“John Carter” opens on March 8 and we recently got a chance to chat with director Andrew Stanton about the film. “John Carter” is based on a series of novels by Edgar Rice Burroughs written a century ago and have influence sci-fi greats like George Lucas and Steven Spielberg.
“John Carter” marks Pixar director Stanton’s first live-action film. He’s been a fan of the books since childhood and told us that he’s been waiting for this film to be made for 30 years, watching false start after false start. “I pretty much spent that whole time just waiting for somebody to make the movie. I just wanted to go see it. I never had planned that I was going to be in the movies let alone make movies let alone write or direct them so it was just never in the cards. It was just I will pay any money go see somebody make this and so when it got really close to being made with (Jon) Favreau, and I was now one separation away from a lot of artists that were working on it I was just getting the scoop on like oh, it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen.”
He continues, “So here I’m getting really excited about it and then when it went to the – it fell through and went back to the estate, the property, I was really crestfallen. And it just happened to serendipitously be at a point where I was three years out from finishing ‘Wall-E.’ I was deep into working on it , but I always like to think about what I might do next, so I won’t have a blank canvas when I finish and I just happen to have a serendipitous phone call with the head of Disney at the time, Dick Cook. I said you know that property that went back – I don’t even know if you know because you weren’t around then but in the ’80s Disney had it for 10 years and didn’t do anything with it but you’re now in good stead with them because you made this animated Tarzan movie so maybe you know maybe when I finish ‘Wall-E’ if I’m not a one hit wonder would you consider letting me maybe you know get it made and if you don’t you should buy it and have somebody make it. It’s just a crime that it’s not going to get out there. And it’s like one of those be careful what you wish for because then a month later they bought the three books and said do you want to do it?’
We asked about the difference between doing animation and live action. Stanton says, “Stamina wise there’s nothing harder than live action. I mean you’re standing and when you’re making a film like this you’re standing in every kind of whether, been in every kind of environment, for a 100 days. I mean I don’t think you stand when you animate at all. Stand to walk from one room to another and that’s about it. And uh, so stamina was just huge and then pace. Pixar asked me after I came back what was it like, what was it like.”
He told them, “Imagine every meeting that we have about every issue over the three years we’re in production, and shoving – not removing one of them but having them all, all those meetings in six months. So they’re all overlapped, they’re all truncated, and they’re all talking at once. It’s an equal amount of meetings and stuff. It’s kind of the obvious stuff, the nice thing about animation is that you can – is that you can’t, you can’t put anything on the screen unless you planned it. So you’ve become incredibly great planners and I’ve got to say that’s the weakest link in live action.”
“There’s a lot of thinking let’s just fix it as we go,” he continued. “And so they’re more triage oriented. It was fascinating. I kept trying to apply my Pixar overplant mentality so that you don’t get any surprises when on – when you’re doing it and they would take a little of it but you could just see it just didn’t fit well with people and then the minute something was on fire, something was falling apart and we had no time left everybody settling became twice as smart, twice as good and almost giddy. And you’re like wow you’re just kind of like adrenaline junkies; you know is a lot of what live action movie making.”
Are you seeing “John Carter” this weekend? If so, you’re in for a treat. The trailer for “Marvel’s The Avengers” will play before the film.