In this week's edition of The New Yorker, Tad Friend profiles Andrew Stanton, a long-time member of the "Pixar Braintrust" who's making his live-action directing debut with 'John Carter.' That Disney film hits theaters in 2012, and has already cost upward of $250 million -- meaning it will have to earn around $700 million to make a sequel worthwhile. As the profile indicates, Stanton is under a lot of pressure, continually tinkering with the Taylor Kitsch-led film -- something that might seem odd expect for the fact that it's also how he worked at Pixar.
Said 'Toy Story 3' screenwriter Michael Arndt, who began working with Pixar before winning an Oscar for 'Little Miss Sunshine: "I thought they must have some foolproof system, some big Pixar story machine, but they actually just make it up each time as they go along. Pete Docter's analogy is 'Everyone holds hands and jumps out of the airplane with the promise that they'll build a parachute before they hit the ground.'"
To that end, Stanton was instrumental in directorial switches during the productions of 'Toy Story 2,' 'Ratatouille,' 'Cars 2' and the new Pixar film 'Brave' (out next summer). "Andrew's primary allegiance is not to his fellow-ﬁlmmakers, or the characters in the story, but to the audience," said Arndt. "When you look at things through that lens, there's an imperative to be harsh."
It's surprising to read this, if only because the Pixar blockbuster factory seems so effortless. Stanton, who directed 'Wall*E' for Pixar as well as 'Finding Nemo,' puts it this way: "We're in this weird, hermetically sealed freakazoid place where everybody's trying their best to do their best-and the ﬁlms still suck for three out of the four years it takes to make them."
About that "suck": 'Wall*E' ended with Eve getting shot in the heart battery for two years before it was switched, while 'Finding Nemo' initially held back the reveal of what happened to Nemo's mother, a plot twist that made his father (voiced by Albert Brooks) seem annoying.
As for 'John Carter,' Stanton is still hoping to improve the film before its release next March. Judging from his track record, here's guessing he builds a parachute.
[via The New Yorker]
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