This Has Nothing To Do With Mars
Who knew that to ensure a massive box office flop all you needed is the word “Mars” in the movie's title?
If it is a Disney film title containing Mars, or even alluding to Mars, then the failure can be epic.
The fantasy film John Carter flopped more than the Italian World Cup soccer team, even though the folks at Disney changed the original title, John Carter Of Mars, deleting any reference to the curse of box offices everywhere.
Disney obviously learned a lesson from Mars Needs Moms, which cost Disney $150 million to produce and earned just $39 million at the box office.
Mars Needs Moms was such a flop that most people, myself included, never even heard of the movie until John Carter's floppiness prompted media coverage of Hollywood's biggest flops.
John Carter, by the way, is expected to lose $200 million, flopping more than the world's largest flapjack. So the film, in a weird way, is a kind of success. Better to lose epically than lose seven dollars and 12 cents. To lose a studio $7.12 reflects a lack of passion, ambivalence, not really caring. Anybody can lose $7.12. It takes true grandiosity to lose $200 million.
To its credit, Disney has a real string of smash flops using the word Mars. Mission To Mars and My Favorite Martian also flopped like harpooned flounders in a shallow bowl of curdled buttermilk.
Ironically, if Disney recouped all of its film losses due to movies using the word Mars in the title the studio could probably fund a real NASA mission to Mars, itself.
Though nobody, presumably, would watch even a second of news coverage of the historic journey.
That must be why Mars is known as The Red Planet-all of that red ink coloring Disney studio balance sheets.
The doomsday word Mars was clearly known throughout the creative world because so few authors and filmmakers ever used that sequence of letters in their titles.
No more proof is needed than the fact William Shakespeare wrote dozens of plays and none of them contain the word Mars in the title.
Two Martians of Verona?
Romeo and Mars?
Not a chance.
All's Well That Ends Mars?
No way, and Disney has already seen to the demise of Mars in movie titles.
Shakespeare obviously knew better.
Pity, then, Shakespeare's chief rival, Rafe Wynnefrede Feckless, who wrote a series of plays that not even his dog would watch, the most viewer-friendly being To Wed A Martian In May When The Fog Rollest Beyond The Dews Of River Bottom. Only the personal intervention of Queen Elizabeth prevented Feckless from being saved at the last second from execution for crimes against the Royal Person and humanity. Yes, Feckless was beheaded but he wrote so much better afterwards.
Ernest Hemingway came perilously close to a similar fate. A Farewell To Arms is so nearly A Farewell To Mars that even today some scholars wonder if Hemingway was aware of the danger posed by the four letters of the last word in the title.
Look, meanwhile, at today's bestseller list. You don't see The Girl With The Martian Tattoo or Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Martians.
I wonder, then, if President Obama and NASA are very wise in wanting to send men and women through space to Mars.
What's that? The president is recommending that astronauts Romney, Santorum, Cantor and Boehner launch immediately?
Hold on, Romney's saying he'll give up his seat on the rocket for the president.
Oh, never mind.