Back in May Disney decided to change the title of John Carter of Mars to simply John Carter, removing the cool and interesting part of the title in the process. Soon after Mark Strong, who plays Matai Shang in the film, said the change was because “in the beginning he’s John Carter, but by the end of the first film, he’s John Carter of Mars; so he’s earned that title.”
Strong’s reasoning made some sense, and as Disney is hoping for sequels they can add ‘of Mars’ should they happen. However, director Andrew Stanton has now revealed the real reason for the change was mainly down to marketing.
From Bleeding Cool:
“Here’s the real truth of it. I’d already changed it from ‘A Princess Of Mars’ to ‘John Carter Of Mars’. I don’t like to get fixated on it, but I changed ‘Princess Of Mars’… because not a single boy would go. And then the other truth is, no girl would go to see ‘John Carter Of Mars’. So I said, “I don’t won’t to do anything out of fear, I hate doing things out of fear, but I can’t ignore that truth.
“All the time we were making this big character story which just so happens to be in this big, spectacular new environment. But it’s not about the spectacle, it’s about the investment. I thought, I’ve really worked hard to make all of this an origin story. It’s about a guy becoming John Carter. So I’m not misrepresenting what this movie is, it’s ‘John Carter’. ’Mars’ is going to stick on any other film in the series. But by then, it won’t have a stigma to it.”
Studios often change titles after doing some marketing research, and it just so happens the males in the focus group didn’t like princesses and the females weren’t fond of planets. Disney’s Tangled was originally called Rapunzel but they thought it would discouraged young boys from seeing the film, so they changed the title and used the male character more in the marketing. Tangled ended up making nearly $600m worldwide, so it obviously worked. We’ll have to see if John Carter has similar success when it hits in March.