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As Disney begins to get nervous about "Narnia," Pixar now sets its sights on "Mars"

As Disney begins to get nervous about "Narnia," Pixar now sets its sights on "Mars"

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Last week, the trades were full of stories about how Brad Bird was getting ready to make his live action debut. How the director of "The Incredibles" and "Ratatouille" would soon be helming the big screen adaptation of James Dalessandro's "1906."

Now some animation fans had initially assumed that this disaster pic (Which will recreate the Great San Francisco Earthquake) would be Pixar's initial foray into live action. Well, not quite. "1906" will actually be a co-production, with Warners and Disney / Pixar splitting this sure-to-be-expensive movie's production costs.

Mind you, Pixar Animation Studios is getting ready to put its first really-for-real live action project into production. Don't believe me? Okay. Then check out the batch of domain names that the Walt Disney Company registered this past Friday:

  • JOHNCARTERANDTHEGODSOFMARS.COM
  • JOHNCARTERANDTHEWARLORDOFMARS.COM
  • GODSOFMARS-MOVIE.COM
  • GODSOFMARSMOVIE.COM
  • THEGODSOFMARS-MOVIE.COM
  • THEGODSOFMARSMOVIE.COM
  • THEWARLORDOFMARS-MOVIE.COM
  • THEWARLORDOFMARSMOVIE.COM
  • WARLORDOFMARS-MOVIE.COM


 Copyright 1999 Frank Frazetta. All Rights Reserved

These titles -- coupled with the ...

  • JOHNCARTEROFMARS-MOVIE.COM
  • JOHNCARTEROFMARS-THEMOVIE.COM
  • JOHNCARTEROFMARSTHEMOVIE.COM

... domain names that the Mouse snagged back on August 18, 2007 as well as that

  • CHILDRENOFMARS.COM


Copyright 1999 Frank Frazetta. All Rights Reserved

... name that Mickey registered back in November suggest that what Andrew Stanton supposedly told the staff at Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. back in October of last year is true. That Disney / Pixar definitely is gearing up to do a trilogy of films based on the "John Carter of Mars" books.

According to what Mouse House insiders recently told me, Mark Andrews has allegedly already completed a first pass on a screenplay for the first film in the proposed "Mars" series. And given that both Pixar and Disney execs have reportedly responded very enthusiastically to Andrews' script ... Well, both companies are now anxious to put this project in the development pipeline ASAP.

"So what sort of timetable are we talking about here?," you ask. Well, really serious work on the first "Mars" movie can't get underway 'til this Fall. Which is when Stanton will finally be through with all of his "WALL * E" -related promotional obligations (i.e. First Andrew has to spend several weeks this spring helping to promote the domestic & international release of Pixar's latest. Then -- after a short break -- Stanton has to jump right back in and begin promoting the DVD version of "WALL * E").

But all of this actual selling-of-"WALL-*-E" work is completed ... Andrew is then expected to sit down with Mark & Jim Morris (i.e. A Lucasfilm Digital vet who made the jump to Pixar back in 2005. He's reportedly been tapped to be the producer on the "Mars" project) and map out a battle plan for "John Carter of Mars." Which is now tentatively slated to be release in 2012 ... or possibly earlier.


Copyright 2008 Disney / Walden Media. All Rights Reserved

"Why earlier?," you ask. Well ... From what I've heard, studio suits seem to be cooling to the idea of producing movie versions of all seven of C.S. Lewis's "Narnia" books. And unless "The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian" does truly huge box office once it's released to theaters in May of this year ... Disney & Walden Media (i.e. Mickey's partner on the "Narnia" film series) will probably still go forward with production of the already-in-development "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader." But after that ... The Mouse would then mostly likely pull the plug on the rest of the proposed "Narnia" film series.

And were that to happen ... That would then leave Walt Disney Pictures with a very big hole in its release schedule for 2011 and beyond. And given "Narnia" was initially supposed to have been this on-going franchise, with the Mouse once envisioning releasing a brand-new chapter in the "Chronicles" to theaters every May from 2008 through 2013 ... Well, Mickey would love to be able to fill that hole with another film franchise.

Which explains some of the urgency that now surrounds the "John Carter" films. Should "Prince Caspian" stumble once it hits theaters this Spring, Disney may be looking for Pixar to begin its mission to "Mars" pretty damned quick.

So what do you folks think? Are you ready for Pixar to move into live action? Or are you more troubled by the idea that Disney seems to losing its nerve just two books into the "Chronicles of Narnia" film series?

Your thoughts?

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  • I thought one Narnia movie was enough - but I thought that about the books too.  I haven't ever read the John Carter series, but the covers you're showing here are pretty scary.  All and all, my reaction is meh.

  • I hope not. The Narnia books are such a rich, rich source and  I much prefer them to the Potter books. As a child, my favourites were the final two (The Silver Chair and The Last Battle) and I was looking forward to seeing them realised on the silver screen. The Lion, the Witch wasn't great but nor was it too bad and it (surprisingly ) wasn't holed below the waterline by employing frightful stage school kids in the leading roles. Always puzzled me how British kids can't act whereas their American counterparts can. Maybe they spin a cocoon at 18 and come out a decade later as Daniel Day Lewis...

  • I don't think Prince Caspian will sell enough tickets this spring.  It opens three days before Indiana Jones 4!  So, yeah, three days of business and then it will vanish.   Although some people will see both, most theater goers will have to make a choice.  And I bet they go with Indy vs Aliens.

  • No! Continue the NARNIA series! There's no reason to pull the plug! You started something and you have to end it!

  • I'm not excited yet for Pixar to go into live-action.  Now Disney does the traditionally animated films and Pixar does the computer generated films.  In the long run, what kinds of live-action films will Pixar make?  

    I hope Narnia does well- it'd be a shame to only release 2 or 3 movies out of the series.  Disney needs to have hope!  I didn't know about Indy 4 coming out so shortly after, though.  I think more younger kids will see Narnia vs. Indy, so hopefully the families with younger kids will choose Narnia...

  • It kind of bothers me that Disney is not planning on, at least now, taking their narnia project full circle.  Ok so the first two didn't do so hot, but obviously other companies worry about this franchise being that someone, forgive me for not remembering whom, released and plans to make the Golden Compass series.  I'm one of those people that believes that if you start something you have to carry it through, and Disney is doing just the opposite of that!

  • How about a little perspective here? The first Narnia movie made nearly $300M domestically and nearly $750M worldwide. That was within spitting distance of the figures for Fellowship of the Ring. That was a phenomenal financial success given the incredible popularity of the LOTR series. No one anticipates the other Narnia movies will come close to matching the LOTR second and third movies, but that doesn't mean they're not worth making. Even if they only make $200M domestically and $500M worldwide, doesn't that sound worthwhile? Of course there will always be someone to call them a "failure"...

    I never read the Narnia books (instead reading LOTR seven times), but I enjoyed the Lion, Witch, & Wardrobe, and I look forward to Prince Caspian.

  • Narnia has more name recognition than John Carter of Mars.  It would be a mistake to expect the latter to do better than the former, I think.  Especially given the disappointing figures for space epics without "Star Wars" in the title as of late.

  • My daughter is looking forward to the second Narnia film. Also regarding Pixar doing live films, I think that's great. Why be limited to past experience. Or should I say Why type cast Pixar as "that studio that makes computer animation?" I hope all their fils do well.

  • As a longtime fan of the Narnia series I thought the first movie was terrific and have been looking forward to Prince Caspian and the others to come.  I think these are exactly the sort of classics Disney has done so well with and should make.  

  • Woo Hoo !!! It looks like a John Carter Movie is FINALLY going to happen ! Ptttht  to Naria ! ( christian propaganda- same old- mainstream fantasy bla bla bla ) Give use the green martians, sword fights and interplanetary romance we deserve !

  • *sigh*  Studios never learn, do they?

    Narnia is a "long tail" project.  You do all the movies, make sure that you at least break even on the inital release, then make money for years after on rerelease/DVD.  Stopping after Dawn Treader leaves them in a position to lose huge amounts of goodwill, since they've made such a point of telling the world that they would produce the entire series.  After a while, fans start believing what you say.  Then they get really ticked if it's not true.

    As for Pixar... welcome to the beginning of the end.  First off, you have to ask yourself "Why?"  Why does this film need to be done as live action instead of animated?  Does Pixar not have what it takes to develop a more serious minded story as animation?  Does the vaunted Pixar not have what it takes to finally push American animation to the next level, where it's accepted as more than "kiddie entertainment"?  Andrew Stanton and Brad Bird don't have any other envelopes to push in their current sphere?

    The next question is, why does "Pixar" need to be the one to do these films as live action, and not Disney itself?  Looks to me, more and more, like Pixar is gearing up for an internal coup.

  • Disney has plenty on their plate.

    Jungle Cruise Movie

    Prince of Persia

    They have plenty of opportunities to not only put new ideas on the table, but to start new franchises.

  • " Why does this film need to be done as live action instead of animated? "

    Because A Princess of Mars is sexy , and as wonderful as The Incredibles is, it's not the right template for Mars.

    Maybe Stanton and Bird just plain want to not only do animation all of their lives. As creatives, they have a right to do that.

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