A Well Researched Look at Disney’s Folly by Michael D. Sellers
I’m not an Edgar Rice Burroughs fan — but as a film producer myself I saw the horrible marketing campaign for this film unfold and could only shake my head at the stubborn clumsiness of it. As the tracking numbers came in and it was clear the campaign wasn’t working, like everyone else in Hollywood, I became increasingly certain that Stanton’s film was doomed to failure before it was ever released.
With this book, Sellers—who is a producer himself and knows his way around Hollywood and film production and distribution — offers a smart, knowledgeable “crash investigation” of Disney’s mishandling of the property. He looks insightfully and in detail at what went wrong and offers plausible explanations about why people who should have been capable of creating a successful outcome failed to do so.
It’s also interesting to see how Sellers went from an interested but passive observer to an active participant in the promotion, first with his blogsite The John Carter Files , then with his two fan trailers, both of which were better than anything Disney put out, and both of which were lauded by Andrew Stanton which helped cause them to go viral. This part of the story is an interesting commentary on how, with the modern tools of social media (and book publishing), anyone who sets out to have an impact has a legitimate chance to use their voice and be heard in ways that were impossible until very recently.
One other aspect worth mentioning is Sellers’ analysis of the “influencer” media and how a handful of entertainment sites, supplemented by Twitter and Facebook, are responsible for setting the “buzz” foundation for a film – good or, in this case, bad. Sellers provides some good lessons for producers and distributors on how to effectively harness digital and social media – something Disney failed miserably to do with John Carter.
Bottom line: Anyone interested in how super sized egos and studio politics affect the success or failure of Hollywood films should find this an engaging read – and it rises to the level of a must read cautionary tale for anyone involved in producing or marketing motion pictures.