NOTE: First, many thanks to all those who have taken the time and trouble to review John Carter and the Gods of Hollywood on Amazon. There re 29 reviews so far and that’s excellent evidence to anyone who stops by there that people are reading the book and that the subject matter is interesting. The results so far — 26 five star, 2 four start, 1 two star — are also very gratifying.
That said, there’s a bit of a battle going on ever there in that every time a new favorable review comes up, there is someone lurking who immediately votes “No” to the “Was this Review Helpful?” It’s like clockwork — the first vote for each review is “no”. It’s a clear effort to diminish the prominence of each positive review. Now that’s fine, but if someone is going to be that diligent in trying to pull the book down, then I need to be equally diligent in making sure that each review is brought to the attention of people who may find it helpful.
Abraham Sherman, who wrote this review, is one of our regular readers here and very knowledgable of all things Burroughs.
Again — please vote on the “was this helpful” function! If you truly find it unhelpful and vote “no”, so be it. Not trying to cook the books here – but John Carter always seems to pull in some negativity from certain quarters, and the positivity side of things needs a voice too, and hopefully there are those reading this who will find the review helpful.
A Gift to ERB Fans, A Gentle Reprimand to an Industry, A Stirring of Hope for Good Things Ahead
I began tracking the world of John Carter filmmaking in the year 2000. What a journey it has been! And it promises to continue to be adventurous.
When my search began, Disney was at the tail end of its first cinematic courtship of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ inspiring and captivating world of Barsoom. ERB’s historical science-fantasy rendering of the planet Mars had been awing and inspiring readers for 88 years already. And Disney had not been the first to try to bring Barsoom to the screen. Despite a long history of failed filmmaking attempts, and in large part BECAUSE the project kept coming back up for consideration decade after decade, there was a palpable sense among ERB fans that a film would be made, someday. It was just a matter of who would end up making it. And when.
In 2001, Disney let the rights expire and there was a short period of limbo before Paramount picked them up in 2002, in the wake of “Fellowship of the Ring”. The next four years of attempts at Paramount were an exercise in patience and optimism, as, one after the other, film directors Guillermo Del Toro, Robert Rodriguez, Kerry Conran and Jon Favreau each took a turn at attempting to bring Barsoom to the screen, all to no avail. For reasons documented in Sellers’ book, each filmmaker moved on to other projects and the rights returned to ERB Inc. in 2006.
Disney reacquired the rights shortly thereafter. The involvement of Pixar’s Andrew Stanton was confirmed, and curiosity was piqued once more among the ERB fans. Many fans breathed a sigh of relief when the film started principal photography in 2010. The following two years were full of heightened optimism, and heightened expectations. A century-old, highly influential, beloved classic was about to be brought to the screen.
The film proved to be a solid and enjoyable experience. But due to factors largely beyond the control of the production team, it failed at the box office. Expectations and hopes of a sweeping franchise accompanied by an ERB renaissance remained unmet. One film was made, and many people did discover the books for the first time, but there was no mistaking that the outcome had fallen far short of what it could have been.
This book by Michael D. Sellers looks back over the hundred years of the living history of a literary creation that continues to influence imaginative storytelling, far beyond the Disney film. Sellers’ book reflects on the history of the source material, but ultimately encourages us to focus on what the future may hold for John Carter and the world of Barsoom onscreen.
For those who did not experience the decades of anticipation leading up to this film, and who have perhaps only recently learned of ERB’s existence and exceptional legacy, this book is the next best thing to having lived it. Sellers has essentially provided the “Cliff’s Notes” version of years of ERB and John Carter fandom.
“John Carter and the Gods of Hollywood” compellingly and thoroughly describes a slow-motion box-office train wreck – a derailment brought on by questionable corporate decision-making, bungled marketing, and the realities of an exceptionally ambitious and challenging film adaptation. The behind-the-curtain peek into the machinations of Hollywood provided in these pages is a compelling drama on its own, of interest to fans of movies in general and anyone who is curious about how films are made and sold.
Burroughs’ exceptional, inspirational and brilliantly imaginative world of Barsoom deserves better from the film industry, and with the passion and commitment of enthusiasts like Sellers, and many others, that day may yet come, whether in the form of a sequel to the existing film, or a reboot to give us another cinematic Barsoom from scratch.