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There have been plenty of criticisms of John Carter — the buzz, the questions about its confusing marketing. But at the world premiere Wednesday night, the movie actually played really well.
Director Andrew Stanton and Disney execs were rightfully buoyant at the premiere at the L.A. Live Theater (Disney usually holds its premieres at the El Capitan in Hollywood but the preparations for the Oscars have taken up all the space in front of the theater on Hollywood Boulevard), with nary a focus on the negative at the afterparty held in a ballroom of the nearby JW Marriott Hotel.
“We made a f—ing great movie in John Carter,” said star Taylor Kitsch. “It’s such wasted energy if I worry about what a million people I don’t know are going to think. I’m excited for people to enjoy the journey.”
During the afterparty, producer Jim Jacks, who spent much of the 2000s trying to get Carter off the ground when it was set up at Paramount, approached Disney production chief Sean Bailey to say how much he was taken with the movie. “Taylor makes a great John Carter,” Jacks told Bailey, adding that he also liked how Stanton solved a tricky ending with something he thought was “better than the book.”
The premiere brought out many bold-faced names who worked on the movie, such as author and co-screenwriter Michael Chabon and composer Michael Giachinno (an Oscar winner for Up), plus Pixar’s John Lassetter, who was there to support the man who made Finding Nemo and WALL-E and is now making his live-action debut.
The ballroom was draped in red curtains and light fixtures designed to evoke one of the movie’s Martian civilizations, and some of the movie’s costumes were on full display. The setting was more stately and upscale than the usual Disney premiere and didn’t have the typical Hollywood premiere diversions, such as photostations.
Still, in light of the spotight on the movie, things went well for Disney. And initial reaction on Twitter has been positive.
“John Carter is much better than you’re expecting it to be. A lot not shown in the advertising,” wrote Peter Sciretta of Slash Film soon after the premiere. “Lynn and Taylor were great. You’ll love Woola and will leave hoping they’ll make a sequel.”
Hitfix’s Drew McWeeney wrote, “I am no longer in danger of being killed for saying that I quite liked John Carter.“
Think that can be dismissed as mere fanboy chatter? A smattering of “normal person” reactions ranged from “awesome flick” to “Ignore all the trailers and listen to me when I say JOHN CARTER was amazing and you need to go see it.”
Last night’s premiere was accompanied by a parallel screening for members of D23, the Disney fan club. One moviegoer I talked to called the movie a “good start to the blockbusters of the season. I’ll go see it again.” He also praised Kitsch, describing him as “channeling John Wayne.”
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