Until John Carter I was hardly aware of the impact marketing had on the overall box office career of a movie. I thought, naively, that the final product spoke for itself, and that movies found their audiences no matter what. It turned out I was far from the truth. It's not that John Carter is a perfect movie. If you ask me, I think The Avengers is a more perfect movie. But John Carter is more than a perfect movie in a way, because it's a touching one. It grew on me since I first saw it in the theater, in a way no other movie ever did. It turns out I was not alone in that state of mind, the movie drew spontaneously a fan base like few others in history (and among those fans, professionals that worked on John Carter!). And it still grows today.
The book written by Michael D. Sellers is also touching in a unique way. It is both a love letter to Edgar Rice Burroughs' novel (which I dearly love also), and a journalistic approach to the way Disney handled its own movie, objective when it needs to be (and not afraid of sentences like "we don't know what happened exactly"), also subjective when it needs to. From his unique perspective as both a fan and a filmmaker in his own right, he has somewhat the best position to develop a well-informed point of view, with no stone unturned as far as I can tell.
But my favorite chapter is perhaps the smallest one: "What Would Walt Disney Think?". Indeed. When a company fails to live on its creative roots and only grows by acquisition of outside properties, while neglecting, by intent or most probably incompetence, its own, you wonder how the original spirit of its creator was perverted along the way. My sincere hope is that someone at the higher levels at Disney takes notice, and sees the reasoning behind the development of sequels.
This book is a passionate must-read, for fans but also for anyone interested in modern movie marketing techniques.