Disney Loses 'John Carter' Rights; Edgar Rice Burroughs Inc. Wants To Make More Films

John Carter wasn't the franchise-launching film that Disney hoped for, and now we know for certain that it will be Disney's only effort to exploit the Mars-set stories of Edgar Rice Burroughs. The studio no longer has the rights to the John Carter character, as that package has been regained by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc., the publishing company created by the author in 1923. With the John Carter rights back in hand, the company hopes to get the character out to a new studio for more films.

Some of Burroughs books and characters have passed into public domain, but Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. still controls and oversees a couple, such as Tarzan and in some cases John Carter. AS today's press release explains,

Founded in 1923 by Edgar Rice Burroughs himself, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. holds numerous trademarks and the rights to all literary works of the author still protected by copyright. The company has overseen every adaptation of his literary works in publishing, film, television, theatrical stage productions, licensing and merchandising.

Of John Carter, ERB Inc. president James Sullos said,

'John Carter of Mars' was the creative stimulus behind such movie classics as 'Superman,' 'Star Wars' and 'Avatar.' Edgar Rice Burroughs was the Master of Adventure and his literary works continue to enjoy a world-wide following. We will be seeking a new partner to help develop new adventures on film as chronicled in the eleven 'Mars' novels Burroughs wrote. This adventure never stops. Along with a new 'Tarzan' film in development by Warner Bros., we hope to have 'John Carter of Mars' become another major franchise to entertain world-wide audiences of all ages.

Arguably there were several failures on Disney's part when it came to turning John Carter into a success — from casting to design, budget and marketing. Another studio can do things differently on many counts; precisely how another company might proceed, knowing that it would also have to get over the hurdle of whatever public awareness exists for Disney's movie, is a big question.