Exclusive: Producer John Davis Talks about the Challenges of Adapting Ray Bradbury’s THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES

     June 8, 2011

John Davis is no stranger to the sci-fi genre having producer all of the Predator films as well as I, Robot and Paycheck.  His biggest challenge when it comes to sci-fi lies ahead with a planned adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles.  Bradbury said of his celebrated work that it was “a book of stories pretending to be a novel.”  Those individual stories relate to the human colonization of Mars and the conflict between the colonists and the natives.

Steve recently spoke with Davis about the film.  Davis says he’s met with Bradbury (who is now 94) and gotten his input on the adaptation.  Davis adds that he envisions the movie (which is set up at Paramount) as a summer blockbuster but “one with a weighty intellectual background.”  Hit the jump for the full exchange with Davis.  Click here for what Davis had to say about the Predator franchise and click here for what he said about Steven Soderbergh’s adaptation of The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

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Collider: The big two genres that seem to be very popular with my readers are comic book movies and sci-fi.  You produced I, Robot, which I thought was good.

JOHN DAVIS:  Well, we have on of the great sci-fi books of all time that we are doing at Paramount right now.  It is The Martian Chronicles.

I was going to ask about that.  It seems to me that sci-fi and comic book movies are both still very viable at the box office.  How involved are you in trying to bring more sci-fi and comic book stuff to life?

DAVIS:  We are working on a graphic novel.  We are bringing that to life.  We are working on a bunch of sci-fi.  You know, Ray Bradbury.  We have been meeting with him.  It is so cool to go to his house.  He is so loose at 94.  We really wanted to do justice to Martian Chronicles because it is such a great piece of science fiction.  I’ve been meeting with writers and there are some really brilliant takes on this and really interesting ways to do this.  I think is going to be the most interesting and thrilling movie.  I love that.  I love sci-fi.  I, Robot was great to do.  I love the action.  The other thing I am getting into is that I love true stories.  So we have a couple of true stories that we are working on that I think can be amazing.

Let me jump back into Martian Chronicles.  I would imagine that a book of that stature that there are going to be a lot of purists that are going to want to stick close to the book but you are making a movie and you are going to have to make some changes.

DAVIS:  Exactly.

Have you figured out how you are going to teeter the line between making a movie and being true to the source material?

John_Davis_ProducerDAVIS:  We had a conversation with Ray because I wanted his input and all of that stuff.  He basically said, “You can stray because you are going to need to do certain things to make a movie.”  I would never do anything that he wasn’t 100 percent on board with.  Some people are faithful and some people are interpretive.  When you have something like this you basically go out to 2 or 3 writers that you really want to work with and they come back to you and you hear their take.  You kind of go, “That is the movie I want to make.  That is really cool.”  Then we will go back to writing.  We will go, “Maybe we will do this and this.  And we will tell the story from this perspective.” But you have to be true to a lot of the things that make the book great or be really clever on how you bring them in.

I would imagine with a property like that that has such a name recognition – are you guys thinking of this as one of these big tentpole events?

DAVIS:  Yes.  I think it should be a big summer movie.  If you think of the idea of terraforming a planet and then colonizing it.  In reality, it’s a modern western.  It was moving to the west.  It was all of the people looking for a second chance.  Based on what was going on Earth we had to move somewhere.  The Martians were there.  We thought they were all dead but we found remnants of the world and all of that stuff.  It lends itself to a really interesting summer movie and one with a weighty intellectual background.

Look for more of our interview with Davis in the coming days.

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