Favreau Handed the "John Carter of Mars" Project

After years of on-again, off-again production discussions, Paramount has hired a director to helm an adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs' well-admired "John Carter of Mars" story -- and it's everyone's favorite old "Swinger," Jon Favreau.

Variety reports: "Pic begins with a Civil War veteran whose retreat into a cave to avoid capture by Apache Indians takes an otherworldly turn as he's transported via time portal to the planet of Barsoom and taken prisoner by 12-foot-tall green men.

Burroughs wrote 11 volumes of Carter's adventures and the studio is hoping the film will launch a franchise. Ehren Kruger rewrote a script by Mark Protosevich, and Ain't It Cool News' Harry Knowles is co-producing.

"Mars" has long been viewed by the studio and Par-based Alphaville as a plum project. The trouble has been getting the right director. Robert Rodriguez was set, until he had to remove himself after resigning his DGA membership over the guild's unwillingness to allow him to co-direct "Sin City" with Frank Miller. Kerry Conran was most recently attached.

Favreau has a taste for special-effects fare, exhibited with large-scale fantasy pic "Zathura," that Sony releases Nov. 11 and New Line's hit "Elf.""

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