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Director Mark Andrews Talks Replacing Brenda Chapman On ‘Brave,’ The Future Of ‘John Carter’ & More

Director Mark Andrews Talks Replacing Brenda Chapman On 'Brave,' The Future Of 'John Carter' & More

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times – Mark Andrews, who makes his feature directorial debut this weekend on Pixar‘s heavily hyped, medieval girl-power romp “Brave” (taking duties over for Brenda Chapman, who parted ways with the film – more on that in a minute) was also an assistant director and co-writer on “John Carter,” Disney‘s massively budgeted sci-fi spectacle that crashed and burned like an out-of-control Martian spaceship. Few filmmakers have been in the unenviable position of being involved in huge (and occasionally troubled) productions this close together. But anyone who has seen behind-the-scenes footage of Andrews knows that he is so excitable and energetic that he makes a rocket-powered cheetah look lazy by comparison. We talked to Andrews about the difficult process of making “Brave,” what he wants to bring to the fairytale genre, and how he feels about the lackluster response to “John Carter.”

Animated movies are notoriously hard to put together – with productions that can often last the better part of a decade and utilize hundreds of artists and technicians. But for “Brave,” the production was even more turbulent than most, with its original director, Brenda Chapman (a veteran on everything from “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” to “Prince of Egypt“), who had developed the original story, being removed, and Andrews (who had previously directed the Oscar-nominated Pixar short “One Man Band“) taking her place.

“I’ve been on ‘Brave’ since the beginning in this kind of outside satellite consultant kind of way. I’m a Scottishphile, history buff, everything Middle Ages and Celtic lore and myth are things in my wheelhouse,” Andrews explained. “I went with them on their research trip to Scotland in 2006, and being a fellow director at Pixar, we’re all there helping the directors with their film in what we call the Brain Trust. Every time Brenda got it up on reels we could look at it and critique it and add suggestions on how to make it better and where it’s not working and all that jazz. About 18 months ago, Pixar asked me to step onboard to direct – to take over and to build upon what Brenda was doing.”

What exactly happened (and why she was replaced) isn’t some story fraught with drama but rather a clinical decision to get the movie done in the amount of time that was required. And it’s not an uncommon practice in Pixar history (although this case might have been more sensitive since it was their first female director). “The story reaches a spot where you have about 18 months to go before a release date and it’s time to really evaluate the movie and see where it needs to be,” Andrews explained. “And in this case, ‘Ratatouille”s case, ‘Toy Story 2‘s case, there’s been this moment where the story’s not working as well as it should be and we don’t have much time left and something drastic has to happen to get it going and get it up to that level. And sometimes that means a director change, which is exactly what happened. So I came on board and kind of treated it as an adaptation.”

Andrews knew immediately what needed to be kept and what needed to be jettisoned. “Because the bones of the story were fantastic – the root of the parent/child relationship, the magic of this child in this desperate situation asking for this spell, not really knowing what it’s going to be – all that stuff was there and those elements were working,” Andrews said. Echoing early test screening reports, though, he says that the main thrust of the story was unfocused and hard to follow. “Whose story it was – whether it was Merida or her mom’s story or Merida choosing which parent she was going to be more like – these things weren’t working, and having more of an objective eye coming into it, I killed some babies to get the story moving again in the direction that was entertaining and had action in it and didn’t compromise the heart or the humor.” Not that it was easy to get right: “I put it up on reels four times in the span of a year, in some very different ways, before I got it to where everyone was saying, ‘Yeah yeah yeah that’s it, it’s working, it’s working.'”

Andrews went directly from helping Andrew Stanton craft “John Carter” to “Brave,” and even though “John Carter” was a seemingly impossible property that hadn’t been properly adapted in a hundred years, he admits that “Brave” might have been harder. “‘Brave’ was much more difficult in that sense because it was an original tale,” Andrews said. “There were things in place that we didn’t want to lose. I wanted to do right by Brenda because we’re friends and it’s always an awkward, weird transition. But also deliver something that Pixar wanted to get. It was a lot to do. It was a crazy, crazy minefield, but there were things that I had to keep that couldn’t budge, which makes the combination of elements really tricky. It was a Gordian knot I had to untie and tie again to get it to sing.” The filmmaker brought in his own personal experiences as well: “I have a daughter and three sons, just like in the movie – and bringing in my own experiences from my teenage days to being a family man as well and plugging that into the movie.”

One person he did consult was Brad Bird, his mentor and coworker from back in the day (the two worked together on “The Iron Giant” and when Bird decamped for Pixar, he brought Andrews along for the ride). Even though Bird isn’t at the studio everyday anymore (although he could be soon, since he’s said to be working on a top-secret project for Disney), Andrews still sought his council. “To be honest, he was the first phone call I made after Pixar asked me to step in for Brenda. I said, ‘Can I think about this?’ and I called Brad,” Andrews said. “Because he had done this, he had stepped in for Jan Pinkava [taking over ‘Ratatouille’ with roughly the same amount of time Andrews had to finish the film]. And just getting his take on what it would mean and the trials and tribulations and what I would look out for.”

Bird has also been outspoken about the response to “John Carter” (and its supposed financial shortcomings), taking to Twitter to defend the film from its numerous snarky detractors. The whole experience is still a blur to Andrews, who helped conceive of the adaptation during a brainstorming session with eventual director Andrew Stanton. “It was a crazy experience. I had kind of gone through it with ‘Iron Giant.’ You have a great film and nobody saw it,” Andrews said. “And here it happens again on ‘Carter.’ And it’s like ‘Are you kidding me? This happens twice in a lifetime?'” Andrews remains defensive about what he perceives as a general lack of support from Disney, who had more or less written the movie off before it opened. “I was in denial for quite a bit and the studio pulled the plug on it a little prematurely and I think there were some mistakes in marketing. It was like ‘Give it a chance! This thing is struggling to find itself! Hold on a little longer!'” Still, he offers some perspective: “I think, ultimately, what’s really interesting now is that it’s the #1 pirated movie of all time. I think all the bad press has given it this mystique.”

What’s more is that Andrews is actually optimistic about returning to the series. “It’s going to get its legs back and me and Andrew aren’t done with that story yet and we really want to do two and three,” Andrews said. “There’s some great stuff for John Carter as a hero to deal with in the future.” He added that they continue to work on the script for the subsequent films: “We’re ready to go. As soon as somebody from Disney says, ‘We want ‘John Carter 2,” we’d be right there.” (Andrews also says that Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Chabon will be back to co-write the additional films.)

But as for what Andrews will do next, that’s somewhat up in the air. “I’ve got lots of irons in the fire. I definitely have ideas for live action and animation both,” Andrews admitted. “I’m developing stuff for Pixar – original animated tales but I have original live action tales as well. I’ll hit the ground running come September and figure out what to do next.”

For now, though, Andrews is proud of what he accomplished with “Brave” and what he added to the fairy tale milieu. “We wanted to make a story that would resonate with everybody, and I think this parent/child relationship, that heart, is definitely there,” Andrews said. “And for me, the one thing for me, that I really liked about the story is it is a dark tale. I’m really glad Pixar got behind it and supported it and didn’t try to lighten it.” He then explained the historical precedence: “There’s real stakes for this character and some real lessons. That’s what makes the original Grimm’s fairy tales so great – they’re warnings to youth about being mature when they reach adulthood. It is going to be a dangerous place and their decisions and choices can have dire consequences and they can’t take growing up lightly.” Andrews then paused and summed things up: “I like that it’s in the movie and it’s pushing the boundaries of animation and the types of stories that we tell out of the realm of just being for kids or kid-friendly topics.”

“Brave” opens this Friday.

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Just bought my copy of JC in Australia. Due out tomorrow but already in stores. This is a magnificent movie,truly one of the best of all time by Disney. It is amazing how much you miss on only one viewing. It moves so quickly you cannot take it all in in one sitting. No wonder critics got confused! Taylor's performance IS impressive on a second viewing and he certainly has talent. Recommend you all get your copies.


This is so great to hear! I'm really glad that they're not done with the story because I'm not either! I really hope that Disney approves making more John Carter movies because I think it is a wonderful story.
If you haven't seen John Carter, you should watch it-it's very entertaining and all aspects of this movie do not disappoint. I loved it because of it's ability to be enjoyed over and over again. I've seen it 6 times and it gets better every time.


Comment traffic is quite WONDERful today

Randal Benjamin

Most of the positive reviews come from people who see how fun this swashbuckler of a sy/fi fantasy is. If you think that the cgi is mediocre you should take a second look and focus on the Tharks. If you really think they are not just a tad better than the blue creatures in Avatar, then I guess there's nothing I can say to persuade you. The plot IS complex and many reviewers got lost because they failed to really listen and pay attention. It starts on Mars in the late 1860s Earth time then jumps to Earth ten years later only to flash back to the 1860s Arizona to start the story of how Carter was transported to Mars where he start his adventure there. This seems to confuse some people I guess, but I have seen the film a number of times and the audiences, without fail, voice positive comments when leaving. If you figure the almost $300,000,000 in world wide gross that this movie has done so far you have to realize that one heck of a lot of people have seen it. Especially when you consider that international tickets are often only a fraction of the price of US tickets. Also, word of mouth is what has kept the movie in theaters for as long as it has been. Even now it is still playing in some theaters around the world. It is also word of mouth that made it number one is DVD/Blue Ray sales for two weeks when released. It hasn't even been released in many of the international markets yet. BTW I really think this is a film that needs to be viewed more than once to really appreciate the detail and depth that it possesses. A tremendous amount of thought went into this movie. There are discrepancies with the book to be sure, but compared to what Hollywood did to Tarzan and other literary works the discrepancies are not that stark and in this case tent to make it work better for a modern audience. And BTW I am a big fan of all eleven Mars books as well as all the books of Edgar Rice Burroughs.


Wow, for Pixar supposedly being such an un-Hollywood artist-friendly place, they sure do fire enough people

Captain Jack

No one is paying them, OLLI, but you're right that it's coordinated. It's a small facebook group of fans who pounce on every article with a flood of positive comments in an attempt to alter the negative perception of the film. They are all very sincere, but a tiny vocal minority who passionately want to see these goofballs mangle another classic book into Stanton/Andrews 'vision' for a sequel. Why they love it so, they will gladly tell you until your head hurts.

I, too, wonder where the other $100M went because it looked about $150M tops – you'd think they'd have managed some genuinely epic action for that money? The CGI couldn't have cost that much unless doing all the work in England turned out to be a bad deal.
You're right, though, it's not a bad film. It's just not especially good either, and certainly not great. Ambitious, sure, but overall mediocre. That's not because the source material had been so looted, either – the film ignores a lot of the more original aspects of the novels and practically focuses on the elements you've seen in other movies – in some cases actually adding modern cliche's out of nowhere.

Don't let that keep you from checking out the original novel, 'A Princess of Mars', if you haven't before. It's actually quite wonderful, and bears little resemblance to the film.


No offense to anyone here but reading all theses comments from JC fans makes me wonder who paid them to write theses comments. And where have they been when JC was released?
JC was a pretty average movie, a truly missed opportunity. Yes, the marketing was really bad but word of mouth wasn't great either. And the movie was in no way outstanding maybe because Burroughs books have been ripped for years from the likes of Star Wars and others so lots of scenes were nothing new to anyone, there have been no groundbreaking visual effects and even using 3D waqsn't enhancing anything. The movie was not bad but just ok and there is not a single scene lingering in my mind anymore. And regarding the ridiculous budget made me wonder, where the hell all that money went because there was no 250 million dollar worth on the screen.


John Carter was a movie in the fashion of what movies used to be: grand entertainment. Stanton and his team put together a stunning example of cinematography. They stayed close to the original story and yet found ways to make it new. Millions of people have taken this movie to heart despite Disney's belly flop on marketing it. There is definitely a market for sequels.


John Carter was a superb film! But, somehow it received very bad press. Go and watch it yourself, and make your own judgement – you will be amazed! Don't believe what the so-called movie critics are negatively saying about it.


Excellent news to read that Andrews and Stanton are in fact working on the scripts for the continuation films for John Carter. If any film deserves a sequel it is John Carter. When I saw it the first time, as the credit were rolling, I sat there and was blown away. I had not had a film effect me in that way and to that degree since I was a your boy watching those epic 'B" films with my dad, the likes which are no longer made. I went back again to watch it, as if to answer the question if the feelings it brought forth from my first viewing were really genuine. They were, the film really does have some type of "movie magic", the likes that is so rare these days. I watched it today on Blu-ray with a buddy, who was watching it for the first time, and he said what a great film, and questioned how Disney could have so mishandled the marketing as to make it so there was no real promotion for the film or support. I just received an email from another friend as I am writing this, saying that he rented JC and loved it. People who see this fall in love with this indeed! If Disney is reading, I certainly hope that under the new direction of leadership within the film department, that they realize what they have in the JC "franchise". If Andrews and Stanton might be reading this, thank you for believing in this project and bringing it to the screen. You have my gratitude for making me feel like a kid watching those old "B" films with my dad. Priceless!


LOVE hearing these comments about "John Carter!" If ever a film deserved a sequel, it's this wonderful, exciting, romantic and ultimately uplifting film. I've been sitting in theaters over the last few months with crowds full of new, enthusiastic fans–folks who never knew the film was in theaters back in March due to the worst advertising campaign ever. They laugh, cheer, cry and have been giving it an ovation at the end of every screening I've attended. People of all races and both genders simply adore this wonderful film. What a thrill it would be to see John's further adventures and his return to his beloved Dejah. Gimme!


I'm so happy to read this! I loved the movie, and I know I'm not alone. There IS indeed an audience for a John Carter (of Mars) movie franchise. Come on, Disney – take us back to Barsoom!

John Michals

I loved John Carter! I saw it twice in the theaters and bought the DVD. I remain hopeful for the sequels. It seems the DVD sales are brisk. I have my copy as well.

John Carter was a brilliant film. If only people had a better idea of what the film was about. It was like the kind of film Disney used to make! It had adventure, romance, swashbuckling action and humorous supporting characters. How come these elements weren't highlighted in commercials for the film? Why was the word MARS omitted from the title? I fell in love with Lynn Collins portrayal of Deja Thoris. Why didn't she get some more exposure? Come on Disney! You own a whole television network, (ABC)! Where was the advance TV special to inform people about the film? The Making of… features on the DVD could've been aired ahead of the release to get people excited about it. So many more people could've seen it. The film was so much fun. Think how many missed out on it!

JC FAN 4 Life

Disney, I know you're reading this. Now that you got rid of Ross, sacrificing JOHN CARTER in the process, could you get your head out of Uranus and take us back to Barsoom (Mars)?

JC Fan 4 Life

While you're waiting for the sequel, check out some of Edgar Rice Burroughs original tales. Read THE GODS OF MARS (John Carter Book 2) and tell me you don't want to see that put on film.

JC Fan 4 Life

JOHN CARTER is right up there with THE IRON GIANT. Two AMAZING films, masterpieces really, that got mishandled by their respective studios. The tragedy is how badly Disney f'ed the pooch with the mistreatment of JOHN CARTER. This was not only negligence, but deliberate incompetence on their part. Not only did they just sort of release it with little to no fanfare, they dumped it in March of all places, had craptastic trailers, changed the name, gave it ZERO merchandising opportunities, gave it ZERO cross-promotion tie-ins, and STABBED IT IN THE BACK with that bs press release ($200 million loss my A$$. This film is still making money!). All of this done to a film over 100 years in the making. This is some tragic stuff you if stop to think about it. There was some real sinister corporate bs going on behind the scenes. Corporate politics to jettison the old regime. Do yourself a favor. SEE THE FILM WITH YOUR OWN EYES. Don't buy the company line. Don't buy the mass media hysteria. Think for yourself. Don't listen to trolls. If you like good old-fashioned adventure films with HEART give JOHN CARTER a shot. JOHN CARTER deserves a sequel or three, like NO OTHER FILM in history. No joke. johncartertwo dot com


Yes! Can't wait to see the Plant Men!

Gary Hatch

John Carter is a Great/Fun/Fantasy that Disney totally mishandled. A lot of the "talk" about Brave was if Merida should be a Princess or not…. Now my daughter already has 3 dolls and the movie isn't even out (for a few more hours anyway). But where was the merchandise for John Carter? There already was a Princess in John Carter, but no dolls, etc. (and she was begging for a Dejah doll, and a Woola plushy….see the movie if you don't know what I'm talking about!) So much $$$ Disney just failed to try for. I hope they give it another shot, we loved JOHN CARTER!


JC was a great film. The best this year,including the Avengers. I hope Disney realises what a jewel it has and green lights the sequels ASAP.

Jeffrey T Fouberg

Kaor. This is excellent news. I loved the movie "John Carter" and saw it six times in the theater. I have been a big fan of the books also and I was not disturbed in the least by the changes made to the characters in the movie. I liked the added dimensions given to John Carter and Dejah Thoris. I do not agree with Zinjo and Captain Jack, but they are entitled to their opinions and if the sequels are made, they can chose to avoid seeing the films. As for me, this is my favorite movie of all time, I loved LOTR and the Narnia movies and 300, but this movie was better in my opinion. I certainly hope "John Carter II: The Gods of Mars" is made soon and has the same stars and directors. I am really interested in what they have in store for the return to Barsoom and how the story line plays out. Great news! The 3D Blu Ray is great and I talk up the movie here in South Dakota all the time.


I would certainly love to see a John Carter sequel, hopefully one with a proper title!

As for respecting the source material, the original stories are great for what they are, but they did need some reworking to add a bit of dimension to the characters and make something that would work as a movie. There are a few points I could nit-pick on, but they're fairly minor and meaningless to the average viewer. Compared to some of the reimagings popular superheros go through, John Carter is fairly true to it's source.


John carter was Grrreat! And this is great news. Come on disney ! Green light the sequel please:-)


John Carter was amazing and epic! I want, no, I need a sequel.


I'm so happy to think the John Carter sequels could really happen!


I suspect the John Carter piracy thing is simply savvy consumers viewing a train wreck without parting with any of their hard earned cash! If it had any merit there'd be fan edits floating around to try to salvage any part of it, but alas nothing.
I can understand defending your own work and even solidarity with a collegue like Stanton, but the reality is that if you refuse to learn from history you are doomed to repeat it.

Despite my feelings on John Carter, I too am looking forward to seeing The Brave. Let's hope it is as good as it could be.

Mark Goss

PLEASE add a sequel to John Carter – Back to Barsoom PLEASE

Emma Thick

yay good news. Take me back to Barsoom :D and PLEASE , PLEASE make a woola plush !

Michael Cohen

Fantastic article. I'm psyched for Brave this weekend, and now that I know that one of the minds behind John Carter helped bring it to the screen, I'm all the more excited. I hope that what Andrews says regarding John Carter can be brought to fruition, and that someone at Disney doesn't have their head stuck too deep in the sand to realize that they could still have a hit franchise on their hands. I mean, can you imagine a year in which we get John Carter 2 in the summer, and the Tron 3 in the winter? That would be one heckuva year for Disney, if they would just get behind the live action arm of their studios and push these movies to the top. If they're ever in doubt, they should just bring Kevin Feige in to consult and tell them how to market and build these franchises. Disney has the muscle, they just need to flex it.


This sounds good to me for I saw the movie John Carter in IMAX when it first came out and fell in love with it. I had no idea what John Carter was about, who Edgar Rice Burroughs was or the source material princess of Mars, but as I walked out of the theater I knew I wanted a sequel. I now own the BluRay dvd and have listened to the audio commentary. You can tell it was a labor of love by cast and crew. The media and the critcs went after John Carter with long knives. Now that its at on dvd, the public is waking up and kicking themselves for not going to see John Carter in the theater. Everyone I showed the movie to has loved it. John Carter has legs as well as 4 arms and He will pull himself up. I want to go back to Barsoom. This is so hopeful and I feel a little bit relieved. Great review

Captain Jack

Well, I wouldn't expect any of that 'stuff for John Carter to deal with as a hero' to resemble the novels any more than this "first" film did. Seriously, how three guys this talented managed to completely bungle every major character and plot-point in a book that lasted a full century is beyond me. Hubris all around.

Their film betrayed the legacy and intentions of a classic, and it got what it deserved.


This interview was a great bit of news. Glad to hear the director and writers are still enthusiastic — hope Lynn Collins and Taylor Kitsch feel the same way. But the money is the catch — I hope some combination of shared financing can be found, because Disney is apparently not in the mood for any of the risks Walt took. But right now let's just enjoy these good John Carter tidings from Mark Andrews!

Jan Austin

Wonderful news! I couldn't be more happy to read this! This is very promising and hopeful news to read. As one of the Administrators for A huge John Carter Sequel Campaign, I can tell you that there are literally thousands and thousands of John Carter fans from all over the world who loved this film, support this film, and definitely want to see a Sequel! We are working hard to help make this happen! When Disney decides to give the go for a Sequel, we will all definitely be there to support Disney and John Carter 2! This film was brilliantly directed by Andrew Stanton, it was a beautiful story, fantastic and heart-warming characters, and an incomparable cast that we want back! Thank you for giving this hope to our dedicated and supportive fans who want to go Back To Barsoom! We want A John Carter Sequel!


He was the second unit director on John Carter, not the assistant director. Big difference.

Mike Carlock

Encouraging news for John Carter fans. Looks like the Pixar peeps have John Carter's back. Looking forward to seeing Brave. Hope it does well!


The comments here regarding continuing the John Carter movie franchise made my day! It already is getting its legs back, with great DVD and BluRay sales! As an admin and very active member in the Back To Barsoom Sequel campaign, I have waited impatiently for some snippet of news from the filmmakers! This just fills me with JOY!! Myself, and all of us very enthusiastic fans of John Carter will continue to do all we can to promote it, get people to see it, and turn the tide. We Want John Carter 2!! Please take us Back To Barsoom!! :D


JC was really the best film that no one went to see. It's a shame really.


To Disney: John Carter, if left as one film, will go on and in 10 or 20 years to be remembered not as a huge flop but as a giant missed opportunity. If you make the trilogy it will be remembered forever as a scifi masterpiece. Let the incredibly talented people a Pixar make these films, look at the Internet and see how loyal the fanbase is! Make wools plushies and Thark action figures and we will buy them! You dumped this movie, but you literally have the next Star Wars on your hands!!!

Brad Blake

I absolutely loved John Carter, and have been so fortunate to meet thousands and thousands on-line who feel the same. The job everyone did on this film deserves every accolade we can share, and the bum rap it got from Disney accounting, the former regime, and a really awful marketing campaign, while still bringing in 300M and counting so far, is testament to how well the sequels will do with just a little more effective promotion (see the Heritage trailer on YouTube for example). Anyway, I just want to offer my sincere hope that Disney will see the light and take advantage of frankly a once in a 100 year opportunity to continue with the same great team on John Carter II. Honestly, I think Disney can repackage and promote John Carter I, perhaps even ReRelease in the theaters with the right marketing in a limited engagement worldwide, and see tremendous results.


It´s great news for me. A tiny hope, but good enough. I really, really think Disney should have supported Johnn Carter a bit more. Not talking about the money, lack of effective promotion….who was the genius who didn´t realise how iconic Dejah Thoris is in science fiction (guess he/she never heard of Leia Organa or watched Star Wars), how amazing Lynn Collins was in the movie….The should have stood behind the movie. It looks gorgeus, it´s amazing, expensive (Isn´t it good to see the money onscreen instead of just in a movie star pocket?).

Please, let´s go back to Barsoom. To the walks of Helium, to Kantos Kan´s arms.

I hope John Carter will get the recognition it deserves and we´ll get those sequels

Kenneth Jordan

"John Carter" is a great film and there should be sequels! Just because the now-departed advertising director for Disney couldn't figure out how to present it to the public has nothing to do with the excellence of the movie. "John Carter" still lives, as is evidenced by the domestic home video sales – see figures. And the foreign market was much better than the domestic box office, and the home videos overseas have not yet been released.

There will be at least one sequel, maybe two.


"As soon as somebody from Disney says, 'We want 'John Carter 2,'' we'd be right there." — So, never.

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