Have you seen the “fan-made” trailer for John Carter of Mars? People have been lauding it for its passion and devotion to Edgar Rice Burrough’s original story, but did you know it was made by Kerry Conran, director of famous cinema catastrophe Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow?

It’s true! This “fan-made” trailer was actually a pitch video Conran put together to sell his version of John Carter to the studios. You can clearly see Conran’s passion and energy for the material, but would history repeat itself? Apparently the studios though so because as we all know, it was Pixar’s Andrew Stanton that helmed the big-screen adaptation.

What’s your take on all that? Would Conran have made a better film or would it have been as wooden and lifeless as Sky Captain? Would Joss Whedon fans have gone to see it or would they have stayed home to marathon Firefly…again?

So, why is this so interesting? It’s a pitch video. Horay? Well, turns out this is not the first time Conran tried to use a pitch video to woo studio dollars. Since Sky Captain is his only other claim to fame, you guessed it, the pitch video was for Sky Captain. What’s weird is the pitch video is great! Conran definitely has a skill, just not the one he’s trying to raise money for.

Here’s Conran’s original pitch video for Sky Captain:

I gotta admit, this gets me excited! Conran made this thing in his apartment. He brought in actors on green screen and did most of the visual effects and editing himself. When I watch it I can’t help but think that I could do something like that; it’s inspiring.

I love the style and character of this video, and it’s no surprised it landed a $70 million production budget. With Angelina Jolie, Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Michael Gambon (Dumbledore) signed on as cast, how could you go wrong?

And then there was this mess…

It still looks cool, but it bombed in the theaters. To date, it has only grossed $38 million domestically, $58 million world-wide. That means Paramount lost around $12 million dollars over Conran’s cool pitch video.

Money is deceptive. I found this out the hard way. And just because you can make cool looking stuff on your computer doesn’t mean you can write and direct.

So!

What the heck happened? What went wrong? Would Conran have succeeded with John Carter or would it be as big a dud as Sky Captain? Speak now or forever hold your peace!

Dan Baker

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Dan works out his social anxieties by producing and directing films. He's a proud New Mexican, and prefers green over red.

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