The JOHN CARTER You’d Have Wanted To See

There’s an excellent column here exploring the many insipid and wrongheaded ways that Disney dropped the ball, or flat-out abandoned the ball, with John Carter and ultimately fucked over its filmmakers as well as the many fans who would have gotten to enjoy sequels to the film that will now never be made. I definitely recommend it.

I think one of the biggest contributing factors was that the executives who started the project had all been canned by the time it came to actually prepare it for release. And the new executives, in no way responsible for the material and not wanting the guys they replaced to have a hit, threw it under the bus. Now they can point to John Carter as a huge flop and say, “See? Aren’t you glad  we’re in charge now?” This kind of pettiness is all too common in Hollywood (and in publishing, for that matter).

One of the results of this crappy attitude was a marketing campaign that hit no high points, that did nothing to capitalize on any of the selling points of the film (Two-time Academy Award winning Pixar director! Pulitzer/Hugo/Nebula-winning novelist as screenwriter! From the creator of Tarzan! A classic book which inspired many classics in turn finally on the big screen!). Even removing the “Of Mars” from the title stripped it of cool; aside from SF fans, who the fuck knows who John Carter is, these days, except maybe the boyish doctor on ER? As I’ve said before, it should have been called John Carter and The Princess of Mars, which incorporates the title of the original book, captures the pulpish science fantasy romanticism of the piece, and indicates that the film offers up not just a dashing hero but a cool new Disney princess who can actually kick ass.

Anyway. They blew it. But if you want to see what the marketing department could have done, check out this trailer put together by a freaking fan, who didn’t have Disney’s millions and supposed marketing savvy to draw on…then watch the cheestastic trailer actually released by Disney (which, among its many sins, stupidly shows Carter engaging in over-the-top physical feats that look ridiculous because they give them no fucking context).

Blood of Eden: “a very complex and sophisticated tale”

Recently, I posted about a screenplay that Steve Antczak and I wrote called Blood of Eden, which got fairly close to becoming a Die Hard movie.

In that post, I mentioned that the producer’s “coverage” (a detailed summary/review of the script for in-house use) had been leaked, but I wasn’t able to find it.

Thankfully, “belzecue” posted a comment to that entry, pointing to a copy of that coverage posted to a screenwriting news site.

Because the coverage is, naturally, full of spoilers, I don’t want to just dump it here or just post the URL, lest it ruin the reading of the actual full script for someone. It has a tricky twist or three I don’t want you to have spoiled.

So, I’m going to post a heavily redacted version first, editing out most of the plot details, but leaving in the writer’s general opinion of the story.

Then, after the jump, I’ll post the entire coverage, in the hopes that people won’t read it until they’ve read the actual script (you can find the link to it in the original entry). To make the read easier, I’m adding some paragraph breaks where there weren’t any, as the original uses huge blocks of text that won’t read well online.


Title of Submission: Blood of Eden
Author: Tim Byrd & Steve Antczak
Date Covered: 9/2/99
Genre: Action Adventure

This screenplay’s story is a very complex and sophisticated tale, presenting its drama and tension in an undersea setting. While there are more and more space- and sea-oriented films these days, this screenplay stands out on the merits of its excellent writing and the incredibly detailed, yet believable, environment in which it takes place. I have some plausibility questions, but they are minor and can be easily addressed….

While the characters’ main personalities and motivations are clear, I’d like to see them developed a bit more…In this story, it’s very refreshing to see all the bad guys (the ninja) referenced by name, rather than by Ninja #1, Ninja #2…it’s a nice thing to have the bad guys be real people names…

Dialogue in this screenplay is a mixed bag. Overall, it’s fine, and it’s especially refreshing to hear the Japanese bad guys using realistic dialogue. Unfortunately, this quickly unravels into typical American macho expletives. The contrast of Japanese thought and phrasing versus the language we are used to hearing is one of the points which made this screenplay unique. Also, some of the American dialogue is either weak (“then the bad guys struck”) or too obvious as exposition (Travis and Desmond comparing backgrounds). In an otherwise very fine screenplay, dialogue is an area that could use improvement.

“Blood of Eden” is more action-packed than theme-packed, but does touch on several interesting topics, including nationalism versus Pacific Rim countries, maternal and paternal instincts, heroism and honor.

The writers do a stellar job of writing action, weaving a tense, sophisticated and compelling tale. Their descriptions of environment and physical action, in particular, are exemplary. All of the hand-to-hand scenes are vividly depicted. The descriptions of the Edensphere do a great job of making the complex “seeable.” Lots of the action and other descriptions are almost literary in their quality, such as the spattering of bullets, the rushing of walls of water, etc. The writers’ challenge is to bring the quality of their characterizations and dialogue up to par with the rest of the screenplay, but I’m sure they can do it.

The structure here provides a strong foundation for the story. All scenes are vital and either propel the action or impart necessary information…

The writers have done a great job of imagining and describing an entire undersea environment and the rules for survival there. Edensphere’s location in the Pacific, however, is unclear. It’s not too far from San Francisco…but it’s clearly far enough north to be in frigid waters. From the “Northern Pacific” slug lines, I kept imaging someplace off the Alaska coast.

This screenplay has great potential as a very entertaining and marketable commercial venture. It gets off to a good start, jumps into action very quickly and keeps the action going til the very end…

And now, the un-redacted version… Continue reading