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'Great Gatsby' filmmaker wants to inspire summer of lavish parties

Actor Tobey Maguire attends the 'The Great Gatsby' world premiere at Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York
Actor Tobey Maguire attends the 'The Great Gatsby' world premiere at Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York

By Zorianna Kit

(Reuters) - The latest big-screen adaptation of "The Great Gatsby" gets its world premiere in New York on Wednesday, kicking off what film director Baz Luhrmann hopes will be a summer of extravagant Gatsby-inspired parties.

"Is there a book that captures summer in New York more accurately, more viscerally than 'The Great Gatsby'? I don't think so," Luhrmann told Reuters ahead of the film's premiere and May 10 U.S. release date.

Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, and with a soundtrack produced by rapper Jay-Z, the film has struck promotional partnerships with clothing retailer Brooks Brothers, jeweler Tiffany & Co. and Moet & Chandon champagne.

"The idea is that you don't just come see the movie, but also celebrate that extraordinary book throughout the summer," the Australian director said of his version of F. Scott Fitzgerald's 1920s tale of decadence and illusion.

"There's an intoxication that (protagonist) Jay Gatsby used to draw all of New York into his glittering parties and his mysterious gardens."

The film, shot mostly in Australia, was a long time coming. Its release date was originally set for December 2012 but was pushed to May, causing speculation as to what was happening behind the scenes.

Luhrmann, who also directed the 2001 musical "Moulin Rouge," said the biggest issue was the unrelenting bad weather that kept halting production.

"It didn't rain once or twice, it rained five times," Luhrmann said. "I got shut down so many times that we had to reconvene in February (2012). When we reconvened, it rained again!"

It wasn't just the lousy weather that wreaked havoc on the schedule. Luhrmann said he got hit by a crane during production just before Christmas 2011.

"I wasn't going to die, but I had four stitches and a concussion," he said. "We just had to shut down at that point."

With visual effects also taking longer than anticipated, Luhrmann felt confident he could still deliver the film in time for release on December 25, 2012.

Then another glitch occurred. Quentin Tarantino's slavery-era movie "Django Unchained," also starring DiCaprio, had the identical release date.

That would have forced the actor to simultaneously promote two vastly different films during Hollywood's awards season.

Movie studio Warner Bros. ultimately rescheduled "The Great Gatsby" for a summer release, which Luhrmann said was a good fit. The movie is also opening the Cannes film festival on May 15.

"The convincing point for me was that the book is set in the sweltering summer," said Luhrmann. "All the action takes place during one summer period."

It's mostly franchise action films playing at theaters this summer. May alone brings "Iron Man 3," "Fast & Furious 6," "The Hangover Part III" and "Star Trek Into Darkness."

Luhrmann says he isn't too concerned about the competition.

"Those summer blockbusters? I get it," he said. "Yet what we are saying with 'Gatsby' is our film shouldn't live or die in one weekend. We've got to play throughout the entire summer. It's going to be the summer of Gatsby."

(Reporting By Zorianna Kit in Los Angeles, editing by Jill Serjeant and Xavier Briand)

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