MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Actor and producer Mel Gibson hit back on Monday at accusations his "Apocalypto" movie misrepresents Mayan Indians as savages, accusing opponents of not doing their research.
"Those who criticize the movie should do their homework. I did," Gibson told reporters at a screening of the film in Mexico City.
Indigenous activists in Guatemala, once home to a large part of the former Mayan empire in southern Mexico and northern Central America, say "Apocalypto" is racist.
The movie has yet to open in Mexico and Guatemala but pirated DVDs are available on the streets and heart-pounding trailers have been shown in movie theaters.
Mayan critics of "Apocalypto" say scenes of scary-looking Indians with bone piercings and scarred faces hurling spears and sacrificing humans promote stereotypes about their culture.
"Apocalypto" was Gibson's first film since an anti-Semitic tirade last summer brought a barrage of negative publicity.
He produced and co-wrote the movie, which revolves around one man's quest to save himself from human sacrifice in the ancient civilization.
Spoken entirely in the Yucatec Mayan language, "Apocalypto" led the North American box office with three-day ticket sales of $14.2 million in its first weekend in December.