Par raising ‘Mars’ bar

Helmer Favreau boards Burroughs scifier

Paramount has tapped Jon Favreau to direct “John Carter of Mars,” the epic adaptation of the Edgar Rice Burroughs sci-fi series.

Alphaville Prods. partners Sean Daniel and Jim Jacks are producing.

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.”

Favreau, who just wrapped the fourth season as producer and host of the IFC series “Dinner for Five,” has also hatched an Image Entertainment-produced sitcom for Fox. Favreau is writing and will possibly direct the pilot. As an actor, Favreau just wrapped “The Break Up.”

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