There’s an expression in the film biz — “campaigning” for a role, or a job. Andrew Stanton explained recently how he got the chance to direct Edgar Rice Burroughs’ epic Princess of Mars, to be released on March 9 as “John Carter”. When he heard the Jon Favreau had dropped out as director of the long-developed project in 2006: “I called Disney and said, ‘If WALL-E doesn’t flop, would you guys consider me maybe crossing over and doing this movie? Because I know how to do it right.’ They said they’d consider it, and in two months bought the rights and said yes… I thought, ‘Wow, I’m really going to do this now.’”
In an interview with Empire Magazine Stanton had read the books as a teenager — read them, absorbed them, believed in the world created by the grand master Edgar Rice Burroughs. When he was directing the movie, his thoughts went to Burroughs: “I just want this to be pure for what it is. All I cared about for most of my life… was that somebody would do it and that somebody would do it right…When I read the books as a kid I saw it as real. I saw a real man standing in the real desert with real creatures that were nine-feet tall, and I want it to feel like that when I watch the movie.”
Stanton has aready started writing a screenplay for the sequel, but is quick to make clear it’s not anywhere near a done deal that there will be a sequel. “It’s not I’m confident we’ll get a sequel. I’m just paranoid that you can never start writing early enough. I’m emotionally fine if this is the only movie; I don’t have the hubris to think it’s going to do well ahead of time. But if it does well and they want to make another one, they’re going to want it yesterday. And even if it ends up on the shelf, it’s writing practice!”
The more I hear Stanton talk about his relationship to the material — the more hope I have that this is going to turn out well. I think there’s a lot more “underneath the hood” in the movie Stanton has crafted than has been released to the public int he form of trailers and TV spots. I’m starting to feel good about this….