A Film Without a Home: Who Really Made John Carter? by Daniel Bergamini

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This is from Daniel Bergamini at The Deleted Scene. It cites a video released by an animator on the film who says all creative direction came from Pixar — and indirectly raises an interesting question — what would have happened if, instead of branding John Carter as Disney, the powers that be had let the actual true branding (Pixar) be used? There was no actual creative control exerted by anyone at Disney; the director, two producers, and two writers all hailed from Pixar as did a bunch of the crew, and as Stanton said, the “Pixar process” was much in mind throughout. I just wonder if the tsunami of negativity in advance would have been the same if this had been branded firmly as “Pixar’s First Live Action/Animation combo film”? We’ll never know.

A Film Without a Home: Who Really Made John Carter?

by Daniel Bergamini

Six months after the disastrous release of Andrew Stanton’s John Carter, it is somewhat easier now to look back and explore some of the more interesting questions left unanswered. The primary of which, largely ignored in the midst of the schadenfreude, is who really made John Carter?

It is not a question of blame, as I firmly believe John Carter is a great film. Rather, while most parties claimed it was entirely a Disney film, Pixar’s fingers prints are all over it.

After the rights of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ classic series were purchased by Disney executive Dick Cook, for Stanton to direct, no one involved knew if it would be animated or live-action. From the very beginning, the question of whether it would be a Pixar or Disney film was seemingly up in the air. Stanton told /Film in 2008, “There’s been no discussion about exactly how it will be distributed or what moniker it will be under.” Once it became clear that the film would be live-action, most news sources claimed it would be Pixar’s first live-action effort.

This turned out to be false, at least on the surface. Stanton soon cleared things up, stating that, “It’s being done by Disney, and I’m sort of being loaned out”. Even with Stanton directing, Mark Andrews co-writing and Pixar GM Jim Morris and longtime Pixar producer Lindsey Collins producing, it was still said to be a Disney film. And when those involved in the film say this, why would we doubt them?

Throughout post-production, many clues were dropped that would lead to the assumption that Pixar’s involvement may be deeper than simply loaning out talent. For example, when press were invited to a preview event, it was at Pixar’s headquarters. However, they were told this was simply out of convenience rather than Pixar having any involvement.

In July 2012, Patrick Giusiano, an animator who worked on the film, released a video showcasing his work on John Carter. The video features the original storyboards sent to him by Pixar for him to follow in his animation. I reached out to him, asking whether he received creative direction from Pixar or Disney, and he told me that in fact “dailies [were] video-conferenced from Pixar”. Even if Pixar was simply directing the animation for the film–that is still a larger connection than they previously had admitted to.

Read the rest at The Deleted Scene


  • Dotar Sojat wrote:
    “I just wonder if the tsunami of negativity in advance would have been the same if this had been branded firmly as “Pixar’s First Live Action/Animation combo film”?”

    Probably not. The press has treated Pixar with kid gloves, with blind idol worship for a long time. So probably all the negative press about the budget, the reshoots and Stanton’s ego and his battles with marketing would have been swept under the carpet since who wants to portray the infallible geniuses in a negative light?

    And one thing from the full article: “It may have a PG-13 rating, yet its core focus remains on adventure, heart and humour, like any great Pixar film.”

    Really? What humor was in this film-John Carter’s silly repeat escape attempts? The painful humor of Tars Tarkas being reduced to a wimp? Matai Shang’s gender confusion? Also where was the heart? Does he mean the cliched moments of audience manipulation at its worst (*cough* dead family *cough*) and trying to make us empathize with the self centered Mopey Carter? As for adventure-yeah I guess it was there when it wasn’t badly edited or ripping off movies that ripped off ERB.

    How much of a Stanton altar does this guy have in his bedroom?

  • Unless I’m mistaken there was a key difference, the developement of John Carter was not as collective as other Pixar properties. I never heard that any of the other key members of the Pixar braintrust were involved before the screening of the first cut (same process as Tron Legacy it seems). They got apparently involved just prior to reshoots. So it wasn’t a Pixar movie in that respect.

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