Michael Chabon, author of such books as The Amazing Adventures Of Kavalier & Clay and The Yiddish Policemen's Union, has signed on to rewrite the script for Disney's big-screen adaption of A Princess of Mars, the first of eleven books in the John Carter saga. Chabon's previous screenwriting experience is writing a draft of Spider-Man 2, although only about a third of his material made it to the finished film.
Nikki Finke's Deadline Hollywood Daily on the LA Weekly website first mentioned this news last Wednesday in passing in a post about Chabon switching agents; the post listed John Carter of Mars as one of his screenwriting credits.
Intrigued, Chabon fansite The Amazing Website of Kavalier & Clay contacted the man directly. Chabon confirmed the story:
"I've been hired to do some revisions to an already strong script by Andrew Stanton and Mark Andrews," Chabon said. "I wrote my original screenplay The Martian Agent back in 1995 because I wished I could do [Edgar Rice] Burroughs's Barsoom. So this is pretty much a dream come true for me."
Tarzan creator Edgar Rice Burroughs first began exploring his vision of Mars, which he called Barsoom after the native Martians' name for the planet, in the 1912 serial Under the Moons of Mars, which was later collected and published in 1917 as Princess of Mars. The books follow John Carter, a Civil War veteran who is inexplicably transported to Mars and plunged into civil war between the dying planet's many inhabitants.
Thanks to his bravery in battle and extensive military skills, Carter quickly earns the respect of the warlike Green Martians, but their capture and imprisonment of the Red Martian Princess Dejah Thoris soon tests his newfound allegiances. Building off of nineteenth century astronomer Percival Lowell's long since debunked notions of Mars, including the planet's infamous supposed canal system, Burroughs spun a pulpy tale of epic adventure and romance that influenced the likes of Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke, and Carl Sagan.
Disney gained the rights to the John Carter books in 2007, after Paramount gave up on the project. Previous adaptation attempts had included directors such as Robert Rodriguez and Jon Favreau. Current director Andrew Stanton is best known for his work with Pixar, where he directed Finding Nemo and Wall-E. Stanton and Mark Andrews completed a first draft in 2008; it is unclear whether Chabon will be simply revising or completely rewriting the script. The movie is currently set for a 2012 release date to mark the centenary of the original serial.