? The kid lost his father, found his father again on the Grid, only to lose him again. I love the movie, but then again, I’ve always been a Tron fan. All three movies (Tron, Prince of Persia, and John Carter) were great in my opinion. I think Disney should produce a live-action female driven movie and compare it to its past live-action films (which are often have male leads and secondary female characters). I also think Disney needs to change their formula for live-action films=normal boy finds himself in a fantasy world and becomes the hero. It’s the same song with a different tune. I do agree that it’s too safe. Disney is known for its family-friendly mission and compared to other action adventure films from other companies, their family-friendly approach sets them back big time.

  • Oh, Brian

    You realize, of course, that this is acknowledged in the article?

  • Jesse

    If only they’d mentioned that in the last paragraph or somewhere.

  • Lorrie

    Aggressively pursuing male audiences while ignoring every other demographic in their marketing campaign is likely part of what doomed John Carter.  Apparently, it’s a movie the whole family could enjoy, but you’d never know it from the commercials.  Disney should be making movies aimed at general audiences, not specifically boys or girls.  Their animated films were huge when I was a kid.  Sure, girls loved them, but they were watched by everyone because the whole family could enjoy them.  If Disney is having problems getting boys to watch their movies, it’s because they created the pink, frou-frou, superficial “princess culture” that makes Disney billions of dollars in merchandise sales.  It isn’t good for girls and probably really is a real turn-off to boys.

  • http://profiles.google.com/nickmarino Nick Marino

    I think the biggest reason why these films haven’t inspired passion in audiences is really simple — they’re bland. In the process of trying to appeal to the widest amount of viewers as possible, the stories and characters lose distinct appeal.

    And another big problem is that these movies are being made for boys… at the expense of being made for other viewers. Strong female characters tend to be few or far between in these flicks. Sure that may have worked for the original Star Wars films, but that’s an old way of doing things. People are getting sick of the “action and fantasy films are for boys” mentality. Audiences have a lot more options now, and by virtue of that, they’re far less passive than they used to be.

    I think the solutions are simple for Disney. 1. Stop playing it so safe with your plots and characters. Let things be more eccentric and specific. 2. Stop focusing on the adolescent boys demographic. Obviously, the process of creating these films for specific gender and age ranges isn’t working so well with this genre.

  • Mrcier

    I actually at least liked all these movies, they all had problems, but were each better than 90% of the other movies out in their respective years… why isnt that good enough anymore?

  • Zagreus

    Disney movies have NO appeal for men.  They are trying to catch EVERYONE and therefore, catch NO ONE.  It’s boring.  It’s not sexy.  An action adventure movie should have an edge.  John Carter seemed generic.  Dull.  I’ve NO interest in seeing it. 

  • Califansd

    I really enjoyed John Carter! The one problem with both John Carter and Prince of Persia (both of which I saw in the theater) is that the lead actors are wimpy. Yes, they have muscles, but their acting and their essence is soft and wimpy. If they had hired actors who were able to achieve real intensity when necessary, it would have given the movies more weight. Even Paul Walker has a kind of quiet intensity, a sense of danger, that neither of those leads come close to. And when you compare them to the intensity of a Vin Diesel or Hugh Jackman, you can see where the problem is.

  • Sandiegocat

    I know a ton of females who love action movies. If a theatre is showing a good action and a good romcom, I’ll pick action every time.

  • James King

    I loved John Carter! 

    The problems at the box office were all in the marketing, starting with the title.  They shoulda called it John Carter and the Princess Of Mars, confidently yet subtly setting it up as the first of a series. This could have been supported by a campaign centering around the sweeping romantic adventure aspect of the story.  Commercials focusing on Carter and Deja Thoris interacting heroically/romantically would have worked a hell of a lot better than a some Prince of Persia looking dude swinging a rock in the arena from the Star Wars sequel.

  • Mrcier

    Additionally, ALL of the following movies Im listing had male leads and are by disney (and its also note worthy that EVERY pixar movie to date has a male lead so I wont bother mentioning Toy Story and the lot) Aladdin, Pirates of the Carribean, The Emperor’s New Groove, Tarzan, Hercules,  Nightmare Before Christmas, Treasure Planet, Peter Pan,and countless more pre-90s, Tangled, Lilo and Stich and Alice (live action) all had high degree male character who shared the lead spot light as well.

    PS Beast, i hope thats sarcasm, clearly the writer is identifying a commonality between disney movies with a male lead, -NOT saying they are movies intended for boy only audiences (Einstein and other icons of intelligence wept)

  • Absherlock

    It’s too bad Disney couldn’t have gotten hold of the Percy Jackson books. The movie that exists is pretty bad and, while I understand that there’s another one in the works, that’ll probably be the last.

    There’s actually a pretty successful book series called “The Kingdom Keepers” that’s actually set in the Disney properties – why don’t they make that movie?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QKN5MHOI6VUFOYCTV5REK7M7A4 Jacob

    Successful Disney Male Franchise: Marvel Cinematic Universe.

  • iola

    Agreed. Thank you. I’m female and I’M the one who got my husband, father, brother and male friends to watch the trailer/extended scene and get excited about the film when they previously knew nothing about it. The only one who knew about it and contacted me to say we had to go? A female friend.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QKN5MHOI6VUFOYCTV5REK7M7A4 Jacob

    So then the answer there is to bring the guys at Marvel Studios in to make their other “boy” movies.

  • Coryjameson

    There isn’t anything necessarily wrong with John Carter. I think maybe the audiences have gotten much more dumb these days. Look at the truly awful “Twilight” series and the upcoming “Hunger Games”, they’re huge successes and yet they’re really bad. 

  • Yees

    John Carter still was well received in a number of outlets. Its the marketing. The mainstream just doesn’t enjoy heavy fantasy or scifi epics based on classic properties or new ones either. The market want young adult adaptations like Twilight, Hunger Games, or Harry Potter. 

  • B Smithy

    John Carter was great. It’s doing well abroad, which is further proof that Disney’s marketing stinks.

  • Jack R

    Let’s not get caught up chasing our tails in the euphemism here.  The point is Disney really doesn’t know how to market these kinds of movies.  Nothing new. This has been going on for 30 years. They didn’t know how to market the first Tron, heck, they didn’t know how to market The Black Hole.  All these movies broke some sort of new technical ground.. but the stories and the marketing always misfire.  

    The meandering story aside (or is it just too fat of an edit? Because the front and back of the movie are pretty cool), Disney did everything wrong wit this.  They marketed it like a b-movie instead of an epic like Lord of the Rings or Star Wars. They did nothing to promote the plot or story in the trailers… Or who John Carter is. They dropped the ‘of Mars’ from the title because they thought THAT was the reason Mars Needs Mom’s tanked (not because it just wasn’t that great of a movie…)  Leaving a title like John Carter, which doesn’t carry any recognition to anyone but the readers of Burroughs or aficionados of sci fi pop culture.  (You title this thing John Carter: Warlord of Mars.. and you’re gonna get the ‘300’ crowd going to see this movie at the very least..)..As for the boy/girl thing.  My wife LOVES action movies, and she had ZERO interest in seeing this.  She is however looking forward to Avengers.. not because she knows the comic.. because the trailers and marketing are so much stronger.  

  • Mervynnewway

    This in ability to reach the male demographic is a recent thing for them in the 90′ Disney programming was able to reach a wide audience . Movies like the Lion King and Aladin were popular in all demographics ‘ and tv properties like Darkwing Duck and Gargoyles were extremely popular with the demographic that now wont give them the time of day. It’s funny but Disney has the opposite problem from the rest of Hollywood .

  • Teenlibn

    Like iola, I’m a female, and I’ve managed to convince my husband and son to accompany me to see the movie this weekend.  And I don’t know about anyone else, but I’ve heard ONLY positive comments about the movie from everyone I know who has seen it.

  • Deanjsimons

    I reckon it’s more because disney has done too well establishing its brand and geared it towards attracting/indoctrinating young girls, and in so doing alienated young boys who become grown indifferent men who find the thought of disney as for babies and young girls.

  • John

    Pirates of the Carribbean? What a knuckleheaded article.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rando-McNamealot/100003473431756 Rando McNamealot

    OH MY GOD SOMEBODY MENTIONED A GENDER IN POSTMODERN AMERICA. Somebody cut the author’s dick off in response to this heinous crime.

  • Anonymous

    Tron was a flop?  Since when?  

  • Nicklangiano

    I’m sorry, how was John Carter aimed at boys when everything Disney did during the production and prior to release was to make the movie more accessable for girls, including multiple title changes? If any of these movies “failed”, it’s because they were focus-grouped to death in an attempt to launch a new franchise.

  • Beast

    Nothing wrong with mentioning Gender. It’s mentioning Gender in stereotypical outdated roles. Being an action adventure movie or sci-fi movie doesn’t make it a “Boys Movie” anymore than a romantic comedy makes it a “Chick Flick”.

    We already have genre categories to define these films. So why does the reviewer feel the need to label these types of films in such a manner? There’s guys who love Disney animated features and gals who love stuff like Star Wars. So why restrict these films into gender defining categories when over the decades we’ve managed to rise above such classifications. It’s not a Leave It To Beaver world anymore. Why seek to regress to it?

  • sightseen

    That’s not surprising Disney switched all their product and aimed them at teen girls from their tv shows and so on.  Hell just look at how they chose their lead from Prince of Persia and John Carter they didn’t get Russel Crowe or Josh Holloway or any men, they went for manboys to the teen girls to watch those movies.

  • Dinnerroll

    Pirates of the Caribean……   the premise of the article  is false and  claimed that is an official flop… only to those that are reviewing the movie… those that actually went and saw it..  –it wasnt a flop…  stop bleating and trying to make the story Graerme and stop using questions to  start your articles with a flawed premise…

  • Demoncat4

    because Disney wants that  market  like the other studios who do the same type of films they will just keep trying even though they keep  coming up short unless they start taking better risks then their version of john carter like vidoe game films.

  • Hedley

    In Graeme’s head, since a few months before it even came out. Every chance he gets to talk smack on Tron: Legacy, he does.

  • Hedley

    In Graeme’s head, since a few months before it even came out. Every chance he gets to talk smack on Tron: Legacy, he does.

  • Neonranger14

    Disney is too focused on the idea of “family friendly” entertainment. I know there are those out there who feel that cursing has no place in entertainment, and that blood just isn’t necessary. There are also just as many, if not more people, who feel that these things have a place in entertainment. I know people who refuse to see a movie if it is rated pg-13 or below.

    While I wouldn’t go that far, when I see a situation in which someone would realisticly curse, surprise, pain, ect, and they say something like “darn” or “blast” it immediately takes me out of the experience. When you can walk down the street and hear people cursing in their everyday lives, how is it realistic to depict life otherwise?

    I understand that “some” parents don’t want their precious little angels ears to be befouled by such harsh language, but why is theirs the only voice that seems to matter? I’m a grown man, who has grown friends with kids who don’t mind swearing. Why are our opinions worth so much less than the stereotypical middle american soccer mom who would rather boycott a product than screen it before showing it to her kids?

    Disney panders to the most prudish of our culture, and as a result their more action oriented films feel “white washed”. Any possibly offensive language or situations have been carefully sanitized so that the finished product is as family friendly as possible. Unfortunately, those of us who don’t like that kind of thing are pretty much sol.

  • fred10

     Pardon, but doesn’t that sort of prove the author’s point?

  • Anonymous

    And what about the obvious, the lack of a defined audience?  It’s a PG-13 movie that was terribly market to kids.  Nobody knew what the movie was, or who should go see it.

  • Anonymous

    Flawed premise aside, the movie will most likely be a flop.  

  • Pg

    That’s not the issue. In fact it’s the opposite of Disney’s problem. The problem is that Disney has trouble drawing a MALE audience.

  • http://twitter.com/CharlesSkaggs Charles Skaggs

    TRON: LEGACY made over $400 million worldwide in box office, before home video sales.  Disney should have more “flops” like that.

  • http://www.facebook.com/francois.luong1 François Luong

    Perhaps they should have let Marvel Studios or Miramax distribute all three movies. I’m sure I am not the only one, but I tend to associate Disney Movies with family movies.

  • Tempe1

    Not really already 71 million over seas   this movie is doing amazing in places  where they  weren’t tainted by  internets comments and bad pre press…  the advance buzz was hoorrible because of internet bloggers such as the  idiot that writes this column and many other …word of mouth has been amazingly strong … and not the story that is being picked up on in the press is how the american reviewers  and armchair bloggers like the one that runs this column were wrong.

  • WATCHwoMEN

    the premise is wrong —it is taking in the US Because the “I’m a comic book/sci-fi genius who still lives in my parent’s basement with no job and lots of spare time on my hands to type 1,000 word treatises on the finer points of obscure Korean horror films” fan base has been whining for the past six months about the lame title compromise imposed by the marketing department at Disney. It was supposed to be “John Carter of Mars,” but they were afraid girls wouldn’t go see a movie with “Mars” in the title. Now no one is going. …This means YOU GRAEME

  • Nightowl

    Maybe Graeme should  go to the movie  before trying to comment on it

  • momaw

    I’m so sick of seeing box office takings being linked to the quality of the movie.  The two having nothing to do with each other.

    News flash, until you see the movie, you don’t know if it’s garbage.

    The problem for the movies in these articles is marketing to get people in to see the movie.

    There are plenty of awful movies that are box office successes because they were marketed well.  They marketing for John Carer was really bad, hence no one went.  The quality of the movie didn’t matter one iota.

    For the record I thought it was a great movie.

  • R L

    I’m not a man but I would guess that men don’t really like to look at other men barely clothed or in tight fitting clothes. And unless there are cars and alot of explosions and pretty girls and they have jeans and normal t-shirts on (that most men in the 18 to 35 demographic like to wear) why would they be interested in watching a period piece/alternate reality/alien world that will never exist for them when they can go and actually TEST DRIVE the car in the movie that they’ve just watched in the jeans they and the main character are wearing? I’m just saying…

  • http://shadowolfhunter.com/ SJ

    Disney should stick to what it knows. Cute, anthropomorphic, cuddly stuff in candy-bright colours. It should leave action adventure to the studios that can. Disney is just not that kind of studio.

  • Emmett71755

    Because they are stories whose time has come and gone.
    Action adventure boys’ movies must relate to something current or at least
    somethng relatable to their level of imagination. I saw mostly animated movies
    when I was young which scared me, particularly Monstro the whale (sitting in
    the front row of the theater) in Pinocchio, and fire-breathing dragons, etc.
    These days with all the technologically advanced films and video games that
    make violence and carnage universally available and accessible for young minds,
    the leap of faith in imagining yourself in a certain story or as a hero just
    isn’t there. It’s already been done by a bunch of people who have already
    thought it all out and audience-tested everything in order to supposedly make
    money on old concepts. They follow the same routine to accomplish the same end
    result, making share-holders and investors rich at the expense of creativity and
    productions to last a great many years. If you study carefully, films like The
    Wizard of Oz, It’s a Wonderful Life, etc., didn’t make big bucks at first. But
    look how long they’ve lasted. It’s the craft of the storyteller/writer to
    depict what he or she sees in the realm of magination then leave it to
    producers/directors/actors and other professionals to design the art of
    bringing that vision to life in the confines of a movie. The more you consider
    what has gone before, the least likely you are to repeat old themes and ways of
    presenting them. Look for something original and stick to a vision of what
    audiences, young or old, would want to spend time viewing. If you’re just
    making up things to stay busy or make a bundle of money, it doesn’t work that
    way. Those who see beyond everyday life to infiltrate happiness and/or thought
    into the lessons we’re here to learn would never experience writer’s block.
    They already know there’s an endless stream of knowledge, experience and thrill
    in life to draw upon.  But, in order to
    so so, you must touch the viewer in some way, intellectually or emotionally.
    That is very difficult to do in boys’ movies when they’re simply subjected to
    endless no-point animation or storylines that prompt no emotional response.
    Think of why Old Yeller, Bambi, My Dog Skip or even The Sound of Music retain
    their appeal for new-found groups of children world-wide. Listen to the heart.
    It never lies.

  • Emmett71755

    Of course, if I could get Disney interested in my script for THE BELL WISHERS adaptation from the book, it would appeal to both boys and girls of that age group. Trailer at: http://www.youtube.com/emmett71755

  • Alice Hurley50

    I am not a boy.  I am a grandmother.  Tron was a little cold.  With that said, I loved Prince of Persia and John Carter.  They were both action packed.  They were both very visual with  great special effects.  They had attractive characters.  I have watched Prince of Persia more than once and will probably do the same with John Carter.

  • Brian

    You’d guess right. I rarely make it to the end of Graeme’s articles.

    I don’t understand why you would write the article in the first place if you were aware of that fact.

    Oh right, a paycheck.

  • Drhiphop85

    As someone said below its the marketing. People keep bringing up the 90s and Pixar but those are two separate things from the issues with John Carter. You cant compare Aladdin or Lion King to John Carter. They were animated films, Just like with Pixar films which are marketed to families. John Carter was trying to grab the attention of young men but it was dry and made it seem like a B-list film.

  • Drhiphop85

    Are you from the future? Otherwise how do you know the Hunger Games film is bad? Oh let me guess your cynical-nostalgia obsession goves you super powers to see in the future?

  • http://squidoo.com/barsoom Atomic Kommie Comics

    “Aggressively pursuing male audiences while ignoring every other
    demographic in their marketing campaign is likely part of what doomed
    John Carter.”

    NOT marketing to “male audiences” is what doomed John Carter.
    Emphasizing the “Before Star Wars / before Flash Gordon / before Avatar” aspect, titling it “John Carter and the Princess of Mars”, doing pulp-style posters ala Star Wars and Indiana Jones, and going with a bit of kitsch (the attitiude, not the actor) would’ve gone a long way to selling the movie properly.

  • Mr_Wayne

    I was gonna say the EXACT same thing.

  • http://deuceology.wordpress.com Larry Carter

    It doesn’t matter what the film company is, if they try to make a hit instead of a movie, there’s a good chance they will fail.  That is what happened with each of the moview mentioned above.  Disney tried to make hits.  They should just make a great movie.

  • Chris N

     Saw John Carter yesterday. It was great. Go see it.

  • Joeitzbig

    If they had actually made a John Carter of Mars movie  based on A Princess of Mars they would have had a hit.  Instead Stanton abandoned the characters, story and narrative of the book and made a cliched mess.

    Stanton trashed the source material and he is receiving his just rewards.

  • Joeitzbig

    It deserves to flop.

  • http://www.GeorgiaUnity.blogspot.com/ GeorgiaUnity

    I didn’t see anything ‘wrong’ or counter to a ‘real’ action movie with any of the listed flicks.

    I also don’t need to see things amped up (ugh!) in order for things to be more ‘boy-ish.’ How sad that this was the spin of the reviewer. Frankly, I’m over the preponderence of gore and guts and cussing and rapes and murders all in the name of sensationalistic competitiveness with other franchises.

    Incidentally, the word is “whoa.”

  • tom

    iola sounds like one of millions of women who wrongly think “In order to be strong, I must set aside all the femininity and embrace male movies, male mentalities, and all things male.”

    Fat, old movie execs will probably smile if they read iola’s comment.  

  • Kyle

    What are we, four? five? movies deep into the Pirates franchise?  It’s easy to make sweeping statements like “Disney can’t build action franchises” when we chose not to look at the whole picture.

  • 0bsessions

    This right here. What this article makes no mention of is how well Disney is doing with regards to really adult properties in general. Really, for all the harping on their lack of success with the adult male demographic, what exactly are we comparing this to? What’s the last successful Disney movie marketed towards women?

    Heck, looking through the last five years, I’ve seen more big hits from the male action demographic than anything geared towards women.The reason Disney doesn’t do well with the adult male demographic is because they don’t do well with adults to begin with. When adults see Disney attached to a property, they immediately think “kids” or “all ages.” Their bread and butter is kids’ movies and there’s been no shortage of kid friendly content that is gender neutral of late (As attested by the father of a young girl who absolutely loves taking her to Disney movies). Tangled was more accessible to males than any Disney movies from when I was a kid, Winnie the Pooh was fantastic, the Muppets was gold and that’s not even getting started with the all-ages gender-neutral gold-mine that is Pixar Studios.

  • 0bsessions

    Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, etc…

    Versus Lilo and Stitch, the Lion King, really anything Pixar.

    Disney’s basically operating off of the same MO as any other era in Disney’s history. Prior to the Princess and the Frog, the last “Princees-centric” Disney feature was Mulan, and calling that a princess oriented film is a bit misleading anyway considering it’s mostly sword-fighting and war that just so happens to have a female protagonist. In that timeframe, we’ve had Aladdin, Lion King, Hercules, Lilo and Stitch, two or three Winnie the Pooh movies, the Emperor’s New Groove, Atlantis, Treasure Planet and others and that is, again, without even touching the Pixar output.

    As a male adult, I not only don’t feel uncomfortable taking my daughter to a Disney movie, I outright revel in it because they are on an absolute role. Princess and the Frog is the only thing they’ve put out lately (Animated wise) that I didn’t absolutely love and that one wasn’t really bad, just not entirely up my alley.

  • 0bsessions

    Tangled admittedly had terrible marketing. It was visibly marketed towards girls, but I’d argue things like Aladdin were less gender-neutral. The lead male is a roguish thief who, in the end, does the right thing, textbook perfect for targeting to boys. If they’d given equal prompts to his very central character in advertisements, they’d have done better with boys.

    I’d personally written it off and declined to go see it with my wife and daughter when it came out, eventually being basically forced to watch it once it hit DVD (And absolutely loving it).

  • 0bsessions

    Ooooor the fact that the Hunger Games already exists in book format.

    Everyone with any critical sense knew Twilight was going to be bad because the book was terrible. I honestly don’t know a thing about Hunger Games one way or the other and won’t pass my own opinion, but there’s nothing particularly prescient about condemning the probable story of a film based on a book. If he didn’t dig the book, he likely won’t like the movie considering the extreme rarity of a film actually being better than the source material.

  • http://www.facebook.com/joseph.wren Joseph C Wren

    What you say is just NOT true.   Women don’t naturally want to see violent dumbed down movies as a whole and boys don’t want to see mean girl love story movies.   There are exceptions to all rules, but there will ALWAYS be a difference between the tastes of males and females.

  • Vicsage

    The Question should be – Why can’t Graeme do an article without using a question and a flawed premise?

  • Big H

    I thought Prince of Persia was pretty good, I enjoyed Tron Legacy and I want to see John Carter. As far as I’m concerned they can make “Boys” movies. Which by the way seems like a crude way to word a title.

    Maybe the problem is entertainment media casting a shadow over movies “they” don’t care to see. Every single article I saw before the movie came out, and got solid reviews, was about how it looked bad and they should have kept “of Mars” in the title. Buzz and Hype have a lot to do with movies being big or being flops and it starts with entertainment media.

  • Anonymous

    Hollywood is out of touch with people anymore in general. We want higher quality films that are worth watching and we are getting a veritable ocean of drab, boring, really ill conceived titles.  Like John Carter of Mars … who the hell was the market for this film … its this new shotgun approach they have.  They have to capture the 14 year old girl market (the main people going to movies apparently these days) as well as senior citizens and they have to do well with foreign audiences and with DVD sales.  That is the impossible combo that they shoot for and they end up with films like Pirates of the Caribbean 3 and this stinker.   

    They need to find new business models, ways to make money from smaller segments of the market. Between Hollywood and the television/cable companies you’d think it was still 1984 or something. They need to get with the times. We want HBO, Showtime, NBC, ABC … in an all in one Netflix style package … not a pay for service from each studio/company but bundled streaming media.  When there are endless indie film makers who are more than capable of producing endless compelling, engaging, totally entertaining films … but perhaps films that aren’t going to make a billion at the box office … perhaps just 10 million.  Hollywood needs to think smaller, they need to go back to simply making entertaining films and be less concerned with market data and trending demographics.  We need bold film makers who take risks and make great films and these days due to all the barriers of entry … shockingly … ironically … that is still a feat.   The first studio that really figures out how to deliver more high quality film on smaller scales and in smaller niches is going to not only revolutionize the industry but find new productive revenue streams.

    The theater industry desperately needs this sort of revolution as well.  When I have a 60 inch flatscreen at home with a better sound system that my local theater … why do I want to go spend more on tickets and popcorn for just my wife and I than I’d spend to buy a DVD, take my wife out to a nice dinner, and then come home and watch the film with my entire family (owning the DVD to use whenever I felt like watching the film again).  The quality of my home theater really has finally gotten so good that I consider it just as good as what I get at the theater really … with less annoying teenagers, less interruptions from rude patrons, crying babies, etc. etc.  but all that wouldn’t really matter if there were great films that called out to me to go see at a theater.  Here again is where smaller could be a huge shot in the arm for the local cinema.  

    Sadly Hollywood is dying on the vine and what it will ultimately morph into is probably another horrific monstrosity (not that you couldn’t argue that it has been that all along) … reality TV … American Idol … Dancing with the Stars … well I’m sure the solution is just around the corner … a path to hell quicker me thinks … who knows though. 

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/A6MPUSDFS4766BOIVXIARY2JMA Conan

    Yeah I think most of it has to do with marketing. They don’t know how to market to males. I could have cared less about seeing any of the movies mentioned here. I got John Carter from netflix the other day just cause Gambit was in it and I figured I’d see what it was about, and it was actually a pretty awesome movie. I was very surprised at how much I like it, and I thought the acting was pretty convincing. I’d be hyped about a sequel, if Disney hadn’t failed so miserably at marketing this to it’s target audience (Me) that they scrapped plans for the sequel. It’s frustrating because I think it had what it takes to make a great new sci-fi franchise. I think the problem is less they can’t make a guy’s movie, and more they just can’t seem to tell anyone that it’s a guys movie.