Is it time for Hollywood to start thinking about Edgar Rice Burroughs’ other great interplanetary series — Carson of Venus?

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When John Carter was released and the press surrounding the film was just relentlessly negative, the idea of beginning to drumbeat for Edgar Rice Burroughs other great interplanetary series, “Carson of Venus”, seemed a bit far-fetched.   The sense of doom surrounding John Carter was just too overwhelming. But now, three months later, John Carter is already being regarded in many circles as a cult classic and it has inspired a fervent and committed fan base who are actively and aggressively lobbying for a sequel, trying to keep Barsoom alive.  Meanwhile the Burroughs purists who didn’t like the Disney version of John Carter have also been stirred up and are out here vocally making the case the Edgar Rice Burroughs needs consideration as a source of uniquely imaginative works that can be adapted to the screen with extraordinary success if handled properly both in terms of production and marketing.

So let’s consider Carson of Venus for a moment.  Here’s a nice little teaser synopsis, courtesy of the Realm of Ryan:

The adventures of one Mr. Carson Napier, former stuntman and amateur rocketeer, who tries to get to Mars and ends up on Venus, a.k.a. Amtor, instead. There he discovers a lush jungle planet of bizarre creatures and humanoids who have uncovered the secret of longevity. The planet is caught in a battle between the country of Vepaja and the tyrannical Thorists. Carson finds time during his adventuring to fall for Duare, forbidden daughter of a Vepajan king. Carson’s story covers three novels, a volume of connected novelettes, and an orphaned novella.

Here’s the thing about Carson of Venus:  The movie rights are available and now that there is a lively group of John Carter/Barsoom fans, is it time to start talking about a movie of Carson of Venus?  Has John Carter — debacle that it has been — proved anything about the potential attractiveness of Burroughs other great interplanetary series?

Here are some preliminary thoughts:

Is Carson Napier is a more movie-friendly character than John Carter?

I can’t help but think that Carson Napier “former stuntman and amateur rocketeer”,  a guy with a sense of humor and a bit of devil-may-care about him, would attract a badass leading actor who could deliver humor along with the romance, action, and fantasy that comes with the story.   Think Robert Downey’s take on Iron-man with a touch of the young Richard Branson thrown in.

Is Amtor Visually Even Better than Barsoom?

Barsoom, in the books, had a certain majesty — Burroughs imbued it with a history that you could follow, races and cultures you could catalogue, and a certain chivalric, almost Arthurian vibe and that has made Barsoom the favorite of the ERBophiles.  But cinematically, Barsoom — mostly a desert — had a certain barrenness to it.  Let me hasten to say that there is an allure and mystery attached to Barsoom that is unique and untouchable.  But let’s think about Amtor for a moment.  Misty, fog and cloud enshrouded, massive forests so large that cities exist among the clouds in the upper reaches of the forests, oceans, strange compelling beasts and cultures……..Amtor would be pure eye candy from beginning to end.

Can Carson be made for the right price point?

John Carter’s downfall in many respects was the budget, and that budget was driven by it being a Pixar style combination of animation and live action, with a very large percentage of screen time involving motion capture 3D Tharks, often more than one character.  If you want to know where the money went in John Carter, it was Tharks.  The air battles; the cities of Zodanga and Helium; the overall world build — none of that drove the budget off the charts.  It was the Tharks……now, a Venus movie with more humanoid screen time and less motion capture 3D character screen time could, to my indie producer brain, be made at a better price point — let’s ay 150m, the same as Wrath of the Titans and any number of other big movies of that ilk which just didn’t have the motion capture 3D component that John Carter did.   So –let’s just hypothesize for the sake of discussion that a badass Carson of Venus could be made for 150m, by a studio other than Disney who “gets it”……

Is there a business model that works, at a budget of 150m?

At a budget of 150m the film would need to earn 300m global theatrical gross to be considered successful.  (I don’t’ want to get into the whole financial model, but briefly, 300m theatrical gross means 150m to the studio, then you have DVD/Blu-ray, TV, Cable, etc, etc so that’s how you get to profitability….)  Now, is there 300m in global theatrical gross out there for a Carson of Venus move, properly marketed, and well -produced?

Well, that’s just about what John Carter has made and it did so with the worst marketing campaign in the history of cinema (well, it seems that way), and with no real established fan base to begin with.  Now, Carson would hopefully be able to attract the now-established John Carter fan base who, true, would rather have John Carter (and maybe they will get him eventually), but Carson is certainly a cousin of John Carter and worthy of support.

So if you have an established fan base that will support Carson, and if you have a marketing team who gets it and knows how to sell the picture, and if John Carter having neither of those did 300m — then the argument that Carson could probably do at least 400m is not an unreasonable proposition.

Where Will the Financing Come From?

Yes, a US studio might come up with the financing.  But why not a consortium of Russia, China, and the US?  John Carter was a big hit in Russia and China and those are huge territories.   Let’s bring in financing from there to lower the risk for the US studio.

Am I dreaming?

I think it can be done.

Here’s some Venus Art by Paul Privatera just to get you in the mood.

 

 

And for a very nice summary of Pirates of Venus — go to Realm of Ryan.

49 thoughts on “Is it time for Hollywood to start thinking about Edgar Rice Burroughs’ other great interplanetary series — Carson of Venus?

  1. On the other hand maybe you are right. As a ERB fan I would love to see his work on the screen. I’ve been looking up more on the story and it’s as visually rich as AVATAR and that would be to it’s advantage.

  2. On the otherhand maybe you are right. As a ERB fan I would love to see his work on the screen. I’ve been looking up more on the story and it’s as visually rich as AVATAR and that would be to it’s advantage.

  3. Michael, I’m reading your book right now, interesting read. Maybe I’m wrong on this, but unless a successful John Carter sequel is launched, no one will be interested in a Carson of Venus movie. It’s even less popular than the Barsoom series and it’s too similar to John Carter. Now if a sequel is launched that does well, studios will want to find something similar, in which case it is an advantage to getting some of the market share.

  4. Hi Tim …yes, that was a legit effort. They had the rights from ERB Inc . . . . but eventually lost them, so it’s back on the market now and this project is dead — although it still has a website and some nice artwork (much of it by our pal Jeff Doten of Barsoomia.org) . . . . .

  5. MCR wrote

    I’m agreeing with Pascalahad here-the midichlorians was a bad idea. It robbed the original idea of the Force as being a mystical energy field, just as using a cheap medallion robbed John Carter of the mystery of how he gets back and forth to Barsoom. I like not having it explained out, which is funny considering Stanton’s constant statements about how he doesn’t like to spoon feed an audience explanations. I guess he forgot that.

    I agree completely. We live in a scientific age but some things remain mysterious and hard to explain or understand. Certain types of paranormal activity (remote sensing, which the CIA uses successfully in operations sometimes, I’m not kidding and I know what I’m talking about) is one of them. So the idea that you absolutely have to have a scientific explanation for how JC gets to Mars …. I’m not buying it at all. And if you do need an explanation, it comes at the end, long after the actual transfer from Earth to Mars takes place. But I don’t think you need more than a suggestion of an answer ……Also … having it not be explainable is a big part of the poignancy of Carter being stuck on Earth, yearning to get back…..brilliant stuff. Open your hearts, guys, Burroughs had it right, he really did, and doing it in a movie would sell far better than a book because of all the tools, yada yada I’m not going to repeat myself. (And I know I’m not going to convince you guys who want a scientific explanation.)

  6. I’m agreeing with Pascalahad here-the midichlorians was a bad idea. It robbed the original idea of the Force as being a mystical energy field, just as using a cheap medallion robbed John Carter of the mystery of how he gets back and forth to Barsoom. I like not having it explained out, which is funny considering Stanton’s constant statements about how he doesn’t like to spoon feed an audience explanations. I guess he forgot that.

    And no Ralok making Watson a violin player doesn’t work, except for you.

  7. The midichlorian explanation is perhaps the biggest mistake made by the Star Wars prequels. Just as in John Carter, the scientific rationalizing of the Force asks too much questions:
    – If only a blood test is required to judge the strength of a Jedi, can any scientific practice the test? (doesn’t seem that hard, since results are obtained by the minute using a mundane equipment)
    – Who is tested in the Republic? All citizens? Some who choose to do so? If a lot of citizens are not tested, is there not a risk of having rogue Force users roaming the galaxy?
    – If a citizen is positive at the test, does he have a choice of NOT being trained?
    – Are Force powers obtainable by blood transfusion?
    – Do the Sith use the blood tests in order to detect potential Jedis and just eradicate them during the Empire days? If that’s so, doesn’t that make Obi-Wan and Yoda mass murderers by default?

    As the rationalizing in John Carter asks questions:
    – Why teleporting in the middle of nowhere in Arizona instead of in a city? Why the secretive place since you have to have a medallion AND know the words for it to function?
    – Why did John Carter land in a random place on Barsoom, unconscious and the medallion far away from him?
    – Since we know he can evade the Thern’s watch, and since he knows that they are not impervious to bullets, why did it took ten years for John Carter to get hold of a medallion by a over-complicated ruse?
    – Where is the Thern’s body when Carter gets back to the gold cave. If it was retrieved, why didn’t they destroy Carter’s helpless body?

  8. WOAH WOAH WOAH WOAH DUDE

    YOU DID NOT JUST BACK UP AND SUPPORT THOR BEING AN ALIEN AND MIDOCLHOCRAPS

    I actually think that blending science fiction and fantasy is a good diea! I do not think that the two genres are incompatible . . . ! The problem with the carter style transfer is not the fact that it is a blatant fantasy element (something that might actually HELP people accept the idea of a living mars)

    It is how it would appear visually, and the effect it would have on the story!

  9. Dotar,
    I did love ERB’s description of Carter’s
    spiritual journey, but I agree with Ralok. ..it may not transfer to film. Most film makers stay in the realm of either sci-fi or the occult, not both. That’s why the Force was given a biological explanation (midichlorians) in SW and Thor became an alien in the Avengers. To combine the two worlds makes for convoluted story telling.

  10. also MCR . . . I think you just solved one of the major flaws I had with my Sherlock Holmes fan fiction

    THANKS 😀

  11. learn to ask yourself a simple question MCR . . . this question, can save you from a loooooooot of anger, keep you from stressing . . . a simple question.

    “What if”

  12. YES those are perfectly acceptable changes to an adaption of Sherlock Holmes stories in my opinion!

    As for the astral projection thing

    everything we know about teh scene. . . in a film, we would just be seeing a guy laying on the ground for five mintues, a naked guy to pop out of him . . . and then to fly to mars . . .

    there is a difference ebtween being in john carters head, and seeing john carter

    I can think of a million ways to resolve it of course, but it will never be the same as it was in the book . . .

    Personally, I would use these moments to foreshadow events in later books, artistic interpretations of the birth of barsoom from a mythological standpoint . . .

    I think the key should be in the actual transitioning to mars . . .. him seeing images . . . trees of life, things he cant understand yet . . . .that bring questions . . . .

    and I think all you need to do, to clear away questions of “how did this happen” is to show what john carter saw at the end of the first book . . . perhaps at the beginning?

    It needs to be something that doesnt get in the way of the story

  13. Ralok wrote:

    Sure I would like to see it [John Carter being transported to Mars as in the book] in film . . . but in a movie people will just be horribly distracted by this never explained thing . . . It would be like having a guy in a duck suit walk in at the first act, and nobody notice . . . and for him to just leave

    I am having a real, real hard time with this. People watch films that have a mystical or supernatural component all the time. What this analysis shows that people who think it’s abrupt and ‘unexplained’ probably rushed through the reading of it (like I did as a kid because I couldn’t wait for JC to get to Mars) and didn’t actually let what Burroughs was doing sink in. And it’s not a book/vs film thing, in fact, it’s the other way around. In a book, you have to rely on people to imagine it based purely on the written word. IN film, you have so many things you can use to prepare the audience for something like this. You control the physical look, the lighting, the sound design (hugely, hugely important in a scene like this), music……if you bring all this together in the right way, in the vivid scene as written by ERB with all its beats, I guarantee you audiences would have accepted it not only adequately — it would have been better than the way it was in this movie (and I’m not beating on Andrew) …. because here it just happens — pffft! In Burroughs scene, it takes place over several minutes, and if you imagine using all the tools of film-making to sell it —

    Think about it — here is how it goes:

    First, John Carter is overcome by drowsiness, so that a sense of “delicious dreaminess” overcomes him, and is at the point of giving in to his desire to sleep when he hears horses approaching an attempts to spring to his feet, only to be “horrified to discover the my muscles refused to respond to my will”. He then notices a vapor filling the cave, and concludes initially that he has been overcome by poisonous gas. The sound of horses are revealed to be Apaches, who climb to the entrance of the cave, look at Carter’s prostrate body, and recoil in fear, leaving him where he lies.

    Then, with the Apaches gone, a new terror — from the cave, out of sight to Carter’s rear, the sound of a “low, distinct moaning”. Carter hears it approach, yet he cannot move – he is paralyzed. He ponders his predicament:

    To be held paralyzed, with one’s back toward some horrible and unknown danger from the very sound of which the ferocious Apache warriors turn in wild stampede, as a flock of sheep would madly flee from a pack of wolves, seems to me the last word in fearsome predicaments for a man who had ever been used to fighting for his life with all the energy of a powerful physique.

    He lies still, unable to move, until near midnight, when suddenly he hears the moaning again.

    The shock to my already overstrained nervous system was terrible in the extreme, and with a superhuman effort I strove to break my awful bonds. It was an effort of the mind, of the will, of the nerves; not muscular, for I could not move even so much as my little finger, but none the less mighty for all that. And then something gave, there was a momentary feeling of nausea, a sharp click as of the snapping of a steel wire, and I stood with my back against the wall of the cave facing my unknown foe.

    Carter stands above the “lifeless clay” of his former body, and wonders “Have I indeed passed over forever into that other life?” But he can feel his heart pounding; he can feel the cold sweat…..At the entrance to the cave he looks into the Arizona moonlit landscape.

    My attention was quickly riveted by a large red star close to the distant horizon. As I gazed upon it I felt a spell of overpowering fascination—it was Mars, the god of war, and for me, the fighting man, it had always held the power of irresistible enchantment. As I gazed at it on that far-gone night it seemed to call across the unthinkable void, to lure me to it, to draw me as the lodestone attracts a particle of iron.
    My longing was beyond the power of opposition; I closed my eyes, stretched out my arms toward the god of my vocation and felt myself drawn with the suddenness of thought through the trackless immensity of space. There was an instant of extreme cold and utter darkness.

    Next, under the Chapter title “My Advent on Mars”, Carter relates:

    I opened my eyes upon a strange and weird landscape. I knew that I was on Mars; not once did I question either my sanity or my wakefulness. I was not asleep, no need for pinching here; my inner consciousness told me as plainly that I was upon Mars as your conscious mind tells you that you are upon Earth. You do not question the fact; neither did I.

    A great film-maker could sell that scene so powerfully ………and enrich the film with all the resonant, thematic things that are embedded in it — fear, life, death, rebirth, spiritual yearning ……..did he just die? Is this what happens at the moment of death? Was John Carter fated to go to Barsoom? How does this affect the way we, the viewers, react to what he finds when he get to Barsoom?

    A film is not just moving pictures of words on a page. It is a symphony of elements that the director orchestrates to achieve the willing suspension of the audience’s disbelief, and their acceptance of the world of the film.

    As far as the point about it not being explained — the audience would not miss that at all at the moment it happens, it’s a mystery to be revealed later. The “fix” could have been to supply some explanation in the backend of the story, although I’m not convinced that would be necessary if the scene sold itself the way I know it could.

  14. Ralok wrote:
    ‘At the very least Andrew Stanton had the curtesy of using an idea that Edgar Rice Burroughs had, that being having a dead wife and daughter to help be a motivating factor for the character!

    This is a Burroughs idea, even though it is for a different character.”

    Yes and by that rationale if someone made a Sherlock Holmes movie and decided that Watson should have a brother who works for the Secret Service, plays the violin and falls to his “death” on the Reichenbach falls that would be OK for you? I mean it’s the same concept Doyle used for Holmes but for a different character.

    It is not a courtesy to use the same idea for different purposes. Where did Stanton say he got the idea of Carter’s useless dead family from? It wasn’t Burroughs but his valued Pixar Brain Trust so no he didn’t get it from A Princess of Mars. But then again I know Ralok-Andrew Stanton can’t make a mistake can he? No he’s not the Devil, he’s an overrated cartoon director being put on a pedestal by people like you who can’t see that he has flaws in his storytelling. You have no problem pointing out ERB”s but when it comes to Stanton you either don’t want to admit it or don’t see it.

  15. the whole thing about the “Astral Projection” in the books (it isnt really astral projection, but the name seems to have stuck)

    is that it is an interesting literary concept . . . but it doesn’t really work for film . . .

    Sure I would like to see it in film . . . but in a movie people will just be horribly distracted by this never explained thing . . . It would be like having a guy in a duck suit walk in at the first act, and nobody notice . . . and for him to just leave

    no matter what people are going to say “dude what was up with the duck guy”

    you can put a book down, and think about it phylosphically . . . but a film is being played too you . . . .

    it is a consequence of a change of media, for example . . . the duck guy could make perfect sense, the characters can understand him . . . a book can take the time to explain the duck guy . . . you cant in a film . . .

  16. see you are mistaken again MCR

    As far as Tars Tarkas knew . . . she was dead, he had no idea that his daughter was alive!

    And yes, I can explain that! Film is a different medium, and when adapting something . . . the person at the helm has a different vision!

    Try to wrap your head around this MCR . . . it is impossible for people to view the story in the same way, to view the character in the same way. Just because other filmamkers wouldnt have made that decision doesnt make it invalid!

    At the very least Andrew Stanton had the curtesy of using an idea that Edgar Rice Burroughs had, that being having a dead wife and daughter to help be a motivating factor for the character!

    This is a Burroughs idea, even though it is for a different character.

    You need to stop pretending that Andrew Stanton is the devil okay, because he isnt . . . and the film isnt garbage!

    It is never healthy to be such a huge fan, as to perceive any change as a a direct insult to the material. Nobody wants to directly insult the work that they are adapting (save for maybe Gullivars Travels)

    Stop hating everything . . . What do oyu like anyways? do you just sit there and read the original books over and over? Grimacing at every new John Carter work?

    We are not going to see a John Carter film done by edgar Rice Burroughs . . . . he was not a film maker, and he has passed from this world! SO JUST MOVE ON DANGIT!!!!!!!!!

  17. Ha, I’ll pile on with MCR on this one. The “lazy astral projection” thing gets my goat. Puhlease go back and re-read it. There’s nothing lazy about it. I’ll repost my discussion of this from John Carter and the Gods of Hollywood:

    This opening sequence reveals much about Burroughs style and peculiar narrative gifts. Much has been made of the fact that he dispenses with any attempt at scientific explanation of John Carter’s passage to Mars, and this is often referred to as a liability. Very little has been written about the very spiritual nature of how Burroughs engineers the passage; how John Carter experiences death or at least a death-like state in the cave in Arizona; how he is unsure as to whether he has passed into the afterlife; and how he then feels an intense longing for Mars before being drawn there and awakening naked, a newborn, among the newborn Tharks. With images of death and rebirth; of peculiar creatures at the first moment of their lives paired with Carter at the first moment of his advent on Barsoom, Burroughs has deftly propelled the reader through time and space to a moment of rebirth with Carter – a moment of spiritual and corporeal renewal on a new world. Earth is left behind; Carter does not mention it, he does not think of it; he does not yearn for it. He is, by implication, precisely where he is meant to be, and the reader is right there with him, ready to explore, ready to be immersed in a world which thus far has been revealed only in one small way — an ochre desert, and incubator, and fifteen foot high green warriors.

    I would argue that the “kidnapped by a Thern medallion” has no real scientific value, and is really the most radical departure Stanton made from Burroughs, since it meant that instead of being in a situation on Mars where his objective was to win respect, build alliances, and “make it” on Barsoom, Carter’s objective was completely flipped to “I want to go home to my cave of gold.” That’s a very, very profound change.

    I don’t hate it ….. don’t love it. I think what saves it is that Stanton is playing with the gap between Carter’s conscious objective (cave of gold) and unconscious objective (find meaning in life through engagement with others)……..Stanton’s story is about watching that gap close. But I would have preferred to have John Carter on Mars with no thought that there might be a way back to earth…..just like the books.

  18. MCR wrote:

    Both of you seem to be forgetting that Andrew Stanton is not the original author and that these are his changes. As seen in other screenplays and attempts none of the other filmmakers who attempted a John Carter of Mars movie decided or felt that Carter needed a dead family. You want to explain that?

    Just riling’ you up a little.

    I’m not really defending the choice, MCR. You know I’ve said on here plenty of times I would have gone another way. I do defend his right to make such a choice and not have it treated as if it were the stupidest decision in the history of movie-making, which is how you come off when you bash Stanton over this.

    Since ERB’s John Carter doesn’t remember anything other than being about 30 years old — you cannot unequivocally say that he never had a wife.

    Oh … that’s it!!! Now I know!! Carter’s memory problem in the books was caused by the traumatic death of his wife and daughter! Of course!
    😉

  19. woodythewino wrote:
    ” I love ERB,”

    And yet you think Carson of Venus is nothing more than a ripoff of John Carter. Have you ever read the Carson books? They are not just ripoffs of the Barsoom series.

    “IMO. For example, the Thern modification made for a much better explanation for Carter’s travel to Mars than the lazy astral projection from the book. ”

    Yeah shape shifting Sith lords are always improvements, even if they are cliched and poorly defined. I’m amazed how many so called ERB fans can’t seem to think the man did anything right yet seem to praise Stanton to as the greatest filmmaker ever. Seriously who are you a fan of?

  20. Dotar Sojat says:
    July 13, 2012 at 3:41 pm
    Ralok said:

    The “dead wife and daughter” story wasnt needless when it was Tars Tarkas’ story.

    Touche!
    MCR?

    Uh-uh. Except the daughter wasn’t dead and the wife provided a motivation for Tars-his attempts to rise up in the Thark ranks to get to the point where he could challenge Tal Hajus and get his revenge for their deaths. Compare that to Stanton’s Mopey Carter and his dead family. It seems the only motivation it provided was to turn him into a whiny loner who doesn’t want to help anyone. Also it was the back story provided by the original author. Both of you seem to be forgetting that Andrew Stanton is not the original author and that these are his changes. As seen in other screenplays and attempts none of the other filmmakers who attempted a John Carter of Mars movie decided or felt that Carter needed a dead family. You want to explain that?

  21. Ralok said:

    The “dead wife and daughter” story wasnt needless when it was Tars Tarkas’ story.

    Touche!
    MCR?

  22. The “dead wife and daughter” story wasnt needless when it was Tars Tarkas’ story.

    That is pretty much all that was done, they gave John Carter the story of . . . well lets be honest, the far more interesting character from the book.

  23. I’m not interested in a JC ripoff…even if it was penned by the same author. What drew me to POM in the first place was its originality. I think the Valley Dor, Sea of Korus, and Kaolian jungle will provide awesome landscapes in the sequels (rest assured).

    As for MCR’s comlaints, they sound like those voiced when the X-Men traded their rainbow colored spandex for their on-screen leather. Stanton was trying to make the movie as realistic as possible while still preserving the best parts of the story, which he did IMO. For example, the Thern modification made for a much better explanation for Carter’s travel to Mars than the lazy astral projection from the book. And the “needless” dead family was far more believable as Carter’s motivator than corny puppy love. I love ERB, but the changes Stanton made were absolutely necessary,

  24. Star Wars IS an origin story, the origin of Luke. You experiment the story through his eyes. The first name of the original trilogy, if I’m not mistaken, was “The Adventures of Luke Starkiller”. This whole business with Darth Vader turning out to be Luke’s father is an afterthought, a brilliant move of Lucas while he wrote the second draft of The Empire Strikes Back.

    I don’t think you can spare an origin story in the case of Carson Napier. You have to buy that this guy is crazy enough to jump alone into a rocket to go to Mars on his own, and that later he is able to build from scratch a plane! An eccentric millionaire or rich heir, part-time plane engineer, would fit the bill (a guy that read ERB’s Barsoom novels, and who believes them to be true, as they are indeed in the fictional ERB’s world), in fact a character not that far from a Tony Stark indeed, the idea of somebody like Robert Downey Jr is great. Unless you play it strictly for comedy, but I don’t like this idea. I think you have to establish Carson on earth solidly (perhaps with an oversized ego that will get tampered on Amtor) before sending him in space.

  25. Gregory Paris wrote

    I think MCR is right about Carson of Venus being the story to film. Could the character’s backstory be told concisely enough to allow for both in one film?

    I think one of the lessons learned from John Carter (and something that Lucas apparently figured out) was that in some cases it may be best to start with something other than the origins story. I think a brief opening prologue or even something done in an opening credit title sequence would be all that’s needed. The tricky part, though, is that it means the romance that is a main hook of the first story is already “settled business”…..so there’s that to consider.

  26. Oh, and Carson’s propensity for mistakes and mishaps should be kept – it keeps him ERB’s most recognizably human hero. Is the word “relatable” nowadays?

  27. I think MCR is right about Carson of Venus being the story to film. Could the character’s backstory be told concisely enough to allow for both in one film?

    Another thing is that I think Carson should be rooted in his own time, the pre-WWII 20th century; the character’s recognition of the parallels between Earth’s politics and Venus’ politics creates much of the books’ satiric charm.

  28. I hate . . . to be the one to poitn this out MCR

    “That depends. Will we get Mopey Napier, a pointless dead family, the villains rewritten as shape shifting Sith Lords who come to Earth and other concepts like moving cities or junk jewelry with silly phrases to say in order to go places?”

    But there are things like this in the Carson of Venus series . . . he decides to leave earth because there is nothing left for him on it (his family is dead)

    there are aircraft carrier sized moving tanks, and a hypnotic wizard . . . carsons on abilities could be used to make things appear to change shape . . .

    There is some awfully evil dudes on venus too . . . not exactly sith-lord like . . . but . . . pretty evil, animating the dead evil . . .

    No cosmic jewelry that I can remember though

    I think the problems with Carson of Venus are simple to solve, instead of his adventures being that of a bumbling idiot . . . how about making him take the initiative to explore this world?

    He takes command of a ship at the end . . . he has a crew (how about we make the bird people not turn on him) his attempts at repairing the maps made by venusian scientists . . . could be the crux of his adventures

    seeing blank regions, or things that dont make sense . . . having him actually explore the world . . .

    a journey of discovery on the seas of an alien world . . .

  29. Most of the issues with a Carson of Venus story can be solved ralatively easy . . .

    keeping him on the boat! turning his adventures into willing exploration, instead of him getting lost every time he tries to find the bathroom.

  30. MCR wrote:

    I would love to believe that. And if it does come to pass then I’m on board for it. I just hope that it can be treated with the care it deserves.

    Believe it. And put your thinking cap on. They’re no reason we can’t be a Think Tank that helps ERB Inc in these matters. Just try to keep the cynicism in check and BELIEVE. Just a little. Or maybe a little more than that. 😉

  31. Dotar Sojat wrote:
    ” In the case of John Carter there were elements in his backstory (what little ERB gives us) that you could see leading to where Stanton took it. ”

    Yeah right to Josey Wales’ front door. Or Ethan Edwards’. There was no elements there concerning a dead family. In fact most some of the seeds of Carter’s life is he had never fallen in love and having felt that for the first time it drove him to action. Again you’re defending Stanton and now using ERB’s back story-basically a Confederate captain who goes west to find his fortune-as an excuse for this? Oy vey!

    “Carson Napier?
    Come on, nobody in his right mind could take to mopeyville and you know it. ”

    Well I never though John Carter with his “I still live” attitude could be taken there either so anything is possible.

    “We have plenty of very smart people right here who could allow us to seize the initiative and craft at least a treatment that would suggest solutions that strengthen it without losing the Burroughs unique flavor. There’s nothing stopping any of us from doing it and there’s every opportunity for that to become part of the thought process that leads to an adaptation.”

    I would love to believe that. And if it does come to pass then I’m on board for it. I just hope that it can be treated with the care it deserves.

  32. Whoa, you’re calling $150m “low budget”?
    hehehehee.. no, I’m calling a $15m budget (if $1.5m), a low budget. I was thinking more along the lines of Asylum’s attempt.

    Asylum’s budget was $300,000….anyway, as long as you weren’t calling $150m low budget, I get it. 😉

  33. Whoa, you’re calling $150m “low budget”? 😉

    hehehehee.. no, I’m calling a $15m budget (if $1.5m), a low budget. I was thinking more along the lines of Asylum’s attempt. I don’t see their budget right off hand, but you know… something without Vasquez Rocks in every other scene. (as much as I think Vasquez… rocks :)

  34. Pascalahad …those are all good thoughts and should be fleshed out. There’s just so much to work with and maybe the way to get the right kind of story changes, as opposed to the wrong ones, would be for people here who actually “get” what Burroughs is about to give it some thought and discussion, as you have done here. Thanks for that……we should flesh it out into a beat outline, or perhaps have different people do different versions and then react/talk about them.

    Believe me — I know that sometimes it feels like, what difference could we make — especially when you’re watching Hollywood from far, far away. But I’m sitting here in the middle of it and call me crazy if you like, but I think we have some credibility and by “we” I mean the fans and this site in particular because of the fact that people here put together fan trailers that show we “get it” (our trailers are getting 90+ “likes” to every “dislike”, a ratio that’s more than 10 times better than the official trailers) as well as some very good creative and analytical work done in the comments. We have a brain trust here that may not be Pixar but it’s not to be easily dismissed. If our brain trust here started formulating ideas around Carson (or other Burroughs series) we might even get a seat at the table in some fashion.

  35. MCR wrote

    That depends. Will we get Mopey Napier, a pointless dead family, the villains rewritten as shape shifting Sith Lords who come to Earth and other concepts like moving cities or junk jewelry with silly phrases to say in order to go places?

    Your bitterness of DJC is just eating you up, isn’t it? In the case of John Carter there were elements in his backstory (what little ERB gives us) that you could see leading to where Stanton took it. Civil war veteran alone sets up the “war-weary” thing, and if you read between the lines of ERB’s prose (first person from John Carter, who wasn’t about to display anything to the audience he didn’t want to about his situation or story) it’s possible to read his comments about being in possession of worthless confederate dollars and wanting to start anew as things that could (not must, just could) lead someone down the path that Stanton chose. You don’t like the fact that he chose that path, but the seeds of it were there on the page.

    Carson Napier?
    Come on, nobody in his right mind could take to mopeyville and you know it. From the moment Carson contacts Burroughs in the frame story, there’s nothing that could remotely land on “mopey”, and his backstory too keeps that from being a possibility. Let go if that.

    If you can get someone who takes it seriously and with the respect it deserves than I will say “its not bad, it works.” And be happy to do so.

    We have plenty of very smart people right here who could allow us to seize the initiative and craft at least a treatment that would suggest solutions that strengthen it without losing the Burroughs unique flavor. There’s nothing stopping any of us from doing it and there’s every opportunity for that to become part of the thought process that leads to an adaptation.

  36. Dotar Sojat wrote:
    “Oh yes, there will be changes. But in this case, would that be such a horrible thing?”

    That depends. Will we get Mopey Napier, a pointless dead family, the villains rewritten as shape shifting Sith Lords who come to Earth and other concepts like moving cities or junk jewelry with silly phrases to say in order to go places?

    You say it yourself: “it’s that the changes that are made are made by someone who is intimately aware of Burroughs at his best.” And that’s fine but when you end up with the changes made in John Carter-which was not even close to Burroughs-then you end up with a non-Burroughs film. I’m not saying that Pirates of Venus may not benefit from being streamlined but in a way that is in keeping with Burroughs, not just because the director or screenwriter thinks he or she is better than Burroughs or thinks “that would be cool” or “we need to make the character damaged goods since I don’t like him in the books.” If you can get someone who takes it seriously and with the respect it deserves than I will say “its not bad, it works.” And be happy to do so.

  37. Maybe I’m too critical, I’ll try to stay positive and imagine the movie:

    What would you focus on? To me, the most important would be Vepaja and his ecosystem. Pretty good stuff, and unique-looking. HUGE trees, carved inside so that the overall look doesn’t remind people too much of the Ewok tree houses. I know I was pretty disappointed when the story went on ground level and became a simple piracy story (well, at least the title wasn’t lying!).

    I didn’t find the Thorists very compelling as villains. They’re a very heavy-handed communist metaphor, and simply not that interesting.

    I would make Carson follow Duare’s kidnappers (who would they be?) instead of relying on utter coincidence to have the two reunited. In fact I would pair them as soon as possible, in order for them to get them to know each other. I would in fact base their relationship more on Natpe and Carson, than on Duare and Carson, because Duare’s “don’t you ever talk to me about love cause I’m a Jong’s daughter” will quickly become annoying. And I would let the romance flow without Carson insisting that much about his feelings towards her, either.

    I would let most of the adventures as written, ESPECIALLY the parts when Duare (or Natpe) saves Carson! That way you can really show how Burroughs’ heroines were ahead of their time.

    I would then make them meet Skor directly at Kormor, and let them flee to Havatoo after that, the “perfect society”. I think I would put a more ironic spin on this “perfect society” than Burroughs, who seems to genuinely love it in his descriptions. I would probably end the movie on a climactic battle between Kormor and Havatoo (perhaps Carson let the undead enter Havatoo, as a diversion to save Duare), with Carson and Duare eventually fleeing in the anotar.

    The problem is how connecting the two parts of the movie, Vepaja and Havatoo/Kormor, because it’s quite a stretch in mood and settings. I didn’t feel in the novel that connection that permeated every barsoomian micro-society, however strange they seemed.

  38. Atoz wrote

    I’m also concerned that a low-budget attempt of Venus might spoil the show for those of us that know how wonderfully these books could look with today’s technology.

    Whoa, you’re calling $150m “low budget”? 😉

  39. I’m also concerned that a low-budget attempt of Venus might spoil the show for those of us that know how wonderfully these books could look with today’s technology. I guess the upside of JC’s ‘bomb’ is that there are not a bunch of quick-rush-to-the-bucks attempts to muddy the genre, like there were after Star Wars. There are a bunch of ERB’s ‘one offs’ that could be adapted, like Torn or Beyond the Farthest Star… plenty of good stories to go around.

    I too think that Avatar (the lush scenery and the animals created for the show) were ideal for a Venus story, and especially thought the horses were well done for that movie. I have Roy Krenkel’s cover art of the Klangan in mind.

    The pace of the Venus series to me (from what I remember from the last reading, years ago) would have been great for the screen. It was always an “out of the frying pan” kind of thing. (the expression on Lynn/Dejah’s face when she was hanging from the front of the airship made me say “yep, they got it, that’s Burroughs…” )

    “I just said I’d like to visit it.” Just then my propeller flew off…

  40. MCR wrote

    I do agree with Pascalahad though, the first two books are very episodic, though I think workable as long as again the writers or director don’t go all Stanton on them and think they can improve it.

    Hmmm….you and Pascalahad on the one hand are criticizing Burroughs work in a way that kind of reminds me of Stanton talking about APOM…;-)

    Yet you’re saying you hope the writers or director “don’t go all Stanton on them and think they can improve it.”

    So you’re basically saying — like it or leave it? Buy into exactly what Burroughs wrote and put it on the screen that way, or move on and do something else? Because I think we all know that’s not how Hollywood works. Oh yes, there will be changes. But in this case, would that be such a horrible thing?

    My thought: The key to it is not that there should be no changes — it’s that the changes that are made are made by someone who is intimately aware of Burroughs at his best (across his whole catalogue), and who gently and insightfully makes changes that “improve” the story not by going off in random directions or doing thing that are distinctly “un-Burroughsian”, but by doing things that are “Burroughsian” so that a) the audience unfamiliar with Burroughs gets ERB at his best onscreen, and b) the audience who is intimately familiar with Burroughs looks at the changes and goes ….. not bad, that works.

  41. Pascalahad wrote

    The Venus series I see as very problematic to put on the silver screen, way much more than Barsoom. If the filmmakers saw A Princess of Mars as episodic, what would they think of the Venus series! It’s really a travelogue, and once Carson has recued Duare, there’s really no underlying narrative other than reaching Korva, it reads more like a tv show than a story made for movies. Vepaja is a great and unique environment, but after that it’s less distinctive. Havatoo/Kormor is interesting, more than the Thorists, but we are overfed with zombies in every media now. The birdmen are great, but we see very few of them. All the parts of Amtor don’t mesh very well in my opinion.
    I was not bored at all by the series, but I’m just not sure how you could adapt it for a movie.

    ERB gave us a character (Carson) and a world (Amtor). The problems that you describe are problems if the film-makers stick exactly to the stories as written but you/we all know they won’t do that, and maybe in this case it’s justified. Don’t you think that, armed with money, talented writers and a talented director, it would be possible to fashion a great story using those elements, based on one or the other of the books? Hell that doesn’t even take millions of dollars — it just takes a smart writer who understands Burroughs at his best and fashions a screenplay that when it deviates, does so in a manner that echoes the best of Burroughs. There are some people who frequent this site who could probably do that, no?

    Steve Davidson wrote

    Sigh. Groan.

    Why? I usually know what will set you off. You are, as I understand it, a big fan of Burroughs and your objection to the Disney John Carter was the way it was adapted. Now …. this is talking about another series entirely with a chance for a fresh start and an opportunity to “get it right”. Why, then — “Sigh. Groan.”? Is it because you have a low opinion of this series? Do you think the logic of a $150m production with the “bar” set at $300m theatrical gross needed to have it be regarded as successful is fundamentally flawed? That Burroughs has been so damaged by Disney John Carter that there is no hope for recovery? Enlighten me, please.

  42. Dengor Don wrote,

    What do you know about how Angelic Pictures is coming along on their movie version called Carson Napier?
    http://www.angelicpictures.com/carson.htm

    They no longer have the rights — the rights have reverted back to Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. I’m glad you mentioned it, as I should have explained that in the article so I’m going to update it now with that info.

  43. I am in favor more movies from any of Edgar Rice Burroughs books, provided they are quality productions. Personally I think that The Outlaw of Torn would make a great movie if we can’t get any more planetary adventures. The Pellucidar series would also make good movies if done right.

    What do you know about how Angelic Pictures is coming along on their movie version called Carson Napier?
    http://www.angelicpictures.com/carson.htm

  44. I’ll play non-contrarian and say yes, I would love a Carson of Venus movie. But there are some hiccups though to getting one:

    The character. I think you’re right about playing Carson as closer to Downey’s Tony Stark, possibly crossed with Indiana Jones as we talked about before. The character could be a fun man as long as a screenwriter and/or director doesn’t decide to go all Mopey on us, even though if I remember correctly Burroughs did provide at least enough of a back story for Carson to avoid Josey Whaling him.

    The look of Amtor. This might be the biggest problem, both with FX and the look. A friend of mine who saw it said in his mind that Pandora from Avatar was Amtor and considering the number of people who complained that John Carter was a ripoff of Avatar that might be a problem. Also with the idea of the characters living in trees and the oceans that’s going to need a lot of CGI. But a budget conscious director and studio still could do it and make it look good.

    I do agree with Pascalahad though, the first two books are very episodic, though I think workable as long as again the writers or director don’t go all Stanton on them and think they can improve it. The funny thing is the third book, Carson of Venus, could be made into a smart political satire that would probably work in today’s landscape.

    So I think Carson can work. As long as Duare isn’t a blue-faced woman and her father a mutant.

  45. The Venus series I see as very problematic to put on the silver screen, way much more than Barsoom. If the filmmakers saw A Princess of Mars as episodic, what would they think of the Venus series! It’s really a travelogue, and once Carson has recued Duare, there’s really no underlying narrative other than reaching Korva, it reads more like a tv show than a story made for movies.

    Vepaja is a great and unique environment, but after that it’s less distinctive. Havatoo/Kormor is interesting, more than the Thorists, but we are overfed with zombies in every media now. The birdmen are great, but we see very few of them. All the parts of Amtor don’t mesh very well in my opinion.

    I was not bored at all by the series, but I’m just not sure how you could adapt it for a movie.

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