JOHN CARTER AND THE GODS OF HOLLYWOOD
By Michael D. Sellers
Every now and then I’ll read a book and then find myself debating whether to review it here and share my thoughts with all of you. I do my best to keep these reviews dedicated to pulp “fiction” but regular followers know I have dealt with non-fiction titles in the past; especially those I felt had a strong connection to pulp literature. That this book is all about the movie version of “A Princess of Mars,” by the greatest pulp writer of them all, Edgar Rice Burroughs, qualifies it above and beyond my parameters for this review column.
No, the reason I was having doubts about reviewing this book are my own personal feelings of animosity towards many of the people who were a part of one of the most disastrous Hollywood marketing fiascos of all time. It is book that details catastrophic incompetence among so many high ranking Disney executives one is left marveling how such a great movie as “John Carter,” ever got made in the first place. It also turns the spotlight on the heroes of this epic calamity; the few with the courage of their convictions and the daring audacity to see it finished. All this despite the selfish individuals determined to see them fail to the point of spreading lies to their cronies; unscrupulous movie critics eager for any scrap of negativity to enhance their own lackluster careers.
Let me give you an analogy that sets the stage for the drama in Seller’s cautionary tale. Imagine having bought tickets to a baseball game that you’ve been eager to see for a long, long time. Then prior to the game, the officials announce that your beloved team has lost…but they are still going to go ahead with the contest anyway. Impossible, you say? That could never happen; the game hasn’t even been played yet. That’s impossible, you cry. Then comes the day of the game and sure enough, no matter how brilliantly your team performed on the field, the umpires would consistently rule in favor of the other side as the outcome was pre-determined and they were only playing their part.
Now replace our favorite team with a movie based on one of the most cherished fantasy adventures of all time. The players on your team are director Andrew Staton and his cast and crew; all set to deliver an amazing, inspired film version that will soar way beyond your wildest imagination. The officials are the Disney studio heads who, rather than going out of their way to DO THEIR JOBS and promote the movie, do the exact opposite and through a series of unbelievable guffaws, fail in every single aspect and allow the word to get out to the media that the movie is a flop….before it is even released.
The umpires who played along are the cowardly critics who, rather than judge the actual film on its merits, preferred to follow along like the sheep they are and add their own unsubstantiated vitriol. By the end, “John Carter,” was convicted of a crime it never committed and sentences to wear a badge of shame totally unmerited. Or so these malicious executives hoped.
One of my favorite chapters in the book comes towards the end, “What Would Walt Disney Think?” Sellers wonders just how far the Disney Corporation has strayed from the goals and dreams of its founders, Walt and Roy Disney. In looking at how the company is now run by slick business types who have no clue how to dream, it is a sad indictment on not only Disney but all of Hollywood.
And then there is the finale wherein the author, having clearly demonstrated that the men and women behind this sabotage of a wonderful movie, excused themselves of any wrong doing by claiming they were motivated solely in creating profit for their company. That being the case, he then in wonderful movie accounting practice, shows how producing sequels would clearly add coins to the coffers in an almost risk-free scenario. In other words, NOT doing more John Carter movies is illogical and should be pursued adamantly if these executives truly want to make money.
I saw “John Carter,” twice in the theater, bought the Blu-ray the day it was released and have watched it a dozen times since. Each time I watch it I see new things in it that make me laugh and cry. It is a great movie, filled with wonder, adventure and romance! Because of that, “John Carter and the Gods of Hollywood,” is the most frightening horror book I’ve ever read. That there exist people in this world who make a living destroying the dreams of others, whether intentional or not, is both scary and despicable. But don’t take my word for it, read the book and then add your voice to the thousands across the globe demanding sequels. In the end, we will not be denied!