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While the best known of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ creations are now in the public domain—Tarzan and John Carter among them—not all the books in those series are out of copyright and trademarks remain. Thus it was that Dynamite’s books such as Lord of the Jungle and Dejah Thoris roused first ire and then legal firepower at ERB, Inc, which filed a lawsuit a couple of years ago claiming trademark infringement. Dynamite responded but kept publishing their books, and the lawsuit dragged on. But now everything is happy as, as with the many times that Batman and Captain America have fought, they have eventually realizes that they are on the same team. And thus ERB and Dynamite have buried the hatchet and announced a publishing PARTNERSHIP that will see Dynamite publish books with the titles John Cater Warlord of Mars, and Tarzan and so on. It’s also because after the massive floparoo of the John Carter movie, Disney/Marvel has let go of the rights.
Good times for everyone! More money for publishers and less for lawyers one hopes.
BTW, if you read my above link, you’ll see some smart law types chiming in saying that the original suit had some pretty important IP rulings at its heart. Looks like they won’t be settle this time.
Click below the PR for a gallery of ERB’s greatest comics hits.
Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc., the company founded by the author to protect and maintain his literary creations, and one of the comics industry’s leaders, Publisher Dynamite Entertainment, announced today a comprehensive agreement that will see the return of Burroughs’ original “John Carter: Warlord of Mars” to the pages of comic books, comic strips and graphic novels. The agreement allows for the world-wide publication of the John Carter universe as well as “Lord of the Jungle” and ERB’s library of archival material.
The initiative comes on the heels of the reacquisition of comic book rights by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. that had been held by Walt Disney Pictures and its Marvel Entertainment subsidiary, as well as a recent legal settlement with Dynamite that cleared the way for Dynamite to introduce key characters and plot elements from the John Carter backstory that were, until now, absent from recent comic book interpretations.
“It was important to us that we reacquire the comic book and comic strip rights from Marvel Entertainment so we could reintroduce them in the market place. We’re excited to see the exploits of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ first science fiction adventure hero brought to life in their fullness by the passionate creative talents assembled by the folks at Dynamite,” said James Sullos, President of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. “They’re true fans - and it shows on every page and in every idea they’ve shared with us. Now fans everywhere will be able to appreciate the original adventure stories that later spawned Flash Gordon, Superman, Star Wars and Avatar.”
“Working together with Jim and the team at ERB, we will be taking the worlds of John Carter and The Lord of the Jungle publishing initiatives to a new level. There’s a rich history, and an incredible amount of archival material in the ERB library, and we’re looking forward to bringing it to the fans around the world. This is the beginning of a great relationship.” states Nick Barrucci, CEO and Publisher of Dynamite Entertainment. “I can’t express how happy and excited everyone at Dynamite is to be working hand in hand with everyone at ERB, Inc”.
John Carter debuted in 1912 as the lead character in Edgar Rice Burroughs’ first novel, serialized as Under the Moons of Mars in the pulp magazine, The All-Story, and later published as a complete novel retitled A Princess of Mars. The character excited the imagination of readers and quickly imprinted onto the public psyche. As many literary and popular culture scholars attest, John Carter served as the template for a litany of adventure heroes to follow, from Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers, and Superman to the Jedi knights of Star Wars fame and most recently, Avatar.
In planning for a late 2014 relaunch, Dynamite Entertainment confirmed that the new comic book series will be titled John Carter: Warlord of Mars. Dynamite will also republish other John Carter assets, going back as far as the early 1940s comic strips by John Coleman Burroughs, the son of Edgar Rice Burroughs.
In a related development, new John Carter: Warlord of Mars “adventure strip” episodes will make their online debut in early summer as part of the Edgar Rice Burroughs Digital Comic Strip Service at www.edgarriceburroughs.com/comics. Written by the legendary Roy Thomas, with art by Pegaso (Rodolfo Perez Garcia) of Mexico City, this series will invite readers to accompany John Carter and his compatriots on exciting adventures that delve into the rich, storied history of Barsoom (as the inhabitants of Mars refer to their planet). As with the other nine series featured on the site, including Tarzan and Carson of Venus, the first four episodes of John Carter: Warlord of Mars will be viewable at no charge.
I still haven’t seen Andrew Stanton’s John Carter, but that didn’t lessen (and perhaps enhanced) my enjoyment of this nifty character animation reel put together by Emanuele Pavarotti, who worked on the film at Double Negative. Pavarotti has organized the reel nicely to give a sense of how his scenes progressed from video reference to blocking to final animation, and finally, FX/cloth/compositing passes. He even drops in comments throughout the reel to explain how certain shots evolved. Emanuele has recently been working at Blue Sky Studios on Epic and the forthcoming Rio 2.
In a rare trifecta, animation artists ruled the top three spots at the box office this weekend. The number one spot, with an estimated $35 million, belonged to the TV adaptation of 21 Jump Street. It heralded the live-action feature directing debut of Phil Lord and Chris Miller, who were the co-creators of MTV/Teletoon’s Clone High and the directors of Sony’s Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. Second place went to Illumination Entetainment’s The Lorax which earned an estimated $22.8M in its third weekend, pushing its total to a robus $158.4M. Rounding out the top three was Andrew Stanton’s John Carter, which dropped 55% from its first weekend to an estimated $13.5M. The Disney flop’s two-week total is $53.2M and is headed to a final domestic tally of $90-100M.
Disney’s John Carter, a live action film, was the first VFX movie to be directed like a keyframed feature animation. Animator Patrick Giusiano put this interesting video together, showing the process involved with animating his shots.
Disney’s John Carter, a live action film, was the first VFX movie to be directed like a keyframed feature animation. Animator Patrick Giusiano put this interesting video together, showing the process involved with animating his shots.
This morning at 6.31 am (British Summer Time), Johnny and Clara Mackintosh (and their Old English sheepdog, Bentley) made history: thanks to NASA and its Mars Curiosity rover, they became the first literary heroes to literally land on another world. And all broadcast live in Times Square – wow!
Johnny, Clara and Bentley, lowered to the Martian surface on the back of Curiosity (courtesy JPL)
The descent was scary (I wrote a piece about it for Bookzone4Boys) – even NASA had described it as “seven minutes of terror”. Eventually the Mars Science Laboratory landed by “skycrane” in Gale Crater, a perfect location to examine millions of years of Martian geology in one go. Onboard was a microchip onto which had been etched the names of some of the people of Earth, the very first ambassadors to land on another planet. And among those names were:
I confess I’m delighted to say “Keith Mansfield” was also included.
Some great fictional stories have been set on Mars, but the paper or celluloid that tells them remains firmly grounded here on our island Earth. John Carter may have disappointed in cinemas lately, but Edgar Rice Burroughs’ series of “Barsoom” books are classics. A film that brought the red planet properly to life saw the now-Governator of California star as Doug Quaid in Dutch director Paul Verhoeven’s 1990 masterpiece, Total Recall. Why anyone feels the need to remake a movie that was originally so stunning is a mystery, but I’ll reserve judgement until I’ve seen Len Wiseman’s remake.
As a child I grew up reading the late, great Ray Bradbury, whose thoughtful Martian Chronicles helped inspire the stories I’ve written. In the first two Johnny Mackintosh books there are mentions of Mars and Johnny and Clara always intend to go there, yet somehow they never quite get round to it. In Battle for Earth they finally make the trip (I won’t spoil it for future readers by saying whether or not they find Martians).
David Bowie famously sang “Is there life on Mars?” and in a fun Doctor Who tribute, Steven Moffat christened the first fictional human settlement “Bowie Base One”. I’ve written a few pieces on whether or not there’s life of some kind on the red planet over at my Keith Mansfield website.
We’ve always found Martian exploration difficult. On page 3 of Johnny Mackintosh: Battle for Earth we read:
“Johnny and Clara had been planing their first ever visit to Mars, with Johnny telling his sister about all the probes scientists had sent to the red planet, but which had mysteriously failed to arrive.”
and then, a little later on page 61:
“Early space probes had taken intriguing but inconclusive photographs of the Martian surface, showing what were called the Pyramids of Elysium, next to what appeared to be a gigantic human face gazing upward. Johnny had always meant to visit and see for himself. For his part, Alf was curious to hear about the probes that had gone missing, so Johnny repeated the conversation he’d had with Clara, in a little more detail. Given the great expense of space exploration, the failure rate for Mars was unusually high. It wasn’t only Beagle 2 that had bitten the dust as it neared the planet. Over the years, around half the missions launched had failed for one reason or another.”
Of course the “giant face” is no more than an optical illusion, but sometimes you can’t let details like that get in the way of a good story. I first came across the pyramids through Carl Sagan’s Cosmos and these don’t only feature in Johnny Mackintosh – Total Recall also centred around the mysterious “pyramid mine”.
Nowadays we know a huge amount about this near neighbour, not least because there are actually three satellites in permanent orbit around the red planet. In the 1970s we sent the twin Viking landers to search for life (you can see a third in the Smithsonain Air and Space Museum in Washington DC). These tantalized, but also frustrated. Given the track record of previous Mars missions, this one played it relatively safe so the spacecraft set down in what proved rather dull areas – and that’s where they remained. The great thing about Curiosity is that it’s mobile.
Mars rover family portrait showing Sojourner, one of Spirit/Opportunity and then Curiosity (courtesy NASA)
We’ve come a long way in a short space of time with Mars rovers. The first was Sojourner, a little add on to the Pathfinder mission that landed in 1997. It was the size of a remote-controlled child’s toy and could only travel a few metres from the main landing station, getting up close and personal with a few interesting nearby rocks. Sojourner started the ball rolling, and the momentum was magnificently maintained by another pair of twin landers, the Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit and Opportunity, which set down early in 2004.
Mars panorama using composite images from Opportunity, showing the rover’s own tyre tracks (courtesy NASA)
Larger, more independent and mobile, it was hoped these two would function for around 90 days. Spirit lasted fully five years, becoming immobile on 2009 and finally ceasing communication in 2010. Opportunity is still going! These two have shown that we are more than capable, not just of landing on Mars, but traversing its surface.
Curiosity being put through its paces on Earth (courtesy of JPL)
Curiosity is in a different league altogether. Weighing nearly a tonne, it’s around the size of a small car. It doesn’t move quite as fast, travelling at what’s almost literally a snail’s pace, but wherever it goes, Johnny, Clara and Bentley will go with it. I hope they and I are able to move across the surface of this faraway world for many years to come.
Fresh off his success with his self published SACRIFICE – already sold out and a second printing on the way — Sam Humphries has a gig writing JOHN CARTER: THE GODS OF MARS for Marvel, an all-ages five issue mini-series which is apparently based on the second Mars novel by Edgar Rice Burroughs. The art is by Ramon Perez, fresh off TALE OF SAND, his Jim Henson adaptation for Archaia. This is a team we can get behind! The cover is by Julian Totino Tedesco
“Gods of Mars is going to be a blast — tons of action and intrigue in a fantastic environment,” said Humphries. “From Landridge and Andrade to Edgar Rice Burroughs himself, there’s an impressive foundation of awesome John Carter stories to build on. Combined with Marvel having the most exciting comics going on right now, and most talented editors in the industry – I can’t wait to get myself to Mars.”
Over at MTV News, sixteen upcoming movies were pitted against one another to determine the winner of the “MTV Movie Brawl 2012.” In the final round, almost four million votes were cast and Cosmopolis(a Don DeLillo adaptation starring Twilight actor Robert Pattinson) emerged victorious over The Hunger Games (starring Oscar-nominated actress Jennifer Lawrence).
In an interview with MTV, director David Cronenberg explained how he first learned about the brawl: “Cosmopolis, while I think in terms of what it is as cinema is pretty hefty, but in terms of budget and promotion, it’s an underdog compared to something like the Dark Knight franchise. I really didn’t think we would have much of a chance. That really got my attention.”
An animated film led the US box office for the second week in a row: Illumination Entertainment’s The Lorax dropped 44% from its first week for an estimated earning of $39.1 million. Its two-week total now stands at $122 million, making it the top grossing film of the year to date. It is currently pacing $3.5 million ahead of Illumination’s biggest hit Despicable Me, which went on to earn $251.5 million domestically.
This weekend also saw the debut of John Carter, the first live-action feature from Pixar director Andrew Stanton (WALL·E, Finding Nemo). The megabudget sci-fi film, with a reported production cost of $200-300 million and marketing costs of $100 million, was positioned as Disney’s next “tentpole” property, along the lines of the Pirates of the Carribean franchise. It opened weakly, as expected by most industry observers as well as the Disney studio itself, with an estimated $30.6 million, on a par with the opening for Disney’s Prince of Persia, which opened with $30.1 million. It trailed the debut of last year’s sci-fi Cowboys & Aliens which opened with $36.4 million. The film’s saving grace may be its overseas performance, where it has opened powerfully, especially in Russia, and has already racked up over $70 million.
One can’t even begin to imagine the pressure that Stanton is under, but he hasn’t been particularly graceful in dealing with the film’s critical reception. In interviews, Stanton has been defensive about the film’s budget, and over the weekend, he wrote an oddly worded tweet that blamed moviegoers as “jaded” if they didn’t enjoy his film:
Studio Ghibli’s The Secret World of Arrietty added an extra $402,000 boosting its US total to $17.6 million. It is the fourth highest-grossing anime film ever released in the US, behind only Pokemon: The First Movie, Pokemon: The Movie 2000, and Yu-Gi-Oh! The Movie.
Well, it’s official, JOHN CARTER is being labeled a disaster, a flop, an “Ishtar” and anything else that signifies profit-and-loss ratio infamy. The media decided a while ago that this movie was going to be a disaster for Disney, and after finishing #2 for the weekend with barely $30 million—despite making over $100 million worldwide—every ill omen has been seen as sagacious.
And the hate is baffling. Although it has only 50% on Rotten Tomatoes, if you read the reviews, the good ones read about the same as the bad ones. Critics weren’t wildly enthusiastic about the movie, but it didn’t suck.
In fact, the word of mouth is good. People who went in with an open mind seem to have been entertained.
I saw JOHN CARTER Thursday at an IMAX 3D and I loved it. It was no THE DESCENDANTS, but it was a well-made yarn, filled with wonder. Yeah I said it. WONDER. The John Carter books are hardly the Lord of the Rings — I didn’t need every klunky archaic line used. And screenwriter Michael Chabon and Andrew Stanton knew that. So they weren’t afraid to tinker and modernize many things.
What they did keep intact was the unbridled imagination of the original, a vision unencumbered by anything that reeks of marketing or focus groups. Here is a passage from the second book, THE GODS OF MARS, that sums up everything I like about Barsoom:
Its hairless body was a strange and ghoulish blue, except for a broad band of white which encircled its protruding, single eye: an eye that was all dead white–pupil, iris, and ball.
Its nose was a ragged, inflamed, circular hole in the centre of its blank face; a hole that resembled more closely nothing that I could think of other than a fresh bullet wound which has not yet commenced to bleed.
Below this repulsive orifice the face was quite blank to the chin, for the thing had no mouth that I could discover.
The head, with the exception of the face, was covered by a tangled mass of jet-black hair some eight or ten inches in length. Each hair was about the bigness of a large angleworm, and as the thing moved the muscles of its scalp this awful head-covering seemed to writhe and wriggle and crawl about the fearsome face as though indeed each separate hair was endowed with independent life.
I mean COME ON, how can you not want to see that brought to life? The Carter books were so original when written…now, having been ripped off for a hundred years, they seem like pale imitations.
But then, this has been a story that people have been trying—and failing— to bring to the screen since at least 1936. Nearly 80 years. In that year, animator Bob Clampett worked on a proposed animated version for…Walt Disney.
As others have written here, had this film actually been made—instead of SNOW WHITE—what a different world we would live in. John Carter would have had to be an animated movie. What has stymied people for years was the technology to make it.
The more recent attempts at making a movie — from Robert Rodriguez, to Kerry Conlan to Jon Favreau and so on—all faltered for probably the same reasons the movie that did get made has been vilified: too weird and yet too
If you still haven’t had your fill of “Why John Carter Failed” articles, then don’t miss New York Magazine’s lengthy read “The Inside Story of How John Carter Was Doomed by Its First Trailer.” The piece goes to excruciating lengths to absolve Disney marketing of any wrongdoing over the film’s US box office performance, and lays the blame squarely at the feet of Andrew Stanton:
While this kind of implosion usually ends in a director simmering in rage at the studio marketing department that doomed his or her movie, Vulture has learned that it was in fact John Carter director Andrew Stanton — powerful enough from his Pixar hits that he could demand creative control over trailers — who commandeered the early campaign, overriding the Disney marketing execs who begged him to go in a different direction.
The article, juicy as it is, should be taken with a grain of salt. Much of the information in the article appears to be sourced from public statements by Stanton, and only one anonymous “Disney marketing insider” is identified as having been interviewed. There are factual errors too that made me question the piece’s accuracy—the writer claims that Disney marketing approached the New Yorker in September 2011 to profile Stanton, when in fact, if you read the New Yorker piece, the writer of that piece said he’d been working on it since April 2011. At best, NY Mag’s takedown offers one version of how the film’s marketing plan derailed. The real story is likely far more complex, and won’t be understood until some point in the future.
A more insightful piece is the aforementioned New Yorker profile of Andrew Stanton, which has finally been posted online. Unlike an earlier New Yorker piece about Pixar that left me unimpressed, this profile sheds much light on Stanton’s personality and his collaboration with the lauded Pixar “Braintrust.” In spite of the profile’s positive tone, Stanton comes off as overly self assertive and oblivious to the effect of his comments, like:
“We came on this movie so intimidated: ‘Wow, we’re at the adult table!’ Three months in, I said to my producers, ‘Is it just me, or do we actually know how to do this better than live-action crews do?’ The crew were shocked that they couldn’t overwhelm me, but at Pixar I got used to having to think about everyone else’s problems months before all their pieces would come together, and I learned that I’m just better at communicating and distilling than other people.”
Arcade Fire soundtrack — check — but the remake by Peter Gabriel? “My body is a cage.” So this is a remake of AVATAR?
Yes it is! White man comes to savage land as savior and leads them against six-armed green guys and rescues atmosphere!
But — no Woola? A brief glimpse of Tars Tarkas. Incomplete grade.
Likes: Taylor Kitsch looks good. Lynn Colllins looks great as Dejah Thoris but she is wearing lots of clothes and the red Martians don’t look very red.
Unknown if like or unlike: Looks like Pixar is playing this very straight, which I guess you would have to. And considering that Avatar is the highest grossing movie ever — and was pretty much a rip-off of John Carter — its success made making this finally possible and so we have come full circle IP wise.
We don’t usually post trailers for live action films but have, when time to time, one is closely related to our field (Brad Bird’s Mission Impossible, Cameron’s Avatar and Disney’s The Muppets come to mind). Pixar’s Andrew Stanton (Finding Nemo, Wall-E) has been working on a live action adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ The Princess of Mars for the past few years, and the trailer has just been unveiled. There’s plenty of CG character animation involved (did Pixar animators do it?) and lots of action. The movie will be released in March – and I’m crossing my fingers for its success.