Disney’s John Carter is one of those blockbuster duds that people who love it (like friend to the site Roxana Hadadi) swear is some secret gem or something. It’s really not. The reputation it has earned as a very pricey flop is legit. Star Taylor Kitsch wasn’t quite right for it, nothing felt quite right about it, actually. But was the leading man really the issue? Or would it have been better with Tom Cruise?
The Wrap did an oral history of John Carter and, in news that I had forgotten about, they recalled that Tom Cruise was once very interested in starring in the film and was attached to at one point. Now, this was before eventual director Andrew Stanton (of Wall-E and Finding Nemo fame) came aboard for the version we would see in theaters. However, the Cruise version crashed and burned, and couldn’t get going until Stanton was able to do it with Disney’s backing.
That’s when Cruise wanted back in. Too bad Kitsch was already there!
“I had Taylor already in mind by the time Tom made his interest known,” said Stanton. “Tom had a long history with the material, so it wasn’t too surprising to discover he still had interest in it. He was a consummate professional in his discussions with me about the role, and beyond respectful to the fact I was already on an audition path with Taylor. We agreed to talk further if I were to pass on Taylor, but I obviously didn’t. It was as simple and non-controversial as that.”
Having Cruise star might have helped John Carter perform at the box office. Kitsch was, and still is a decade later, an unproven box office draw. But Cruise wouldn’t have made that film watchable, and I like to think he dodged a bullet.