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John Carter was almost a Tom Cruise vehicle directed by John McTiernan?

Feb. 24, 2012by: Alejandro Stepenberg

       Princess of Mars banner

USA Today recently ran a pretty great piece on the arduous trek JOHN CARTER has had to the silver screen, and one of the more interesting developments they reveal is the 1990 version that kept the title "A Princess of Mars" and had John McTiernan, Tom Cruise, and Julia Roberts attached. That project's $120 million budget would have made it one of the most expensive movies ever made at that time, though with inflation that number is actually probably very close to what Andrew Stanton has spent on the version you'll see March 9th.

John Carter against an army

From William Stout, an illustrator who worked brought on McTiernan's version: Two days into that job had me in the middle of a huge depression.  They were going to use camels and elephants in creature suits... There was no way that you could get any of this stuff to look like the Burroughs stuff.”  This leads into a possible reason why the project was scrapped, as McTiernan decided that they would need to do most of the effects with CGI since animals in suits + people in prosthetics + stop motion was going to be too impractical.  And back in 1990, CGI was most definitely not up to crafting "realistic, organic creatures," and very expensive and time consuming besides.

What's also interesting about McTiernan's "A Princess of Mars" is the places the script went.  Ted Elliot & Terry Rossio (PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN) had a version in play at one point entitled "The Chronicles of John Carter: Edgar Rice Burroughs' A Princess of Mars."   This was followed by a rewrite from Bob Gale (BACK TO THE FUTURE) that was meant to add more humor - what kind of humor did he add? "The Tharks mispronounced Carter’s home state of Virginia as "'vagina.'"  The thing of it was, reportedly Tom Cruise was not at all happy with the script(s) he was given, and I'm sure the fading of his interest did the struggling project no favors. 

John Carter on a boat

Interestingly, McTiernan had a what is called a “pay-or-play deal,” which meant that if the project was cancelled outright or even just not put into production by a specific date he would get paid anyway.  When the latter came to pass McTiernan decided to walk and take his money with him, eventually going on to direct Arnold Schwarzenneger in LAST ACTION HERO.

You can read the rest of the comprehensive history USA Today has compiled here.

John Carter concept art

Source: USA Today

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8:03AM on 02/27/2012
Ugh, really want to excited by this but just looks like another phantom menace cgi suckfest. Ill wait for reviews but man thats some ugly looking character work
Ugh, really want to excited by this but just looks like another phantom menace cgi suckfest. Ill wait for reviews but man thats some ugly looking character work
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-2
2:19PM on 02/24/2012

man...

I would've MUCH preferred Cruise over Kitsch...
I would've MUCH preferred Cruise over Kitsch...
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12:45PM on 02/24/2012

JOHN MCTIERNAN..

Rollerball.

The end.
Rollerball.

The end.
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2:26PM on 02/24/2012
Also, Die Hard, Die Hard 3, Predator, The Hunt For Red October.

He's made some stinkers, Rollerball being the worst, but he's also the father of the best action film ever made.

Now, if he could just stay out of jail...
Also, Die Hard, Die Hard 3, Predator, The Hunt For Red October.

He's made some stinkers, Rollerball being the worst, but he's also the father of the best action film ever made.

Now, if he could just stay out of jail...
11:37AM on 02/24/2012
I remember this. Was looking forward to it at the time, although some of the details now make me glad it didn't happen. I think Favreau was supposed to direct this too at one point.
I remember this. Was looking forward to it at the time, although some of the details now make me glad it didn't happen. I think Favreau was supposed to direct this too at one point.
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12:11PM on 02/24/2012
Remember when Robert Rodriguez was planning an adaptation?
Remember when Robert Rodriguez was planning an adaptation?
9:42PM on 02/24/2012
Yes! You're right, he was!
Yes! You're right, he was!
11:01AM on 02/24/2012
Sweet Jesus that would have been awesome! I miss John McTiernan so much. I can't be the only one. And I'm really curious as to whether or not Fox even THOUGHT of contacting him for Die Hard 4 or 5. If not, they sure as hell should have.
Sweet Jesus that would have been awesome! I miss John McTiernan so much. I can't be the only one. And I'm really curious as to whether or not Fox even THOUGHT of contacting him for Die Hard 4 or 5. If not, they sure as hell should have.
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11:33AM on 02/24/2012
You're not the only one! I too miss John McTiernan and his kick ass movies (not all of them, just the good ones)!
You're not the only one! I too miss John McTiernan and his kick ass movies (not all of them, just the good ones)!
-2
10:56AM on 02/24/2012
james cameron should have done john carter instead of the last of the mohicans.
james cameron should have done john carter instead of the last of the mohicans.
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11:24AM on 02/24/2012
Thanks God, Michael Mann never directed T2... Jut kidding !
Thanks God, Michael Mann never directed T2... Jut kidding !
3:05PM on 02/24/2012
To be honest he kind of did. I thought Avatar had far more in common with John Carter of Mars than it did with Dances with Wolves or whatever clash of culture movie title people like to throw out there now.
To be honest he kind of did. I thought Avatar had far more in common with John Carter of Mars than it did with Dances with Wolves or whatever clash of culture movie title people like to throw out there now.
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