Yes, Princess of Mars was among the first modern fantasy adventure stories. Yes, every fantastical adventure to explode into theaters over the last several decades, from Star Wars to Avatar, from Planet of the Apes to Army of Darkness, owes something to the groundbreaking fantasy fiction on which John Carter was based. But that’s not common knowledge and the film’s marketing gave you little idea of the film’s historical pedigree. For reasons that I dare not speculate upon, the marketing for John Carter was painfully generic and outright bland, with one uninspiring trailer after another. We saw a straight-faced bare-chested white male hero played by a relative unknown, a desert landscape, various alien creatures, and a damsel-in-distress to be rescued and romanced. To audiences that had perhaps grown up on the various would-be rip-offs of this specific source material, they had little reason to think they were seeing anything other than Generic Blockbuster: The Movie.
Certainly, the Disney Studios were in a major turmoil at that time, and right off the bat, the promotion of this film was not very original at all. I think if it wasn't a Disney film, I would not have gone out and seen it.
Still, I wonder if many in Hollywood will actually learn from this debacle.