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Andrew Stanton Talks ‘Finding Nemo 2′ and the Failure of ‘John Carter’

Andrew Stanton Talks Finding Nemo 2
Pixar

When ‘John Carter‘ bombed earlier this year, it looked like director Andrew Stanton was going to be thrown into director’s jail. Although his live action debut may have lost Disney upwards of $200 million, there was always one place for Stanton to retreat: Pixar, the animation studio he helped found and the place where his work won him two Academy Awards. Then came the news that Stanton was going to lick his wounds by making a surefire success: ‘Finding Nemo 2.’ The cynics scoffed and rolled their eyes, but the director has a response for them.

Speaking with the LA Times (as part of a much larger, must-read profile), Stanton explained that a sequel to his 2003 instant classic was always on his plate. In face, he was going to make it as soon as his finished his ‘John Carter’ trilogy…which sure isn’t going to happen now:

“What was immediately on the list was writing a second ‘Carter’ movie…When that went away, everything slid up. I know I’ll be accused by more sarcastic people that ['Finding Nemo 2' is] a reaction to ‘Carter’ not doing well, but only in its timing, but not in its conceit.”

Although ‘John Carter’ was the not the success he wanted it to be (to put it mildly), Stanton remains proud of the film and says that he gets the same feeling from it that he got from his successes:

“The ennui you have after a huge success when it’s all over is exactly the same as the ennui you have when it’s a bomb…You loved the doing. You’ve spent every waking moment thinking about its birth, worrying about it, raising it. It’s an empty nest syndrome. Whether your kid went to college or went to jail, it’s an empty nest.”

Stanton doesn’t point any fingers, but he’s obviously miffed by the toxic reaction the film’s lackluster marketing campaign generated and the various rumors that painted the film as a disaster before it was even released:

“There was this weird air the summer before of schadenfreude, of doomed to fail…It isn’t a nice atmosphere to be in, but what can you do about it?”

Stanton also notes that he was given total freedom from the higher-ups at Disney to make the film that he wanted, but many of his Pixar-proven storytelling tactics didn’t translate cleanly to live action filmmaking and painted a target on the film’s back. For example, Pixar sees rewrites and reshoots as the necessary path to making a great story. In the “real world,” they often appear to be signs of a troubled production. The article quotes Pixar head John Lasseter:

“At Pixar, it’s safe to fail. No one’s gonna judge you. We’ll keep tweaking that story to the very end.”

At the end of the day, ‘John Carter’ has already started finding a fanbase, mostly people who give it a chance at home and realize “Hey, this isn’t bad at all!” A perfect storm surrounded ‘John Carter’ and gave it a reputation it never deserved. Hopefully, with time, ‘John Carter’ will be rediscovered. It’s no classic, but it’s a darn solid adventure film. And hey, we’re also getting a ‘Finding Nemo’ sequel, although it’s too early to tell if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.

Finding Nemo‘ is being released next Friday, September the 14th. It’ll finally hit Blu-ray this Winter.

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