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)Link
Writer and director Andrew Stanton arrives at the premiere of "John Carter" on Feb. 22, 2012, in Los Angeles. (Matt Sayles / Associated Press)Link
Bryan Cranston, who plays Powell in "John Carter," arrives at the film's premiere. (Matt Sayles / Associated Press)Link
Willem Dafoe, left, and Taylor Kitsch. (David Livingston / Getty Images)Link
Willen Dafoe plays Tars Tarkas in "John Carter." (Matt Sayles / Associated Press)Link
"John Carter" actress Lynn Collins, who plays Dejah Thoris in the film. (Matt Sayles / Associated Press)Link
James Purefoy plays Kantos Kahn in "John Carter." (Matt Sayles / Associated Press)Link
Daryl Sabara plays Edgar Rice Burroughs in "John Carter." (Matt Sayles / Associated Press)Link
James Purefoy, left, Andrew Stanton, Lynn Collins and producer Jim Morris at the premiere of "John Carter." (Kevin Winter / Getty Images)Link
“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
RECENT AND RELATED: