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The Cricket
Sean P. Means
Sean is the movie critic and columnist for The Salt Lake Tribune. Follow him on Twitter @moviecricket.

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At Big Water in Utah, "John Carter" crews built extensive sets to match the naturally otherworldly landscapes. Frank Connor/Disney
Measuring the aftermath of ‘John Carter’

So "John Carter" landed this weekend, not with a bang but something of a whimper.

The lavish sci-fi blockbuster failed to bust many blocks at the North American box office, scoring $30.6 million -- coming in second behind the repeat No. 1, "Dr. Seuss' The Lorax" -- according to The Hollywood Reporter.

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For a movie that industry experts are saying cost $250 million to make, those kind of numbers point to a financial failure.

The movie -- based on Edgar Rice Burroughs' landmark Martian adventures, and directed by Andrew Stanton ("Wall-E," "Finding Nemo") -- scored better internationally, earning $70.6 million in Asia, Europe and Latin America.

Critical response was tepid -- a 49 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, and a score of 53 out of 100 on MetaCritic -- but audiences seemed to like it more, giving it a B+ in CinemaScore surveys.

Why did "John Carter" fail? A scathing exposé by New York magazine's Claude Brodesser-Akner finds that the movie was doomed from its first teaser trailer last summer. The trailer, pushed by Stanton himself over objections by Disney's marketing department, failed to show much action and left audiences cool to the charms of a hunky guy in a loincloth.

The state of Utah played host to the production of "John Carter," which spent $19.7 million in the Beehive State, according to Utah Film Commission figures.

That money's already spent, but Utah Film Commission director Marshall Moore said before the film's release that the state would lose out if the movie failed -- because there would be no sequels filmed here.

Utah's relationship with Disney goes on, though, with filming this summer in Moab of Disney's 2013 franchise film, "The Lone Ranger," starring Armie Hammer as the masked man and Johnny Depp as Tonto.

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