John Carter’s had a tough opening weekend and a tougher run after that. After being transported to Barsoom (Mars) only three days previously, the ripped rebel found himself in a face-off with a fuzzy forest creature that sounds like Danny Devito and claims to speak for the trees, and perhaps his original creator, Theodor Seuss Geise, aka Dr. Seuss.
Of course, Carter’s used to desperate fights, including Yankee Soldiers, renegade Apaches, four-armed Thoats, White Apes, and multiple flavors or Martian megalomaniacs.
Despite the lackluster reception from audiences, the movie is pretty good, though not good enough to connect to the younger audiences that have never even heard of John Carter. If Disney has put some marketing muscle behind the terror from Terra, mentioning that John Carter was written by Tarzan’s author, that might have clicked. But alas, they abandoned him to expire on the dusty red plains of Barsoom.
Mars movies have an abysmal history at the box office, and Disney has had their share of them, so you’d think they would have seen this one coming. In fact, as far as we can tell, no Mars movie has ever broken even, and we spent way too much time making up the table below to prove it.
|Movie||Year||Studio||Stars||Plot||Gross/ Budget Millions|
|Mars Needs Moms||2011||Buena Vista||Seth Green, Dan Fogler, and Joan Cusack||MILFS in Space? Well, no, not exactly. This time they’re stealing our moms for child care. So, Disney thinks mom’s are only good for child care. And this is 2011. Well, it tanked pretty bad, so we’re sure they’ve learned their lesson.|| 21/150
|Mars||2010||Cinema Lapiniere||Mark Duplass, Zoe Dean and Paul Gordon||A pretty defunct NASA gets into a space race to beat a robot probe to Mars. Yes, it’s drek, but considering that it cost less than 1/400th of John Carter, features Kinky Freidman as the President and has both biological and robotic romance plots, it’s our kind of drek. Oh, and it’s done in a funky Photoshoped-live-action conversion.||N/A/.5|
|Race to Mars||2008||E1 Ent.||This is actually a TV production, and it’s the geekiest Mars movie of all, which is why we love it. The fact that it’s little more than a Canadian Docu-Drama only makes it better for us, because it’s all about the tech. Plot: The Chinese want to get there first. So does a US/Canadian/Russian/ French/Japanese effort riding a nuclear rocket. Wooden actors, nuclear spaceships. What could be better?||N/A|
|Cave Women on Mars||2008||Saint Euphoria Pictures / All For George Productions||Dan Sjerven, Brooke Lemke, and Alana Bloom||Not a real movie, but an amazing simulation! Well, I guess it’s a real movie, but it’s a retro-camp tribute to 1950s sci-fi flicks, set in the “future” of 1987 and complete with Mars Babes, improbably outfits and storylines, and Black and White footage. At only 73 minutes, it’s short, but not painless. I bet it broke even though.||N/A/Way Cheap|
|Red Planet||2000||Warner Bros. Pictures||Val Kilmer, Carrie-Anne Moss and Tom Sizemore||A mission to Mars want to find out why the red planet is turning green. The studio wants to know why the movie didn’t.||17/70|
|Mission to Mars||2000||Touchstone Pictures||Tim Robbins, Gary Sinise and Don Cheadle||In this heavily 2001: A Space Odyessy derivitive space vehicle, a freak (read: caused by aliens) storm wipes out all but one astronaut on the first mission to Mars, we send a rescue mission to save them. Things don’t go well, either on the screen or at the box office.||60/100|
|The Martian Chronicles||1988||BBC/NBC||Rock Hudson, Gayle Hunnicutt and Bernie Casey||Admittedly, this was a miniseries, not a film, but it was bad enough to complaining aobut. Ray Bradbury’s idea of science fiction usually hurts my head, and this is no exception. Multiple missions to Mars find Mars is weirder than anyone could imagine, but they keep coming. The only good part is the tag line when Rock looks into his reflection the water in a canal and says he sees a Martian.||N/A|
|Robinson Crusoe on Mars||1964||Paul Mantee, Victor Lundin, Adam West||When an astronaut crash lands on Mars he discovers an air supply in the minerals and an escaped alien slave who fills in as Friday. Oh, and there’s a monkey. And alien ships that look suspisously like they came out of War of the Worlds (????). It’s worth noting that the director was Byron Haskin, who did Conquest of Space in 1955.||N/A|
|Conquest of Space Poster
Conquest of Space
|1955||Paramount Pictures||It’s got 1950s production values, including Chesley Bonestell landscapes, which is a plus, and a lot of classic over the top drama, including a zealot General, the obligitory meteor casualty, and running out of supplies. Paramount, bodly going where Mars movies would go again. And again.||“financial disaster”|
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