The film is largely based on A Princess of Mars (1917), the first in a series of 11 novels by Edgar Rice Burroughs to feature the interplanetary hero John Carter (and in later volumes the adventures of his children with Dejah Thoris). The story was originally serialized in six monthly installments (from February through to July 1912) in the pulp magazine The All-Story; those chapters, originally titled “Under the Moons of Mars,” were then collected in hardcover five years later from publisher A. C. McClurg.
John Carter stars Taylor Kitsch in the title role, Lynn Collins, Samantha Morton, Mark Strong, Ciarán Hinds, Dominic West, James Purefoy, and Willem Dafoe. The film chronicles the first interplanetary adventure of John Carter and his attempts to mediate civil unrest amongst the warring kingdoms of Barsoom.
Several developments on a theatrical film adaptation of the Barsoom series emerged throughout the 20th century from various major studios and producers, with the earliest attempt dating back to the 1930s. Most of these efforts, however, ultimately stalled in development hell. In the late-2000s, Walt Disney Pictures began a concerted effort to develop a film adaptation of Burroughs’ works, after a previously-abandoned venture by the studio in the 1980s. The project was driven by Stanton, who had pressed Disney to renew the screen rights from the Burroughs estate. Stanton became director in 2009; this was his live-action debut, as his previous directorial work for Disney included the Pixar animated films, Finding Nemo (2003) and WALL-E (2008).
Due to the film’s poor box office performance, Disney cancelled any plans for a sequel (titled John Carter: The Gods of Mars) and trilogy Stanton had planned.