On Feb. 13, Disney held its world premiere for Sam Raimi’s “Oz The Great and Powerful” at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood. Appearing at the event were the movie’s stars James Franco, Mila Kunis, Michelle Williams, Rachel Weisz and Zach Braff.
“It’s the origin story,” Weisz told USA Today at the “Oz” premiere. “There’s a whole mythology in the Emerald City, and they’re waiting. There’s a prophecy, which says that a wizard will come one day. And he does in the shape of James Franco.”
"Oz the Great and Powerful" is a prequel to the events of "The Wizard of Oz." In Raimi’s film, Franco plays Oscar Diggs, a circus magician from Kansas with a touch of con artist in him. Oscar gets transported to Oz, where he is assumed to be a powerful wizard. He also meets Glinda (Williams), Theodora (Kunis) and Evanora (Weisz) and finds himself drawn in the Land of Oz and its problems.
It's a journey that promises to change the character.
“A lot of [my performance] was shaped by the way the character is written, and I think that has a lot to do with Sam [Raimi],” said Franco, according to The Hollywood Reporter. “He wanted the character to have an arc that took him from being a flawed man to possibly a better man. And so he would go on this journey through a fantastical land, but he would also have kind of an inner journey.”
The world premiere took place in a fantastical setting. El Capitan Theatre was transformed with an emerald-green and yellow-brick road carpet standing in for the traditional red carpet. An inflated hot-air balloon promoting “Oz The Great and Powerful” let spectators know they weren’t in Kansas anymore.
Franco, who plays the title character, took a short ride in balloon at the premiere.
"That was not my idea. It felt like an old Hollywood stunt or something," the actor told USA Today, and added jokingly, "I was like, did Clark Gable do this?"
Those who attended the “Oz The Great and Power” were treated to an evening of surprises. They enjoyed mini-cupcakes dispensed from a giant gumball machine, taking pictures in a green-screen photo booth, or getting manicures with OPI’s "Oz"-themed nail polish “When Monkeys Fly.”
To promote the film, Disney also is sending the “Oz” hot-air balloon on a tour. It will make appearances at Disneyland, Daytona Beach, Fla., and New York City. On Feb. 15, the “Journey to Oz Balloon Tour” app will go live on the film’s official Facebook page, providing fans with the chance to unlock screenings in cities near them.
Disney’s “Oz The Great and Powerful” will be released to theaters nationwide March 8.