If you’ve never read Empire Magazine, I would recommend that you buy this month’s issue because it will be filled with lots of interviews and articles about upcoming 2012 movies (not just the sci-fi ones)! Recently, we posted the interview with Ridley Scott that will appear in this issue. Now we have the interview with ‘John Carter’ director Andrew Stanton who opens up about his love of the Barsoom books and his approach to making of the movie.
Most know Stanton from his years at Pixar writing, producing and directing animated films such as ‘Wall-E’, ‘Finding Nemo’ and ‘Toy Story 3.’ ‘John Carter’ will be his first foray in directing a live action film and from the beginning, Stanton knew it would be a big job. When Stanton heard that Jon Favreau (‘Ironman’, ‘Cowboys and Aliens’) had dropped out as director in 2006, he approached Disney about taking over the project. “I called Disney and said, ‘If WALL-E doesn’t flop, would you guys consider me maybe crossing over and doing this movie? Because I know how to do it right.’ They said they’d consider it, and in two months bought the rights and said yes… I thought, ‘Wow, I’m really going to do this now.'”
It took 4 years from development to actual filming and during that time, Stanton decided to read the Edgar Rice Burroughs’ series again. He brought in storyboard artist and writer Mark Andrews (‘Incredibles’, ‘Spiderman’) to help him write the screenplay as well as writer Michael Chabon (‘Spiderman 2’). As he puts it:
“Mark and I were trying our best to fake dialogue of this weird antiquated style, but Michael, it’s in his veins. He’d just make it this beautiful, poetic thing. We put the book away, and for almost a year basically treated it like an original story. Like, what would be the strongest way to do this? What was amazing that, when that process was over, I went back to the book and it wasn’t that far out. It was a chiropractic adjustment to make these things work, but you had to have the intestinal fortitude to do that.”
The main thought that ran though Stanton’s head while filming the movie was that he wanted the audience to experience the same feeling he had while reading the books. “I just want this to be pure for what it is. All I cared about for most of my life… was that somebody would do it and that somebody would do it right…When I read the books as a kid I saw it as real. I saw a real man standing in the real desert with real creatures that were nine-feet tall, and I want it to feel like that when I watch the movie.”
Although filming ended in July 2010, Stanton has been working on reshoots and CGI effects to bring ‘John Carter’ to life. He insists on calling the post-production process a “principal digital photography” since there are around 2200 CG shots. “Up until this summer, so about a year-and-a-half, I still feel like I’ve been on a live-action shoot, but it’s all been digital.”
As for sequels, Stanton has said at a London press junket that he would like to make ‘John Carter’ a trilogy “and (had) always hoped it would be a series like Bond.” In fact, he has already started writing the screenplay for a sequel just in case. As he puts it, “…it’s not I’m confident we’ll get a sequel. I’m just paranoid that you can never start writing early enough. I’m emotionally fine if this is the only movie; I don’t have the hubris to think it’s going to do well ahead of time. But if it does well and they want to make another one, they’re going to want it yesterday. And even if it ends up on the shelf, it’s writing practice!”
So far from the trailer, the movie does look epic and has the potential to garner a sequel, but the true test won’t happen until ‘John Carter’ debuts in theaters in March. For the full interview, make sure you get the February issue of Empire Magazine on shelves starting tomorrow!