I visited Mars almost two years ago. It was April 2010 and the film set was in the middle of nowhere. Finding Nemo/WALL-E director Andrew Stanton was making his live-action debut John Carter, a big screen adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs‘s novel A Princess of Mars. There had been many failed attempts to bring the material to the big screen, but somehow Stanton was able to convince the studio heads to let him be the one to make the adaptation at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars.
Disney flew a group of journalists into the Las Vegas airport, where we boarded a shuttle bus to a location five hours away. A location so far away that we were no longer in Nevada. Located at the center of the Grand Circle, Big Water Utah has a population of only 417 people (which probably explains why you didn’t see many John Carter set photos). The set was located out in the middle of a desert.
You wouldn’t have any idea a big Hollywood production was being shot in town, aside from small yellow signs that read “BARSOOM” which help crew members find the small dirt road which leads to the set. And by set, I mean a few structures which have been constructed on the grey dirt in the middle of these large brown hills made of sandstone. Barsoom, of course, is what the Martians in the books call their home planet.