Two of the more intriguing sci-fi flicks that’ll hit theaters over the next year include Walt Disney Picture’s John Carter of Mars adaptation and writer/director Andrew Niccol’s Now for 20th Century Fox. The twist, however, is that neither film will be arriving under either of those titles.

Both these projects have been renamed by their respective studios, for unspecified reasons. Has either one of them been re-titled in a fashion that makes them sound that much more interesting? Read on…

Pixar’s Andrew Stanton (WALL-E, Finding Nemo) is making his live-action directorial debut with the John Carter of Mars movie, which is based on the first entry in Edgar Rice Burrough’s Barsoom literary series. The plot revolves around Civil War veteran John Carter (Taylor Kitsch), who is unexpectedly transported to Mars after taking refuge in a mysterious cave. He thereafter gets involved in a war between the inhabitants of the red planet.

Disney has selected to shorten the film’s name to merely John Carter – and frankly, it’s a strange move. The project not only loses some of its immediate brand recognition, it’s also no longer easily identifiable as an imaginative sci-fi genre piece. For all the casual moviegoer will know, John Carter could be some melodrama along the likes of John Q, or a spinoff of Get Carter. Probably not what Disney is hoping for.

The most obvious answer is that Mouse House officials felt the “Mars” is kind of a stigma after the box office failure that was Mars Needs Moms. However, considering what a financial and critical dud that film was, it doesn’t seem likely that too many people will remember it in the future.


Shifting gears now to…. Now:  Niccol’s latest mind-tickling sci-fi project was originally titled I’m.Mortal before it was retitled Now last fall. Fox officials seemingly did not think highly of the film’s tricky-to-use name, so they’ve gone ahead and changed the title again, to In Time.

Niccol is best known for crafting stories that revolve around provocative “what if” scenarios (see: The Truman Show, Gattaca, Simone) and In Time will be no exception. The film takes place in a future where the aging gene in humans can be shut off once they reach age 25. Thereafter, individuals must purchase time units and are genetically engineered to die once they (literally) run out of time.

In Time likely won’t benefit drastically (for better or for worse) from the title change, seeing how Niccol’s films (with the exception of Truman Show, which he did not direct) are generally critical hits, but fail to that well at the box office. That could change slightly with his new project, seeing as that it features more bankable screen stars (and starlets) like Justin Timberlake, Amanda Seyfried, and Olivia Wilde .

In Time is scheduled for theatrical release this fall on October 28th.

John Carter will hit theaters next year on March 9th, 2012.

Source: Walt Disney Pictures, 20th Century Fox (via Dark Horizons)