Seeing Stars: Where the Stars Meet the Public
Star Will Smith
greets his fans as he arrives at the Village
Theatre for the Westwood premiere of "Men in Black 2"
(photo courtesy of Pierre Bernard)
open every week in Hollywood, of course, but often the big studios decide
to pull out all the stops and throw an old-fashioned, full-blown Hollywood
premiere (sometimes called "special screenings").
criss-cross the night sky. Movie stars arrive in stretch limousines in
front of the theatre, to the applause of
an adoring crowd. TV reporters interview stars, while photographers
shoot photos of the celebrities on the red carpet, before they go
inside to watch the film... It's quite a sight. And
a quintessential Hollywood experience.
Most of these special movie premieres take place
along Hollywood Boulevard
or in Westwood Village. And you
can be there for the next big event. Read on, and I'll tell you how.
In Westwood, the two favorite spots for big Hollywood
premieres are The Village Theatre and the Bruin theatre.
On Hollywood Boulevard, the two favorite locales are Grauman's
Chinese Theatre and the El Capitan
theatre. The third choice is the Cinerama Dome
(near Sunset & Vine), and you'll occasionally see a premiere pop
up at the popular Universal CityWalk
or The Grove.
here for a list of the theatres that most frequently host major
premieres, and the movies that have recently premiered at those theatres.
Not only do the stars of the movie turn out in person
for these premieres, but a host of other Hollywood celebs also usually
show up - either in support of their friends or as a favor for the studio
that made the picture (or because their agent wants them to be seen in
the spotlight.) These glittering premieres provide a rare chance to see
numerous stars in person at a single event.
During these major Hollywood screenings, the public
is free to stand outside the theatre and watch all the hoopla around the
arrival of the stars. Most of the celebs will stop and say a few words
to the crowd before they walk up the red carpet and go inside to see the
film. The police usually rope off the area with makeshift barricades for
crowd control, so you may be forced to watch from across the street. But
if you get there early, you should still have a good view of the activities.
(They even erect bleachers for some of the bigger premieres.) The experience
can be a bit exhausting, but if you're dazzled by stars or just want to
experience an authentic Hollywood event, it's definitely worth the effort.
Premieres they take place on a fairly regular basis,
and chances are that there will be one or more major movie premieres in
any given month (especially during the big Christmas and summer movie seasons).
In today's market, most films from the major studios have premieres, and
at least 80% of those premieres are held in L.A.
Alas, it's not that easy to find out in advance when
these world premieres are going to happen. Neither the usually-reliable
Hollywood Chamber of Commerce Hotline nor the Hollywood Visitors Bureau
gives out this information.
to fill the gap, I have created my own Calendar
of upcoming premieres (and other Hollywood events) which you can see here
by clicking here. It lists
arrival times, dates, stars and locations.
I often get asked
how one can get tickets to these premieres. The answer is, you can't. Generally
speaking, the public can't get tickets to movie premieres. But the good
news is that you really don't need them.
The seats inside
the theatres during premieres are reserved for the stars, the filmmakers,
their friends and family and whoever they choose to invite. The rest of
us mere mortals usually have to settle for standing outside, watching the
stars as they arrive in their limos, say a few words, wave, and walk the
red carpet into the theatre. But that can actually be a lot of fun, and
it doesn't require tickets. (And actually, you probably have a better view
of the stars in the bright lights outside than you would if you were inside
the dim theatre.)
have charity premieres, where they will sell tickets to raise money for
a cause, or radio promotions where DJs give away tickets as part of a contest,
but those are rare.)
Until very recently,
it was unusual to see a star leave the red carpet area and go out to the
crowd (which is often across the street). However, this has changed. I've
seen Will Smith, Vin Diesel, Johnny Depp, Tom Cruise and Jennifer Lopez (among
others) all go out to meet the crowds at premieres, shake hands, and occasionally
sign autographs. But even when this happens, the star is only able to make
contact with a small number of fans. Short of wearing something attention-getting
or yelling out their name, there's not much one can do to get the celebrity
to come to you. Generally, if they do go out to the crowd, they just walk
quickly past, shaking as many hands as they can like a politician on the
stump (usually reaching only the people in the front row or two), and perhaps
stopping to sign an autograph. Keep your expectations low. Come out to
see them, not to touch them, and you won't be disappointed.
Some large premieres
have bleachers for fans to sit in. Most do not. Most of the time you just
have to stand (behind police barricades), and since you need to arrive
early in order to get a front row location, that means a lot of standing
and waiting. It can be boring, and if you don't wear comfortable shoes,
painful. If you go, bring something to read or snack on while you wait,
to help pass the time. Be sure to dress warmly if the premiere is scheduled
after dark (especially during the winter); wear comfortable shoes, and
arrive in plenty of time to get a good spot at the front of the crowd.
Be prepared for a wait, and have some fun with it.
People also ask
me how early one must show up to get a good viewing spot. Unfortunately,
that's almost impossible to answer. It depends upon the premiere and the
stars of the movie. The general rule is that the bigger the movie and the
bigger the stars, the bigger the crowd. With minor films, one can often
walk up during the premiere and still get a good viewing spot. For most
films, arriving an hour or two early will do the trick. But when it comes
to monster premieres like "Star Wars" or "Harry Potter", some fans camp out for days. It pays to come by early and check out the
scene. See whether or not there are bleachers and whether or not a crowd
is already gathering... Both Westwood Village and Hollywood Blvd offer
plenty to do in terms of shopping and restaurants, so if you come too early,
you can always kill some time at a spot like Hollywood & Highland.
a role in how crowded the premiere might be. Grauman's and the El Capitan
are located in the heart of the Hollywood tourist district, with lots of
foot traffic on the boulevard that can quickly swell the size of the waiting
crowd (especially in Summer). On the other hand, the Cinerama Dome
is a bit farther off the beaten path, so crowds there tend to be lighter.
take place at one of three places: Grauman's
Chinese (in Hollywood), The Village Theatre (in Westwood) or the Arclight/Cinerama
Dome (at Sunset & Vine). The exceptions are films made by
Disney, which usually premiere at the El
Capitan theatre (across from Grauman's).
Occasionally, Universal will
premiere one of their films up at their Universal CityWalk.
And you'll find a handful of premieres scheduled for The Director's
Guild or the Academy HQ, but those are exceptions. A new player on the block is L.A. Live in downtown L.A., which has begun hosting occasional premieres, including those of the Twilight & Hunger Games franchises.
People also ask
me when a particular movie will have its future premiere.
I've found that
most premieres take place just a few days before the movie's general release
date. And premieres are usually held on weekdays, not weekends (except
for childrens' films), and are usually held in the evening (around 5 or
6 PM) rather than in the daytime. There are exceptions, but that's the
While most premieres
take place in Los Angeles, that's not always the case. Some are held in
New York. And sometimes a studio will opt for an unusual location
(such as Hawaii for "Pearl Harbor" or Atlanta for "Gone
With The Wind"). And some movies don't have premieres at all (especially
if the producers are trying to hide a weak film from movie critics until
after its release).
When I do find
out about an upcoming premiere, I post it immediately on my Calendar
of Events, at https://www.seeing-stars.com/Calendar.
So there's no need to write and ask - if you'll keep an eye on that page,
you'll know about it as soon as I do.
A LITTLE HOLLYWOOD HISTORY
tradition of grand Hollywood premieres was pioneered by master showman
Sid Grauman. The very first gala premiere took place in 1922 with the grand
opening of Grauman's Egyptian Theatre
and the spectacular premiere of "Robin Hood," a silent
screen version starring Douglas Fairbanks.
That first premiere at the
Egyptian featured all the bright lights and hoopla which we've now come
to associate with movie premieres - and the basic form has been repeated
ever since. (Five years later, in 1927, Grauman topped himself by opening
his new Chinese Theatre with the star-studded premiere of DeMille's "King
Over the years, Hollywood premieres
grew more and more elaborate.
When "The Wizard of
Oz" premiered at Grauman's
Chinese Theatre in 1939, over ten thousand spectators showed up to
greet Judy Garland, the
entire Oz cast, and other M-G-M stars.
The studio even recreated the Yellow Brick Road and a small cornfield in
the famous Grauman's courtyard, and populated it with a scarecrow and several
Munchkins in full costume.
Three years later, in 1942, fear of enemy attack
during World War II led to all Hollywood premieres (and their bright lights)
being banned for the duration. The last pre-war premiere was held
on August 19, 1942, for "Pride of the Yankees" at
the Pantages Theatre, and was attended
by (among others) Bob Hope,
Ginger Rogers, Ronald Reagan,
Jack Benny, Mickey
Rooney, Ava Gardner,
Charles Boyer, Rita
Hayworth, Victor Mature, Hedy
Lamarr, Irene Dunne, Dorothy
Lamour and Sam Goldwyn.
But once the war was over, the Hollywood premieres resumed.
And many of the modern movie premieres are still exciting events. Occasionally,
there's still a jolt of Hollywood public excess.
For the 2013 premiere of Disney's "Frozen",
instance, at the El Capitan Theatre they had a snow-coated white
carpet, a castle covered in snow, and an ice sculpture of the snowman
'Olaf', plus costumed characters from the movie. And the 2015 premiere of "The Longest Ride" featured live bull-riders actually riding live bulls, right in front of Grauman's Chinese Theatre.
here for a list of the theatres that most frequently
host major premieres, including their
addresses, phone numbers, and the movies that have recently premiered at
for something in particular? Search the Seeing-Stars website!