3 Compelling Questions about Disney's mega gamble on John Carter

John Carter News

Jay Stone, writing in the Vancouver Sun, has posed the question of the day–actually three questions, all worth considering:

The biggest news of spring has nothing to do with 3-D, though. It’s the highly anticipated film version of The Hunger Games, the post-apocalyptic young-adult novel that caused a pre-apocalyptic young-adult sensation and is the surest bet of the season. Less of a guarantee is the most expensive release, John Carter, Disney’s $250-million gamble on a series of books by Edgar Rice Burroughs (who had a pretty good go with the Tarzan franchise) about an Earthling on Mars. It’s a gamble that raises the questions: Can Taylor Kitsch carry a film? Can director Andrew Stanton replicate the success of Wall-E and Finding Nemo in live-action sci-fi? Is the world still up for an Edgar Rice Burroughs story?

Read more: http://www.canada.com/entertainment/movie-guide/Winter+Spring+movie+preview/6014879/story.html#ixzz1jy2zZMQl

Anyone who follows this site knows that its author is a fan of Edgar Rice Burroughs and is cheering this movie on, hoping for the best. But here’s the thing — this is a tough mountain to climb for Disney. It may work out — it may not. So when somebody formulates the “big questions” this clearly, I think it warrants some consideration.

Can Taylor Kitsch carry a film?
The instinctive, defensive reaction is: Can Sam Worthington carry a film? Going into Avatar, this was the equivalent question, and Sam provided the answer — yes. At least for a vilm like Avatar. And John Carter is a lot like Avatar. But the fact is … Worthington proved himself, and he had a basic “likeability factor” working for him. Does Kitsch have this? He certainly has an “it” factor going on. But…..I want to believe, and I’m hoping for the best. It’s a lot to ask, though. The thing is, the decision to cast Taylor gives it a “now” quality and that may be very important, given the “yesteryear” nature of the source material. But it also represents a kind of “double down” on the risk. I mean ….the logic would be that if you are spending 200 m to make a movie, spend $5m more and book a bankable lead. Instead — Disney has, in a remarkable act of corporate “ballsiness” (is that a word), doubled down and gone with Kitsch. We won’t know how this has paid off until March 9.

Can director Andrew Stanton replicate the success of Wall-E and Finding Nemo in live-action sci-fi?
This is a question that I’m GLAD is being asked. This is a question that needs to get implanted not just in the minds of writers like Jay Stone — but in the minds of the public. It is the central question, and it is essential to the promotion of the film to get people thinking — is Andrew Stanton going to deliver another Nemo or Wall-E? Just getting that question to form in the minds of the potential audience is a “win” for the film.

Is the world still up for an Edgar Rice Burroughs story?
Oh, the pain of this question. As a lifetime fan of ERB, I want to RAGE AGAINST THIS QUESTION. But, on reflection, it’s a fair question. 1912 is not 2012. The “Harry Potter” of the “teens” is not the “Hunger Games” of 2012. There can be no doubt that my hero ERB was a storyteller of extraordinary gifts. But it’s a fair question. If you’re a fan of ERB — do you worry about this? If not, should you?

In truth — these three questions actually collapse into one — the one in the middle: “Can Andrew Stanton replicate the succes of Wall-E and Finding Nemo in life-action Sci-Fi?” We know that ERB is a great foundation to build on, but does it resonate with audiences of 2012? Answer: Stanton must make it so. “Can Taylor Kitsch carry a film?” Answer: Andrew Stanton chose him — he must make it so.

March 9 looms …. I really believe this can work out — but anyone who calls it a slam dunk is dreaming. It’s a big gamble by Disney. I hope it pays off…..


  • The repeated miss-spelling of Kitsch as Hitsch is …um….almost frightening given that his name is spelled right about 2000 times elsewhere on this site. I shudder to think about the mental processes that led me to do that not just once, but four times………going off to eat some brain food now. Thanks for the heads up.

  • These are all good questions (you might want to spellcheck, though, his name is Taylor Kitsch, not Hitsch, which is how you spell it throughout the article).

    I’m an FNL fan and thought Taylor stole every scene on that show – I’d go so far as to say he was iconic on it, which bodes well for the possibility of him turning John Carter into a 21st century Indiana Jones/ Han Solo kind of character. But I’m REALLY curious to see how Andrew Stanton does in this outing. If it does well, and the previews look excellent, he could be a major contender in Hollywood filmmaking for a long time to come. I think this is a good thing and think Stanton is a visionary with a sincere desire to tell passionately good stories, so what can I say. I’m rooting for this movie.

  • Right on Khanada. I should have mentioned that because it’s a very valid point. Stanton is not alone in thinking it’s his time.

  • The fact that Taylor is being cast as lead in other potentially blockbuster films, like Battleship, says a lot to me. I never watched FNL, but I thought Taylor outshined Hugh Jackman in his scenes in Wolverinr, and I’m a Jackman fan. So, I don’t worry about this question too much. Besides, bankable stars mean nothing so much of the time. Cast whose right, regardless of how BIG or well known they are. Thank god they did just that for the Potter films!!!

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