"John Carter" filmmaker faces risky debut with a smile

Wed Mar 7, 2012 3:42pm EST
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By Jordan Riefe

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - As a boy, Andrew Stanton fell in love with author Edgar Rice Burroughs' series of "John Carter" books about the space adventurer and his exploits on Mars.

As a man, Stanton never forgot the character even as he forged a successful career within the cozy confines of Pixar Animation Studios directing "Finding Nemo" and "WALL-E." Their combined earnings of $1.4 billion worldwide gave him the chance to make "John Carter" his live-action debut on Friday

But well before "John Carter" made it onto silver screens, the movie was plagued with negative reports over its huge cost that producers have put at $250 million, although some reports go higher. And when any expensive, high-profile movie from a hot director flops, it can spell career trouble. Stanton knows that fact of Hollywood life, but shrugs it off with a smile.

"Every picture I've been on has had a huge budget with all the world watching," Stanton told Reuters. "This is not that different other than, maybe, people are betting more against me because of the oddity of me suddenly stepping out of Pixar."

Stanton worked at Pixar in its early days before it was bought by the Walt Disney Co. when it was still a scrappy animation company run by John Lasseter and the late Steve Jobs. There, he found a tightly-knit cadre of artists and storytellers honing their skills on commercials and short films.

After the phenomenal success of 1995's "Toy Story," Pixar became the focus of a resurgence in animated film. A key to their success was subjecting rough cuts to a "brain trust" of artists, writers and directors for comments.

Filmmakers were free to take or leave advice on how to fix their movies, a luxury seldom afforded by Hollywood's major studios. When tweaked to perfection, the scene was then committed to full-blown animation.

Animators habitually plan every moment on film, but the two-time Oscar-winning director found that live-action production moved faster and was more fluid with changes. Stanton admits he ran into problems making the transition.   Continued...