I didn't see John Carter. But I have worked on my share of flops. My heart goes out to the really talented people who poured so much of themselves into a production like that. It's like you've raised a child to walk the high wire, and on his first step out, he falls to his death.
Peers stare in silence. They'll mumble privately to each other, "The kid was too fat." or "The kid didn't know what he was doing." or "They should have given the kid a better name." but publicly, there's an awkward silence. They put their heads down and go back to work.
When one of our peers fails, there's a shiver of fear that resonates through the creative ranks. In our industry, failure is made very public. Media people seem to drool over the opportunity to take smug, dismissive shots at a movie that didn't work. They haughtily highlight every flaw, and belittle the filmmakers for their incompetence. People all over the world get to witness this beating to their own amusement, adding their own asinine comments without the slightest idea that the movie was made by good, talented people who just couldn't make the sum of the parts come together as a whole.
And then there's a private fallout in the studio. Studio brass forget your name. Your agent forgets your number. Friends forget to be friends, wanting to avoid any conversation about the whole mess. Is it any wonder that creative people are afraid to take chances?
In FLIP #17, director Dan Scanlon talked about the fear of failure in the industry: