From the beginning of Disney’s campaign for JOHN CARTER it was clear that Disney was missing the mark with a trailer that showed plenty of action but somehow made the action look mindless and uninteresting. This was a film by Andrew Stanton — not exactly a mindless generic director — and was based on the source material that inspired George Lucas to make Star Wars, and inspired James Cameron to make Avatar. Yet the trailer made it seem like bland, generic, CGI “goop”.

A picture is worth a thousand words. Here is the official trailer.

On Youtube, the Like/Dislike meter shows  3,815 likes and 298 dislikes, or a 13/1 Like/Dislike ratio.

How does that compare to other studio features targeting similar audiences?

Hunger Games, which competed directly (and devastatingly) with John Carter at the box office, the ratio was 17/1.   Prometheus came in at 21/1. The Avengers, which is the highest ratio in recent memory, was 51/1.

The following John Carter Fan Trailer created by Michael Sellers and Mark Linthicum has 210,000 views and a like/dislike ratio of 93/1:

Andrew Stanton, the director of John Carter, saw the fan trailer and tweeted: “Great fan trailer! They get it!” and linked to the trailer. The next day, Ain’t It Cool News posted an article and embed of the trailer with headline: A Fan-Made Trailer Sells JOHN CARTER better than any other trailer so far. A few hours later similar stories and embeds appeared on ColliderSlashfilmBadass DigestFilm School Rejects and others. It then spread to more blogs — a total of more than 200 — as well as mainstream media publications including Wired (Fan Trailer for John Carter Tops Studios Best Efforts) , Entertainment Weekly (John Carter Fan Trailer: Okay, this has to get you excited!) , The Hollywood Reporter, (Fan Made Trailer for John Carter could be better than studio original) nd the Los Angeles Times (Fans Create unofficial new trailer for John Carter).   CNN also ran a story (Fans Create their own John Carter Trailer).   In the first three days after Stanton’s tweet, the trailer received 100,000 views on YouTube and became a significant part of the conversation about the movie.

Then Michael Sellers received an  email from Andrew Stanton, director of John Carter:

I’d very much like to meet you after the Q&A after the Burbank screening on Feb 27.  I’ll stick around to find you. Thanks so much for the trailer you have done. You managed to capture the true movie we have much better than Disney (do far.) I’d love to hear if you have any other wonderful underground trailers that I could help you virally spread. See you tomorrow night!

When they met, he asked if Sellers could do another trailer.

On March 2 Sellers uploaded “Heritage”

Heritage repeated the success of the first fan trailer.   Harry Knowles of the trendsetting Ain’t it Cool News posted:

If you haven’t seen JOHN CARTER, this fan trailer nails it.  This is how it could have been promoted!