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Movie flops: A decade on, Disney’s ‘John Carter’ is still remembered for one of the worst marketing campaigns in movie history | Culture

If you were to ask someone where they were on March 11, 2012, it is unlikely the answer would be “at the movies watching John Carter.” If they said that they were, they would have been one of precious few viewers giving Disney something to smile about. The hit the studio took on the movie has been estimated at $200 million by CNN, turning what was going to be the box-office smash of the year into one of Disney’s biggest flops.

The funny thing is, the reasons for its failure were not the standard ones. It was not a production beset by financial problems and filming setbacks like Waterworld in 1995; neither was there a clash of egos as between Marlon Brando and Val Kilmer on the 1996 The Island of Dr. Moreau, nor the piles of whiskey and cocaine that sunk Robert Altman’s Popeye in 1980. Quite the opposite in fact: the problem with John Carter was the excessive leeway given to its director and the laxity of inexperienced executives. But then, who was going to rein in director Andrew Stanton, one of Disney’s prized assets after the smash hits WALL-E and Finding Nemo? Nobody wanted to ruffle the feathers of Pixar’s golden egg-laying goose.

The issues started with the concept. What Disney saw as a blockbuster destined to launch a new galactic saga – two sequels were already planned – was for Stanton the culmination of a lifelong dream. He approached the project as though it was Batman without taking into account that the vast majority of moviegoers had never heard of John Carter. “He could see no idea in which someone didn’t know who John Carter of Mars was. But it’s not Frankenstein; it’s not Sherlock Holmes. Nobody cares. People don’t say, ‘I know what I’ll be for Halloween! I’ll be John Carter!’” one of the movie’s marketing executives told Vulture magazine.

Kitsch and Andrew Stanton on the set of 'John Carter.'
Kitsch and Andrew Stanton on the set of ‘John Carter.’Frank Connor (©Walt Disney Co./courtesy Everett / Everett Collection / Cordon Press)

The character of John Carter was created by Edgar Rice Burroughs as a US Confederate Army captain who dies and is reborn on Mars (styled by Burroughs as Barsoom) where two warring cities are vying for control of the planet and where Carter falls in love with a Martian princess. The movie is based on Burroughs’ novel A Princess of Mars, published in 1912, and the John Carter series has influenced almost every science fiction franchise since then. Star Wars would be inconceivable without John Carter – a desert planet, a gunslinger and a princess he falls for: sounds familiar? Swap a desert planet for a leafy one and you have Avatar. Neither George Lucas nor James Cameron have ever denied that Burroughs’ work was essential to their movies. Which begs the question: how could the novel that inspired two of the biggest box-office successes of all time fail to inspire itself?

An 80-year wait

The adventures of John Carter had been bouncing around the offices of Hollywood executives since the 1930s. At that time, Looney Tunes director Bob Clampett pitched the idea of an animated movie to Burroughs, but it never came together. Neither did a subsequent idea from the hand of animation maestro Ray Harryhausen. It wasn’t until the 1990s when it became closer to becoming reality with John McTiernan, who directed Die Hard, Tom Cruise and Julia Roberts lined up, but the technical difficulty of the project saw McTiernan shelve it in favor of Last Action Hero, which didn’t exactly set the box office alight, either. Roberts also forgot about the idea, but Cruise retained his interest.

After McTiernan, the project was picked up and dropped first by Robert Rodríguez and then by Jon Favreau, who instead opted for Iron Man. Eventually, it reached Andrew Stanton. “That’s something I have spent my whole life wishing somebody would make, and when I was in the industry from maybe the ‘90s on, if I ever heard even the slightest rumor it might get made, I would get all excited like a fanboy and go, ‘I’ll be the first in line to go and see it,’” Stanton told The Wrap. “I never had the hubris to think that’s something I would want to do or could do.”

With Stanton on board to direct, attention turned to the leads, a part of the process that can often be the hardest but for Stanton was simple: he was convinced that the Canadian model and actor Taylor Kitsch, who had starred as football player Tim Riggins in Friday Night Lights and played Gambit on X-Men Origins: Wolverine, was the physical incarnation of John Carter. But the shadow of Tom Cruise still hung over the project. It is easy to imagine Disney rubbing their hands together at the prospect of a franchise with Cruise as its lead, but Stanton had complete control. “I had Taylor already in mind by the time Tom made his interest known. Tom had a long history with the material, so it wasn’t too surprising to discover he still had interest in it,” Stanton told The Wrap. “We agreed to talk further if I were to pass on Taylor, but I obviously didn’t. It was as simple and non-controversial as that.”

Willem Dafoe and Kitsch at the premiere
Willem Dafoe and Kitsch at the premiereDavid Livingston (Getty Images)

Lynn Collins, who had worked with Kitsch on X-Men, was chosen to play the princess, Dejah Thoris. Neither lead was a huge star in their own right but they were backed by a stellar cast including Willem Dafoe, Samantha Morton and Bryan Cranston. And Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Chabon, a fan of Burroughs’ novels just like Stanton, was brought in to write the script.

With the cast settled and production underway the problems started to emerge, starting with the movie’s title. The logical choice would have been A Princess of Mars, but Stanton believed that with that title “not a single boy” would go to the movie theater. He favored John Carter of Mars – the last book in Burroughs’ seriesbut Disney’s marketing executive, MT Carney, who was new to the industry and had no previous experience with cinema, decided there had been too many recent movies with Mars in the title that had flopped (Mission to Mars and Red Planet in 2000 and Mars Needs Moms in 2011). As such, Carney decided the movie would be called simply John Carter. “That was first moment, I was like, ‘Oh, fuck. This is not good. We may be in trouble here,’” Chabon told The Wrap. “From that meeting until it came out, it was not good after that.”

The next bad decision came from Stanton, who decided not to include any references to his Pixar success in the teaser trailer, so people would not associate the movie as being aimed at a younger audience. Neither was there mention of Burroughs, or Chabon, who was at the zenith of his popularity at the time. No powerful sequences were included and neither was Woola, Carter’s Martian dog, “the most distinctive visual element of the movie,” according to Vulture, a potential baby Yoda for the production.

Stanton still believed the movie would be successful based on the name alone, but nobody knew who John Carter was, at least not the millions of moviegoers that would have been necessary to justify the production budget. “This is one of the worst marketing campaigns in the history of movies,” a former Disney executive told Vulture. “It’s almost as if they went out of their way to not make us care.”

“The way the cookie crumbles”

When the movie premiered in February 2012, its stars were the only people unaware that it had already failed. It was not their fault, it wasn’t even that the public had not liked the movie. Simply put, nobody could be bothered to go watch it. Recalling her walk down the red carpet, Collins told The Wrap that Kitsch whispered to her: ‘It’s going to be a fucking disaster.’ Collins’ agent told her she would be blamed. “You’re just going to have to disappear because you’re the one who’s going to get the heat for this. This is just the way the cookie crumbles. Usually that’s what happens.” Fortunately for Collins that was not the case. All of the criticism was leveled at the marketing campaign, carried out by inexperienced executives who swiftly disappeared from Disney.

The movie had a budget of $250 million but took only $30 million on its opening weekend, less than half of what would have been considered a minimally acceptable outcome. Stanton was largely unscathed by John Carter: his next production, Finding Dory, grossed over $1 billion worldwide. Kitsch would suffer again with his next big project, Battleship. Collins, whose performance received warm reviews, found refuge in television, and she sacked her agent.

Ten years after its release, John Carter is still considered a monumental failure, but not a terrible movie. “John Carter may not be a perfect movie, but it’s one where you can safely plunk down your money, grab your box of popcorn and come away reasonably satisfied when the closing credits roll,” wrote critic Charlie McCollum after its release. Time has proven him right to an extent: the movie’s inclusion on Netflix’s catalog a couple of years ago has reignited interest in Carter’s adventures, and a first video game based on the character is in production. Perhaps one day those sequels will get made after all.

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Assessing Property Size: What Square Footage Can You Get With The Average UK House Price In Your Area?

Assessing Property Size In The UK

In the United Kingdom, there is a prevailing tendency to gauge the size of residences based on the number of bedrooms rather than square footage. In fact, research indicates that three out of five individuals are unaware of the square footage of their property.

However, a comprehensive analysis conducted by Savills reveals significant variations in property sizes throughout the country. For instance, with the average property price standing at £340,837, this amount would typically afford a studio flat spanning 551 square feet in London, according to the prominent estate agency.

Conversely, in the North East region, the same sum would secure a spacious five-bedroom house measuring 1,955 square feet, nearly four times the size of a comparable property in London.

Best value: Heading to the North East of England is where buyers will get the most from their money

In Scotland, the median house price equates to a sizable investment capable of procuring a generous four-bedroom residence spanning 1,743 square feet. Conversely, in Wales, Yorkshire & The Humber, and the North West, this sum affords a slightly smaller four-bedroom dwelling of approximately 1,500 square feet, while in the East and West Midlands, it accommodates a 1,300 square foot home. In stark contrast, within the South West, £340,837 secures a modest 1,000 square foot property, and in the East, an even more confined 928 square feet.

London presents the most challenging market, where this budget offers the least purchasing power. Following closely, the South East allows for 825 square feet of space or a medium-sized two-bedroom dwelling. Lucian Cook, head of residential research at Savills, emphasizes the profound disparity in purchasing potential across Britain, ranging from compact studio flats in London to spacious four or five-bedroom residences in parts of North East England.

While square footage serves as a critical metric, with a significant portion of Britons unfamiliar with their property’s dimensions, the number of bedrooms remains a traditional indicator of size. Personal preferences, such as a preference for larger kitchens, may influence property selection. For those prioritizing ample space, Easington, County Durham, offers a substantial 2,858 square foot, five-bedroom home, while Rhondda, Wales, and Na h-Eileanan an Iar, Scotland, provide 2,625 and 2,551 square feet, respectively. Conversely, in St Albans, Hertfordshire, £340,837 secures a mere 547 square feet, equivalent to a one-bedroom flat.

The disparity continues in central London, where purchasing power diminishes considerably. In Kensington, the budget accommodates a mere 220 square feet, contrasting with the slightly more spacious 236 square feet in Westminster. Conversely, in Dagenham, the same investment translates to 770 square feet. Three properties currently listed on Rightmove exemplify the diversity within this price range across the UK market.

South of the river: This semi-detached house is located near to three different train stations

South of the river: This semi-detached house is located near to three different train stations

2. Lewisham: One-bed house, £345,000

This one-bedroom property in Lewisham, South London, is on the market for £345,000.

The semi-detached house is set over two floors, and has a private patio.

The property is located near to bus links and amenities, as well as Catford train station.

Edinburgh fringe: This three-bed property is located on the edge of the city, near to the town of Musselburgh

Edinburgh fringe: This three-bed property is located on the edge of the city, near to the town of Musselburgh

3. Edinburgh: Three-bed house, £350,000

This three-bedroom detached house in Edinburgh could be yours for £350,000.

The house, which has a two-car driveway, boasts a large kitchen diner, and is within easy reach of Newcriaghall train station.


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Top 10 Florida Cities Dominate The Business Startup Landscape In The U.S.

Top 10 Florida Cities And Business Startup Landscape In The U.S.

The Voice Of EU | Florida emerges as a hub for entrepreneurial endeavors, with its vibrant business landscape and conducive environment for startups. Renowned for its low corporate tax rates and a high concentration of investors, the Sunshine State beckons aspiring entrepreneurs seeking fertile grounds to launch and grow their businesses.

In a recent report by WalletHub, Florida cities dominate the list of the top 10 best destinations for business startups, showcasing their resilience and economic vitality amidst challenging times.

From Orlando’s thriving market to Miami’s dynamic ecosystem, each city offers unique advantages and opportunities for entrepreneurial success. Let’s delve into the chronologically listed cities that exemplify Florida’s prominence in the business startup arena.

1. Orlando Leads the Way: Orlando emerges as the most attractive market in the U.S. for business startups, with a remarkable surge in small business establishments. WalletHub’s latest report highlights Orlando’s robust ecosystem, fostering the survival and growth of startups, buoyed by a high concentration of investors per capita.

2. Tampa Takes Second Place: Securing the second spot among large cities for business startups, Tampa boasts a favorable business environment attributed to its low corporate tax rates. The city’s ample investor presence further fortifies startups, providing essential resources for navigating the initial years of business operations.

3. Charlotte’s Diverse Industries: Claiming the third position, Charlotte stands out for its diverse industrial landscape and exceptionally low corporate taxes, enticing companies to reinvest capital. This conducive environment propels entrepreneurial endeavors, contributing to sustained economic growth.

4. Jacksonville’s Rising Profile: Jacksonville emerges as a promising destination for startups, bolstered by its favorable business climate. The city’s strategic positioning fosters entrepreneurial ventures, attracting aspiring business owners seeking growth opportunities.

5. Miami’s Entrepreneurial Hub: Miami solidifies its position as a thriving entrepreneurial hub, attracting businesses with its dynamic ecosystem and strategic location. The city’s vibrant startup culture and supportive infrastructure make it an appealing destination for ventures of all sizes.

6. Atlanta’s Economic Momentum: Atlanta’s ascent in the business startup landscape underscores its economic momentum and favorable business conditions. The city’s strategic advantages and conducive policies provide a fertile ground for entrepreneurial ventures to flourish.

7. Fort Worth’s Business-Friendly Environment: Fort Worth emerges as a prime destination for startups, offering a business-friendly environment characterized by low corporate taxes. The city’s supportive ecosystem and strategic initiatives facilitate the growth and success of new ventures.

8. Austin’s Innovation Hub: Austin cements its status as an innovation hub, attracting startups with its vibrant entrepreneurial community and progressive policies. The city’s robust infrastructure and access to capital foster a conducive environment for business growth and innovation.

9. Durham’s Emerging Entrepreneurship Scene: Durham’s burgeoning entrepreneurship scene positions it as a promising destination for startups, fueled by its supportive ecosystem and strategic initiatives. The city’s collaborative culture and access to resources contribute to the success of new ventures.

10. St. Petersburg’s Thriving Business Community: St. Petersburg rounds off the top 10 with its thriving business community and supportive ecosystem for startups. The city’s strategic advantages and favorable business climate make it an attractive destination for entrepreneurial endeavors.

Despite unprecedented challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Great Resignation, and high inflation, these top Florida cities remain resilient and well-equipped to overcome obstacles, offering promising opportunities for business owners and entrepreneurs alike.


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European Startup Ecosystems Awash With Gulf Investment – Here Are Some Of The Top Investors

European Startup Ecosystem Getting Flooded With Gulf Investments

The Voice Of EU | In recent years, European entrepreneurs seeking capital infusion have widened their horizons beyond the traditional American investors, increasingly turning their gaze towards the lucrative investment landscape of the Gulf region. With substantial capital reservoirs nestled within sovereign wealth funds and corporate venture capital entities, Gulf nations have emerged as compelling investors for European startups and scaleups.

According to comprehensive data from Dealroom, the influx of investment from Gulf countries into European startups soared to a staggering $3 billion in 2023, marking a remarkable 5x surge from the $627 million recorded in 2018.

This substantial injection of capital, accounting for approximately 5% of the total funding raised in the region, underscores the growing prominence of Gulf investors in European markets.

Particularly noteworthy is the significant support extended to growth-stage companies, with over two-thirds of Gulf investments in 2023 being directed towards funding rounds exceeding $100 million. This influx of capital provides a welcome boost to European companies grappling with the challenge of securing well-capitalized investors locally.

Delving deeper into the landscape, Sifted has identified the most active Gulf investors in European startups over the past two years.

Leading the pack is Aramco Ventures, headquartered in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Bolstered by a substantial commitment, Aramco Ventures boasts a $1.5 billion sustainability fund, alongside an additional $4 billion allocated to its venture capital arm, positioning it as a formidable player with a total investment capacity of $7 billion by 2027. With a notable presence in 17 funding rounds, Aramco Ventures has strategically invested in ventures such as Carbon Clean Solutions and ANYbotics, aligning with its focus on businesses that offer strategic value.

Following closely is Mubadala Capital, headquartered in Abu Dhabi, UAE, with an impressive tally of 13 investments in European startups over the past two years. Backed by the sovereign wealth fund Mubadala Investment Company, Mubadala Capital’s diverse investment portfolio spans private equity, venture capital, and alternative solutions. Notable investments include Klarna, TIER, and Juni, reflecting its global investment strategy across various sectors.

Ventura Capital, based in Dubai, UAE, secured its position as a key player with nine investments in European startups. With a presence in Dubai, London, and Tokyo, Ventura Capital boasts an international network of limited partners and a sector-agnostic investment approach, contributing to its noteworthy investments in companies such as Coursera and Spotify.

Qatar Investment Authority, headquartered in Doha, Qatar, has made significant inroads into the European startup ecosystem with six notable investments. As the sovereign wealth fund of Qatar, QIA’s diversified portfolio spans private and public equity, infrastructure, and real estate, with strategic investments in tech startups across healthcare, consumer, and industrial sectors.

MetaVision Dubai, a newcomer to the scene, has swiftly garnered attention with six investments in European startups. Focusing on seed to Series A startups in the metaverse and Web3 space, MetaVision raised an undisclosed fund in 2022, affirming its commitment to emerging technologies and innovative ventures.

Investcorp, headquartered in Manama, Bahrain, has solidified its presence with six investments in European startups. With a focus on mid-sized B2B businesses, Investcorp’s diverse investment strategies encompass private equity, real estate, infrastructure, and credit management, contributing to its notable investments in companies such as Terra Quantum and TruKKer.

Chimera Capital, based in Abu Dhabi, UAE, rounds off the list with four strategic investments in European startups. As part of a prominent business conglomerate, Chimera Capital leverages its global reach and sector-agnostic approach to drive investments in ventures such as CMR Surgical and Neat Burger.

In conclusion, the burgeoning influx of capital from Gulf investors into European startups underscores the region’s growing appeal as a vibrant hub for innovation and entrepreneurship. With key players such as Aramco Ventures, Mubadala Capital, and Ventura Capital leading the charge, European startups are poised to benefit from the strategic investments and partnerships forged with Gulf investors, propelling them towards sustained growth and success in the global market landscape.


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