Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Why Does Hollywood Hate Mars?

Total Recall (Alamo Drafthouse Cinema) Tyler Stout
CinestirTV recently created a side by side comparison of both the old and new 'Total Recall' films. And while CinestirTV focuses on the similarities between the two films, I noticed a glaring difference: the location. The new 'Total Recall' is set firmly on earth in "New Asia." New Asia appears to be a 'Fifth Element'-type place with flying cars and sleek robots. The gritty tunnels and hollows of Mars in Paul Verhoeven's classic film are noticeably absent. In fact, 'Total Recall' 2012 will have no mention of Mars at all. Why? 
When 'John Carter' bombed earlier this year, I was surprised to learn that Hollywood has an unnatural fear of films set on Mars. Supposedly films set on Mars don't perform well at the box office, which is why 'John Carter' was not appropriately titled 'A Princess of Mars' or 'John Carter of Mars.' Given their Mars prejudice, the powers that be scrubbed the Mars out of 'John Carter' quite successfully. Unfortunately they also scrubbed the lifeblood out of the film. However, I still found 'John Carter' to be entertaining and enjoyable. I blame John Carter's failure on the marketing (and the uber-controlling director Andrew Stanton) rather than the film itself.

Granted Hollywood's fear of Mars may be valid. Excluding the original 'Total Recall,' most films set on Mars have flopped (i.e. 'Mars Needs Mom,' 'Red Planet,' Ghosts of Mars,' 'Doom,' 'Mission to Mars'). Clearly Hollywood believes that these films flopped because they were set on Mars or had Mars in the title. Why hasn't it occurred to anyone that perhaps the films themselves were sub par? Why is Mars to blame? Have they conducted focus groups on this subject? Do moviegoers really hate Mars?

Jessica Biel and Colin Farrell in 'Total Recall' 2012
'Total Recall' 1990 and the short story it was based on ("We Can Remember it for you Wholesale") were heavily Mars-focused. So removing Mars from 'Total Recall' is like removing Superman from the Justice League. Mars is a critical component to the storyline. If I were a betting person, I would wager that things are not looking good for this remake. But I've been wrong before.

What happened to old Hollywood's 'War of the Worlds' martian fascination? What's the matter with Mars? The original 'Total Recall' is deeply embedded in science fiction. So much so that even 'Warehouse 13' paid homage. Airlock Alpha has a great clip of Pete's nod to 'Total Recall.'


  1. Best Mars movie is "Mars Attacks!" - very underrated Tim Burton flick.

  2. The new Total Recall won't even have Mars in it? That's over half the original film. Lame!
    I thought John Carter was excellent - they should've left Mars in the title.

  3. Movie companies are silly that way. Theres a Jackie Chan movie called Wheels on Meals, that was origanally titled Meals on Wheels, but the studio that produced it had had two flops tht started with the letter M so they changed it.

  4. I agree with most everything you wrote. When I found out that the whole Mars section was not going to be in the remake that raised a red flag for me. I also agree that John Carter had terrible marketing, the first mistake of which was removing the "of Mars" from the title.


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