Andrew Stanton Q&A: Making 'John Carter', the Importance of Animators, and the Secret of Pixar’s Success
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Q: What can you tell us about the possibility of parts two and three? Will they be shot back to back?
A: We bought the rights to the first three books when we first started. I said to them, “Look, I’m usually the guy at Pixar who’s most reluctant to do the sequel". The irony’s not lost on me that, here I am saying we should plan for more, because all eleven books were written by the 60s. They were all written before I was born. I was introduced to them as a series, and so I wanted to launch them properly. My fan wish is that we’ll go to all those stories and make more.
Whether I do them or not, I thought, let’s set it off right, from the off. Because you never get time back. The worse case scenario is that you’ll plan for more but only make one. But what I’d hate is that you’d plan for one with no preparation for the others, because it’ll show. It’ll really bite you in the back end. So I never expected anyone to say we’d definitely do more than one, because it’s a huge risk for them. I didn’t expect them to be.
It’s a huge chunk of change to make something this big. So it made complete sense to me, from their side of the fence, to wait until the movie’s out. But that two to three years of planning, I’ll never get back. So the worst case is that it was a writing exercise for me, to just plan the others and never do them. I’ll never have any regrets, even planning three all along.
Q: Obviously, so many other films have pilfered ideas from the John Carter books. Were you worried that your film will seem over familiar?
A: Well, I wouldn’t have made it if I was worried about that, because there’s no way around it. You may as well not make it if you’re worried about that – it’s a fool’s errand. So, that’s just the reality. I know where it’s from, so my big thing was, how do I make it feel like it felt like to read it?
I mean, there’s a million cop movies with car chases in them. There’s a million romantic stories where she runs away, and will he get her back? You could chase that for ever. When you watch this film alone, does it feel like its own thing? I just wanted it to be pure for what it was. So, again, if I cared too much about that, I shouldn’t have made it.
Q: Why did you drop Mars from the title?
A: Here’s the real truth of it: I changed A Princess Of Mars to John Carter Of Mars. I don’t like to get fixated on it, but I changed Princess Of Mars [the original name of the first book in the series]. I changed that because not a single boy would go. And then the other truth is, no girl would go to see John Carter Of Mars. So I said, “I don’t won’t to do anything out of fear, I hate doing things out of fear, but I can’t ignore that truth.”
And all the time we were making this big character story, it just so happens that they happen to be in this big, spectacular new environment, but it’s not the spectacle, it’s the investment. I thought, I’ve really worked hard to make all of this an origin story. It’s about a guy becoming John Carter. So I’m not misrepresenting what this movie is, it’s John Carter. And if that gets people going that were being simple-minded and not gone, great, because, believe me, Mars is going to stick on any other film. But by then, it won’t have a stigma to it.