John Carter Screenwriter Mark Andrews Opens Up and makes some interesting comments
Indiewire has an interesting article about John Carter Screenwriter (and Brave co-director) Mark Andrews. The section of the article dealing with John Carter is quoted below:
The whole experience is still a blur to Andrews, who helped conceive of the adaptation during a brainstorming session with eventual director Andrew Stanton. “It was a crazy experience. I had kind of gone through it with ‘Iron Giant.’ You have a great film and nobody saw it,” Andrews said. “And here it happens again on ‘Carter.’ And it’s like ‘Are you kidding me? This happens twice in a lifetime?'” Andrews remains defensive about what he perceives as a general lack of support from Disney, who had more or less written the movie off before it opened. “I was in denial for quite a bit and the studio pulled the plug on it a little prematurely and I think there were some mistakes in marketing. It was like ‘Give it a chance! This thing is struggling to find itself! Hold on a little longer!'” Still, he offers some perspective: “I think, ultimately, what’s really interesting now is that it’s the #1 pirated movie of all time. I think all the bad press has given it this mystique.”
What’s more is that Andrews is actually optimistic about returning to the series. “It’s going to get its legs back and me and Andrew aren’t done with that story yet and we really want to do two and three,” Andrews said. “There’s some great stuff for John Carter as a hero to deal with in the future.” He added that they continue to work on the script for the subsequent films: “We’re ready to go. As soon as somebody from Disney says, ‘We want ‘John Carter 2,” we’d be right there.” (Andrews also says that Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Chabon will be back to co-write the additional films.)
Although I love the reference to it being the most pirated movie of all time, I’m not finding anything online to support that. It was most pirated the week of May 27, but the all-time list — to the extent there really is such — can be read here and JC doesn’t make the top 10, which makes sense since it is still early days.
I got dragged to Adam Sandler’s – That’s my Boy
Took advantage of the full service bar at an eatery next to the theater prior to the showing then laughed my ass off. – Sophomoric puerile extremeness.
Leighton Meester was flaming red hot!
As best I’ve been able to determine — and I’ve talked to a lot of people and read everything there is to read — the only driver in the whole budget sweepstakes for John Carter was the huge amount of motion capture CG animation for multiple Thark characters who appear on screen for a LOT of minutes throughout the movie. it’s too bad we don’t’ have access to Stanton’s 30 page story outline for the second film, because if, for example, it’s more red men/Therns/Black Pirates etc and less Tharks, Thoats, and Woola then there could be some real savings. But getting it all the way down to $125 with Stanton directing is probably an unrealizable dream. I’m pretty sure the low end would be 150-175m, and that would be with films 2 and 3 going off in tandem.
Figure $250m this time with marketing costs included. For that to be a success, it would need to make $500m globally.(This “double the investment” formula doesn’t mean the film is profitable from theatrical revenue only — it means that if your theatrical gross is double your investment, then when all is said and done from all income streams, you will be profitable.) JC is at 282m globally now. So the “gap” is 212M. Where does that come from? Let’s argue that with better promotion and a solid fan base to start with, the US take could be doubled from 72m to 144m — let’s call it 150m. Foreign is a little over 200m now — let’s be optimistic and say a case can be made for foreign going to 300m. That puts us at $450m which is still not a winning proposition, and the assumptions for growth in the domestic and foreign totals are aggressive.
Other items to consider — with two sequels, John Carter would move into the zone where it could provide IP for Disney theme parks; where merchandising could kick in; licensing, etc.
But even with all that — there’s a long way to go before a sequel gets any kind of serious consideration. But the film’s not being forgotten, that’s for sure, like Prince of Persia, for example, or even Tron Legacy. That’s something.
“If Stanton could keep a sequel budget around $125 million, wouldn’t a sequel be a near certainty?”
That depends on whether or not Stanton or Disney has learned anything. Disney apparently hasn’t since there has been news that Lone Ranger has went back up to 250 million despite them pulling the plug before to bring down costs. The problem seems to be is that-at least Disney at the hands of Ross-couldn’t really reign anyone in on budgets. Maybe Alan Horn will have a firmer hand in that. As for Stanton, the question is will anyone outside of Lassiter really trust him with a big budget. He showed with John Carter that money was no object to him, with the reshooting and his “We’re doing in the Pixar Way” attitude. Granted some money could be saved on FX-or will it considering the Plant Men and bigger aerial battles that Stanton scuttled out of the first film-but it would still seem like a long shot that Horn will even give the go ahead to a sequel. I think Dotar said it best-Stanton, Andrews and everyone is living in a “Pixar Bubble” and they need to realize there is an outside world. Especially if Cars 2 and “No Andrew, dead wives are great ideas!” is any indication.
I liked John Carter and I don’t accept just anything (like the rushed and very mediocre “Hunger Games” or the over-rated half-great “Avatar”).
To me, John Carter represents what great cinema is all about….escape, fun, adventure, imagination. I thought Inception was similarily a great use of cinema.
I’m curious what films have been made recently that you’re glad were made.
Because Andrew Stanton has been SO quiet since March regarding John Carter, hearing confirmation from Andrews that Stanton and his team are still excited and hopeful about making a 2nd and 3rd film…..and the optimistic way that Andrews talks about it…is REALLY cool to hear.
We all agree that the promotion, marketing and studio cheerleading of John Carter was very lame, yet it still made nearly $350 million worldwide, not counting DVD’s or any future profits. Of course, that number is un-impressive because it cost over $250 million to make.
If Stanton could keep a sequel budget around $125 million, wouldn’t a sequel be a near certainty? Is it possible to make a worthy sequel to John Carter at that price? If a John Carter sequel cost over $200 million, isn’t it likely that the new marketing team at Disney….learning from the incompetance of the previous team….would figure out how to make a profit? They’d already have a HUGE leg up on marketing the 100-years-old ERB character because of all the press (good and bad) that John Carter has received this year. And with all the set-up and exposition out of way in the 1st film, the 2nd film would likely be more action-packed and straight-forward.
The tricky part would be to fight all the “flop” labels and the 50% critic rating. I can already imagine reading an article with the headline “Disney To Make Sequel Of Bomb John Carter”.
I think middle age, (a euphemism for old age) and a growing awareness of mortality, is scewing an aging fanbases’s perception of Stanton’s lackluster movie.
With inpending death looming, members of the fanbase are so desparate that they will accept anything, no matter how inferior.
In hindsight, if giving a choice, I would rather have not had Stanton’s movie made.
I would rather have waited an additional 10 years, hoped I don’t meet my demise, and kept my fingers crossed that the movie would have been filmed by a more capable director. Oh yea – and no Disney.
Steve Davidson wrote:
I doubt Andrews really understands how hard it normally is because he’s been in the Pixar bubble where things are easier in that regard. But even people who don’ know that much about the process do know that even if you don’t consider the Clampett and Harryhausen attempts which never got off the ground, it still took from 1986 to 2009 for John Carter of Mars to get greenlit, a period during which it was in more or less continuous development first at Disney, then Paramount, then Disney again. It won’t be easy and certainly whenever I’m interacting with those trying to get a sequel to happen, I try to let them know that. Andrews makes it sound easier.
What I think is more significant to the “sequelists” is that Andrews continues to have some passion for the project–and that someone from the senior level of the production has finally come out and criticized Disney directly for mishandling it. (And yes yes yes I know that those who say it was all about marketing malpractice are not considering the whole picture of what went wrong, but that doesn’t change the fact that the marketing was a huge misfire.) Also — they know that Pixar takes the “long view” and that gives hope even it wasn’t officially a Pixar film, — after all there is a lot of Pixar DNA in there.
But to think, as one or two have said, that hearing this from Andrews means that a green light is just around the corner is to be in denial about reality. Disney is still “so over” John Carter and that’s a fact. The fan movement has a huge mountain to climb. Still — Andrews comments were extremely welcome to the fan movement, and rightly so.
I don’t think anyone assumed that the John Carter sequels were in any way greenlit.
Pulp Hero – that’s almost precisely my point. LOTS of things happen between optioning a film and greenlighting it. And even then (as implied in the ‘interview’) that doesn’t mean the film is going to make it to theaters (or even DVD release); Films get held out of distribution after completion for gosh sake.
I don’t think anyone looking for a sequel to JC would be happy with a JC sequel script that got “turned into” Carson of Venus.
Look what happened to ‘I, Robot’. Perfectly good script by Harlan Ellison based on the actual stories in the collection. Instead, they took their ownership of the option on the book and used just the title, tacked on to something else because they figured Asimov’s name would increase market penetration.
Actually a sequel to Buckaroo Banzai was written. But for reasons unknown to me it was altered to become [i]Big Trouble in Little China[/i] during development.
before folks start going off half-cocked or whatever they’d call it on Barsoom. I think you might want to consider providing a little background on exactly how a film gets green lit.
I’m suggesting that you do so since it is a very dismal picture and most here I suspect would think I was exaggerating just how difficult and unlikely it is for ANY film to be made – even despite the existence of scripts and enthusiasm and a prequel…
(I’d suggest asking yourselves: why has there never been a sequel for Buckaroo Banzai? – but that’s just one of many examples)
YEEEEEEHAAAAWWW!!! er, ehem.. pardon me…
He DID say “as soon as somebody from Disney”… surely we can coerce somebody (anybody!). ;p It’s a big ‘if’, but I’m very glad to know they are all still excited about it. The hard part is done, subsequent movies are much easier to make – the ‘techs’ are in place: technology and technique. Also, good and bad combined, they have a lot of feedback on what worked and what didn’t from the viewer’s standpoint.
The most pirated or not, that’s an indirect ‘compliment’ to the popularity of the movie. Sadly, though, if everyone that pirated a copy actually went out and bought a legit copy, it would have just added support for getting a sequel.
YEEEEE… oh, I already said that…
When “for a week” = “of all time” in his world, I might take the rest of it with a grain…
That’s awesome, they are still working on the sequels!!
Made my day! I can’t tell you how much I’ve wanted to hear that they’re still fired up about it and ready to go at the moment Disney says “let’s do this!” 😀