Pixar talking to actors for John Carter of Mars

SciFi Wire reports that Andrew Stanton is very involved in developing the 2012-scheduled “John Carter of Mars” movie for Pixar and that they are now talking with actors for the roles.

Based on Edgar Rice Burroughs’ A Princess of Mars (which you can download for free), Pixar’s movie is rumored to be taking the storyline in a new direction. Stanton has reportedly said he wants to get away from the Frazetta-style artwork that has been closely associated with ERB’s Barsoom stories for several decades.

Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote the story as a serial in 1912 and it was published in book form in 1917. He went on to publish 9 more John Carter of Mars books and his son published an 11th book after ERB died in 1950.

The John Carter universe was eventually tied to many of ERB’s other classic pulp worlds including Tarzan, Pellucidar, and Carson Napier of Venus. Philip Jose Farmer went on to include ERB’s expanded universe in the Wold Newton Universe (the term was actually coined by Win Scott Eckert, who wrote the introductory essay on that site).

All of which is to say that ERB fans have some very well-formed expectations so I think Pixar (and Stanton in particular) may be risking the kind of fan backlash that can topple a movie. For example, Robert E. Howard fans failed to embrace the “Kull the Conqueror” movie (starring Kevin Sorbo). The movie, which also failed to draw many of Sorbo’s fans into its circle, blew a gasket at the box office.

Mr. Stanton and his associates will have to bring a fresh perspective to the material that treats the concept with respect. I’m a big fan of Brad Bird’s “The Incredibles”, which I feel treated the superhero genre with a lot of respect while paying homage to classic 1960s superhero cartoon shows. Pixar definitely has experience at developing new interpretations of classic themes. I’m not too worried but some of my old friends in the core ERB audience may be about to go through the same anguish many of my hard-core Tolkien fans experienced when Peter Jackson developed the “Lord of the Rings” movies (which were very successful).

If you have never read the John Carter books, at least read them up through The Chessmen of Mars. That was the fourth book in the series and, in my opinion, it was the absolute best (it’s actually not about Carter but about his daughter and the prince who gives up everything to protect her even though she doesn’t — well, just read the book).

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