First and Only Weekly Online Fanzine Devoted to the Life and Works of Edgar Rice Burroughs
Since 1996 Over 15,000 Webpages and Webzines in Archive
Continued from ERBzine 2012 Reviews
In 2022, on the 10th Anniversary of the film,

I compiled many of the more recent reflective comments/reviews


by Michael D. Sellers
Read the book's Prologue HERE
It took 100 years to bring Edgar Rice Burroughs’ John Carter of Mars to the big screen. It took Disney Studios just ten days to declare the film a flop and lock it away in the Disney vaults. How did this project, despite its quarter-billion dollar budget, the brilliance of director Andrew Stanton, and the creative talents of legendary Pixar Studios, become a calamity of historic proportions? Michael Sellers, a filmmaker and Hollywood insider himself, saw the disaster approaching and fought to save the project – but without success. In John Carter and the Gods of Hollywood, Sellers details every blunder and betrayal that led to the doom of the motion picture – and that left countless Hollywood careers in the wreckage. JOHN CARTER AND THE GODS OF HOLLYWOOD examines every aspect of Andrew Stanton's adaptation and Disney's marketing campaign and seeks to answer the question: What went wrong? it includes a history of Hollywood's 100 year effort to bring the film to the screen, and examines the global fan movement spawned by the film.

Michael D. Sellers
Editorial Reviews
"A fair, factual, and enlightening assessment of what went wrong . . . the best corporate history I've read since Disney War."  Daniel Butcher, Between Disney.

"A winning book . . . . I have no reservations in recommending John Carter and the Gods of Hollywood. Even if you only remotely hold an interest in the film or the moviemaking method, do yourself a favor and purchase this book. I cannot remember an instance when I read 350 pages of anything in 24 hours, but my level of captivation in how methodically and interestingly the content was presented should substantiate why John Carter and the Gods of Hollywood is a must-read. Grade A."  Brett Nachman, Geeks of Doom.

"Extensively researched . . . fascinating . . . an engrossing experience, kind of like watching the Titanic headed for the fateful iceberg."  Josh Whalen,

Available at AMAZON

My original review of JOHN CARTER showed up in my Memories today. My opinion hasn’t changed.
10 Years Ago ~ Joe Jusko
Okay, I assume most people who wanted to see it, have seen it by now. I have read numerous postings and reviews, most of which seemed really positive and many which were repetitive of the complaints posted before the film's release. I LOVED IT! I know the books like the back of my hand, so I was skeptical (but still optimistic) going in due mainly to the horrendous marketing and several clips I had seen. Was it the book? Yes and no, but the first point I made when I recommended it post viewing was to forget the books for a couple of hours. I know how hard that can be. I read Jurassic Park two days before the movie's release and hated the film, because it wasn't the book (and never could be). What is in the reader's head will never match what is visually set before them by a third party. I've learned since then to completely separate the source material from the films (I now adore Jurassic Park for the FILM it is, as I do John Carter) and I'm happy if there is even a resemblance to the book onscreen. John Carter has achieved much more than that. Plot devices were constructed to tie different books together, scenes were left out completely and characters were altered. All necessary when adapting a book, especially a 100 year old book that has had elements pillaged countless times during the ensuing century since it was written) to make it relevant and timely. Was it "our" John Carter? I didn't like the long hair (too Sword & Sorcery for me), the inconsistencies in his vernacular (no proper southerner would say "That DON'T look like a fair fight to me") and I HATED the growling of every line to infer manliness. What's with the growling every actor adopts in roles like this?? Even John Cusack was growling as Poe in the previews of The Raven! STOP GROWLING!!! John Wayne, Robert Mitchum and Burt Lancaster didn't growl, and I never doubted their manhood. STOP GROWLING!!!

Overall I thought Taylor Kitsch did a great job as JC, something I was unprepared for. I was also unsure of Lynn Collins, but by the end of the film I came to believe she embodies the best Sci-Fi heroine since Princess Leia. Yup, I said it. She was great. Stop bitching that she wasn't naked. That would have looked ridiculous. Woola was obviously the biggest "Disneyfication" in the film, but was so charming that he stole every scene he was in. I did not quite understand the rendition of the White Apes (though the scene was brilliant). Were they blind or nearsighted, and why did they have fur? Smal issue that didn't detract from the FILM at all. LOVED the Tharks! Almost exactly as I imagined them when I painted the ERB card set in 1995. I wouldn't change a thing, and the personality brought to each was admirable. Hard core fans need to realize that a movie of this sort needs to appeal to a much larger demographic than we who know the books. Linda (who knew NOTHING of the books or characters other than my paintings leaned over to me about a third of the way through and said, "I just love this movie.". So did her kids, who also have never read the books. The movie succeeds at what it was meant to be, a wonderfully imagined, sometimes epic looking fantasy. I recommend it to everyone.

As an addendum, one scene in particular had me grinning from ear to ear. At one point JC dives into a stampeding horde of Warhoon and there is a shot of him slashing away, knee deep in a  dead and dying pile of Green Men that looked more like a Frank Frazetta painting come to life than anything I have ever seen before. That one clip alone would have made the movie worthwhile for me, had it not been as good as it turned out to be.  If this film bombs the fault will lie completely with the marketing department at Disney.

Lynn Collins Opens Up About Devastating John Carter Movie Blowback
John Carter actor Lynn Collins has opened up about the devastating effect the film's failure had on her and her career as a woman in film.
John Carter actor Lynn Collins has opened up about the devastating effect the film's failure had on her. John Carter tells the story of a Civil War vet who is transported to a barren planet where he is imprisoned by 12-foot tall barbarians. The film is based on the story A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs and was helmed by Finding Dory director Andrew Stanton. John Carter boasted an all-star cast including Taylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins, Willem Dafoe, Mark Strong, Ciarán Hinds and Bryan Cranston, and was released in 2012.

Everything seemed to be right for John Carter. The film was based on source material that had inspired sci-fi giants like Dune and Star Wars, it had an all-star cast, and was being produced by Disney. Despite all of this, upon its release, John Carter was a disaster. While the film managed to gain a significant amount of hype while it was in production, these days many moviegoers don't even remember that John Carter exists. This, of course, was a major disappointment to both the cast and crew of the film who had put so much work into making what they believed was going to be a very special film.

In a recent article from The Wrap, many cast and crew members of John Carter were interviewed about their thoughts on the flop ten years later. Perhaps one of the most upsetting stories comes from co-star Collins who played Dejah Thoris. While many of the male cast members were upset about the response to John Carter, Collins' experience nearly ended her career. According to Collins, the night after the premiere she was told by her manager to disappear for a while, as she was "the one who’s going to get the heat for this." When Collins asked why, she was told simply "usually that’s what happens," meaning as the female star, she will be blamed. See her full quote below:

    “'You’re just going to have to disappear because you’re the one who’s going to get the heat for this.'”

    “It was so indicative of that stereotypical, the woman gets the brunt. Like really sh–ty. Taylor went on to continue to work, he did ‘Battleship’ and other things, but basically my people shelved me for a while. This is so devastating because it wasn’t just the film disappointing me, now it was the entire industry and my representation. And I ended up firing those people. It took like a year for me to do that, but I took a break and tried to figure out, up until then my career and my work, I really allowed it to define me.”

Collins has gone on to detail that while her co-star Kitsch continued to work, her agency decided to shelve her for a while due to the failure of John Carter. For Collins, this added insult to injury, as it wasn't just the film that was disappointing her anymore, it was the industry as well. Collins has admitted that she did eventually fire her representation, though it took her a year to finally do it. Up until that point Collins has stated that she allowed her career to define her, and she didn't want that anymore.

While Collins' story is certainly upsetting, this is, of course, not the first time this has happened. Many films before John Carter have accused their leading lady of giving a poor performance and ruining what was likely an already flawed project. It's not surprising given the film industry is one of the many that are mainly controlled by men. However, with people like Collins opening up and sharing their stories, perhaps this issue can be changed. It is sad that John Carter did not live up to the expectations of fans and its filmmakers, however, this can hardly be blamed on Collins.

John Carter: Everything That Went Wrong With Disney's Movie
John Carter remains one of Disney’s biggest flops, so what caused this sci-fi epic to be written off as one of the company’s greatest mistakes?

John Carter Director And Writer Andrew Stanton Reveals His Plans For A Sequel

Andrew Stanton, the director and writer for Disney’s live-action adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ John Carter of Mars, recently revealed his plans for a sequel to the film, which he titled ‘God of Mars.’ Stanton’s revelation came in a lengthy article published by TheWrap dissecting John Carter’s long road to the big screen and its subsequent failure at the box office and poor critic reviews.

The film, which was released in 2012, starred Taylor Kitch as John Carter, Lynn Collins as Dejah Thoris, Mark Strong as Matai Shang, Thomas Haden Church as Tal Hajus, Samantha Morton as Sola, and Willem Dafoe as Tars Tarkas. According to The-Numbers, it earned a measly $73 million at the domestic box office and $209.7 million at the international box office for a worldwide total of $282.7 million. It had an estimated production budget of $263.7 million.

Stanton first detailed that the second film’s opening prologue would be narrated by Lynn Collins’ Dejah Thoris character, and like Willem Dafoe’s Tars Tarkin’s narration in the first film it would provide a brief explanation on the history of the world in case you hadn’t seen the first film.

The prologue in the first film sees Dafoe state, “Mars. So you name it, and think that you know it. The Red Planet. No air, no life. But you do not know Mars, for its true name is Barsoom. And it is not airless, nor is it dead, but it is dying.” It continues, “The city of Zodanga saw to that. Zodanga, the predator city, moving, devouring, draining Barsoom of energy and life. Only the great city of Helium dared resist, stood strong, matched Zodanga airship for airship, holding fast for a thousand years.”
“Until one day the rule of Zodanga became cornered in a sandstorm and everything changed,” it concludes.

Stanton explained his decision, “I love the idea of you were going to open with the prologue. It was going to be that every movie had a different character saying the prologue. The first one is Willem, as Tars. The second one’s prologue narration was going to be Dejah. And it was going to give anybody that hadn’t seen the first movie a little precursor of the history that got you to this movie.”

He then went on to provide specifics about the prologue from Dejah Thoris telling TheWrap, “Shorthand, interesting imagery, whether it was artwork or whatever. And then you were going to reveal she was telling it to her baby. And you were going to realize, Oh my God, it’s the child. It’s Carthoris, this child of Dejah Thoris and Carter. And that story she’s telling, she’s telling the story of the father that this child will never know.”

Stanton continued to reveal what he had planned for the opening of this sequel, “And then her dad, Ciarán Hinds’ character, Tardos Mors, said she’s been up too long, she’s tired, let her grandfather have a moment with the child and I’ll put her to bed. Then it was going to be revealed to be Matai Shang in shapeshifting mode. And he was going to steal the baby. And then it was going to go onto the opening credits.”
“The next image after the opening credits was going to be Carter lying in his funeral suit in the middle of the desert, just looking like a dead body in a wake and just waking up,” he detailed.

Next, Stanton relayed, “Then he’s just going to take off his jacket like it was nothing and just start walking. And then eventually, just like out of ‘Lawrence of Arabia,’ way out in the horizon, is going to come a Thark on a thoat. And he’s going to surprise Carter by saying he knows exactly who he is and there’s been somebody looking for you.”

“He brings him to a camp and it’s Kantos Kan which is James Purefoy, who’d been searching forever off of any river where this guy went. And so shocked that he’s found him. And then he says, ‘You have to get back now to heal him.’ And he gets back and you think it’s going to be a reunion, only to find out that there’s been some time between the prologue and the main credits,” Stanton reveals.

Stanton continued to divulge his ideas for the sequel, “Now Dejah’s gone missing. She’s convinced that the Therns took their child and if Carter ever comes back, she went down the River Iss to try and find him.” “And then, like ‘Beneath the Planet of the Apes,’ it all takes place, everybody going into the earth to find out who’s really been controlling the whole planet. There’s a whole race down there that has been with high tech,” he continued.

Stanton explained, “Basically, it’s been a third world without anybody knowing it on the top of the surface and the first world’s been inside the whole time operating the air, the water, the everything to keep the world functioning.”

“And yeah, I can keep going. But I’ve never told anybody the beginning of that. You can hold that dear,” he concluded.

John Carter 2: The Director of the Cancelled John Carter 2 Reveals the Story
The film’s commercial and critical failures are more well-known than the film itself. The prospect of director Andrew Stanton’s would-be franchise-starter flopping seemed out of the question. However, on March 9, 2012, the film that Stanton had waited decades to create premiered to the little box office and terrible critical reviews. The picture grossed $284 million worldwide, which would have considered it a success if the studio hadn’t compared it to an estimated $300 million production budget. The dream vanished, as did any possibility of launching a daring new sci-fi series. Those who watched the film and enjoyed it puzzled for years why it bombed so badly. Those who didn’t care condemned it as another botched Hollywood money grab.

For those who haven’t watched the first film or need a refresher, the plot of the first film is as follows: Between 1868 and 1881, Confederate Army captain John Carter (played by Taylor Kitsch) accidentally sends himself to Mars with an extraterrestrial medallion he discovers while escaping Union forces. Carter realizes that his bone density, along with the planet’s low gravity, grants him exceptional physical capabilities upon his arrival on Mars (dubbed Barsoom by its residents). The terribly lost human soldier is soon confronted by the Green Martians, known as Tharks, headed by Tars Tarkas (Willem Dafoe). Unbeknownst to Carter, social unrest is increasing amongst the various Martian species, with Red Martian princess Dejah Thoris (Lynn Collins) trapped in the crossfire. The shape-shifting Therns, headed by Matai Shang (Mark Strong), complicate matters even further, resulting in a deadly struggle on several fronts. Carter returns to Mars after faking his death, duping Shang, and winning an old challenge that had kept him locked on Earth in the first film.

Several times in the months leading up to the release of John Carter in 2012, Stanton stated that he had plans for sequels if the original picture was a hit. He did not, however, reveal what those intentions were or what the sequels would entail. That is, until now.

The one-and-done John Carter, which was supposed to kick off a film trilogy based on Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Barsoom writings, failed to owe to a number of issues that were practically impossible to forecast when the movie was greenlit. One of the most significant roadblocks that the project never overcame was its ill-fated marketing effort. MT Carney, Disney’s new movie marketing chief, chose to remove “of Mars” from the title during production. Stanton did not agree, but he also did not object to the decision. “It wasn’t my decision,” Stanton said to TheWrap. “It was recommended, and I didn’t argue against it.” They didn’t realize it at the time, but a sequel was becoming increasingly unlikely. The marketing was too convoluted and perplexing.

Teasers, posters, and other promotional materials began to appear online in July 2011, but none of them acknowledged Stanton, Burroughs, or any of the other illustrious authors behind the project. Stanton had directed Pixar’s Finding Nemo eight years before, and Burroughs had developed the character Tarzan, but none of those details were used in the film’s marketing. It was Stanton’s first foray into directing a live-action movie, but his significant success as a filmmaker persuaded Disney executives to give him a chance. Unfortunately, their faith in him was not represented in the promotion. Ultimately, because John Carter’s marketing was so poor, a sequel was nearly hard to produce.

Stanton was certainly the perfect guy for the job, but a puzzling marketing plan, along with the difficulties of an animation director’s first step into live-action, led to the project’s demise.

We’re unlikely to see Gods of Mars on the big screen (at least not from Stanton or Disney), so this new knowledge is the closest we’ll come to see what may have been.

Tom Cruise Wanted To Star In ‘John Carter,’ Lost To Actor Taylor Kitsch

John Carter: Never made sequel actually sounds epic

'John Carter': Still an Underappreciated Sci-Fi Gem 10 Years Later

Ten years ago, 'John Carter' followed its own creative path and established itself as a cult classic in the making.

John Carter Director Details Abandoned Sequel on Disney Flop's 10th Anniversary
John Carter could have been a big franchise at Disney, but after flopping at the box office, sequel ideas were dropped.
“One of the worst campaigns in the history of cinema”: ‘John Carter’, the nightmare of 200 million for Disney

2012 Flop ‘John Carter’ Director Andrew Stanton
Talks About Scrapped Plots of Sequels

Andrew Stanton’s Never-Made John Carter Sequel
Would Have Revealed the Secrets of Mars

10 Years Later: John Carter
It flopped at the box office, but has this sci-fi adventure become worthy of cult classic status a decade later?

Andrew Stanton Remembers

Interview excerpts from
Nov. 22, 2022

. . . VULTURE: After WALL-E, you famously made a foray into big-budget live-action movies with John Carter, which was a huge dream project for you but was regarded as a big disappointment at the time. Now I feel like it’s being reclaimed. Do you get that sense at all?

STANTON: This sounds like a joke, but it’s true: On every shoot I’ve done in the last seven years, there’ll be a moment we’re about to roll and a grip will be pushing the dolly cart or something and he’ll pass me and whisper, “I really like John Carter.” And I’ll say, “You don’t have to whisper anymore. It’s not as much of a stigma.”

With John Carter, I definitely got accused of pooping my pants in the schoolyard, and there’s no way I’ll ever get to take that away. At the time, I went to a level of depression that you would expect somebody to go. I had my lost weekend, and then I picked myself up and then I powered through.

I watch John Carter once a year just to ask myself, “Was I off on something?” But no — that’s the movie I wanted to make. Where I was off was I thought there was a larger audience worthy of the budget who’d want to see that film. It was a smaller group, but it existed nonetheless. It’ll always hurt that I couldn’t finish the trilogy, that I couldn’t see all these other crew members and cast members who were planning on doing the other two. Other than that, I’m very happy that it’s kind of unsullied.
Sci-fi is never about ‘I hope everything turns out okay.’ Sci-fi is always about what’s going to go wrong and how are we going survive it.

VULTURE: The knock on John Carter at the time was that even though it was based on a far older series of novels, elements of it had made their way into Avatar and Star Wars and so many other big films that it just felt too derivative in 2012. But what struck me about the film was that it was so unlike those other movies. I mean, to have a sci-fi action movie where the character just leaps great distances — I remember watching that and thinking, Oh, this is delightful, but audiences who are into the badass mode of action stars aren’t going to know what to do with that. The film had a sense of goofiness and visual humor that probably turned off some people. I wonder if some of that comes from the fact that you came out of Pixar.

STANTON: Yeah, I mean, I’m one of the OGs of Pixar. If there’s a Pixar goofiness, that’s because that’s me and that’s Pete [Docter], and that’s Joe [Ranft] and that was John [Lasseter]. It’s a product of us and a product of the garage band we were. Then we found other people who liked those same tastes. So, it doesn’t surprise me to suddenly be taken out of that and find out how much of that sound still comes out with me alone.

But to bring it back to WALL-E, I had discovered this idea of expanding moments, of taking these small micro moments that you might either edit out or pass over — discovering a laser dot on the ground, or taking the time to pause and inspect something — and turning them into whole scenes. I realized the power of that on WALL-E. It’s like slow cinema, and those were my nascent baby steps into that. I’ve certainly indulged in that even more since. On John Carter, I took this simple idea that we take for granted of jumping, and went, What if we treated it as odd as it could be, and how long could we indulge in it?


Visit our thousands of other sites at:
ERB Text, ERB Images and Tarzan® are ©Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc.- All Rights Reserved.
All Original Work ©1996-2022 by Bill Hillman and/or Contributing Authors/Owners
No part of this web site may be reproduced without permission from the respective owners.