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When the first teaser poster for Disney's John Carter went online yesterday, I suggested we could expect to see some marketing for the film at San Diego Comic Con, since this sci-fi adventure would have a mass audience of geeks dying to hear more about the adaptation of the Edgar Rice Burroughs character. As it turns out, I called it all wrong-- talking to The LA Times, John Carter director Andrew Stanton said he wont' be making the trip to San Diego at all this summer, reflecting a wary attitude that may be endemic among Hollywood studios this year. Here's what he had to say:
I think what it was is the perception that it’s getting harder and harder to stand out amid the din. We’re going to do our special event to get some focus and separation. I know some people will read that as a sign that we’re unsure of our property. It’s just the opposite. We want to control how and what is being seen and the way it is presented. So much stuff now is just spit out so fast and the churn of it all. You almost gain nothing by talking about things really early in this day and age. I think in the future we might see things arrive the way Prince announces a concert where a few days before the show he announces it and tickets just go up. You might see that with movies and other things. That seems like the only way to get people interested and then capitalize off that interest.
But speaking of controlling the way a film is presented, Stanton also gave a great interview to the Times, talking about his visual inspirations in putting together the alien world of John Carter, how to make sure a new sci-fi story feels truly original, and how John Carter may feel like more of a historical epic than a sci-fi film. Here's how he talked about his technique for making the world of Mars not seem to shiny and out-there:
I kept using the word “authentic” when I was out on set or doing art in development. I just wanted things to look like they had been through weather and use. I wanted things to look beat-up and old. This may sound weird, but I was always so impressed by the Monty Python films and Terry Gilliam’s sense of production value. Things really felt like they had been through the mud. And if you look at most historical films, for a little too long they always gave us things that looked a little too clean. People on my set could not distress things enough for me. Everything was pre-industrial; I wanted it to look made by hand.
There's lots more good stuff in the interview, including two concept art images, one of which you can see above. If Stanton keeps up this tactic, giving interviews and leaking out information slowly over the next year rather than doing a big splashy event, we may not miss his presence at Comic Con after all. OK, that's not true-- the director of Wall-E is probably welcome there no matter what. But if slow and steady wins the race is the policy he's using to get John Carter off the ground, he's doing pretty well with it so far.