Why did John Carter tank? Baffled Willem Dafoe has his own theory

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Dec 17, 2012, 3:27 PM EST

A lot of people are still puzzling over why John Carter didn't fare better at the box office, particularly after we all saw the scale of the visual feast director Andrew Stanton prepared for us. Co-star Willem Dafoe is just as baffled as we are ... but he does have a theory.

Dafoe had a lot of screen time as the green-skinned chieftain Tars Tarkas in the Disney adaptation of the Edgar Rice Burroughs classic, and just like the rest of the cast he was expecting great things when the flick hit theaters. When John Carter crashed and burned instead, it left Dafoe more than a little baffled.

"You don't like to publicly lament disappointments too much, but I'm still kind of scratching my head over it," Dafoe said "For me, I thought John Carter really captured something. It was very pure in its approach. It was classical. It wasn't hip and cool. It was really from the source, and I appreciate that."

Hollywood analysts have given no shortage of reasons for why the flick was such a big loss, blaming everything from bad Disney marketing to a high budget to a painfully unclear title. As for Dafoe, he thinks it might just be a case of bad timing.

"In my experience, sometimes a movie just hits at the wrong time, gets the wrong press, or gets the wrong representation, and it gets misunderstood," he said. "Sometimes it's hard for people to really decide, too. There's so much reporting about the business and that other stuff, that they really get distracted by some of those things, and then it influences some of the weaker-willed people to not have their own opinion."

There's always the hope that, like many a sci-fi underdog before it, John Carter will find new life on home video as people give it a try from their own couches. But Dafoe laments the flick's poor theatrical performance even more these days because the chances of a sequel are most likely doomed.

"It sure doesn't seem like [there will be a sequel], which is a shame," he said.. "This was the set-up for what could be a great series of movies. . . I was looking forward to doing a sequel, though, because I know something of where the story goes and the character of Tars Tarkas. He's big, and the relationship with John gets more intense."

(Via IFC)