Disney celebrates Burroughs' series

Disney isn’t showing any signs of trying to hide “John Carter,” throwing a lavish premiere for the fantasy epic on Feb. 22, three weeks before its bow, as the studio deals with negative buzz that’s hovered over the production from the start.

“I’ve been wanting to see this movie for 30 years,” said Pixar vet and director Andrew Stanton. After decades of fits and starts with other helmers, Stanton jumped at the chance to direct the film when the studio offered it to him. “I thought it was cursed and would never get made,” he said. “After pushing them to make it for so long, I couldn’t say no when they offered it to me.”

Pic is based on Edgar Rice Burroughs’ 11-book series, which influenced franchises like “Star Wars,” “Conan the Barbarian” and “Avatar.” “But nobody’s copied it,” Stanton said. “It just inspired others. We selfishly made what we would want to see.”

Added producer Jim Morris, “We wanted to re-create the kind of feeling we had as kids when we first read the books.”

Regarding bad buzz, Stanton has been here before. “There was negative press before ‘Finding Nemo.’ All I can control is what’s in the theater, and make sure you have a great time,” he said.

Even Disney’s Rich Ross has been confused by the early reaction, saying, “I’ve never had something healthy get treated like a corpse. Usually it’s the other way around.”

With Oscar preparation closing off Hollywood Boulevard, Disney couldn’t use its El Capitan theater, moving the “John Carter” preem to downtown’s Regal Cinemas at L.A. Live, with the Barsoom (or Mars)-themed afterparty held at JW Marriott’s Gold Ballroom.

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