Copyright 2002 www.variety.com
[ April 12th 2002 ]
Pictures sees green in the red planet, inking
a deal to acquire rights to an 11-volume science-fiction
adventure series written decades ago by Edgar
Rice Burroughs, author of the original Tarzan
legend. Under the deal, Paramount has agreed to
option the John Carter of Mars serial for a 300,000
upfront fee and to pay a 2 million sum if the
studio brings the work to production.
producers Jim Jacks and Sean Daniels' Alphaville
Prods. plans to turn the first book into a movie.
Although Rice Burroughs is best known for having
penned the iconic Tarzan of the Apes, the English
writer's first book was A Princess of Mars. Written
in 1912, it was serialized in All-Story magazine
under his nom de plume, Normal Bean.
told Daily Variety that three of the best-known
books (which include "Gods of Mars" and "The Warlord
of Mars") are likely to be made into films of
a scope "akin to 'The Lord of the Rings' and 'Star
Wars,' but were impossible to make before, because
CGI (technology) wasn't there." The massive scope
and special-effects demands of the project weren't
the only reasons the film was not made previously.
a decade, Disney spent millions developing the
"Mars" books as both a live-action and animation
franchise for Cinergi, the production venture
of Mario Kassar and Andy Vajna. Disney showered
millions on the projects, developing for Tom Cruise
to star and John McTiernan to direct. The Mouse
House ultimately failed to greenlight production
of either incarnation. Jacks acknowledged that
there "is a complicated legal situation and significant
rights (still) need to be acquired."
the deal is interesting for Paramount. Other than
its Star Trek franchise, Paramount is not usually
the home to pricey effects-driven fantasy films,
though it found success with Lara Croft: Tomb
Raider. Studio brass obviously take comfort in
knowing Jacks and Daniels are on the job - the
duo made Universal's wildly successful The Mummy
and The Mummy Returns movies, which have a combined
worldwide gross of more than $840 million.
of that franchise, The Scorpion King, which Alphaville
also produced, opens this month - though Jacks
noted the Mars books were not necessarily intended
as a starring vehicle for King star Dwayne Johnson
(aka the Rock). Coupling science-fiction and romantic
derring-do, A Princess of Mars is the first adventure
of John Carter, a veteran of the American Civil
War who, while resting in a cave, finds himself
transported to Mars.
of a dusty, lifeless rock, Carter finds Mars populated
with giant (predictably green) men, and creatures
both friendly and ferocious, disembodied and embodied.
Along the way, Carter must save a princess, Dejah
Burroughs, grandson of Edgar Rice Burroughs and
a director of the rights holding company, noted
that Disney was hardly the first to have tried
to create an animated film from the John Carter
series. In 1936, Rice Burroughs collaborated with
Warner Bros. animator Bob Clampett (who as a teen
in 1930 had developed the first licensed Mickey
Mouse doll for Walt Disney) to make a cartoon
feature from the Carter books.
was brokered by attorney Sandra Galfas on behalf
of the Rice Burroughs estate; she was not available