John Carter - Making the movie

MichaelJamesMichaelJames Website User Posts: 2,038 Enthusiast
So it was very unfortunate that this movie bombed but it was actually an entertaining movie and was visually beautiful.  I found a breakdown of some of the vfx and thought I'd post it because it helps people improve to see what professionals do. One big take away that I noticed was how they start with the shadows first and then do their 3d imaging above the shadows.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vvxui7aWwJQ
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2lDdy_h-s_w

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v7F2bASzH3U

Behind the scene for animations process for certain scenes in the movie
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ORAAwyeuK_A
Here was a interesting read
http://thejohncarterfiles.com/2012/02/hollywood-vfx-pros-grade-the-cgi-in-disneys-john-carter/

Comments

  • spydurhankspydurhank Moderator, Website User, Ambassador, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 2,837 Ambassador
  • Sci Fi Ecstasy ChannelSci Fi Ecstasy Channel Website User Posts: 48
    That's very, very, very cool. Thanks for posting this!
  • HybridHaloHybridHalo Website User Posts: 56 Enthusiast
    edited July 2013
    Hey MichaelJames,
    I'm a bit of an fxhome oldtimer, and I worked on John Carter. I'm just chiming in to correct you on this comment :
    One big take awaythat I noticed was how they start with the shadows first and then do their 3d imaging above the shadows.


    This isn't how the workflow goes, the 3D objects and animations, rigging, texturing etc happens way before the scene is lit and the shadows are rendered. The breakdowns you're seeing are presented in the order that they are comped onto of the image in. So in this context, of course the shadows would appear before the CG - because in terms of layers it would have to affect the image beneath where the CG elements are placed.
    I hope that clears that up for you. :)
  • MichaelJamesMichaelJames Website User Posts: 2,038 Enthusiast
    Oh very cool, I was just surmising based on their video.  I really liked John Carter and really wanted a sequel.
  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator Moderator, Website User, Ambassador, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 18,308 Ambassador
    Sadly, we're not going to get one. John Carter shows the "dark side" of the studio system. See, the Disney President who green-lit John Carter got fired. At that point Disney didn't want John Carter to do well. (Because the credit would go to the guy who was fired.) Bear in mind Disney's film division is only 7% of company revenue (according to the Orange County Register, June, 2012), so they can take a hit. Anyway, Disney did try to tank that movie--stripping "Of Mars" from the title, saddling it with one of the worst trailers ever cut.... Disney reprinted all the ERB John Carter stories... In March, 2012 (according to the printing date in my copy)--a month after the movie, and NOT in July 2011 with a badge on the cover saying, "SOON TO BE A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE." Then, on Sunday of opening weekend Disney itself labels John Carter as the "Biggest Flop of All Time," and claims they will take a "$300 million loss" on afilm that ccost $250 million to make and market. Disney didn't report that John Carter was the #1 movie worldwide for a month (source: Box Office Mojo) and #1 in DVD/Blu Ray sales it's first three weeks in release (Source: By the Numbers). In fact, John Carter pulled about $290 mill in tickets and another $45 million in (domestic) DVD/Blu-ray sales. Call that $330 million. Factor in that a movie theater only gets 10% or less of ticket revenue and we can factor that into "Disney's cost." Which is now $280 million ($250 budget + 10% of $300 mil tickets taken by theaters.). $330 million-$280 million is $50 million in profit, and we haven't counted overseas DVD/Blu-ray, or deals for Netflix/Hulu/Cable/TV, OR any merchandise tie-in's... Like the books. John Carter make about 20-25% profit, yet Disney still claims a loss of $300 million. Thus, they get to stick it to a former executive and make some profit. The only one who suffered is director Andrew Adamson, who STILL has to put up with "Guess Disney forgave him for John Carter" jabs in articles on "Finding Nemo 2." John Carter was an under-rated movie that did a reasonable job adapting the source material while setting up a good movie trilogy. It made money. But Disney won't do a sequel. (insert profanity here.)
  • MichaelJamesMichaelJames Website User Posts: 2,038 Enthusiast
    Theatrically world wide it did make a profit and if dvd and digital demand was enough they could see a demand for it.  This time do not spend a 100 mill on marketing and keep the budget under 100 million.
  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator Moderator, Website User, Ambassador, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 18,308 Ambassador
    Yeah, but politics. Sigh. I would like to be wrong, but I don't see it happening. I so enjoyed Willam Dafoe's performance and the mocap/CG on Tars Tarkas. They did the superstrength well, and the screen story actually has more character depth than the ERB stories, and greatly enhanced the threat of the Therns Adamson tried for a long time to get that movie made, and I think the love shows in the movie.
  • HybridHaloHybridHalo Website User Posts: 56 Enthusiast
    Do you mean Andrew Stanton?
    He came across as such a sincerely enthusiastic fan of the original material. I only had a chance to speak to him briefly at the wrap party, though I was quite struck with his genuine passion for the project. It was a weird moment, because it was at a time where despite the revelry of a wrap, a lot of us having seen the trailers felt that the movie was being failed by the advertising campaign.
    John Carter was originally meant to replace Pirates of the Carribean as a massive Disney franchise. I just can't see that happening giving the originals reception. I think to some extent, critics want big Disney projects to fail - Just check out the treatment Lone Ranger got before anyone had any chance to see it. It's quite negative.
  • SimonKJonesSimonKJones Moderator Website User, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 4,450 Enthusiast
    To be fair, Lone Ranger always looked awful. Whereas the JC trailers were bad trailers, but the actual content within them always looked awesome. But I do know what you mean - the same thing has happened with Pacific Rim, with everybody deciding it was a failure before it had even been released, and before critics or anybody else had watched it.
    Going back to JC - I think people were REALLY itching to take Pixar down a notch, and JC marked one of the first live action films to be headed up by a Pixar alumni. There was a (silly) sense of not wanting the unstoppable Pixar people to come in and take over live action filmmaking like they've sewn up animation.
    The self-fulfilling prophecies of box office failure are always curious to watch. And then perhaps even MORE curious are the cases of Titanic and Avatar - both of which suffered from extreme doom-mongering and inflated budgets, but which then went on to be the biggest films of all time. I wonder what separates Cameron's films from some of the other examples? It certainly isn't their overall quality.
    Whenever I've seen Stanton interviewed he's seemed like a genuinely lovely and enthusiastic chap. In fact, he seems so nice I can't help but wonder how on Earth he survives in Hollywood.
  • MichaelJamesMichaelJames Website User Posts: 2,038 Enthusiast
    edited July 2013
    @Triem23 I think the super strength was a little inconsistent in John Carter.
    @Simon I think the Lone Ranger looked very Pirates(ish) by way of the trailers and that's good for most people.  Then the last 5 minutes ruined the whole film.  Pacific Rim is a monster movie and they should never spend 150 million on a monster movie because it has limited appeal.  Even Cloverfield which had lots of hype behind it only did 80 million dollars domestically... but on a 25 million dollar budget that's pretty good.  I think what separates Cameron's films from others is that he has a great visual beauty to his films which.  I mean the ferngully/gone with the wind story is a great story to revisit every decade or so.
    @HybridHalo it sucks when critics judge a movie before they've seen it but I think The Lone ranger was judged because the source material only would work at that time... Westerns don't do super great and cheesy good guy films don't either. 
  • AndrewAndrew Website User Posts: 379 Enthusiast
    edited July 2013
    Did The Lone Ranger really look awful, though? Certainly it had better trailers than John Carter (which is admittedly, while fun, still overindulgent and silly-to-the-point-of-cringing movie in many places).
    I think largely it's that people destine Disney tentpoles to fail early on, and it's caused trouble for them ever since the sweeping and massive (and as such, considered undeserved or overrated) success of Pirates. Alice in Wonderland worked for them, and gave them the confidence to go through with or continue on with other auteur directors with grand vision and by scopes. But that notwithstanding, the unbelievable hype and momentum of the Pirates franchise- lots unearned and undeserved happening too fast- caused the ripple of backlash we've seen ever since.
    Look at their gambles: Prince of Persia. Tron Legacy. John Carter. The Lone Ranger.
    These are all (considerably) massive flops that have some **** great filmmaking involved with them, excellent VFX work, good casts, and strong directors. I loved Tron Legacy, loved lots of parts of The Lone Ranger, and could stand most of John Carter and Prince of Persia. It's unfortunate none have really ever got their just desserts. Because it's clear Disney is, at least, trying. And not just pumping out content as fast as they can.
    Are there massive amounts of hype behind each project? Of course, and with that deflated a bit I think they'd all do much better. But look no further than to The Lone Ranger- an extremely, extremely well-made movie with lots of directorial flourishes, fantastic and exciting set-pieces, a pair of likable and charismatic leads, and an overall sense of fun to it- for how poorly something, even psychologically, can be ingested upon viewing if it's been raked through the mud before anyone has even seen it.
  • SimonKJonesSimonKJones Moderator Website User, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 4,450 Enthusiast
    Well, to me The Long Ranger always looked terrible in its trailers. I've not seen the finished movie, but the trailers looked super tedious. Much as I absolutely adore Johnny Depp's work in general, in those trailers he actually put me off. It could also be the attachment of Pirates crew - I enjoyed the first Pirates in spite of its dire script mainly because it's full of pep and verve and great performances and ideas, but the sequels were mindnumbingly awful (despite stunning production and VFX accomplishments).
    Ah, TRON Legacy. I need to watch that again soon. Absolutely full of flaws and holes and a bit odd, but there's something magical about it nonetheless. Which, probably not entirely coincidentally, is exactly how I'd describe the original TRON as well.
  • MichaelJamesMichaelJames Website User Posts: 2,038 Enthusiast
    @Andrew & Simon I just think Disney does not realize that while Sci Fi (from sci fi to fantasy) is amazing and can do well its also not really as widely accepted as they think.  The first Pirates movie was really good and then the 2 and 3rd were just long and at times parodying their own success.  Do not have to make the same joke again just because it worked well once and its expected.


    PoP was a movie that had some potential as a potentially beautiful series but I think it was casted wrong for the lead and the VFX and the sets did not look good.  There is something to be said about building the set with wood and actual stone(even Star trek did it).  That movie came off very Disney(ish) and had too much humor and would of been better with a charming no name actor. It made a profit but it opened in 3rd and as Bruckheimer said was supposed to be the next Pirates film.  The budget was between 150-200 million and it made 333 million(world wide) but that's not really good enough.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bZ7Li5w2I-k
    The original Tron was a great movie and a sequel was something that brought back nostalgia.  The problem I had is they went direct sequel instead of just doing a new idea in that same universe.  Having Flynn was a good cameo but it could and should have been a new story.  You do not always have to answer the question what happened.  Tron's budget was 170 million and made 400 million(world wide). So that's respectable but nothing that needs to fast track another sequel.  Oh play the Tron 2.0 PC game.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L9szn1QQfas
    The Lone Ranger was decent but when you get to final train scene with the classic music... they pissed away a decent movie.  The tone of the action started matching the old music and it just was bad at that point.  Stop trying to copy Pirates and reference the original(just advice for all the movies).  Westerns play biggest in America but Westerns are not super popular and so you should not blow lots of millions on it..  Watch the trailer, they should have trimmed the scene with Depp talking to the horse, Cut the scene with the horse in the tree, cut the classic pirates chase scene where they run from the explosion and cut the scene with the train being stopped.  That film has a budget of 225 million and is sitting at 164 million(world wide) after a month.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JjFsNSoDZK8
    John Carter... Back on topic... Watch the trailer... it shows that this is a sci fi epic but does not explain jack.  Yes the movie starts in post civil war America but do not show that in the trailer because if someone only watched that part and changed the channel they have to decide if that interests them.  They showed some really beautiful and cinematic shots but the didn't do linear style story telling here.  The trailer should of told people "theres a man with seemingly incredible strength who must battle aliens and find a way to save the beautiful princess... of mars."  The trailer just shows you a whole lot of stuff and does not spell it out enough.  Its budget was 250 million and made 282 million(world wide)...  A lot of people wrote it off as a flop because they heard it was bad.  When I've gotten people to sit down on their own time and watch it they tell me later it was actually pretty good.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pcV7aXL8txU
  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator Moderator, Website User, Ambassador, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 18,308 Ambassador
    @MichaelJames: Superstrength in movies is always inconsistent. It's a tough, tough thing to do. ;-)
    @HybridHalo: Yes, of course I do--How silly of me to confuse the directors of John Carter and Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe. Also, you WERE failed by the advertising campaign! The John Carter trailers failed to mention anything about Mars, Barsoom, Therns, Tharks, Carter's wife or anything that was actually connected to story--The ad campaign was a series of very pretty, but disconnected images and Taylor Kitsch. The trailer didn't do anything to tell you about the story at all! Travesty!
    @ Andrew: Prince of Persia. Tron Legacy. John Carter. The Lone Ranger. Really all considered fairly safe bets. None of them were original, untested stories. Prince of Persia was a 20+ year old game series with a mythology, Tron built off a cult movie, and they felt it out with a Comic-Con trailer.... John Carter and Lone Ranger are both classic properties that someone tries to do something with every 30 years or so.
    Also, remember HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS LIE ABOUT MONEY. This isn't me being paranoid, this is just a well known dark side of Hollywood. The "$300 million write-down" Disney claims on John Carter isn't a write-off--it's not money they lost. It's money they didn't make. Bear in mind that John Carter made at least $50 million in profit. The write-down is Disney complaining that John Carter didn't make $300 million profit. Prince of Persia made over $125 million profit. Tron Legacy made $200 million in profit. This isn't a flop, this is a moderate success! Lone Ranger, wait and see?
    I haven't seen Lone Ranger. Trailers made it look really bad, and the reviews from the people I know who've seen the movie have made me realize that's a Netflix movie.
    @Simon: I really wished I'd liked Tron: Legacy.
    I love the original Tron with the love of someone who loved it as a small child.I think that both films were kind of strange little stories, but I genuinely liked the visual design of the first one better. Legacy was fewer glowing edges and much fog. And I was disappointed in the soundtrack. *Sigh* I enjoy Daft Punk, but I'm a bit old-fashioned in my soundtrack preferences in that I like the music to be strongly thematic, or, at least dynamic. On it's own, the Tron: Legacy soundtrack is a nice, moody little chill-album, but I don't get the immediate replay in my head I get with a Star Wars or even a Transformers: The Movie (1986) score. 'Tis, as always, my personal opinion.
    Back @ MichaelJames: Thanks for posting the trailers. I stick by an earlier assessment... The John Carter Trailer is a crock of manure.
  • AndrewAndrew Website User Posts: 379 Enthusiast
    edited July 2013
    @ Andrew: Prince of Persia. Tron Legacy. John Carter. The Lone Ranger. Really all considered fairly safe bets. None of them were original, untested stories. Prince of Persia was a 20+ year old game series with a mythology, Tron built off a cult movie, and they felt it out with a Comic-Con trailer.... John Carter and Lone Ranger are both classic properties that someone tries to do something with every 30 years or so.
    Also, remember HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS LIE ABOUT MONEY. This isn't me being paranoid, this is just a well known dark side of Hollywood. The "$300 million write-down" Disney claims on John Carter isn't a write-off--it's not money they lost. It's money they didn't make. Bear in mind that John Carter made at least $50 million in profit. The write-down is Disney complaining that John Carter didn't make $300 million profit. Prince of Persia made over $125 million profit. Tron Legacy made $200 million in profit. This isn't a flop, this is a moderate success! Lone Ranger, wait and see?


    You're obtuse if you think those are profit margins that are moderate successes, because they aren't. At least, not in terms of the amount of time and front-end investment that goes into them.
    Just because there's a return on investment of any small degree on a film may mean that the studio doesn't cave out of bankruptcy, but it doesn't calculate a success overall or a 'win', because you have to factor in the opportunity cost of using studio space, talent, and the resources of a franchise tentpole that doesn't give necessary tentpole-level returns.
    Hollywood studios hype and cut corners with fanfare of successes, but largely they can't lie about money, because it's such a huge part of the game and competition between studios. Everyone is out to get everyone else, and that sort of Cold War-business keeps things fairly transparent. It's the very reason we knew going in what a 'failure' The Lone Ranger might've been destined to become.
    In every case I listed above, though, there were massive cross-promotional inducements, advertising and merchandising tie-ins, and huge, 100-million-dollar marketing campaigns that added to the bloat of each film. Not that I'm complaining, I appreciate a good, aggressive, well-timed, well-released marketing campaign for film- but the sense of some (like the very smartly-geared Man of Steel campaign) films to get well-placed promotions and product placements to cover the marketing blitz means when movies do fall, they fall much less hard.
    But I don't mention these things because I aim to point out the failures of Disney. Rather, I appreciate their effort, and the studio system's focus on auteur filmmakers instead of star power. Tron, The Lone Ranger, Prince of Persia, and the like all have built-in audiences, but they're not relevant to the target demo- and what my point in mentioning them was, was to show that they aren't 'sure things'. They're calculated bets to reinvigorate good material on the shoulders of good filmmaking.
    And I mention that because I appreciate it. The studios aren't all that bad. The industry and new media and the internet forced them to change and put a heavier focus on good filmmaking, innovative storytelling, new properties and fresh franchises, and high(er) quality material with more staying power and brand loyalty. Can't knock that, because I believe it.
    And The Lone Ranger was one of the most mesmerizing third-acts you'll see in a movie in quite some time. Totally worth seeing.

  • MichaelJamesMichaelJames Website User Posts: 2,038 Enthusiast
    @Andrew they actually do lie about the money a film cost and inflate them substantially.  There are the additional costs which get added and are on paper.  I mean even Disney wouldn't keep making movies which combine have lost more then half a billion dollars.  Yes certain movies made a profit.  Read Dov Simmon's 2 day film school. 
    movie%20studio%20gambles.jpg
  • AndrewAndrew Website User Posts: 379 Enthusiast
    Sure they would. Behind banking and finance, the entertainment business is the most-profitable in the world. And what's more, it has some of the single-largest paydays of any industry. And that keeps momentum in the face of big losses.
  • MichaelJamesMichaelJames Website User Posts: 2,038 Enthusiast
    Theres what it cost to actually make the movie...(because no one works one credit) and then there is what the movie is billed as.
    The book is actually From Reel to Deal.
    "Every film has two budgets - the real budget and the grossly inflated marketing budget.  THe only budget that you, the moviegoer, have ever heard is the grossly inflated marketing budget.  However, if you want to discern an actual shooting budget, or the negative cost of making the film, the rule of thumb is to take the lower of the two numbers, halve it, and go a million or two lower.
    For Instance a $7-10 million budget is really made for about $2.5 million(half of $7 million is $3.5 Million; subtract $1 million and you have $2.5 million) in cash.  If you had $2.5 million in cash, you'd be able to do a five week shoot, paying your 50-person crew each $2,000 per weak, with $100,000 for special effects, $100,000 for stunts.  You'd hire a name actor with a $1million check for three weeks and two other name actors with $100,000 checks for a week's work and still have almost $500,000 left over for music and post production.  The bottom line is, you'll have made a movie with three names, that you're calling a $7-$10 million feature for only $2.5 million.  WOw. Why not call it a $10-12 million feature, or a $12-$15 million or a $15-20 million... Welcome to Hollywood."
    -Dov Simmons from Reel to Deal.
  • AndrewAndrew Website User Posts: 379 Enthusiast
    Marketing budgets aren't grossly inflated. Far from it, studios continually work to keep costs down and the transparency of dollars spent on pushing a movie on people in the dark. Marketing budgets are largely underrepresented and deflated, not the other way around.
  • SimonKJonesSimonKJones Moderator Website User, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 4,450 Enthusiast
    PoP only had a built-in audience of gamers if they'd understood the property and made a good film. Unfortunately they hired a director who lacks entirely in any kind of discernible style, and who didn't seem to understand the potential of the source material whatsoever.
    In fact, I'd say PoP doesn't really belong on the list of other films being discussed here because it's largely without merit. The other films - Pirates, TRON Legacy, John Carter, Lone Ranger - all have much more going for them.
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