‘John Carter’ director Andrew Stanton to skeptics: ‘Trust us’

Feb. 23, 2012 | 10:09 a.m.
taylor John Carter director Andrew Stanton to skeptics: Trust us

Taylor Kitsch, who plays the title character in "John Carter," arrives at the film's premiere on Feb. 22, 2012 in Los Angeles. (Matt Sayles / Associated Press)

stanton John Carter director Andrew Stanton to skeptics: Trust us

Writer and director Andrew Stanton arrives at the premiere of "John Carter" on Feb. 22, 2012, in Los Angeles. (Matt Sayles / Associated Press)

cranston John Carter director Andrew Stanton to skeptics: Trust us

Bryan Cranston, who plays Powell in "John Carter," arrives at the film's premiere. (Matt Sayles / Associated Press)

dafoe John Carter director Andrew Stanton to skeptics: Trust us

Willen Dafoe plays Tars Tarkas in "John Carter." (Matt Sayles / Associated Press)

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"John Carter" actress Lynn Collins, who plays Dejah Thoris in the film. (Matt Sayles / Associated Press)

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James Purefoy plays Kantos Kahn in "John Carter." (Matt Sayles / Associated Press)

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Daryl Sabara plays Edgar Rice Burroughs in "John Carter." (Matt Sayles / Associated Press)

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James Purefoy, left, Andrew Stanton, Lynn Collins and producer Jim Morris at the premiere of "John Carter." (Kevin Winter / Getty Images)

“John Carter” will arrive at theaters with something to prove — the Disney fantasy epic is expensive, the trailers haven’t won over the Comic-Con crowd and early polls of moviegoer interest aren’t very pretty at this point — but director Andrew Stanton said his years at Pixar working on projects like “WALL-E” and “Toy Story” taught him to ignore the early skeptics.

“That’s always been the case,” Stanton said on the red carpet before the film’s Wednesday premiere in downtown Los Angeles. “People don’t remember how much naysaying there’s been on how much of the other stuff we’ve worked on. You just gotta trust us. We really put our heart and soul into making movies that you’re going to have a real good time watching.”

“John Carter,” based on the Edgar Rice Burroughs bookshelf hero who debuted a century ago, opens on March 9. Taylor Kitsch of “Friday Night Lights” fame stars in the title role, and he said the skepticism of the moment is just the nature of the Hollywood echo chamber.

“Isn’t that kind of everything in a nutshell of why I don’t live here?” the 30-year-old Austin, Texas, resident said, peppering his answer with a favored expletive. “People … love to be negative. It’s easy and lazy to be negative. You don’t see a movie like this all the time, so it’s easy to just … put it in a slot. I can go on a … long tangent, man. But you don’t [mess] around with Andrew Stanton.”

Some observers wonder if the tale of Martian kingdoms, alien beasts and warrior princesses might be too intricate to win over the huge audience it needs to earn back the production budget, which is well north of $200 million (but south, Stanton says, of the rumored $300 million). Kitsch admitted that it took him some time to understand the terminology of Barsoom — which is what Martians call their home world.

“I had a white chalkboard in my house in Austin, and I was like, ‘OK, Helium .. .Zodanga … Dejah … Woola,'” Kitsch said at a low-key party after the screening. “It’s insane. It took me three-plus times to really embrace and understand what was going on. But if I don’t buy into it, neither do you.”

“John Carter” is part of a big year for the actor. In May, the native of British Columbia stars in Universal’s “Battleship,” and in July he appears in Oliver Stone’s “Savages.” With all that possibility, he said, he’s trying to take the “John Carter” naysayers in stride, but that’s not going so well.

“I have moments of anger, oh, sure,” he said with a smile. “But it’s just fuel to the fire.”

— Amy Kaufman

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Comments


28 Responses to ‘John Carter’ director Andrew Stanton to skeptics: ‘Trust us’

  1. badblokebob says:

    "Trust us" might work for unsure fans, but it's not going to get bums on seats from regular moviegoers who just don't care, is it?

  2. Dotar Sojat says:

    More difficult for fans to trust you when they've read the movie novelization and know what a generic disaster you've made of the story. It may be an enjoyable ride of a film for the average bear (honestly it would be hard to fail at that, given the source material), but an honorable adaptation of a classic work this is not.

    • Terry Black says:

      I think it's hilarious that there's a novelization of a movie based on a novel. "Because the Edgar Rice Burroughs version just wasn't good enough!"

  3. kurtk says:

    For once Disney marketing failed miserably. The recent release of the trailer for Brave is how it should be done. You watch the trailer and you know who this character is and why you should root for her. I know who and have read Barsoom stories of John Carter. Not everybody did. My wife is one of those. To her its just another stupid fantasy with some guy who appears to have super powers jumping around and fighting strange creatures. She became interested when I explained who and when the stories were written. James Bond trailers can go for all the action, we all know who that is.
    Starting a new (they hope) series needs to hook people in with a reason to care (emotionally) or they need to be more secretive and create an air of mystery to suck people in. Just throwing a bunch of action scenes that look like another star wars is not going to bring people in.

    • kenneth says:

      With all due respects, that's ALL John Carter is about: a guy jumping around with super powers, slaying monsters, rescuing a girl, yada yada yada. It's the same stuff we've seen before; this is, in part, because the original book is so old, these images have been recycled before. Now, in the year 2012, this is boring stuff.

  4. Justin says:

    “Some observers wonder if the tale of Martian kingdoms, alien beasts and warrior princesses might be too intricate to win over the huge audience it needs to earn back the production budget”… Isn’t that what Avatar was??? With the exception of mars of course.

    • alexanderdaleiii says:

      not really, there are no alien kingdoms and the natives culture is crafted to be suprior in every way to humanity with no faults or logic to the civilization.

      the kingdoms in John Carter are advanced alien societies, the primitive societies are violent and cruel and refusal to advance is not viewed as some positive moralyl superior trait, rather it is what is contributing to the planets death

      sciencei n John Carter is also treated as something wonderful and necessary.

      also John Carter was created in 1912, your comparisons to avatar are lame

      and wouldnt any alien planet with life have animals?

      • Dotar Sojat says:

        I think Justin's point was that Avatar had the same level of sci-fi/fantasy complexity, and audiences all over the entire world understood and loved it, so this shouldn't be a problem for Disney John Carter.

        You sound defensive, but it didn't sound like an attack on the film to me.

        I'd agree, there's nothing so intricate in 'A Princess of Mars' to turn off a mainstream audience, especially one who has already experienced the brilliance of Avatar and is probably hungry for more.

  5. Justin says:

    "Some observers wonder if the tale of Martian kingdoms, alien beasts and warrior princesses might be too intricate to win over the huge audience it needs to earn back the production budget"… With the exception of mars, isn't that what Avatar was???

  6. @Jackanaples says:

    If JOHN CARTER turns out to be as good a movie in its class as Stanton's previous Pixar movies were in theirs –the word of mouth is going to be phenomenal.

    • alexanderdaleiii says:

      I have been a fan for years and I have wrote over 400 pages for the wiki

      I loved the novelization, it had many stripped down elements but it worked and didnt hurt the story in too many ways.

      • John carter says:

        I hope the 400 pages that you "have wrote" is a bit better written than your message!

  7. Vanessa says:

    You know what's even easier? Not going to see a movie hardly anyone knows or cares about.

  8. Mahiya_Borden says:

    I won’t watch this film. It might turn out to be great but it’s not my cup of tea.

  9. kurtk says:

    For once Disney marketing failed miserably. The recent release of the trailer for Brave is how it should be done. You watch the trailer and you know who this character is and why you should root for her. I know who and have read Barsoom stories of John Carter. Not everybody did. My wife is one of those. To her its just another stupid fantasy with some guy who appears to have super powers jumping around and fighting strange creatures. She became interested when I explained who and when the stories were written. James Bond trailers can go for all the action, We all know what to expect.
    I like Stanton and trust him, but the marketing has been a mistake.

  10. Evie says:

    Anyone who isn't itching to gleefully predict the demise of some movie they've never seen and don't know anything about (of which, unfortunately, there are plenty of people like that on the Internet) can tell the piss poor marketing of this film has been an inside job since they announced it. People have been shouting it's going to be terrible before they released a single set photo or trailer; it's pathetic.

    Andrew Stanton is an incredible visionary; Michael Chabon is one of the finest sci-fi screenwriters alive; the SFX look stunning; the cast is uniformly solid, including Kitsch, whose work on FNL made him a "he was robbed!" favorite every year at Emmy time. I've been looking forward to this movie for months. I plan to be there opening day – with at least a dozen people in tow.

  11. Jeddakakalaky says:

    The problem with trusting Stanton is that based on what I've read, seen and heqard so far about this movie, which actually is quite a bit, He has completely re-writen the story. Brought in story elements from oither books in the series and so totally changed the characters that this is no ,longer Burroughs Barsoom. It's Andrew Stanton's idea of what he thinks Barsoom should be and that's not what I wanted to see. This may be a good movie, I plan to see it and I may even enjoy it but it's not a very good adaption.

    • xevioso says:

      The very first thing that actually happens in the book is that Carter rescues his buddy from some savage indians. Its incredibly racist by today's standards. Would you like him to actually show Carter slaughtering indians in the first scenes of the movie? Come on! It's 2012!

  12. TOats says:

    The trailers that I've seen give me zero hope that this will be a good film. It's not my cup of tea, that's fore sure, but neither was Ghost Protocol and I loved that. http://www.thelettersproject.org

  13. Matt Saracen says:

    Tim Riggins kicking alien butt is going to be amazing!
    I can't wait for this film!

  14. unclesmrgol says:

    Kitsch forgot Tars Tarkas.

  15. ron olander says:

    Crap, I thought the trailer looked pretty damn good…

  16. James Harlow says:

    It is amazing to me that people would even begin to judge any work of art without seeing it for themselves. I really look forward to seeing it. Not every film can be a perfect work of art to be revered forever. Very few are. But I stopped listening to critics or trying to agree with them long ago. In fact, many of the current films nominated for an Academy Award are incredibly average. Peter Travers calling The Driver the best film of the year is a joke. It seriously hurt his credibility as a critic. And very few, if any, critics have written about The Artist and the misuse of Bernard Hermann's score for Vertigo. Watch the film for yourself.

  17. Grewsome says:

    The movie might be great. It might be fine. Or it might be awful.

    All the advertising since the original theatrical trailer has certainly been awful. I hadn't paid much attention to "A Princess of Mars" even though I was well aware of it as a Sci-Fi lover. I just hadn't ever gotten around to reading it.

    I remember the initial negative vibe that arose from changing the film's title from "A Princess of Mars" to "John Carter of Mars" to the current "John Carter". But it wasn't until I saw the first trailer that I suddenly had my interest piqued. The evocative use of "My Body is a Cage" that played over the images and dialogue gave me chills. I thought … hmmm. This might be fun.

    So I read the book.

    This is a science fiction love story. The first trailer appears to get fairly close to the point. And it was then that the title change fiasco reasserted itself in my mind. Dejah Thoris, the titular princess, is a pretty damn important focal point here. This was the beginning of my worry–if they are cutting her out in favor of making John Carter the singular point of the film, this isn't a good sign.

    The successive trailers have further increased my misgivings. There is almost zero reference to the relationship between John and Dejah. The clips have been somewhat underwhelming quick cuts of battle scenes with no context to someone unfamiliar with the story. If I rewind my mind to when I hadn't read the book, I wouldn't really care all that much about what I was seeing on the screen in the latter trailers.

    That's the issue with the recent advertising campaign; there's no context. You can't even tell it takes place on Mars. It looks like a generic sci-fi movie one might find on the Sy-Fy channel. The granddaddy of all Sci-Fi is reduced to an action flick–that's what I get from the latest trailer.

    The movie might be great. It might be fine. Or it might be awful.

    But the marketing campaign is an abject failure.

    (incidentally, the serialized nature of the book, and the ones that follow, BEG for this to be a cable TV series)

  18. xevisio said: "The very first thing that actually happens in the book is that Carter rescues his buddy from some savage indians. Its incredibly racist by today's standards. Would you like him to actually show Carter slaughtering indians in the first scenes of the movie? Come on! It's 2012!"

    I was at the Hero Complex pre-screening this week and that is indeed what happens in the film, 2012 or no. This is very much a high-tech return to some of the same stuff we've seen. Parts of it were very good–the heroine was awesomely kick-*ss, which I am pretty sure was NOT in the original story. But I was confused about WHY John Carter could jump around like a grasshopper, and I was pretty sure those space ships were last seen in COWBOYS AND ALIENS (co-incidence?) I hope the film does well, but it doesn't break any new ground–and a lot of the ground it stands on is shaky, indeed.

    BTW, director Stanton said in the Q&A that they had optioned the story series, so I reckon Disney hopes it does well too.

  19. SecP says:

    Trust us?
    Pfft, I wouldn't trust Stanton as far as I could kick him after the dismal 'thing' he put out.
    Yes, I've just been to see it and as a fan of the books for over 30 years, I do not know how Stanton can claim that he is. No fan would have allowed the film to wander so far from the book.
    Trust him at your peril.
    If you've read the book, wait until it's on DVD, then wait til it's on the reduced shelf.
    If not, you may enjoy it as a sci-fi romp, but go read the book after.

    #Spoiler Alert#
    Zodnaga a mobile city?
    Therns in A Princess of Mars?
    John Carter using a Thern tool to get to Mars?
    Mors Kajak? some time slip that wiped him out of existence? Possilby the same thing that took Than Kosis and made Sab Than Jeddak?
    Talking of Jeddaks…Tars Tarkas Jeddaks of the Tharks at the start and later John Carter beating Tal Hajus to become Jeddak, the same JC that turned down the job in Zodnaga?

  20. guest says:

    once I heard that mars is called barsoom I decided not to see this film

  21. SamSmith says:

    Ha! The film failed bigtime. Suck it fanboys!! that's what disney deserves for trying to rip of a lame film like Avatar.

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