Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Is there trouble on Barsoom (or Disneyland)?

Some might remember a few weeks ago when Disney Chairman Dick Cook announced the release date and showed production artwork for John Carter of Mars at Disney's D23 Expo. Since then though things have taken a drastic change at the Mouse House with Cook resigning last week. The resignation (or firing if some sources are to be believed) has already put Pirates of the Caribbean:At Stranger Tides into trouble with Johnny Depp admitting his enthusiasm for the project has dropped since Cook left. Some have also speculated this maybe causing trouble for John Carter. Indeed the last few weeks have been quiet, with no news at all on the film. Even director Andrew Stanton's Twitter page hasn't been updated since Sept. 6. All of this not surprisingly has had some fans on edge, since this is the closest John Carter of Mars has come to fruition as a film.

In some cases many are saying maybe there is no reason for alarm. The film is indeed much further along than previous attempts, with casting, major design work, location scouting and script work moving along. Also and there is two other points to make-first if things do go south with Depp, Disney could possibly shelve Pirates and turn towards Stanton to make their next big blockbuster. In fact it could lead to the film being moved up to 2011. Also Disney might want to reconsider another clash with Pixar. Both companies nearly fell apart a few years ago under Michael Eisner's reign with Pixar threatening to leave and set up shop elsewhere. Even though this would seem unlikely considering how involved Pixar's big three guys John Lassiter, Steve Jobs and Ed Catmull are involved with Disney, it could still lead to problems.

On the other hand and the worst case scenario Disney could just drop the project all together. Other studios who had shakeups with executives have dropped films, some cases after major casting and directors were hired. In fact I'm still convinced the executive shakeup at Paramount in 2005 and 2006 was one of the reasons their Princess of Mars film was shelved. Another possibility is that they could keep the film but demand changes to script and casting. Stanton could either agree or leave and take the project elsewhere but then he would have to deal with Disney wanting restitution, other executives and the high probability that by the time a deal would be in place, the script would have to be reworked and roles recast either because of scheduling conflicts or studio demands.

We'll learn soon what the outcome is I'm sure.

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