John Carter writers already penning sequel

A lot of hype is building around John Carter, an upcoming sci-fi adventure film.

Indeed, John Carter’s fate is looking good enough that the writers of the film, Andrew Stanton and Michael Chabon, have already begun working on a new script, tentatively titled John Carter: The Gods of Mars, presumably an adaption of another Burroghs novel.

John Carter is based on A Princess of Mars, in which the protagonist, an American Civil War veteran turned prospector, is set upon by natives in the wilderness of the American West. Left for dead in the brush, John is whisked off to Mars, Dorothy-style. There he meets the Martians, who are vying for control over the scarce resources of the dying planet.

One of the factions is the city of Helium, the princess of which Carter falls in love with instantly, and whose frequent need for rescuing is the driving force in much of the story. Carter joins up with the armies of Helium and rescues the entire world from apocalyptic strife.

The Gods of Mars, one of the many sequels to Princess, sees John and his friend Tars Tarkas investigate, root out, and fight off the Therns, a race of pale-skinned Martians who have been, for generations, tricking other Martians into slavery under the guise of a paradisiacal pilgrimage.

Along the way, they find themselves rescuing the princess of the Thern from her own people about whom she has grown disillusioned. Deja Thoris – the romantic lead of A Princess of Mars – doesn’t make any real appearance here, showing up only at the midpoint of the story, and only to get helplessly captured for Carter to rescue her. This role will likely change in the film, since the depiction of Deja Thoris in Disney’s film is more ‘warrior princess’ than ‘damsel in distress’.

The sequel was not ordered by Disney, and the project has not yet been greenlit.

Not everyone agrees that the upcoming film will be busting blocks, however. A few Hollywood naysayers think Disney has bitten off more than it can chew. According to Deadline, the movie, with a budget of over 250 million dollars is expected to only make about 100 million of that back, mostly because John Carter doesn’t hit enough demographics. “Women of all ages have flat out rejected the film,” says a source Deadline only attributes to ‘a senior exec at a rival studio’. “The tracking for John Carter is shocking for a film that cost over $250 million. This could be the biggest writeoff of all time.”

I’m not sure I agree. The soft tracking could be merely due to a lack of awareness in the marketplace. The Superbowl ad was the first place most audience members got to see anything about John Carter, and the real campaign hasn’t kicked off yet. Expect to see lots of prime-time ads for the film as the release date inches closer.

John Carter, starring Taylor Kitsch (Friday Night Lights), Mark Strong (Green Lantern), Willem Dafoe (Miral), and Lynn Collins (Drift), his theaters on March 9, 2012.