In 2012, Disney released its sci-fi action film “John Carter.” The movie, directed by Andrew Stanton, and based on Edgar Rice Burroughs’ early nineties novel A Princess of Mars, had all the prepping to become a commercial success when it hit the theatres.
Following its premiere, the alien blockbuster sadly ended up as a colossal box office failure, never meeting up to the high hopes set by its showrunners. At its production, veteran actor Tom Cruise was linked with the film but eventually lost the titular role to Taylor Kitsch.
Looking back at its eventual commercial failure, one can only help but wonder if Cruise’s feature would have turned around the film’s fortunes.
Tom Cruise Wanted The Leading Role In ‘John Carter’
According to the Wrap, Cruise strongly desired the leading role in “John Carter” and had lobbied for the part in several directors’ failed attempts to create a film adaptation of the Martian-inspired novel.
When Stanton landed the part to direct the film finally, Cruise once again showed his interest, holding talks with the director to see if he still had a chance. However, Stanton already envisioned Kitsch in the role and had started his audition process at the time.
“I had Taylor already in mind by the time Tom made his interest known. Tom had a long history with the material, so it wasn’t too surprising to discover he still had interest in it,” Stanton told the publication. “He was a consummate professional in his discussions with me about the role, and beyond respectful to the fact I was already on an audition path with Taylor…We agreed to talk further if I were to pass on Taylor, but I obviously didn’t. It was as simple and non-controversial as that.”
At the time, Cruise had garnered a track record of being one of Hollywood’s bankable action stars, having starred in several box office hits including “Mission Impossible.” Sadly, adding “John Carter” to his list of acting credits seemed futile from the start.
Lynn Collins Felt Tom Cruise Was Not In The Running To Land A Feature in ‘John Carter’
Lynn Collins, who eventually landed the leading lady role as Dejah Thoris, the Princess of Mars, further confirmed that Cruise’s move to land the role was a lost cause. She said, “he[Tom Cruise] may have thought he was in the mix, and I think him and Andrew had some conversations, but I don’t think he was ever actually in the mix, so to speak.”
Collins also pointed out that Tom Cruise and the other actors who auditioned for the role differed in age. Although no reports have alluded that Cruise’s age was a factor in his rejection, the iconic actor never got into the audition process, which ended his running for the role.
‘John Carter’s’ Journey To The Big Screen
Burroughs published the Princess of Mars in 1912, the first in the elevenfold collection of sci-fi books called the Barsom series. Soon after its release, major studios and producers tried out their hands at creating a live-action adaptation of the book.
Notably, “Die Hard” director John McTiernan, Jon Favreau, Guillermo Del Toro, and Robert Rodriguez were all part of the bevy of film producers who failed to pull off the attempt to bring the film to the big screen all through the nineties.
Ultimately, Stanton convinced Disney to renew the screen rights from the Burroughs estate and led the final attempt to animate the book. Production started in 2009 and concluded almost a year later.
However, the postproduction process and other miscellaneous details took nearly two years to wrap up, which pushed the film’s premiere date to March 9, 2012.
‘John Carter’ Failed At The Box Office
View this post on Instagram
Following the film’s release in the first quarter of 2012, Disney hoped to recoup their $350 million production and marketing expenditure and make more profit in the long run.
However, their hopes of “John Carter” becoming a box office hit were dashed in the first few weeks of its release as viewers criticized its complicated premise and slow pacing despite enjoying the visuals, action sequences, and musical score.
“John Carter” was only able to gross $284.1 million worldwide, making it one of Disney’s greatest flop films of all time. As a result, the showrunners canceled the planned sequels (Gods of Mars and Warlord of Mars) to complete Stanton’s trilogy of films, all based on Burroughs works.
Now, due to the availability of streaming services, the public has shifted its view of the sci-fi film enabling the film to develop a sizable cult fanbase. Perhaps, a Cruise feature might have been able to save “John Carter” from financial disaster. Alas, humans do not have the ability to turn back the hands of time.