Fear of a Red Planet

First the Pirates of Venus movie becomes Carson Napier. And now the John Carter of Mars movie becomes John Carter. Why the planetophobia?

A Princess of Mars

Maybe the feeling is: everybody nowadays knows that Mars and Venus are a) uninhabited, and b) inhospitable to human life, so audiences won’t buy seeing human heroes without protective suits running about in Martian or Venusian cities having adventures with the natives. If so, I think this greatly overestimates audiences’ concern with scientific accuracy and/or underestimates their willingness to suspend disbelief. (After all, Avatar audiences bought this.)

On the contrary, I would think that the phrase “John Carter of Mars” – which (even for people who’ve never heard of the books) promises science-fiction action-adventure – is a bigger draw than “John Carter,” which for most audiences suggests nothing in particular. (And ditto, mutatis mutandis, for Carson of Venus.)

Another suggestion is that the studio shortened the title in order to be able to establish IP rights to the name “John Carter.” (They already own “John Carter of Mars.”) But it seems to me they could do that just by releasing a five-minute animated tie-in called “John Carter,” and leaving the movie with the cooler title.

Actually I’d prefer the proper title, “A Princess of Mars.” But I’d be willing to bet that some studio exec thought, “Male audiences will be scared off by a film with ‘princess’ in the title; they’ll think it’s some girly rainbow thing.”


3 Responses to Fear of a Red Planet

  1. Black Bloke May 24, 2011 at 12:13 am #

    After reading this I’m all of a sudden I’m thinking of Jack Napier, or Kevin Carson.

  2. Anon73 May 24, 2011 at 3:58 am #

    When the networks (NBC, CBS, ABC, etc) announced their new shows this season one commentator put it best by saying that though the filming and production of TV has improved by light-years the method of finding which shows people want to watch is still “brutal trial-and-error”, i.e. you just have to make a lot of shows and see which ones are successful. I wasn’t sure if I should feel shock or bemusement at this way of putting it.

  3. Mandel May 25, 2011 at 1:24 pm #

    One guess would be that the studio is trying to avoid the “ick, science fiction!” factor. Leaving “Mars” out of the title, they might be thinking, will help avoid immediate knee-jerk reactions against the film just on the basis of the title (which people of course have) – get folks at least as far as reading a synopsis or review or watching a trailer online…

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