Well, it worked on the printed page: An ex-Confederate officer is transported to Mars, where he finds himself possessed of great power. What's not box-office boffo about this? Putting paid once again to the notion of a "sure thing," the Edgar Rice Burroughs thriller of a century ago turned into a big lummox of a film that cost an estimated quarter of a billion dollars, a sum that earned it Time magazine's rating as the second-biggest movie bomb of the year, behind only the pompostications of "Cloud Atlas." Disney was rumored to have decided not to put the word "Mars" in the film's title because "Mars Needs Moms" hadn't cleaned up at the box office. Well, neither did Mars-less "John Carter." A lesson never to let the medium, whether it's close-ups or CGI, get ahead of the message. Above: Taylor Kitsch stars in the movie "John Carter."