10 Reasons Why Andrew Stanton Dropped Mars From The Title Of John Carter

“Every movie with Mars in the title flops,” he jokes. Let’s look at the evidence

According to Andrew Stanton, the reason was partly because, “Every movie with Mars in the title has been a flop”. He said this half-jokingly as the press preview. But you know what? He has a point:


1 Mission To Mars (2000)

Brian’s De Palma’s ill-judged effort to emulate 2001: A Space Odyssey , and getting it wrong entirely. Lots of really tedious space travel scenes (where Kubrick made space travel look daring and courageous and dangerous, De Palma makes it feel like a really long tube journey on a Sunday morning) followed by a ludicrous pseudo-religious finale as Mankind encounters its destiny on Mars. For destiny read: pretty lights, a 3D planetarium and a green message.

2 Invaders From Mars (1986)

Horror maestro Tobe Hooper made this lame remake or a lame ’50 B-movie with predictably lame results. There are some spectacularly lame gags and equally lame aliens (think Tripods meet the Muppets). Lame.

3 Mars Attacks (1996)

Tim Burton’s attempt to make a story out of a bunch of trading cards is one is the director’s worst missteps, and ends up looking like a spoof of Independence Day that forgot to be funny. It looks splendid: he Martians and mock B-movie FX are fabulous. But the gags are strained, the characters are lifeless and the plot is little more than a series of set pieces.

4 Ghosts Of Mars (2001)

Ghost of glories past more like, as the only people who ever likely to watch this gory, incoherent mess are John Carpenter fans desperately hoping that his career couldn’t nosedive any further. It could. Wants to be Mad Max meets Outland and ends up more like Duran Duran’s Wild Boys meet up for a reunion. Neil Marshall did it much better with Doomsday .

5 Mars Needs Moms (2011)

Now officially one of the biggest flops of all time, Robert Zemeckis’s largely charm-free, motion-capture mogadon Mars Needs Moms cost about $175m (£110m) to make and market yet grossed less than $39 million world wide.

6 My Favorite Martian (1999)

Big screen remake of the largely forgotten ’6os sitcom, which starred Christopher Lloyd and a CG spacesuit. Woefully unfunny, it made back about half of its production costs.

7 Red Planet Mars (1952)

Here’s a film that’s worse than Plan 9 From Outer Space – seriously. Red Planet Mars , which stars a young Peter Graves before he sent up himself up in Airplane , has Earthmen discovering that Mars is, in fact, a deeply Christian planet. This then makes everyone on Earth a good and true believer. An outstandingly dreadful mess that thinks it’s making worthy comments on religion and politics, it was spawned by early ’50s McCarthyism. All copies of it should be jettisoned in the direction of the Red Planet.

8 Abbott And Costello Go To Mars (1953)

It’s Abbott and Costello? What else do you need to know to put you off it. The usual slapstick crud. The only truly hilarious thing about the film is that Bud and Lou don’t even go to Mars; they go to Venus. Can we still sue for false advertising even after all these years?

9 Devil Girl From Mars (1954)

The UK proves it can make really naff Martian invasion films too, with this dull tale about a Red Planet dominatrix (three words that are far more exciting than anything in the film) who lands in the Scottish highlands to procure men to help repopulate Mars. Proof that tawdry concepts and stiff upper-lipped British filmmaking are a twain that should never, ever meet, as lots of very proper ’50s Brit thesps stand around in a pub, going, “Oh my dear Lord,” and “Bless my soul,” endlessly.

10 Lobster Man From Mars (1989)

A film about a film. Lobster Man From Mars is actually a deliberately bad B-movie, which a producer agrees to buy as a tax dodge from the students who made it. The film within the film should be so bad it’s funny, but it’s a pretty lazy parody to be honest. Joe Dante did the whole idea much better a couple of years later with Matinee .

Honorable Mentions:

Monster From Mars – An alternate title for the Golden Turkey fave rave Robot Monster . You remember? The one where the monster is a guy in a gorilla suit with a diving helmet on his bonce.

Red Planet – Dire Val Kilmer film that came out the same time as Mission To Mars , and tried to dodge the Mars curse by not actually having Mars in the title, but failed.

The exception that prove the rule:

The Eyes Of Laura Mars – Supernatural thriller directed by Irvin ( The Empire Strikes Back ) Kershner. Wasn’t actually anything to do with the planet Mars, which is probably why it was a reasonable success.


Dave Golder
Freelance Writer

Dave is a TV and film journalist who specializes in the science fiction and fantasy genres. He's written books about film posters and post-apocalypses, alongside writing for SFX Magazine for many years.