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#41 NBooth

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Posted 19 July 2011 - 01:08 PM

The Disney-owned Marvel Comics has announced that it will produce a comic-book prequel called John Carter: World of Mars, written by Peter David and illustrated by Luke Ross.


From the link:

"John Carter is, of course, a presence in the comic. However, Disney wanted it to be a prequel, which is fine, and to be set on Mars, which is also fine. But they also wanted John Carter in it, which made it a tricky needle to thread since if you want a prequel set on Mars, then obviously Carter wouldn't be there. So I decided to have John Carter be the first person narrator, even though the story actually occurs before he arrives on Mars. I didn't want to go into too much detail as to John Carter's background because the movie basically tells his story, and the viewer should have the opportunity to discover that. Basically, John Carter is relating to the reader a story -- or more correctly, a pair of stories -- about Barsoom as it was before he got there. The thrust of it is that several characters are saying to him, 'For you to fully understand the situation you're in, John Carter, here's the story of some events that occurred a while ago.' By bringing him up to speed, by extension they bring the readers up to speed as well. Is it necessary for understanding the film? No. But, just as novelizations also do, it fleshes out what's on the screen and provides a greater frame of reference for the viewer. It gives you a better sense of the tapestry against which the film story is being woven."


...interesting because it looks, from the trailer, like the movie itself will retain Burroughs' framing-story of having Burroughs read John Carter's memoirs. So the comic will be doing the same sort of thing--but will it be presented as coming from Carter's journals or are we supposed to assume that Carter is narrating directly to the reader? I was wondering how they would fit John Carter into a prequel (well, since John Carter is immortal they could have done it, but he wouldn't have had much to do with Mars). This sounds like the simplest solution, I guess.

#42 Tyler

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Posted 19 July 2011 - 02:46 PM

I'm watching Falling Skies, and I just remembered Noah Wyle's character on E.R. was named John Carter. He didn't go to Mars, though.

#43 NBooth

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Posted 21 August 2011 - 08:54 AM

Apparently they screened some footage at D23. Cinemablend has a detailed account, but I'm most interested in this comment from Collider:

The most notable thing about the footage shown is how muted the colors of John Carter appear to be. The vast desert landscape –a barren brownish gray. Carter’s clothing – a muddy yellow. Even the reds of Dejah’s tattoos are ruddy and tainted. These muted colors suggest at the more somber tone the film appears to be going for (also the great Peter Gabriel cover of “My Body is a Cage” in the trailer suggests the same). It’s intriguing to mar a giant tent-pole flick with seemingly so melancholy a tone. I’m just not sure if the footage shown convinced me John Carter’s done it successfully. On the one hand – everybody in the film seems to be playing to that somber melancholy beat, on the other – it’s still just a guy fighting and jumping over giant CGI monsters.


I'm thinking that the "somber melancholy beat" could be just the trick to differentiate John Carter from, say, Prince of Persia; it's also an interesting way to tap into the romanticism of the original books.

#44 BethR

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Posted 21 August 2011 - 02:01 PM

I'm watching Falling Skies, and I just remembered Noah Wyle's character on E.R. was named John Carter. He didn't go to Mars, though.

But he did go to the Congo--to some people, there's not much difference. :)

#45 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 22 August 2011 - 11:20 PM

NBooth wrote:
: I'm thinking that the "somber melancholy beat" could be just the trick to differentiate John Carter from, say, Prince of Persia; it's also an interesting way to tap into the romanticism of the original books.

Perhaps. But the comment below, from Mr Beaks @ Ain't It Cool News, has me thinking that someone has once again fallen into the "darker, edgier" trap:

From the drab color palette to the familiar looking set pieces, JOHN CARTER looks completely joyless. Though I'm a huge fan of the idea to shoot on location with performance-captured Tharks, the landscape appears desolate and earthbound when it should feel strange and otherworldly. And then there's the solemn tone, which is a long way from the rollicking spirit of Burrough's books. Plop two flavorless leads in the middle of this dull, dusty universe, and you've got one seriously torpid tentpole.

FWIW, The Playlist headlined its own D23 article "‘John Carter,’ ‘Timothy Green’ Receive Lukewarm Responses". And Deadline.com recently suggested that John Carter -- the trailer for which reminded some of us here of Cowboys & Aliens -- might be part of the reason that Disney has been getting cold feet over The Lone Ranger: "The $163 million Cowboys & Aliens has only grossed $86.5 million domestic going into this weekend and isn't doing huge overseas business to make up for that. The film will be a flop that directly impacts three studios: DreamWorks, Universal and Paramount (which has foreign). Since Disney already has put $250 million into John Carter with Pixar vet director Andrew Stanton, and another $200 million at least into the Sam Raimi-directed The Great And Powerful Oz, it is really up in the air whether the studio wants to place another even bigger bet on The Lone Ranger."

#46 SDG

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Posted 23 August 2011 - 04:54 AM

Perhaps. But the comment below, from Mr Beaks @ Ain't It Cool News, has me thinking that someone has once again fallen into the "darker, edgier" trap:

It just occurred to me, you know what recent notable movie wasn't "darker and edgier"? Avatar.

#47 Thom Wade

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Posted 23 August 2011 - 07:09 AM

Sure, but Avatar was a complete flop, barely making any money. So obviously the audiences want darker and edgier. ;)

#48 NBooth

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Posted 23 August 2011 - 08:02 AM

Perhaps. But the comment below, from Mr Beaks @ Ain't It Cool News, has me thinking that someone has once again fallen into the "darker, edgier" trap:

It just occurred to me, you know what recent notable movie wasn't "darker and edgier"? Avatar.


...and Avatar is definitely the movie John Carter has to beat--not necessarily in dollars, but in conception, execution, etc. This is especially true since Avatar borrows so much of its worldbuilding from the Burroughs novels.

But I think Mr. Beaks is wrong--about the novels, anyway. Perhaps I was a morbid child, but I always thought there was a strong vein of Romantic tragedy(if that's even a thing) in the novels. Heck, John Carter was even an officer in the Army of Virginia, which for Burroughs would have cemented him as the ultimate champion of Lost Causes. "Rollicking"? Perhaps. But these aren't just fun pulp thrillers; they're fun pulp thrillers about futility (particularly A Princess of Mars).*

None of which is really to defend the movie (I've not seen the clips, after all) but to point out that a "sombre" or "melancholy" reading of the books is absolutely in keeping with the text.

_________________
*Actually, A Princess of Mars fits Burrough's pattern for series-starters. Compare its ending to, say, the end of the first Tarzan novel, and there's not much difference in terms of how the characters find themselves in the end. But Princess, being cosmic in scope, strives for a more cosmic effect.

Edited by NBooth, 23 August 2011 - 08:03 AM.


#49 Ryan H.

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Posted 23 August 2011 - 08:35 AM

I think a film could still be sombre/melancholy while being colorful and vibrant.

I say this all the time, but boy, do I miss Technicolor.

#50 NBooth

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Posted 11 October 2011 - 08:13 AM

Vulture links to the Stanton profile in The New Yorker and reveals how much John Carter will have to make before it turns enough profit to get a sequel:

$700 Million.

Now, I'm really rooting for this movie, but I don't see it being the kind of film to rake in that kind of money. It's impressive that Disney was willing to gamble on it at all. It has all the ear-marks of a cult film.

#51 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 11 October 2011 - 08:44 AM

Hmmm. Only 45 movies have grossed over $700 million worldwide -- and of those, 27 were sequels or prequels. The remaining 18 are:

  • Avatar
  • Titanic
  • Alice in Wonderland (2010)
  • Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
  • Jurassic Park
  • The Lion King
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
  • Finding Nemo
  • Inception
  • Spider-Man
  • Independence Day
  • E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial
  • Star Wars
  • 2012
  • The Da Vinci Code
  • The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
  • Up
  • Transformers
And at least one film on that list, i.e. Star Wars, didn't cross the $700 million until its 20th anniversary (although, when you take inflation into account, its original earnings certainly put it in this league anyway).

Of the others, Harry Potter and The Da Vinci Code were based on novels that were extremely popular at the time of filming (Jurassic Park was also a fresh best-seller at the time, though I can't recall if the book was as big a sensation as those other two books were; at any rate, the film had Spielberg and Dinosaurs and Revolutionary Special Effects going for it, in addition to the book's best-seller status), and The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia were based on 40- or 50-year-old fantasy classics that continued to have almost religious fanbases long, long after publication. Does John Carter have that kind of vitality, or will Disney's marketing team have to "educate" audiences as to who this character is, etc.?

#52 morgan1098

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Posted 11 October 2011 - 10:14 AM

Based on the trailer, I'd say this movie will struggle to make $70 million, let alone $700 million.

That's not a comment on the quality of the story (which I haven't read) or the film (which I haven't seen, obviously). It's just that based on the trailer alone, even with the awesome Peter Gabriel/Arcade Fire song, this looks like a thousand other second-tier CGI action films, from Prince of Persia to The Mummy to heck, even the Pirates of the Caribbean films. Disney needs to do some fast and creative marketing if they want to set this apart.

#53 NBooth

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Posted 11 October 2011 - 10:51 AM

Does John Carter have that kind of vitality, or will Disney's marketing team have to "educate" audiences as to who this character is, etc.?


I'm not sure if that's a rhetorical question, but I'll answer it anyway.

No. The books are still in print, but my impression of the fanbase is that it's a very small (very passionate, but very small) subset of s.f. fandom.

#54 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 11 October 2011 - 12:05 PM

NBooth wrote:
: I'm not sure if that's a rhetorical question, but I'll answer it anyway.

Nah, it wasn't rhetorical. Or not entirely, anyway. I didn't want to assume that there wasn't some ginormous fanbase (at home or overseas) that I might not be aware of. (I say this, BTW, as one whose wife has a fairly big collection of sci-fi and fantasy paperbacks -- including most if not all of the books in the Princess of Mars series. I really should take those down off the shelf and read them soon, eh?)

FWIW, if we expand the list of films above to include those that grossed over $600 million worldwide, we find an additional 17 films, of which 8 are sequels or prequels. The remaining 9 films are:

  • Forrest Gump
  • The Sixth Sense
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
  • Kung Fu Panda
  • The Incredibles
  • Hancock
  • Ratatouille
  • The Passion of the Christ
  • Mamma Mia!
I don't see any based-on-a-hit-bestseller titles here, but it does occur to me that, apart from the Pixar titles, the other films that made it this big tended to be word-of-mouth hits (e.g. The Sixth Sense, or even the original Pirates of the Caribbean) or, in the case of Hancock, they happened to feature a Major Movie Star. The Passion of the Christ, meanwhile, is a rare example of a film on this list that did a heck of a lot better in the United States than it did overseas; most of the films that got this big (especially films like 2012, which grossed nearly FOUR TIMES as much overseas as it did in the U.S.) did so by appealing to the global audience.

John Carter doesn't have any Major Movie Stars, so Disney is presumably counting on the Pixar connection (even though this is not a Pixar film, and even though this is a live-action effort) as well as the foreign markets (where even films like Prince of Persia can be nearly three times as lucrative as they were in the U.S.).

And presumably they're also hoping for good word-of-mouth, of course, though the early buzz has been kind of so-so, at least as far as I can tell.

#55 Overstreet

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Posted 17 October 2011 - 03:15 PM

There's a major feature story on Stanton in this week's New Yorker, which takes us to the set of the movie... and to an advance screening, which was apparently a huge success (even though Stanton, being Stanton, came out thinking about all of the things he plans to improve).

We learn a lot - including that "of Mars" was dropped from the title because it would scare away moviegoing women.

Edited by Overstreet, 17 October 2011 - 03:22 PM.


#56 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 17 October 2011 - 06:08 PM

Overstreet wrote:
: There's a major feature story on Stanton in this week's New Yorker . . .

Ahem.

#57 Overstreet

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Posted 17 October 2011 - 06:13 PM

Oh well. It's too bad the whole feature isn't online. You can only read the whole thing if you're a subscriber. It's ten pages long, going into a lot of detail about the script revisions of past Pixar films, why directors were bumped off of projects, and how one scene in John Carter was developed step-by-step. I'm really surprised that I haven't read more about the Portland test screening. Sounds like it went better than Stanton had expected.

#58 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 17 October 2011 - 06:26 PM

Coincidentally, I was just going over the Pixar box-office stats in our Cars 2 thread, and I notice that, of the two films Andrew Stanton has directed so far, one (i.e. Finding Nemo) is their second-HIGHEST grosser ever worldwide (surpassed only by Toy Story 3), while the other (i.e. WALL-E) is their second-LOWEST grosser worldwide since the '90s (the only lower-grossing film of that period being the original Cars).

What this bodes for Stanton's claim that John Carter will need to gross $700 million worldwide in order to get a sequel, I cannot say. But I figured I'd toss that out there.

Side note: Only three Pixar films have grossed over $700 million worldwide: Toy Story 3, Finding Nemo and Up.

#59 NBooth

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Posted 23 November 2011 - 12:43 PM

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John Carter fights a White Ape.

From the EW interview with Andrew Stanton.

[T]hey’re sort of an oversized gorilla in the books, and they’re kind of ubiquitous. They’re littered everywhere through at least the first several novels. They were always cool, just from a visceral standpoint, [but] they don’t really have a narrative function in the first book. So what we did is we made the White Apes a formidable creature that you kind of hear about throughout the movie, but you never really witness. There’s a subtle sense of anticipation for what these things might be like. Then Michael Kutsche — who did a lot of the designs on [the Johnny Depp movie] Alice in Wonderland – came up with this design on his own, for just their scale. He made them nocturnal, almost like moles — they stopped using their eyes, and just had a heightened sense of smell. We just love that. We needed a scene where Carter was going have to get out of his execution sentence in order to move the story forward, and we thought what better than having to go up against this formidable creature?



#60 Ryan H.

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Posted 24 November 2011 - 10:08 PM

Looks like an outtake from ATTACK OF THE CLONES.