Writer/director Kerry Conran (SKY CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF TOMORROW, opening Sept. 17, 2004), confirmed with VFXWORLD that he has committed to directing Paramount's A PRINCESS OF MARS as his sophomore project. The sci-fi action epic, scheduled for release in 2006, is based on the first book in Edgar Rice Burroughs' 11-volume series, JOHN CARTER OF MARS, which concerns an American Civil War hero that finds himself transported to Mars.
Conran replaces Robert Rodriguez, who dropped out after resigning from the Directors Guild of America in a dispute over his SIN CITY feature. Mark Protosevich (THE CELL) wrote the initial script, but Conran said he is looking at other writers for a new adaptation.
"We won't be reinterpreting it but adapting what Burroughs wrote in screenplay form. John Carter is sort of immortal and where it would begin is sort of approaching modern day, but he is still a Civil War veteran and all that would be intact. Obviously there are certain things that have to be done to translate it to the sensibilities of today's audience."
Stylistically, Conran is still working out the details with his brother, production designer Kevin Conran. "We're really looking to do something that we haven't really seen before taking the notion of an alien world and embracing it, creating vistas and a backdrop and an environment that will be pretty remarkable."
While PRINCESS OF MARS won't contain such an elaborate use of bluescreen compositing as SKY CAPTAIN, it will certainly be an ambitious hybrid of live action and CG animation, drawing upon many of the technical lessons he learned on his first feature.
I think it's going to draw upon some of the references in WORLD OF TOMORROW. I don't think you want quite the dated quality of that, but without a doubt, there will be that sentiment involved to some extent."
Conran added that Paramount has committed financially to a lot on the front end so that he can do the necessary preproduction (including previs) to tackle a film of this scale.
As a side note, Conran said that despite being pleased with the results of SKY CAPTAIN, he still prefers the black and white version he made, and hopes that next year's DVD will include the black and white as a bonus feature.