Last night I had the great pleasure of seeing John Carter. Although I haven’t read the Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Barsoom series it was based on, as a sci-fi enthusiast, I just had to see it. I’m glad I did. This was a masterful piece of storytelling. From the cinematography, to the acting to the story itself, I thoroughly enjoyed it. In “development hell” for almost 80 years, it’s pretty clear when you see this film where George Lucas got some of his inspiration for Star Wars.
Reportedly produced for $250M but only taking in just over $100M this weekend, it looks like this first entry into the John Carter series may be its last. The biggest complaint by far has been the overall marketing of the film. I admit, I only went to see it because I love sci-fi. In my view, the trailers didn’t represent the film I saw in the theatre. Let there be no mistake, a trailer has all the heavy lifting in the film marketing process—it has to drive sales. 2012 had a brilliant trailer, but the movie itself was an embarrassment.
Marketing by far is the most critical aspect of a film (or any product or servicefor that matter). Sure, you have to cast and shoot the film properly before it’s handed over to an editor to bring the story to life (a good story helps as well!). But you also need to know who your target audience is.
With Justice Is Mind, while I pretty much thought it was going to be the 40+ plus crowd, the audiences at Olde Mistick a few weeks ago cemented that. It wasn’t just the age of the audiences it was their enthusiastic and thorough questions. As networks produce pilots for test audiences, “shorts” can accomplish the same process for feature films.
With my other project, First World, I made the mistake of trying to broaden this sci-fi epic into festivals that were largely drama based. Oh was that an “epic” fail. I found the audiences for First World in the sci-fi convention and festival circuit with even more enthusiasm for the project oversees. That’s why at one point we nearly had a lock on financing from China and Germany. Too bad the economy collapsed in 2008.
So with short films in hand and distribution in place, the pitch process continues to raise funding for their respective features.
Justice Is Mind – With the latest in MRI technology able to scan memory, how do you defend yourself against your own mind when it reveals a murder you committed – one you cannot remember but only a trial from history will solve.
First World – China’s first manned mission to the Moon reveals the Apollo 11 cover-up that mankind has never been alone.
This past week I received some good reports on the funding front for Justice Is Mind only to find another great possibility for First World. Will they lead to a closing? Of course I hope so. But until I hear President Anderson in First World say “I had to learn from the British that our entire space program has been a lie,” and Henri Miller in Justice Is Mind say “How do you win against your own mind?” the journey to feature continues.
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