Taylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins blast off to 'Mars'

1:54 PM PST 06/12/2009 by Borys Kit, AP

Disney adapting Edgar Rice Burroughs book series

Taylor Kitsch and Lynn Collins will star in "John Carter of Mars," the adaptation of the Edgar Rice Burroughs book series that Andrew Stanton is directing for Disney.

The movie is a big step for Stanton -- who as one of Pixar's top creators directed the company's animated films "Finding Nemo" and "WALL-E" but will now helm his first live-action feature -- and Disney, which hopes the big-budget production will launch a franchise on the scale of "Pirates of the Caribbean."

"Carter" centers on a civil war veteran who finds himself mysteriously transported to Mars, where his involvement with warring races of the dying planet force him to rediscover his humanity.

Kitsch will play the title character, while Collins is playing Dejah Thoris, heir to the throne of Mars' Helium kingdom.

Stanton wrote the screenplay with Mark Andrews. Jim Morris, who produced "WALL-E," and Colin Wilson are producing "Carter," which is eyeing a start in early 2010.

Brigham Taylor is overseeing for the studio.

The role of Carter was considered one of the "gets" for a young actor, and Disney has spent months meeting and testing a wide swath of names from Jon Hamm to Josh Duhamel during its search. Canadian-born Kitsch, repped by WMA and Untitled, began building buzz with his starring role on NBC's "Friday Night Lights." Before long, he was considered one of the town's next generation of leading men, especially when he booked the role of Gambit in "Wolverine."

Collins, repped by WME and 3 Arts, had a recurring gig on HBO's "True Blood" but appeared with Kitsch in "Wolverine," which raised her profile considerably. She next stars opposite Joseph Gordon-Levitt in "Uncertainty," which IFC is releasing this year.
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