Official Edgar Rice Burroughs Tribute and Weekly Webzine Site
Since 1996 ~ Over 10,000 Web Pages in Archive
Volume 3738

ERB, Inc. and the Media
Interview IV
John Carter

An interview with Jim Sullos - president of the Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc.
Conducted by Gustavo Giglio on Friday, March 9, 2012
A Translation

Today is the premiere of the film John Carter: Between two worlds. I had the opportunity to watch the movie twice. I liked it a lot, a former soldier that makes all the difference to the outcome of a space adventure is unexpected and clever. It was very fun (and the graphics are awesome as well as the Martians).

John Carter is a veteran of the US Civil War who is accidentally transported to "Barsoom" (Mars), where he saw a prisoner of strange green creatures in the middle of a civil war. He will have to free this captive  princess, Deja Thoris. The film is inspired by the work of Edgar Rice Burroughs (1875-1950), creator of Tarzan. It is the first live-action film fromthe award-winning director Andrew Stanton (Nemo and Wall-E).

During these months of publication, we received several pictures and videos, and this week I had the pleasant surprise to talk with Jim Sullos, president of the Edgar Rice Burroughs Inc. (holding company of all rights of the saga). The interview is English translation.

l. Can you explain the process of how Disney Acquired the rights?
Sullos: The motion picture rights to JOHN CARTER have been available for a long time. Several studios looked at the JOHN CARTER property over many decades. In the 1930's there was serious interest in adapting it into a full length animated film but those plans never materialized. In the 1950's, 1960's and 1970's Several studios wanted to make the movie but could not apply the existing technology at reasonable cost that would enable them to bring the vivid imagination and descriptions of novelist Edgar Rice Burroughs to the screen. The Disney Studio had the rights in the early1990's but gave the rights back. Then Paramount Pictures obtained the rights and held them for five or six years but ultimately they also gave back the rights. And then Disney finally came back in and acquired the rights in 2007 with a specific director in mind (Andrew Stanton) and we now have the first ever authorized movie of JOHN CARTER after 100 years.

2. Were you surprised in the interest in an older property like JOHN CARTER?
No, I was not surprised given the history of the property. For years many studios wanted to make the movie. They liked the storyline and  envisioned how it could be an intriguing action-oriented motion picture, but they Could not find away to make the movie with the then existing technology at a reasonable cost. This came to be called THE CURSE OF JOHN CARTER because so many Hollywood studios wanted to make it but just could not do justice to it given the state of the art at the time. When finally CGI (Computer Graphic Imaging) came along, that technology allowed film makers to do so many more things than they could do previously. Finally, everything that imaginative screen writers and directors could envision could now be brought to life on the screen -- all the vivid action scenes, settings and characters that Mr. Burroughs created in his novel. And we must remember that this is the storyline that served as the inspiration for STAR WARS, SUPERMAN, and even AVATAR. It is fitting that in its 100th year the JOHN CARTER story finally makes it in such an excellent way onto the big screen.

3. Were you excited to be working with Disney on this project?
Absolutely. When you have an opportunity to have your property made into a movie with a studio like Disney, you know you're in for a great movie. When you combine the Disney Magic with the passion for the property that comes from Andrew Stanton, you know that you're going to be watching a truly magnificent film and that is what we have here.

4. Director Andrew Stanton's previous work on FINDING NEMO and WALL-E incorporated new universes with charismatic characters. Who do you think will be the audience's focus on JOHN CARTER?
The beauty of this film is that different segments of the audience can find several characters to attach to during the film. Princess Dejah Thoris is extremely knowledgeable, regal and able, and creates the image you would expect of a beautiful Princess. John Carter is rough at the edges as he is supposed to be and people can attach to his courage and the grim determination he portrays in the movie. Others will find Tars Tarkas to be possibly one of the most interesting characters. With four arms and a sentimental heart he makes a fierce warrior but also a very able Martian-like Thark. And do not forget Woola. Many pet lovers are immediately attached to the extreme loyalty that Woola developed to John Carter. So there are many parts of various characters that can attach to the audience. And do not forget Edgar Rice Burroughs. The future novelist played his role perfectly.

5. If Edgar Rice Burroughs were to write the book today, do you think he'd still have it take place on Mars or do you think he'd choose another planet?
I still think he would attach himself to Mars. At the time 100 years ago Mars was thought to be a dead planet and 100 years later we are still intrigued as to whether or not there is life on Mars or earlier water still available on Mars. Given the stark view of Mars that existed, it took the vivid imagination of Edgar Rice Burroughs to create an entire Mars universe that he developed in the storyline that has become so well defined. And besides, there is now a Burroughs Crater that NASA has named after him on Mars, so surely he would want to honor his namesake by writing a story about Mars. And do not forget, a copy of his first novel, A PRINCESS OF MARS, was included in one of the recent Mars space vehicles that landed there. But also remember that he did not limit his interplanetarys stories just on Mars. He wrote the CARSON OF VENUS series where  Carson Napier miscalibrated on his way to Mars and ended up on Venus and discovered an entire universe unknown to human kind. Burroughs' characters also visited Jupiter and Mars and in addition he created an entirely new planet, the planet of Poloda in the novel BEYOND THE FARTHEST STAR. This planet exists 450 million light years away from earth beyond the power to see it with the greatest telescopes we have.

6. The last time that JOHN CARTER was adapted was  in 1977 in a comic book by Marvel. Why do you think it took so long for a new vision of this world to come to life?
It's interestingt that you picked as the last year the 1977 comic book by Marvel. That year coincided with the launch of the movie STAR WARS, and clearly a full generation of young people were defined by STAR WARS and all their activities were influenced by their sy fy fantasies. That plus STAR TREK on television resulted in a full commitment by the fan base to those types of stories. In the meantime JOHN CARTER was biding time waiting for technology to catch up with the descriptions contained in the book. But I do not think the storyline needed a new vision of this world to come to life. Rather, it took a huge technological development (computer graphic imaging) to enable this type of movie to be made. And of course STAR WARS was inspired by everything Mr. Burroughs had put in put in his Mars books decades before.

7. Are there plans for the series of 11 books? Any new products planned?
Marvel Comics has been licensed to create a whole new comic book line for JOHN CARTER and A PRINCESS OF MARS. They have already produced five comic books as a prequel to the movie itself. They started coming out last September and finished in January. Now Marvel is creating a comic book line directly related to the movie so that the fans will be able to relive the movie through a complete new comic book line. And Disney Publishing plans to produce new books for young children as well as reprint all of the original 11 novels. They just created a three volume series that includes all the original books and will then turn to e-books and audio books in the future, so we will be seeing and hearing a lot of the storyline from the original books. In addition Disney Studios has licensed the merchandising from us and has many plans for the Mars merchandise when the movie catches on with the public.

8. What would you say motivates John Carter? What Audiences will feel is his greatest lesson?
John Carter comes to the screen as a hollowed out Civil War veteran. Also he is exhausted, but totally devastated by the loss of his wife and child who were murdered during the war. His only motivation is survival. Nothing else interests him or captures his imagination. His quest for gold is almost a solitary effort, although in the book he did have one partner. His transfer to Mars gave him an opportunity to rediscover himself, but it was very hard to bring him around. The love of a beautiful Princess and his sentimental attachment to a Thark warrior ultimately allowed him to regain his humanity and the will to live again.


John Carter and The Master of Adventure
This year marks the 100th anniversary of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ first novel,
A Princess of Mars, the inspiration for Disney's epic, out on Blu-Ray this week.
by Mark Tapson ~ June 4, 2012
After weathering mixed reviews and relatively tepid domestic earnings ($72 million) earlier this year, the science fiction adventure epic John Carter was written off as a box office calamity of Waterworld-sized proportions.

John Carter’s box office “failure” has been blamed mostly on ineffective marketing, notably a movie trailer which neglected to establish a connection with Burroughs or make viewers aware of the film’s historic background and seminal influence – a problem that might have been avoided if Disney had run with this inspired fan trailer instead.

But the movie’s unabashed heroic romanticism began resonating with review-proof fans worldwide (where it has earned $200+ million) and reviving the flick’s financial pulse. Now JC is set to release on DVD this week, and will likely do brisk business. Perhaps it will also introduce more fans to John Carter’s creator, one of the most prolific, imaginative novelists of the 20th century – or any century, for that matter: Edgar Rice Burroughs.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the publication of Burroughs’ first novel, A Princess of Mars, the book upon which John Carter is largely based. Burroughs, or ERB, is more familiar to many as the creator of Tarzan of the Apes, one of the most recognizable and enduring figures in pop culture history. Born in 1875 in the wake of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells, ERB has been called by many the father of American science fiction. His 60+ novels, ripping tales of high adventure set everywhere from the earth’s core to the African veldt to the jungles of Venus, served as inspiration for countless writers and scientists from Arthur C. Clarke and Ray Bradbury to Carl Sagan and Jane Goodall.

ERB’s work – novels like The Land that Time Forgot, The Moon Maid, Pirates of Venus, At the Earth’s Core, Beyond Thirty, and The Warlord of Mars – gave life to the pulp fiction genre; my boyhood friend and fellow fan Stephan Allsup points out, for example, that without Tarzan and John Carter, there probably would have been no Conan the Barbarian or Doc Savage. Tarzan was also the pioneer of the comic book superhero; his comic strip was introduced in 1929, tying with Buck Rogers as the first “serious” adventure strip (prior to that, comics were largely limited to funnies like the Katzenjammer Kids). It served as inspiration for The Phantom and later, Superman and Batman.

I discovered Tarzan of the Apes at the age of twelve. Prior to that, my only exposure to the legend of Tarzan was through Hollywood’s appallingly distorting lens (the Johnny Weismuller films, probably the best-known, are particularly misleading and embarrassing; Burroughs’ creation was no “Me Tarzan, you Jane” halfwit). Uncorrupted by the deceit and venality of “civilized” man, Tarzan is the very embodiment of the Noble Savage – literally noble: a polished, educated scion of English royalty, he sheds “the thin veneer of civilization” and returns to the African trees of his youth in pursuit of adventure in two dozen action-packed novels.

I already enjoyed reading, but diving into that book was like a religious epiphany; when I realized that there were many more in the Tarzan series, not to mention dozens of other action-packed ERB books featuring pulp heroes like cavalry-captain-turned-Martian-swordsman John Carter (featured in eleven books of his own), I became like a crack addict. Indeed, I credit Burroughs as the inspiration for my passion for reading and even my desire to become a writer. In high school and then pursuing English and Humanities majors in college, I broadened my reading horizons of course, but I never again was thrilled and transported by fiction in quite the same way.

Yes, the language is a bit archaic now. No, ERB makes no claims to literary genius, though his prose is unusually sophisticated by pulp standards. But his novels are relentless page-turners overflowing with heroes who are men’s men of honor, the proud, beautiful women who love them, and villains undiluted by moral complexity (read: moral equivalence) – all populating the dangerous, exotic landscapes of Burroughs’ trailblazing imagination.

In our cynical age it’s easy to roll one’s eyes at the old-fashioned ideals, romanticism and sense of high adventure that permeate ERB’s work and which defined my own childhood. Thankfully, we can still return to those thrilling days of yesteryear through the books of Edgar Rice Burroughs. As Ray Bradbury put it in his homage to the master of adventure,

We may have liked Verne and Wells and Kipling,
but we loved, we adored, we went quite mad with Mr. Burroughs.
We grew up into our intellectuality, of course, but our blood always remembered.

ERBzine John Carter of Mars Film News

The Fantastic Worlds of Edgar Rice Burroughs
ERBzine Weekly Webzine
Danton Burroughs Website: Tarzana Treasure Vaults
Burroughs Bibliophiles
John Coleman Burroughs Tribute Site
Tarzine: Official Monthly Webzine of ERB, Inc.
John Carter of Mars
Edgar Rice Burroughs
ERBzine Weekly Webzine
Weekly Webzine
Danton Burroughs Weekly Webzine
Weekly Webzine

John Carter Film News

ERB, Inc. Corporate Site

ERB Centennial

Visit our thousands of other sites at:
ERB Text, ERB Images and Tarzan® are ©Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc.- All Rights Reserved.
All Original Work ©1996-2012 by Bill Hillman and/or Contributing Authors/Owners
No part of this web site may be reproduced without permission from the respective owners.