Disney and Pixar Team Up for John Carter of Mars

Lynn Collins and Taylor Kitsch star in 'John Carter'
Lynn Collins and Taylor Kitsch star in ‘John Carter’

Hollywood may have finally found another magic formula in the realm of science fiction and fantasy. A full three years in advance Disney Studios announced in 2009 they were collaborating with Pixar Animation on a live-action film adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ classic pulp adventure novel, A Princess of Mars. The movie is under the able hand on veteran Pixar director Andrew Stanton (“A Bug’s Life”, “Finding Nemo”, “WALL-E”). Stanton, who also worked on screenplays for several Pixar movies, is sharing scripting duties with Michael Chabon (“Spider-man 2”).

Taylor Kitsch (“John Tucker Must Die”, “Snakes On A Plane”, “X-Men Origins: Wolverine”) has been recruited to play John Carter of Mars, a resurrected Civil War veteran who finds himself alone and friendless on Earth’s nearest neighbor. Lynn Collins (True Blood, “Uncertainty”, “The Merchant of Venice”) plays Dejah Thoris, the red-skinned Martian princess who captures John Carter’s heart and drives entire nations to wage war against one another.

Burroughs’ original story was the first of a series of novels that spanned many years. Word has it that Disney and Pixar plan to make two sequels to “John Carter of Mars”, although some media writers speculate the first three books in the series will be conflated into one movie. There is plenty of John Carter of Mars material to make more than three movies.

Other actors who have been contracted for the big budget film include Willem Dafoe (Tars Tarkas, leader of the green-skinned, four-armed Tharks), Mark Strong (Matai Shang, leader of the white-skinned Holy Therns), Dominic West (Sab Than, one of Dejah Thoris’ would-be suitors), James Purefoy (Kantos Kan, one of Carter’s trusted friends), Thomas Haden Church (Tal Hajus, the corrupt leader Tars Tarkas displaces), Samantha Morton (Sola, Tars Tarkas’ daughter), Polly Walker (Sarkoja, Sola’s Tharkian tormentor), and Daryl Sabara (the young Edgar Rice Burroughs, supposedly one of Carter’s Earth-bound kin).

A small, independent film studio, The Asylum, put together a 90-minute adaptation released on a December 2009 direct-to-DvD release. Starring Traci Lords as Dejah Thoris, this low-budget movie is called “A Princess of Mars” and it casts Antonio Sabato, Jr. in the role of John Carter (a modern soldier in this version). The Disney/Pixar “John Carter of Mars” is scheduled for release to theaters in March 2012, marking the 100th anniversary of the first publication of A Princess of Mars.