Monday, March 5, 2012

Marketing The New 'John Carter / A Princess of Mars' Movie

By now, most of our Dear Readers know that I am a big genre fan, and as a genre fan, we have a huge event coming up this week, the long-awaited release of the first Edgar Rice Burroughs Martian Planetary Romance based on A Princess of Mars. This project has been in the works for literally decades, and a great many Name directors have been attached to development of the film at one time or another. The project finally found legs with Disney directed by Andrew Stanton of Pixar fame (director of Finding Nemo and WALL-E). This is his first live-action film, however, fellow Pixar director Brad Bird recently directed his first live-action film, and received wide acclaim for his efforts.

So what does all this have to do with marketing? As it happens, everything.

One definition of Marketing, boiled down to its essence, is this:
Marketing is used to identify the customer, satisfy the customer, and keep the customer.

So how does the marketing for this film make a difference? Let's start with the title. You'll notice the film is not called A Princess of Mars. Andrew Stanton explains the marketing logic that was employed to field a title he could sell to the widest audience for the first story of the franchise out of the blocks.
Here’s the real truth of it. I’d already changed it from A Princess Of Mars to John Carter Of Mars. I don’t like to get fixated on it, but I changed Princess Of Mars… because not a single boy would go.
And then the other truth is, no girl would go to see John Carter Of Mars. So I said, “I don’t won’t to do anything out of fear, I hate doing things out of fear, but I can’t ignore that truth.”
All the time we were making this big character story which just so happens to be in this big, spectacular new environment. But it’s not about the spectacle, it’s about the investment. I thought, I’ve really worked hard to make all of this an origin story. It’s about a guy becoming John Carter.
So I’m not misrepresenting what this movie is, it’s John Carter.
Mars is going to stick on any other film in the series. But by then, it won’t have a stigma to it.
So there you have it, the Marketing logic brought to bear on a venerable and long-awaited genre title. One can only hope the film will receive its full due and earn the chance to continue the Barsoom franchise (there are eleven books in total available, providing much grist for the genre mill).

One final note: the studio trailers for John Carter have been generally regarded as lacking, prompting impassioned fans to make their own trailer, which was widely hailed as more successfully catching the scope and vibe of the story. That's not the coolest thing. The coolest thing is that Andrew Stanton found out about the fan trailer, and instead of trying to stifle it, reTweeted it himself, putting his own stamp of approval on it. That is very cool.

Early buzz by film critics like Drew (Moriarty) McWeeny have been stellar.
Richly imagined, robustly performed, and directed with the evident enthusiasm of someone who's been dreaming about Barsoom his whole life, "John Carter" is a gem.
John Carter opens March 9 in the US.

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