Andrew Stanton Talks Adapting 'John Carter' + Reveals Concept Art
Disney has finally flipped on the marketing machine for Andrew Stanton's John Carter (of Mars) movie, which started with the reveal of a lackluster teaser poster yesterday, now an excellent interview today. Hero Complex has posted their full-on interview with Andrew Stanton, famed Pixar director of A Bug's Life, Finding Nemo and Wall-E, making his live-action debut with an epic sci-fi adaptation of a beloved series of novels by Edgar Rice Burroughs. They also included two quick looks at some mesmerizing sci-fi concept art, so be sure to check those out. As our first real introduction to this film, I'm pumped, this sounds awesome!
John Carter was actually shot late last year, mostly out in the Utah desert that looks eerily similar to Mars, and Stanton has more than a year of post-production time as the release isn't set until March 9th, 2012. They've got a lot of work to do, though, as Stanton explains: "We've cut the movie together and started the whole visual effects animation process last summer and then we did a month of re-shoots in L.A. in April, and now it's just a race to get it all done in time." So for those that don't know, John Carter stars Taylor Kitsch as a Civil War soldier who is suddenly transported to Mars and gets involved in their epic history. As we've heard before, Stanton has said that he approached this like telling a historical epic. As he explains:
"I looked at things like Apocaplyto and Rome and even things like Shogun and Lawrence of Arabia, things that as a viewer I could accept as having a level of historical research. They give me a sense of what it would be like in that land and in that age. So then you ask, 'Well, what if we just did our Martian research really, really well and treated it as a period film.' There are so many times and places in history in our world that I just don't know anything about, and when I learn about them they're always fascinating. I don't need a predisposed interest in them if they are presented well. So we said, 'We'll treat it this way, we won't treat it like some fantasy being fulfilled by a fan.' We tried to make it feel like we're going with the story of what really happened. This is how it was, this is how those cultures really existed."
Check out this piece of concept art from John Carter. But I'm not exactly sure what that is. Anyone know?
Stanton goes on to talk about staying as true to the source material as they could, including even referring to a fan-made bible called the The Guide to Barsoom. Also, for those that don't know, "Barsoom" is the Martian name for Mars, that's what they call it in the same way we refer to our planet as Earth. So get used to hearing it a lot. I'm sure there are plenty of fans of John Carter of Mars out there, and he hasn't shrugged any of them off, so don't worry. Stanton answers a question regarding similarities between this and movies like Avatar, by addressing the notion of what made him so interested in directing this story to begin with:
"I want to come to everything honestly. If at the end of the day the dust settles and it's very similar to another movie, then I can live with that if it came there honestly. But my big thing is this: There were so many personal fantasies that were fulfilled or cathartically found by fans through those books — in other words, they used the books as a conduit to their own fantasies and the things in their own head. I've never had to answer this before so I'm stumbling around a bit, but the thing is that because I know this book was so much the source material, directly or indirectly, for so many things, I got intrigued by the idea of treating it as if it really was the source material in the historical sense of the term. What if this really happened? That kind of opened my eyes. I suddenly had a fresh way to see it."
Speaking of eye-opening, here's the second piece of stunning Barsoomian concept art from Hero Complex:
I'm not sure which city or base that is, and from which alien race, but die-hard fans might have a better idea. Though that teaser poster wasn't much, I've already got a really good feeling about this, just the vibe from Andrew Stanton and everything he's saying. I can't wait to see some footage from this! Speaking of which, Stanton did unfortunately confirm that John Carter will not be showing up at Comic-Con in San Diego next month, at least with a big show, as he told revealed his thoughts in reply to a question about the event:
"I think what it was is the perception that it's getting harder and harder to stand out amid the din. We're going to do our special event to get some focus and separation. I know some people will read that as a sign that we're unsure of our property. It's just the opposite. We want to control how and what is being seen and the way it is presented. So much stuff now is just spit out so fast and the churn of it all. You almost gain nothing by talking about things really early in this day and age. I think in the future we might see things arrive the way Prince announces a concert where a few days before the show he announces it and tickets just go up. You might see that with movies and other things. That seems like the only way to get people interested and then capitalize off that interest."
He's dead on regarding not throwing everything out there right now, this early, especially in response to the recent discussion about how viable movie marketing is at Comic-Con anyway. More importantly, it sounds like we'll possibly get our first glimpse with a teaser trailer around Harry Potter in July anyway. From the way Stanton is speaking, it sounds like he not only had a great experience working on his first (considerably epic) live-action movie, but is confident that the way they've approached this adaptation will kick ass in the end. From the looks so far, with what little we've seen (above), I'm excited and certainly looking forward to seeing more, including a look at all the CG Mars characters fully rendered. I've got a good feeling about this.
Head to Hero Complex to read the full interview, as Stanton covers even more, including story structure and visual choices. "That's how we wanted everything, dirty, used, distressed and, hopefully, historical."