I’ll admit it. I’m a sucker for BIG BUDGET sci-fi and fantasy movies! Every year the huge Hollywood studios pump out several $100 – $200 million dollar special effects opuses for fanboys to drool over in anticipation every year. The first of these mega-buck epics for 2012 is John Carter!
John Carter is Walt Disney Pictures’ attempt at another tent-pole film for a new franchise on the order of their Pirates of the Caribbean films. After failing with Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2010), which cost an estimated $200 million to make and only grossed a little over $90 million in the United States, they are rolling the big budget dice with John Carter. The budget for John Cater is being estimated at $250 million and if the trailer is any indication, most of that was spent on the vast special effects to create the fantastic setting for the fantasy-version of the planet Mars.
John Carter the film is based on the novel "A Princess of Mars" by Edgar Rice Burroughs, published under the title "In the Moons of Mars" and serialized in All-Story Magazine in
1912. In the novel, John
Carter is a former Confederate soldier, who, while prospecting for gold in the Arizona
desert of the 1870’s is somehow transported to the planet Mars. It looks as
though the film John Carter has kept the time and character intact; which is
the only possible way that the fantasy setting of Mars could work.
The director of the film is Andrew Stanton, who was the director and writer of the Pixar animated films A Bug’s Life, Finding Nemo and WALL-E. This is his first live action feature, but his experience with the all CGI animated features should serve him well for the effects laden John Carter. Another former Pixar director, Brad Bird (The Incredibles and Ratatouille) has had great success with his first live action feature Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, so there is hope that Andrew Stanton might have similar luck with John Carter.
Portraying John Carter is 30 year old Taylor Kitsch, who is best known for his role as high school football star Tim Riggins on NBC's acclaimed television series "Friday Night Lights”, but will also be featured in another big budget film in 2012 Battleship. Playing the Princess Dejah Thoris is relative unknown Lynn Collins. Voicing (and motion capturing?) Tars Tarkas is veteran actor William Dafoe.
The special effects are headed by Steve Benelisha, who has worked recently on Captain America: The First Avenger and X-Men: First Class.
I think Disney is taking a real chance on John Carter, because the source material is not nearly contemporary or classic enough to be recognizable to a large enough audience to sell it on name recognition alone. Also, by releasing it in March, instead of the summer months when most blockbusters are released, they are almost already admitting defeat. Perhaps they are hoping to score at least the meagerly profitable numbers that Clash of the Titans made, which was released in April of 2010.
Whatever the reasons for such an early release, I most certainly will be headed to my local cinema on the weekend of March 9th to see the visual splendor of John Carter! Enjoy the latest trailer!