John Carter is notorious for being one of the biggest box-office bombs in history. The 2012 Disney film is reported to have lost Disney somewhere between $114-200 million, which immediately canceled all planned sequels, and was a major part of the head of Walt Disney Studios, Rich Ross, resigning. Yet a new rumor suggests that Disney might be interested in revisiting the Edgar Rice Burroughs stories for a new television show.
According to gossip writer Daniel Richtman, via We Got This Covered, apparently, Disney is looking into returning to John Carter of Mars for a Disney+ series. While the promise of more John Carter might be of interest, keep in mind that We Got This Covered also theorized this same news a year ago with the same amount of evidence behind it, and nothing came of it.
Also, it should be noted that after the massive failure of John Carter, the rights of the franchise reverted back to Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc., who in a statement made in 2014 said they would be seeking a new studio to handle the franchise and adapting all eleven John Carter books that Burroughs wrote.
Since making this statement, Edgar Rice Burroughs Inc. allowed Warner Bros. Pictures the rights to the Tarzan franchise, with 2016’s The Legend of Tarzan, starring Alexander Skarsgård, Samuel L. Jackson, and Margot Robbie. With a budget of $180 million, The Legend of Tarzan made over $356 million worldwide. One would imagine that if Edgar Rice Burroughs Inc. were to try and revive this franchise, they might try to do it with a studio that made money with one of their series, rather than the studio that created what is considered a huge box-office disaster.
Yet Disney has had a strong relationship with Edgar Rice Burroughs Inc. in the past, as 1999’s animated Tarzan was a huge hit for Disney, making $448 million worldwide against a $130 budget. It seems unlikely that Edgar Rice Burroughs Inc. would return the rights of John Carter back to the studio that ran it into the ground, but with the right pitch and idea behind it, who knows if Disney could regain the confidence of Edgar Rice Burroughs Inc.
While it’s not clear whether or not a John Carter of Mars series would bring back John Carter star Taylor Kitsch, the actor has shown his enthusiasm in the past about doing more within that universe. In 2014, Kitsch said of a sequel, “I miss the family. I miss Andrew Stanton. I know the second script was fucking awesome. We had to plant a grounding, so we could really take off in the second one. The second one was even more emotionally taxing, which was awesome.”
In another interview with /Film, Kitsch said of doing another film without WALL-E and Finding Nemo director Andrew Stanton, “Yeah I won’t do it unless it’s him.”
Despite the failures of John Carter, Stanton has continued to work with Disney, primarily under Pixar. Since John Carter in 2012, Stanton has worked on every Pixar film since, while also writing and directing 2016’s Finding Dory and co-writing 2019’s Toy Story 4. Stanton is also in talks to direct Chairman Spaceman for Disney’s Searchlight Pictures. Even with the losses of John Carter, Stanton has done more than enough to garner goodwill with Disney, so if they did return to John Carter, it wouldn’t be surprising if the studio gave one of their most profitable directors another shot.
Disney has been using their Disney+ streaming service as a way to reboot old franchises as well, so it would make sense that if they did bring back John Carter, it would be in a longer format for Disney+. Already, Disney+ has new series based on older properties like series based on The Mighty Ducks, Turner & Hooch, Chip ’n’ Dale, as well as newly acquired brands like Ice Age, The Sandlot, and Percy Jackson & the Olympians. With Disney’s focus shifting to streaming, a John Carter series might be in the cards.