Andrew Stanton hasn’t spoken publicly about John Carter since the release of the film. He broke his silence in an interview with the LA Times Rebecca Keegan which is published in the Sep 8 LA Times. No big surprises but definitely worth a read:
Director Andrew Stanton looks back on ‘John Carter’s’ rocky path
The Pixar veteran reflects on the tough journey to and from his Mars-themed film, which bombed in theaters, and says ultimately, he’s proud of ‘John Carter.’
When his movie “John Carter” thudded into theaters in March, director Andrew Stanton escaped to New York and spent the next three weeks riding the subway, noodling on scripts and visiting with his daughter and some friends.
For the first time since he started at Pixar Animation Studiosin 1990 at age 24, Stanton was facing an unfamiliar sensation — the gut punch of a public failure in an industry that hardly shelters it. The film had forced Walt Disney Studios to take a $200-million write-down and helped lead to the departure of two top executives.
Now, as he processes the experience, he’s still a bit bewildered by his movie’s “Ishtar”-like reception. He concedes he was taken aback by the creative and cultural leap between animation and live action. And rather than blame the studio, he says he’s actually surprised by how much freedom he was granted.
“I was left alone from Day One to the last day,” he said in an interview last week, his first since the film’s troubled release.
His experience illustrates, among other things, the risks of making movies that are too big to fail, and how the fallout travels in many directions.
With “John Carter,” he had hoped to bring his Pixar success to a live-action film. But between its development and its release the leadership at Walt Disney Studios changed, and new top man Rich Ross installed a new marketing chief and head of production. (Ross and his marketing chief, MT Carney, both left in the months surrounding the film’s release). By Hollywood conventional wisdom, a regime change would lead to shuttered projects and creative disputes.
Stanton was surprised, however, when the opposite happened and he got little push-back at all. “I thought, ‘Are we gonna lose the green light?’ In the very beginning I assumed it would be like that, cause who’s gonna give me the keys to a Ferrari if I’ve never driven before?,” he said. “But studios are not set up like that. They’re like, ‘Go and drive the car and don’t drive it off a bridge.'”
Instead of looking over the shoulder of an animator in an office, Stanton was shooting in sandstorms in the Utah desert and working within the spontaneous, adrenaline-fueled culture of a set full of actors, cameramen and grips. He also learned, while still in the scripting stage, that he had high-functioning attention deficit disorder.
In 2007, when he wrote his first draft, adapting it from a 1917Edgar Rice Burroughs novel, he and Disney executives hoped the movie would launch a lucrative new sci-fi franchise. On its release critics praised the visuals but knocked the story as messy and overlong. It opened to a lackluster $30 million in the U.S., although it went on to gross $283 million worldwide, not nearly enough to pay off the studio’s hefty investment of more than $250 million plus marketing, nor warrant the sequel Stanton had begun outlining.