Tag Archive | "Andrew Stanton"

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Taylor Kitsch States JOHN CARTER Sequel Script Was “Fucking Awesome”

Posted on 02 June 2014 by Rich Drees


It is no secret that Disney was hoping that 2012’s John Carter was going to be the start of franchise for the studio. Writer/director Andrew Stanton was drawing on the first of a series of pulp novels from Edgar Rice Burroughs and there was plenty more source material to be mined. Stanton even got so far as to working on a screenplay for a second film. But poor marketing of the film led to poor box office – a plethora of luke-warm reviews at best certainly didn’t help either – and ultimately, Disney took a $200 markdown on the project, definitely killing any hopes for a sequel. (Michael D. Seller’s great and frankly damning book John Carter and the Gods of Hollywoodcharts how the film’s chance of success was severely undermined by a complete failure of Disney’s marketing department.)

But what would have happened if the film had done well enough to warrant execs giving Stanton the go-ahead for a sequel?

Well John Carter star Taylor Kitsch has an idea as to what a second film would have been like. Speaking with Variety about appearing in the indie drama The Normal Heart, which opened last weekend, as well as an upcoming HBO project, talking turned to what a sequel to what is now considered one of Disney’s most notorious flops, at least until The Lone Ranger came along the following year, would have been like.

I know the second script was fucking awesome. We had to plant a grounding, so we could really take off in the second one. The second one was even more emotionally taxing, which was awesome.

For its flaws, though admittedly I didn’t see as many as some who seemed to be sharpening their axes for the film long before it was actually in theaters, I did like John Carter and thought that Stanton had delivered a film that felt original, even when the pulp novel source material had been picked over for ideas by other writers and filmmakers for decades. Stanton certainly had a love for the character and the world that Burroughs had created around him and I was certainly game to see more of it explored cinematically. Sadly, it looks as if that door is closed forever.

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FINDING NEMO Director Andrew Stanton Has A Sequel Idea And Pixar Likes It

Posted on 18 July 2012 by Rich Drees

Pixar looks to be going forward with another a sequel to one of their classic animated features. This time it is a follow up to Finding Nemo.

Deadline is reporting that the original Finding Nemo director Andrew Stanton has come up with a sequel idea and the studio likes it enough to start active development on it. Of course, Pixar declined to comment on the report.

So how should we view this development? Is Stanton making a retreat back to animation after the critical and box office drubbing that his live action feature film debut John Carter took earlier this year? Probably not, as Deadline is also reporting that Disney is still looking for another project for Stanton. Are they considering what happened with John Carter a one-off fluke on a winning track record that goes back all the way to the first Toy Story animated film? Or is it their way of apologizing for screwing up the marketing on the film?

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JOHN CARTER: What If It Isn’t A Flop?

Posted on 12 March 2012 by William Gatevackes

Heidi MacDonald over at The Beat has a fairly good rundown of rampant, joyous, near-orgasmic display of schadenfreude the film media is exhibiting over John Carter this morning. They are attacking the film like a bunch of vultures, calling it a “flop,” a “bomb,” and  even, GASP, an “Ishtar on Mars.”  She pulls quotes from Nikki Finke at Deadline, Brooks Barnes at the New York TimesAmy Kaufman at the Los Angeles Times, and others who are all doing a happy dance after being proven right in predicting that the Andrew Stanton helmed-flick would be a massive flop at the box office.

But, one problem, what if John Carter turns out not to be a flop? Granted, it ONLY made $30.6 million domestically and ONLY opened in second place this past weekend, behind The Lorax, a movie that opened the week before. But this doesn’t mean that the film will not make its $250 million budget back.

What? I’m talking crazy? How can I say that John Carter might be a success? Every other film journalist is saying the film is a failure, so that must obviously be the case, right?

Not necessarily. Allow me to present a comparison to argue my case. Let me compare John Carter with another live action film directed by a Pixar-alum, Brad Bird’s Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol.

Now, John Carter has some advantages of MI:GP. It opened in 51 foreign markets to the latter’s 42 markets and opened in about 300 more theaters domestically as well. And MI:GP opened over the crowded Christmas holiday weekend, with competition from films such as The Adventures of Tintin, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, and War Horse.

However, MI:GP has more advantages than that over John Carter. It was a highly anticipated sequel to a long standing franchise. It starred one of the biggest international stars of all time, Tom Cruise, leading an international cast. And the foreign markets it did open in included Moscow, Dubai, and Mumbai, all of which were used as shooting locations in the film. MI:GP was a veritable Dagwood sandwich of built-in audience, something that John Carter never had.

Taking that into consideration, MI:GP‘s opening weekend, both here and abroad, should swamp John Carter‘s right?  Wrong. Based on Friday to Sunday weekend grosses, they were about even.

MI:GP grossed $29,556,629 from December 23 to 25th, less than JC‘s $30,603,000 this Friday to Sunday. Overseas during its opening weekend, MI:GP grossed $69.5 Million compared to JC‘s $70.6 Million. Even with the discrepancies in theater counts and foreign markets, it’s pretty safe to say that the two films are just about even. But nobody ever took joy in deeming MI:GP a flop or a failure. No one wrote that film off as another Ishtar.

And the kicker? MI:GP‘s gross-to-date is a $688,784,000 combined foreign and domestic. if JC keeps on the same pace, that will mean it more than doubled the film’s $250 million budget. That, my friends, will make it a hit. Maybe not as big a hit in a cost-to-return ratio as the $145 million budgeted MI:GP, but a hit nonetheless.

But the know-it-all’s in the press really don’t want that to happen. I believe that’s why they were so in a rush to declare the film dead on arrival after a weekend where it made 40% of its budget back. Because if they declare the film a flop, people who read their columns and blogs will believe them, figure “why bother?’ and ignore the film. Then their premature damnation will become the truth.

I don’t really know if that will work this time, because the film has been getting extraordinarily good word of mouth from people who have seen it. It garnered a B+ Cinemascore rating from theatergoers. People who believed the negative, pre-release hype are surprised by how good the film was, and people who skipped the film because of the bad press are being swayed to see it. The film doesn’t really have that far to go to make a profit. I believe this might be a case of the media’s report of the film’s demise to be greatly exaggerated.

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Posted on 09 March 2012 by Rich Drees

If there are moments in John Carter where you feel a twinge of deja vu, don’t be surprised. The original pulp novels by Tarzan creator Edgar Rice Burroughs that the new Disney film is based on have served as inspiration for writers, comic book creators and filmmakers for a century, so there is bound to be somethings that will look or feel familiar. But director Andrew Stanton’s sprawling epic spectacularly shows us that sometimes there can be no substitute for the original.

John Carter (Taylor Kitsch) is a disillusioned former Confederate soldier who has moved out to the American west to be alone. Fleeing conscription by the US Cavalry and some rather irate Apaches, Carter stumbles across a mysterious from which he is transported to Mars or as its inhabitants call it, Barsoom. There he encounters the four-armed, green-skinned tharks led by Tars Tarks (William DeFoe) and finds himself rescuing the lovely and humanoid Dejah Thoris (Lynn Collins), a princess from one of two warring cities. Carter is drawn into the conflict only to discover that it is secretly being manged by a mysterious group of clerics (led by Mark Strong, is making a career out of epic science-fiction villains). Carter must find a way to defeat them and bring peace to Barsoom before the clerics turn their attention towards Earth.

There is plenty spectacle on display here and it isn’t just a series of action sequences for the sake of having action sequences. Stanton gives them each their own emotional weight, allowing us to become invested in their outcome for the sake of how it will affect the characters rather than  just the prurient interest of visually cool, but ultimately vacuous visual effects porn.

For one fight sequence in the middle of the film Stanton intercuts between Carter fearlessly facing off against an army of tharks armed only with a sword and flashbacks to Carter’s life with his wife and child and him tragically finding them dead after their frontier home was burned to the ground by Union soldiers. The fight becomes more than just another action beat in the plot but a pivotal moment for the character, providing him with the emotional closure he needs for his old life in order to embrace his new life on Mars.

Much like Peter Jackson brought J. R. R. Tolkien’s detailed Middle Earth to life in his Lord Of The Rings films, Stanton has plumbed the depths of Burroughs’ novels to bring Barsoom to cinematic reality. He presents a world that has long been in decline, where complex flying machines are manned by sword-wielding soldiers and where scientific study appears to be pursued in ways that recall the monks of the middle ages.

If the film suffers at all, it is right at its center. While Stanton does some good work in delineating Carter’s character, it turns out that for a good chunk of the movie, he is not the most likeable hero for much of that time. Sure, he swings into action to save Dejah Toris a number of times but he does so with a grim expression and a certain reluctance that makes it hard to root for. We need our pulp heroes to embrace their heroics, to be swashbuckling with a smile on their face and we don’t really get that until close to the end of the film. At least if we get a sequel we know that this won’t continue to be a problem.

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New Releases: March 9

Posted on 08 March 2012 by William Gatevackes

1. John Carter (Disney, 3,749 Theaters, 132 Minutes, Rated PG-13): Schadenfreude is the pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others. I don’t know if a movie can qualify as one of those “others,” but if it can, then this film is a shining example of the term in action. There’s a lot of pre-schadenfreude going on here. A lot of people are actively rooting for this film to fail.

To be fair, the film is calling a lot of the schadenfreude upon itself. It is a $250 million dollar film based on a character celebrating his 100th birthday this year. It has a writer/director with no live-action film experience, an unproven lead, and it’s a sword-and-sorcery concept melded with science-fiction that doesn’t usually set the world on fire.

However, that writer/director is Andrew Stanton, who has two, count’em, two Oscars for his work at Pixar (for Wall*E and Finding Nemo) and four other Oscar nominations.  That unproven lead is Taylor Kitsch, an actor who is playing a lead or co-lead in three huge pictures this year (this one, Battleship in May, and Savages in July), so it’s not that Hollywood doesn’t have faith in him. And that character and concept was created by Edgar Rice Burroughs (of Tarzan fame) who has lasted this long by building generation after generation of fans.

I’m typically negative here, but I’ll tell you what–I’m pulling for this film. I’m rooting for it. I hope it’s great and it pulls the audiences in. Try anti-schadenfreude sometime. It’s fun.

2. Silent House (Open Road Films, 2,124 Theaters, 85 Minutes, Rated R): For a horror film, this one has a lot going for it. It has Elizabeth Olsen, who probably should have gotten an Oscar nomination last year for her work in Martha Marcy May Marlene. And the film was shot as one continuous take–no editing. That is a great technical accomplishment.

However, it is a horror/suspense film. So, not being edited might not be the best thing for the film. You can build a lot of tension with a jump cut here and there. And the plot–a young women is sent to close up her familiy’s lakeside retreat, but while she is there, evil things starts to happen, would be totally conventional if it wasn’t for the continuous shot gimmick.

Who knows? The gimmick might work. But it might not.

3. A Thousand Words (Paramount/Dreamworks, 1,890 Theaters, 91 Minutes, Rated PG-13): Remember a couple months ago, when Tower Heist came out? You couldn’t swing a dead cat without hitting some article stating that Eddie Murphy was back to his raunchy comedy film self. Those writers should have held off on publishing those articles until this film came out, because it has more in common with The Nutty Professor than 48 Hours or Trading Places.

Murphy plays a man who screws over a guru and becomes cursed. Whenever he says a word, a leaf falls off a tree in his yard. When the last leaf falls, he dies. The rest of the film involves him trying to make amends as quietly as he can so he can save his own life.

Doesn’t seem as bad as some of Murphy’s worst movies, but that’s not saying much.

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Andrew Stanton Dedicates JOHN CARTER To Steve Jobs

Posted on 28 February 2012 by Rich Drees

During the memorial segment at the Oscars this past Sunday, I saw a lot of people initially scratch their head as to why Steve Jobs was included. They had forgotten that not only was Apple the developer of the Final Cut software that is used throughout the industry, he was also an important figure in the founding of PIXAR.

Next Friday, John Carter, the first live-action film from PIXAR director Andrew Stanton, will open in theaters. And when it does, it will bare a title card where the director dedicates the movie to Jobs stating “Dedicated to the Memory of Steve Jobs, an Inspiration to Us All.”

When asked about the dedication during a recent round of press for the film, Stanton gave a heartfelt answer about his wanting to pay tribute to a colleague and friend.

We just happened to be, sadly, the first production up that was Disney that wanted to give [a dedication]. And I personally wanted to. I talked to John [Lassater] about it because I didn’t want to steal any thunder from Pixar’s dedication because that’s really the real family member for Steve. But it felt right just cause I didn’t want too much time to pass without giving him some sort of permanent acknowledgement. And I talked to his wife.

It was kind of eerie because on the set I would get asked all the time, from all these people, ‘What Pixar was like?’ And it was fascinating to talk to all these movie people that knew all the films, but some of them didn’t even know Pixar was in San Francisco. It was funny. They knew of us, they knew of these movies and knew there was something different but they didn’t get it to the point [where they knew] where we were and stuff. And it would be such a long explanation to them about, trying to tell them why it ran differently and why the movie came out the way they did, that I ended up just simplifying my answer down to ‘Steve. Steve’s why.’

And I did really realize how much, because I was now living it. I was now pregnant with the dysfunction of Hollywood to make this movie and how this all works, the good and the bad, and it was amazing to see how much he had firewalled us from. Like we knew he had, but he had truly firewalled us and protected us from all the bad influences of the outside world and we had just been raised in this little eden in San Francisco and had no clue how bad it could be. And so I really have to give so much more credit to him than I ever was, even though I always was, of how much he was a major factor for Pixar.

Via SlashFilm.

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Andrew Stanton Denies JOHN CARTER Budget Rumors

Posted on 21 February 2012 by Rich Drees

One of the major rumors that have swirled around the production of Disney’s upcoming science-fiction epic adventure John Carter is that the mammoth production has gone massively over budget and that the studio is very concerned that the film will be a giant financial bomb.

As the film’s publicity gears up for it’s release in just a couple of weeks, director Andrew Stanton has now lashed out at those rumors calling them “a complete and utter lie.”

In a roundtable interview reported on by Movieline, Stanton categorically denied that the production was ever  out of control –

I want to go completely on record that I literally was on budget and on time the entire shoot… Disney is so completely psyched that I stayed on budget and on time that they let me have a longer reshoot because I was such a good citizen, so I find it ironic that we’re getting accused of the opposite.

He further elaborated in an interview with Slashfilm

It’s always frustrating to hear lies put out there. And it’s always frustrating to see how people are so gullible. I mean by now people should know that if you read it in print, that doesn’t mean its true. And if you read it in print on the Internet, it’s really not true. It’s easy to ignore when it’s not true.

The rumors of possible cost overruns first started circulating last year when the film went into a period of reshoots. At the time stories alleged that the film had severe story problems and that costs had escalated way past the $200 million mark. Partly fueling the rumors was the fact that Stanton was still assembling his film in much the same way that he worked while at directing animated films at Pixar with a lengthy post-production process during which portions of the film are rearranged to work better with new material being produced where needed. Complicating things is the fact that John Carter is fairly effects intensive with many of its alien characters created through CGI and the length of time needed to complete them.

But while Disney has not released any actual budget figures for John Carter, there can be no doubt that they studio has invested a substantial sum in the project. There are a lot of hopes and potentially some careers riding on how well it does. And Disney is hoping to to do more than just make their money back, they’re hoping that this film will be the first of a trilogy. And since Stanton has already planned out the two potential sequels and has turned in a 25-page outline for the first top the studio recently, he certainly has a vested interest in this film turning a profit. And by keeping to the budget for the first one is certainly one way to insure that he is doing what he can for that to happen.

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First Full Trailer For JOHN CARTER

Posted on 01 December 2011 by Rich Drees

The first full trailer for Disney’s John Carter, adapting Edgar Rice burrough’s classic pulp hero, is here and it does a pretty good job of filling the unfamiliar in on the story and hinting at an epic scope for the film. There’s also a good mix of new images and things we’ve seen before either in the previously released teaser trailer or recently revealed pictures. Some of the things you’ll glimpse here may seem a bit familiar, but that’s only because filmmakers have been filching from the John Carter Of Mars books for decades now. Hopefully director Andrew Stanton will show them all how the original is done.

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JOHN CARTER Teaser Poster

Posted on 29 November 2011 by Rich Drees

In advance of a new trailer that should hit sometime tomorrow, Disney has released a new poster for the upcoming John Carter. As you can see below, the film capitalizes on the  film’s Martian setting with a big red tint. The art work recalls, as others have also pointed out, science-fiction paperback covers from the 1970s. Although, not particularly the ones that featured the adventures of the Edgar Rice Burroughs pulp hero being adapted in this film.

Click on the poster for a much larger version.

Director Andrew Stanton’s John Carter stars Taylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins, Samantha Morton, Mark Strong, Ciaran Hinds, Dominic West, James Purefoy, Daryl Sabara, Polly Walker, Bryan Cranston, Thomas Hayden Church, and Willem Dafoe. It opens on March 9th.

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New JOHN CARTER Photo Illustrates The Perils Of Mars

Posted on 23 November 2011 by Rich Drees

Edgar Rice Burrough’s pulp hero John Carter of Mars might not be as well known by the general public as the author’s other great creation Tarzan, but Disney is going to do their best to correct that over the next several months leading up to the release of John Carter next March. As the publicity blitz starts to gear up, we see the studio releasing a photo to Entertainment Tonight that shows us some of the great pulpy adventure the film has in store. Granted, some people will look at this and jump to the conclusion that this scene of Carter squaring off against a martian Great White Ape is ripping off the Star Wars films. But let’s face it, Lucas and a host of others have been lifting from Burroughs for decades now.

John Carter stars Taylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins, Samantha Morton, Mark Strong, Ciaran Hinds, Dominic West, James Purefoy, Daryl Sabara, Polly Walker, Bryan Cranston, Thomas Hayden Church, and Willem Dafoe and opens on March 9th.

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