WALL-E helmer Andrew Stanton talks John Carter of Mars

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Dec 14, 2012, 3:54 PM EST

WALL-E director Andrew Stanton told SCI FI Wire that he is working on a new draft of his proposed John Carter of Mars movie and is aiming for a realistic feel to the live-action movie, his first.

"[I'm] deep into it," Stanton said in an exclusive interview at the Los Angeles Film Critics Association award ceremony in Century City, Calif., on Monday, where he accepted the award for best picture of 2008 for WALL-E. "I'm on my next draft of it. We're in preproduction art-wise, and we're starting to talk to actors. So it's full bore."

Stanton confirmed that Carter, based on the books by Edgar Rice Burroughs, will be live-action. "Yeah, I think that's the only way," he said. "I mean, there are so many creatures and characters that half of it's going to be CG whether you want it to be [or not], just to realize some of these images that are in the book. But it will feel real. The whole thing will feel very, very believable."

Following is an edited version of the rest of our interview with Stanton. John Carter of Mars is slated for release sometime in 2012.

What inspiration did you take for your art concepts?

Stanton: Well, we're going very authentic, I guess is the way to put it. I don't want to give too much away, but it's such a foundational story to so many films and stories and sci-fi ideas that have come since the '30s and 1912 and stuff. So the trick is how to not make it seem cliché and derivative because it's such an archetype story now.

How would it feel to be the guy who finally got it done?

Stanton: It would feel awesome, because I spent most of my life just being a fan of those books and being a cheerleader from the sidelines of anybody that was trying to make it. I never thought I would be lucky enough to be one of those guys associated with it, let alone helming it. I would love to break the curse.

How do you even approach that adaptation?

Stanton: Well, I've surrounded myself with a couple key people that are just really smart, really talented, and we just keep saying the same thing we've always said about any other films. What would I want to see? Or what would I not want to see?

How many pages is your latest draft?

Stanton: Oh, it's just like a regular movie. It'll be a two-hour film. ... You don't want it more than 120 [minutes], because it only grows, those films.

Is developing a live-action movie the same process as developing a Pixar animated film?

Stanton: Well, it's not being done by the Pixar crew. It's being done by Disney, and I'm sort of being loaned out. We're sort of using any element that we need to to make the film right. We're not being purist with Pixar, but Pixar's a brand that you have to trust that's for all ages. This story of John Carter is not going to be an all-ages film.

Are you thinking PG-13?

Stanton: Well, if you do the story right, there's no way you couldn't.