Although it may have seemed that the financial failure and critical mauling of JOHN CARTER meant the prospects of further films from Edgar Rice Burroughs’ classic sci-fi saga were as dead as Pluto’s planetary status, now that Disney’s rights to further adapt the books have lapsed, returning to Barsoom may yet be a possibility.
Upon their expiration, the rights reverted back to Edgar Rice Burroughs Inc., the company that manages the author’s estate, who have stated that they, “Will be seeking a new partner to help develop new adventures on film as chronicled in the eleven Mars novels Burroughs wrote. This adventure never stops.”
JOHN CARTER was an adaptation of the first of the series, A PRINCESS OF MARS, and the next, THE GODS OF MARS, begins with Carter materialising back on Barsoom in a valley which is supposed to be a passageway to the afterlife, but turns out to be a death-trap ruled over by self-proclaimed deities.
Although not actually a bad film in and of itself, JOHN CARTER’s lacklustre reception in 2012 was partly a result of poor marketing decisions over what to call it. The logic was that due to a bunch of crap ‘90s films set on the Red Planet, having it in the title would harm its box office potential, but this failed to take into account the fact that ditching “of Mars” from the title meant that unless you were familiar with the books and/or comics it would mean nothing to you, since John Carter is not exactly the most distinctive of names.
But most significantly, published as it was in 1912, A PRINCESS OF MARS originated countless sci-fi storytelling tropes that were subsequently plundered mercilessly for the best part of a century by other writers (George Lucas in particular) whose works did make it to the big screen, and therefore when John Carter finally arrived it ended up looking like nothing more than an uninspired imitation of the very films whose influences can ultimately be traced back to its source material.
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