Video: See the original John Carter opening scene that was criticized by the Pixar Braintrust and cut

Other Stuff has the original opening scene of John Carter — the scene that was criticized but he Pixar “Braintrust” and eventually re-done into the brief narrated scene that ended up int he final movie. My own view — the scene is flabby and too long, but I would have rather seen this scene edited down into a tight 3 minutes because it contains a number of pieces of exposition that just got lost.

Now having said that — here’s the counterargument.  The frame story with John Carter calling ERB, and JC’s death, takes up a lot of screen time too….and the overall amount of time it takes to get John Carter to Barsoom is already a problem — and they were clearly thinking about that.

Anyway, check it out.  Interesting.  Can’t embed the video so here’s the link:

Original John Carter Opening Scene


  • Bob Page… you smart, sensible thinker, you!
    You’ve just expressed what I’ve had on my mind since the first viewing.
    Want to see that Fan Edit of yours ASAP!!! 🙂

  • I like it. Ditto what Kevin Sanderson said, it immediately reminded me of the 1978 Superman movie where it opens on Krypton. This version avoids the “double narrative” beginning that the final film has with Dafoe narration of Barsoom history then the ERB character reading Uncle JC’s journal. Also gives a good summary of Barsoomian tech at the start. Assume Stanton was setting up the 9th ray as part of a trilogy arc story. As far as why the Therns allow Dejah to live at this point, I got from the movie that the Therns go to great lengths to operate in stealth mode and wouldn’t just kill somebody on the spot and possibly bring attention to their existence. Dejah thinks the Therns are a myth. They work in a more sinister fashion and manipulate everyone else over time to do their dirty work.

    Watching this makes me think there was a lot a second guessing going on with this film at every point before release date. Probably better to go with your first thought.

  • It’s not bad at all, but I can see why they’d want to change it as there’s too much time running before any action. It reminds me a little of the beginning of Superman (Christopher Reeves) when we are on Krypton before it explodes. I remember people saying that was boring.

    I had a friend who passed years ago who worked in plays and movies at times and he always maintained it’s best to jump right into your story and if it’s action, you should jump right into the action.

    No real fault with Lynn as she’s delivering the lines well. I can see the differences from the final script, though, where they had her debating with herself which showed she had a softer side and wasn’t all supremely confident.

    pascalahad, I would guess the Thern was supposed to change, but they didn’t bother with the shapeshifter effect since this version never made it to the final VFX as evidenced by the placeholders. The meeting where this scene was changed and the reshoot was long before the effects were completed and the film was locked.

  • This opening is better than the movie which just drops the viewer into a confusing air battle without establishing whose who. That said I have to agree with Pulp Hero’s idea of doing Burroughs. Except as we know Stanton thought that was lazy and probably too close to ERB since he had some condition not to be faithful to the material. Still Lynn Collins was pretty good (the best thing in the movie period) and it was nice to see Tardors Mors as a leader, not a cowering wimp as he is in the final film.

  • I don’t know what scene is best. None, I guess. The stakes are as imprecise as in the finished product. If the Zodangans AND the Heliumites both use radium for their flyer, what set them apart? Both have probably to use the same extracting tools, so what’s the big deal? And the Thern NOT reverting to his real appearance after hiding behind the pillar makes more sense. Finally, the Thern problem is still the same, why allowing Dejah to live since she is that close to discovering the ninth ray? I was hoping that the deleted scene was clearer at establishing the stakes…

  • In my intial run down on the extras from an earlier thread, I felt that the scene was too dark and claustaphobic. I think they greatly improved this with the more expansive, and stunningly beautiful throne room version we go in the final film.

    I’m not a fan of any of these opening sequences. In my fan edit, I have started the movie from the NYC set up sequence, which does adhere more closely to the book, but more so because I don’t like being brought to Mars before John himself gets there.

    Pulp hero is on the right track. I put the initial air battle in right when JC does the worm hole transport to Mars. You are given a taste of the Mars situation, introduced to Sab Than and Matai Shang and there is a perfect segway as the last line of dialogue in that scene is, ” and with no one to stand in your way ” Boom. Then John’s face as he opens his eyes and sees Mars for the first time. It is the only scene in my edit that I actually moved around, the rest were trimming some exposition here and there to keep the pace up.

    As for the deleted scenes: this one and the one I will describe are the only to lengthy ones, the rest are short and non consequential. The other interesting deleted scene is unfortunately mostly unfinished and is hand drawn in some parts, but it is tantalizing in what it hints at. Apparently, John and Dejah make separate escape attempts after they are captured in the temple. John is attempting an escape on a flier and is shot down and recaptured by Tars Tarkus. As they are making their way back to camp, they have a discussion and that is where John figures out that Sola was Tars daughter. Seems a little more believable than that out of nowhere intuitive leap that he makes in the final film.

  • Wow, I actually liked that far better than the opening in the film itself. This is vastly more elegant than the awkward Dafoe narration. Tardos Mors doesn’t make a fool of himself like he does in every other scene, you get a little more Purefoy – one of the very very few actors who actually seemed alive, and there is some context for the air battle. What I like most is that the scene slightly resembles Dejah’s speech to the Tharks in the novel (minus the courage and danger, of course).

    I loathe all the 9th Ray and Thernery in the movie regardless, as well as the notion that there should ever be a scene not from Carter’s perspective once the manuscript begins… but if you were going to do those things —– this was a better way to do them.

    Oh, DJC, another situation where the final decisions on the film were poor ones.
    I’m more intrigued by deleted scenes now, maybe they were all better?

  • I don’t know, it doesn’t seem like a bad opening. Stanton could have moved a few bits around and trimmed a minute or two and left the original opening much the same.

    But, going with the movie as it is now I believe Stanton could have hewn closer Burroughs opening, it would still be different but I think it could work.

    I.E. Forgo the set-up on Barsoom entirely and start the movie with ERB going to read the journal, and follow Carter from the events in Arizona directly to his arrival on Barsoom. This way the audience learns of Barsoom much the same time as Carter.

    The movie continues through Carter’s first steps, discovery of the incubator, and the encounter with the Tharks. Here is where I’d change things up, for effect I might cut two a new scene just after Carter is shot. This interjected scene would be the airship battle between Sab Than’s ship and the Heliumite airships. Everything from this scene in the finished movie would still be there but I would begin with an interior scene on Sab Than’s ship. A deck officer is reporting to Sab Than on being the ship being seperated from the rest of their fleet due to the sandstorm and unable to escape Helium’s ships.

    Yes I know that almost always it’s the lone good guy ship being chased down by the bad guys, and that is what most of the audience will be expecting. The arrival of the Therns and their destroying the Heliumite ships should break the audience from thinking they’ll know exactly what to expect from the movie.

    The only thing I might change/add at this point is the Therns leaving one of Helium’s soldiers alive with Matai Shang suggesting that Sab Than torture the hapless soldier for information. This way while the audience has been surprised by the revelation that Sab Than isn’t the good guy they were expecting him to be at first, they will clearly know that Sab Than is the villain by the end of the scene. I’m not sure the prisoner part is needed, I don’t recall off hand if Sab Than is clearly marked as the villain as the scene currently is. If Sab Than is clearly marked as the villain then we can do without the Helium prisoner bit.

    From here the movie cuts back to Carter getting his wound treated by Tars Tarkas and continues on. I’d probably interject a line or two here and there throughout the movie to reveal the backstory. Perhaps a scene with Sola and Carter as she tells Carter of the Red Martian’s conflict, but this may already be covered amply in Dejah’s requests for Carter to come fight for Helium.

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