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Lucasfilm’s Starwars.com Website Shows Some Love for John Carter

John Carter of Mars

On StarWars.com, an official site of Lucasfilm and Disney, Bryan Young has a post: The Cinema Behind Star Wars: John Carter.  Must confess I’m a little surprised, as that would be the first Disney promotion of John Carter, even directly, in three and a half years.  (The last post on the John Carter Facebook page, for example, is from July 2, 2012.)   The post begins:

John Carter is a film directed by Pixar alum Andrew Stanton that follows Civil War veteran John Carter on his astounding trip to the planet Barsoom, which we know as Mars. There he meets a princess leading a rebellion, fights against an evil empire, and meets a variety of strange aliens on a desert wasteland of a planet, gets powers far beyond the abilities of normal men, and encounters a strange religion. There are times where he’s captured, thrown into an arena to fight bizarre monsters, and other times where he’s forced to rescue a princess.

It sounds like I could be talking about Star Wars just as easily as John Carter. And since John Carter came out in 2012, you might be thinking, “No! You’ve got it the other way around! John Carter was influenced by Star Wars.”

But you’d be surprised.

Here’s a quote from George Lucas in a 1977 issue of Science Fiction Review: “Originally, I wanted to make a Flash Gordon movie, with all the trimmings, but I couldn’t obtain all the rights. So I began researching and found where [Flash Gordon creator] Alex Raymond got his idea: The works of Edgar Rice Burroughs, especially his John Carter series of books.”

Obviously it’s intended to sell a few more John Carter DVDs and Blu-rays . . . .but that’s to be expected.

Read the full post here, on StarWars.com.

UPDATE:  I read all the way to the end — sure enough, there’s the DVD/Blu-ray pitch — but also a pitch for the books, so good on ya, Bryan Young.

Availability: John Carter is readily available on DVD, Blu-ray, and digitally. It’s available to rent for a modest fee on most streaming video services. The books on which they’re based are available everywhere. Since they’re in the public domain, you can download them for free for your eReaders as well.

19 comments

  • “And, it still makes me angry that Disney just threw it over like a red-headed step child when they were making googly eyes at Star Wars. It was a 100-year old property that deserved some respect and proper treatment; it shouldn’t have been just chucked in the ash can. Although, as they count their billions over the release of the new Star Wars, I’m sure they feel vindicated.”

    Oh joy, another one who subscribes to this crackpot theory. Yeah most studios blow $400 million on “red-headed step children.” And honestly taking Disney to task for failing to give John Carter of Mars and Edgar Rice Burroughs “some respect and proper treatment” while groveling at the feet of Andrew Stanton…what a joke. If there’s someone who blew it there it’s the raging egotist who wasn’t treated like a “red-head step child” but a spoiled brat used to getting what he wanted.

    “Be a little bit fair. How about “where’s the evidence” … that would be fair. The evidence that I see is simply that 98% of what you object to about the character of John Carter does not apply to “John Carter of Mars” ….. once he decides that Barsoom is home, character wise, he appears to be pretty close to JCOM as in the books. That is the biggest piece of evidence that the next movies would be closer to the books. Not close enough to please you, of course. There would still be Therns and mobile Zodanga and myriad other things you hate.”

    I guess you just conveniently ignored a big piece of evidence-Stanton’s stated disdain for the character of John Carter by ERB. You care to explain how with Stanton involved any sequel would have made John Carter close to the books with his attitude towards the character (and the books for that matter)? The evidence was there in the first movie that Stanton had zero respect and would have continued to do so if his movie hadn’t failed. In that case thank Issus for small favors…or “googly eyes” for Star Wars if you still want to go with that bull.

  • Michael Sellers – I have to admit some frustration (a tiny bit) after having read the books that the movie wasn’t a more strict interpretation and definitely saw the possibilities had it been so; but it is still one of my all time favorite movies. And, it still makes me angry that Disney just threw it over like a red-headed step child when they were making googly eyes at Star Wars. It was a 100-year old property that deserved some respect and proper treatment; it shouldn’t have been just chucked in the ash can. Although, as they count their billions over the release of the new Star Wars, I’m sure they feel vindicated.

    Your book was spot on in the analysis of what happened to the movie.

  • Kiki . . . .you make one point I’d like to underscore. That is — the ability to enjoy the movie for what it was, rather than what it was not. I came to it with huge preconceptions because I’d read all the books and had basically seen “A Princess of Mars” in my mind as a mental movie for most of my life. So when I first saw John Carter, I had a hard time . . . .I was affected by others in the audience who loved it (I saw an advance screening, before all the negative reviews were out there)…..and so I tried to love it but didn’t quite “feel it” . . . .and had my objections. Then, at some point — my fourth or fifth viewing …. I kind of relaxed and just took it on its own terms …. and that was my most enjoyment I ever got out of it. Unfortunately, in subsequent viewings, I found myself sliding back toward frustration over what could have been . . . . .and that feeling has solidified over time. Still — that period where I really enjoyed it on its own terms without reference to “what might have been” was a good experience that helps me “get it” when people do fall in love with it.

  • Michael Sellers and MCR: I see… Well, if anybody’s trying to start something over a movie, they are barking up the wrong tree here. I loved the movie, and nothing will change that. Everybody I know that saw it loved it. From my POV there’s room enough in the universe for different opinions – especially about entertainment. I just experienced the movie for what it was without any prejudicial input and loved it. Reading the books only enhanced the experience and increased the desire to see more JCM at the movies. I really hope somebody picks this up – and soon.

    I guess maybe having a 40-year background in photography has allowed me to see that people can experience the very same things completely differently from each other. Going on field trips with a photography class was an eye opener many years ago when the class brought back pictures from the exact location that could have been from different places – even different solar systems – altogether. And its alright if that happens. No threat. No problem. To each his own. You like chocolate; I like vanilla.

    Anyway, thanks for the heads up. MCR, it’s OK with me if you didn’t like the movie. I’m sure another studio will pick up this property, and maybe you’ll like their version.

  • Kiki for context — that’s actually a pretty mild reply from MCR. He’s kind of a junkyard calot . . . . .lots of pent-up anger toward Stanton. He considers Stanton to be a complete villain who utterly destroyed ERB’s creation and failed completely with John Cater … and if you fail to object as strongly as he does to what Stanton did, then you are worthy of scorn and disdain . . . . .given that framework, he was, I think, consciously trying to be polite to you.

    I find your comments to be completely reasonable and I appreciate them.

    To MCR : “Where is the proof that Stanton would have followed the books more strictly?” Of course there’s no “proof”, it’s speculation …. Be a little bit fair. How about “where’s the evidence” … that would be fair. The evidence that I see is simply that 98% of what you object to about the character of John Carter does not apply to “John Carter of Mars” ….. once he decides that Barsoom is home, character wise, he appears to be pretty close to JCOM as in the books. That is the biggest piece of evidence that the next movies would be closer to the books. Not close enough to please you, of course. There would still be Therns and mobile Zodanga and myriad other things you hate.

  • I enjoyed this move immensely as a stand alone product. I’m sorry you didn’t. Chalk it up to different tastes in entertainment and different expectations. It is one of my all time favorite movies. Maybe you’ll like the next iteration of it from whichever studio picks it up. I hope so. It’s a great story, and I look forward to seeing what’s next for JCM in the movies.

  • “I would love to see the movies continue with the same cast. With that said, I can also see this story unfolding in a way that is more true to the books with JCM more of a central super hero type; strong and resilient. I may be wrong, but have a feeling that with the back story told that the rest of the trilogy that Stanton had planned would have followed the books more strictly.”

    Sure. With Andrew “I hate the books” Stanton involved. Where’s the proof that Stanton would have “followed the books more strictly?” Especially after his cliched and pointless back story-which ripped off other movies, not ERB’s work. How would have the Therns been more like the books having been rewritten as Sith Lords with even more ludicrous powers? Or the trip down the River Iss, shown here not as a heaven turned hell but as a silly Stargate-type way station for idiots who say gibberish and end up anywhere? I want someone to actually prove how Stanton could have been more faithful in his planned sequels when he fubared the beginning and made it impossible to be faithful? Anyone?

    “I found that the back story of the loss of his wife leading to a damaged psyche played well in this telling of the tale. I got the love story between JCM and Deja Thoris and found it to be one of the screen’s best. No other movie has been viewed more in this household with the exception of Gone With The Wind, which is another great work with a love story at it’s center.”

    Oh you mean the back story cribbed from The Outlaw Josey Wales, only done more poorly and without Clint Eastwood’s effective hand? Or how it made Carter not damaged but whiny, selfish, a jerk and completely unlikable? Also what love story? Carter and Dejah had zero chemistry and the “love story” was painful and poorly developed, especially compared A Princess of Mars, which at least felt more natural and less contrived. Also is it just me or did the love story in Gone with the Wind never work? I mean Scarlet O’Hara spends much of the story lusting after Ashley Wilkes and only realizes what she had with Rhett Butler when he leaves her. Or did I misread that, like this person misread how badly Stanton trashed John Carter of Mars?

  • Michael Sellers – Thanks for the response. I loved the books. They read beautifully, are engaging from the outset, and always deliver a satisfying story. The difference between the books and the movie didn’t bother me. There are many movies that are remakes of previously released films and many properties that are adapted from books that differ slightly, or maybe even a lot. Having seen that quite a lot over the years, as I am sure everybody else has, it didn’t disappoint – it’s just one artist’s interpretation of source material.

    JCM drew me in from the first viewing. I didn’t find the plot hard to follow; got the three-ish beginnings; didn’t find his character particularly “wrong” for the story being told. I found that the back story of the loss of his wife leading to a damaged psyche played well in this telling of the tale. I got the love story between JCM and Deja Thoris and found it to be one of the screen’s best. No other movie has been viewed more in this household with the exception of Gone With The Wind, which is another great work with a love story at it’s center. I would love to see the movies continue with the same cast. With that said, I can also see this story unfolding in a way that is more true to the books with JCM more of a central super hero type; strong and resilient. I may be wrong, but have a feeling that with the back story told that the rest of the trilogy that Stanton had planned would have followed the books more strictly. Looks like we will never know for certain – and that is a shame. This property was never going to be Star Wars or do that kind of box office, but it’s a solid work with a great history and a wonderful story to tell. Still mad at Disney for what they did to this movie and the way they handled it.

  • Thanks Kiki ….. there are many other stories like yours. I’d be curious to hear your comments about how you found the books …coming to them from the movie as the starting point. Compared to what you were expecting, how did the book read? What surprised you? Excited? Disappointed? Very curious if you feel like sharing. I think it would be very interesting to hear people talk about how the books did or didn’t work for them after seeing the movie first.

  • Michael Sellers and MCR: I had never heard of John Carter before seeing this movie on one of the cable channels. Since the initial viewing, our family has probably seen it in excess of 20 times, read all of the books, read Michael’s book, and amassed a rather large collection of memorabilia from eBay. Michael, your book was really excellent, and having worked at WDW many years ago, rang true to life based on personal experience with middle management, some of it in the Entertainment division.

    Hopefully, some other studio will pick this series up and continue the story. Even though Star Wars is going full tilt right now, there is still a market for this story and an audience that wants to see it.

    Yes, the movie was the singular recruiting tool and has turned our household into JCM fanatics.

  • “But given the reality there is NOT another John Carter movie, can you concede that this John Carter movie does in some cases work as a recruiting movie to introduce ERB t people who might otherwise never encounter him?”

    No because I’ve seen two responses other than that. The first is those who didn’t like the movie-either meh or hated it-that were not interested in picking up the books, either because the movie turned them off or they heard people like the Back to Barsoomers and others claim the movie was “faithful” or “captured the essence” or whatever nonsense they believe. You tell someone that a bad movie captures the essence of the book they’re not likely to pick it up. The flip side is those who loved this movie yet won’t read the books because it will ruin the movie, are too lazy to read or-like your pals in the BTB-believe Andrew Stanton and that the books are junk and he “improved” them with his changes. I know you want to believe that this film acted as a recruiting tool but did it really? How long ranging has the impact really been since this movie came out? I would suspect really low which is sad since the potential could have been there if the combination of Stanton’s sneering contempt for ERB and his work and his Michael Cimino complex hadn’t undone it.

  • MCR here’s a question. Say I’m new to all this . . . I see Star Wars . . . I like it . . . .I read Bryan’s piece about Star Wars and John Carter AND ERB . . . . I see John Carter . . . .I like it — maybe not love it, but I like it . . . .and so I go read ERB’s books and I LOVE them . . . .

    Or I see John Carter and I’m “meh” about it . . . but still intrigued enough to pick up APOM and read it . . .

    Did Stanton help the process along? Do you think the “I” in the foregoing would go directly from Star Wars to reading ERB if there were no movie?

    Of course I know you’re going to say …. yes but if there were a better John Carter movie it would be better, and I know that. But given the reality there is NOT another John Carter movie, can you concede that this John Carter movie does in some cases work as a recruiting movie to introduce ERB t people who might otherwise never encounter him?

  • It’s nice to see ERB get the tribute, especially since his work played a major influence on Star Wars.

    On the other hand using Stanton’s abomination to do that leaves a sour taste since it failed to be anywhere near the books or even Star Wars. A good article could be written comparing how many ideas Stanton stole from Star Wars (like his Sith-Therns, speeder bike model kits and such) but let’s not pretend John Carter is a good movie.

  • Yes, and like I said — good on ya for not only plugging the DVD, but also the source material. Thank you for that.

  • I have to say, it was definitely not intended just to sell Blu-rays. I write the column and the intent really is to point people who love Star Wars to great cinema. Check out my whole archive of movies I’ve written about!

  • Brilliant!!! Loved E.R.B. since I was 16, now I am a fit 71. Have all the books of John Carter,had them from the start, plus many others. Have 2 D.V.D. plus a blue ray.Loved the film and wonderful actors. COME ON LUCAS FILM, PRODUCE THE GODS OF MARS, BUT PLEASE WITH THE SAME ACTORS. I WISH I HAD THE MONEY.

  • Linking John Carter to Star Wars is the best marketing Disney ever did for the movie! That’s awesome. Sell, sell, and sell more John Carter!

    I regularly keep on retweeting people that are still discovering and loving the movie today. Now let Lucasfilm produce Gods of Mars! Now would be fine :)

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