John Carter can’t stand up. When he does, he falls over. Finally, after putting in a lot of effort, he’s able to take a step and he jumps about thirty feet. He’s stunned. Looking around, he has no idea where he is and what’s going on. Of course, if you were transported to Mars from the 19th Century, you’d also have a tough time figuring out what just happened.
What I just described is part of a scene from director Andrew Stanton’s (Finding Nemo, WALL-E) first live-action movie, John Carter. Based on the celebrated novel, A Princess of Mars, by Edgar Rice Burroughs, John Carter is Disney’s first film in what they’re hoping is a franchise starter and based on what I saw, it just might work. The reason I know this is the other week I got to go to San Francisco (along with some other online reporters) to see the first teaser trailer, watch some footage, and interview Stanton for almost an hour. I learned so much about this very cool looking film, so I suggest hitting the jump for more.
From Academy Award–winning filmmaker Andrew Stanton comes “John Carter”—a sweeping action-adventure set on the mysterious and exotic planet of Barsoom (Mars). “John Carter” is based on a classic novel by Edgar Rice Burroughs, whose highly imaginative adventures served as inspiration for many filmmakers, both past and present. The film tells the story of war-weary, former military captain John Carter (Taylor Kitsch), who is inexplicably transported to Mars where he becomes reluctantly embroiled in a conflict of epic proportions amongst the inhabitants of the planet, including Tars Tarkas (Willem Dafoe) and the captivating Princess Dejah Thoris (Lynn Collins). In a world on the brink of collapse, Carter rediscovers his humanity when he realizes that the survival of Barsoom and its people rests in his hands. The cast also includes Samantha Morton, Mark Strong, Ciaran Hinds, Dominic West, James Purefoy, Daryl Sabara, Polly Walker, Bryan Cranston and Thomas Haden Church.
Anyway, with John Carter set to hit theaters in March of 2012, this week marks the beginning of Disney promoting the film. In a few days they’re going to release the teaser trailer online, and it’ll be attached to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 in theaters. While I didn’t think the teaser was perfect, it will give you a taste of the film.
Though I had some issues with the teaser, the footage I saw from the movie and the concept art I saw later in the day made me think Disney has something very cool on their hands. And if the film is a hit, they’ve already optioned two more of the books and they’re planning on making a trilogy. So if you’re a John Carter fan, fingers crossed audiences respond to the material.
While I’d love to give you a detailed write up of the scenes they showed us, we were asked to avoid complete scene breakdowns. However, they were totally cool with us reporting on what we thought and what we did that day. So after leaving our lunch with Stanton and producer Jim Morris, Quint (from AICN) and Peter (from Slashfilm) and I recorded a video blog at the Oakland airport. If you’re curious about John Carter, I promise you’ll learn a lot by watching the video below. As usual, it’s time indexed so you can watch the parts that interest you.
And when you’re done, I suggest clicking here and reading or listening to the hour long interview with Stanton. I’ve also listed the “20 Things to Know About John Carter.” I really think this movie has the potential to be something special, and something I’ll want more of…
JOHN CARTER Video Blog
- 00:00 Introduction
- 00:25 What is John Carter?
- 01:20 Andrew Stanton and Pixar’s “involvement”
- 02:00 First part of a potential franchise
- 02:30 Talking about the footage
- 04:30 The White Ape sequence
- 05:25 Shooting in the deserts of Utah rather than green screen stages
- 06:00 Performance Capture for the Martians will actually just be reference for “Animation”
- 06:45 Drawings of John Carter from the filmmakers/screenwriters childhoods
- 07:55 Not being 100% faithful to the books
- 08:30 Giving depth to the simple archetype characters
- 09:20 The uber realism environment vs. big fantastical
- 10:00 Almost steampunk-like props and environments
- 10:30 Casting attractive non-star male and female leads
- 11:10 Reaction to the teaser trailer
- 11:35 Sci-fi that doesn’t look like its sci-fi, and changing the title from “John Carter of Mars” to “John Carter”
- 12:30 What the teaser should have been, and how they should promote the film
- 14:00 They need to sell the book’s legacy, or the movie might feel derivative
- 14:45 Will be released in 3D, a completely different post-3D process
- 15:50 Animation and CG usually looks fantastic in 3D
- 16:40 Quint expresses doubts about the film in his bottom line reaction
- 17:20 Peter has mixed feelings, was amazed by the White Ape sequence, but didn’t see enough
- 18:15 Frosty was more excited seeing the Concept art than he was the footage, agreed that we didn’t see enough
- 18:55 Trailer song: Peter Gabriel covering Arcade Fire
- 19:20 Andrew Stanton is an absolute movie nerd
- 20:00 Stanton really cares about the property, this is his passion project