I went to the Cloud Atlas midnight premiere two weeks ago, and then immediately came home and blogged about the movie, like a true nerd. Then I promised to tell you about the premiere itself, but forgot, like a true asshole.
Sorry about that. I know you’ve been holding your breath.
This was the first midnight premiere that I have ever attended, which is a fact that actually surprised me. I mean, I consider myself a movie buff, and I have been pumped for movies before. But I usually just opted to see them sometime during opening weekend or even the following weekend.
And with Cloud Atlas, it wasn’t like I was waiting for years for the movie to come out. I had only heard of the movie three or four weeks before it came out. After I saw the trailer, it just stuck in my head. And then I watched it again and again, wondering how this movie would piece together into a cohesive whole.
So it wasn’t a situation where I a superfan, willing to wait in line outside of the theater for a day or two. I was simply a relatively interested movie-goer who happened to not be working that day.
Additionally, a midnight movie isn’t really a big deal time-wise, even for a three-hour movie. I work nights and usually wake up around 3PM after going to sleep around 7AM. Comparatively, a 12AM movie is like a normal person going to a movie at 5PM.
You normal people, with your crazy schedules.
The premiere wasn’t too crowded. Maybe 40-50 people in total. I bought my ticket beforehand, imagining an over-crowded theater. With that thought in mind, I also showed up 30 minutes early to secure a seat — a seat I could have claimed had I shown up 10 minutes late.
I’m not sure exactly what I expected.
Anytime I think about midnight showings to movies, I envision a movie theater, packed to capacity with costume-wearing enthusiasts who cheer and applaud when the lights go down and the movie comes on.
That certainly is not what the Cloud Atlas premiere was like.
There were hardcore fans in attendance, they were just much harder to spot. As I said, I was there thirty minutes early, so I had some time to people-watch.
While it was no Dark Knight or Star Wars premiere and offered no hardcore, costumed movie-goers, it did feature young woman who sported a tight t-shirt that read “TOM HANKS ATHL DEPT.*”
*Now I must admit that the first reason I noticed her was not because of her shirt, but because of her breasts. Her awesome, awesome breasts. But as she stood at the front of the theater, looking for her friends, I noticed her shirt. It had a simple message that would have been quite easy to read, had it been laying flat. But with her awesome, awesome breasts, the message took three-dimensional form, like if you took a flat map of the world and wrapped it around a globe, and now you couldn’t see Australia anymore. So I did that thing that most guys do, where I perked my head up a bit and craned my neck to the right and left to try to see around the breasts. To see Europe and all the rest that the Earth has to offer.
Afterwards, I searched for the shirt online, but couldn’t find anything. Which means that this woman most likely made it herself. Which further demonstrates that she really is a hardcore Tom Hanks fan. During the movie, she sat a few rows behind me. And anytime Tom Hanks had a particularly dramatic scene, she could be heard reacting accordingly.
Two rows in front of me, there appeared to be a high school class. They began to file in twenty minutes before the movie began, high-fiving each other and fighting over who sat where. Initially, I thought that they would be annoying little brats and punks who would ruin my movie-going experience. But once all 20-25 of them settled into their seats, filling the entire row, they were completely silent and acted like normal human beings.
All I could think to myself was the teacher that offered this as an assignment and how cool he or she was. Or if they all happened to be there by their own interest, how cool they all were.
There was also a couple directly in front of me who appeared to be somewhat nerdy. A cool thing about going to the movies is that the seats are positioned in such a way that you can see the going-ons of the people diagonally in front of you, and you can quite literally look over their shoulder. You can see what snacks they are eating, see if they are holding hands, or even read their text messages*.
*Hey, if you whip out your cell phone during a movie, my eyes are going to go directly to the bright light that your phone emits. And if your texting snapped me out of my movie-watching trance, I think I have the right to read your text message to see what was so important that it needed to be said during the middle of the movie.
The main reason I accuse the couple of being nerds is because they each took turns running (not so much running as speed-walking-in-the-dark) to the bathroom right before the previews started. The girl went first, and when she got back, it was as if they were a tag team, and he went running to the bathroom, arriving back just as the first preview started.
There were five or six previews, and I soon realized that they were not hustling to the bathroom out of urinecessity (a wonderful word that I just made up) but so that they didn’t miss out on seeing one specific preview.
“My dear Frodo,” a voice started in the beginning of the trailer, and they were both brought to attention, in much the same way that I had been brought to attention when I saw the woman with the awesome, awesome breasts. The girl rubbed the guy’s arm, then rested her head on his shoulder as they watched the rest of the trailer for The Hobbit.
She rubbed his arm in excitement, but it was not her own excitement that was revealed, but rather her excitement for his excitement, the way a mother might rub her little boy’s arms as he stares, mouth agape, at the powerful and thunderous fire trucks strolling past during a parade.
I found this simple interaction to be very telling. As I saw it, The Hobbit was a book that this guy loved as a child. Perhaps he loved The Lord of the Rings movies, but desperately wished that his favorite book, The Hobbit, had been made into a movie. And now he was getting his wish. Or a preview of his wish.
And she was saying, “I’m so happy for you in this wonderful moment, where you can catch a glimpse of something you really love being reborn. I’m so glad we ran to the bathroom so that you could see this, and I could see you see this.”
It was this small, personal gesture that outweighed the significance of a theater full of screaming fans. This private moment that I just happened (to be lucky enough) to witness.
Sometimes big events are more of a private experience.
This, I suppose, is what it looks like at a premiere for a movie based on a book. Where all of the excitement that drove people to the movie, literally the first minute it was released, can’t be expressed with wizard capes or superhero masks or lightsabers, because such things don’t exist but in one’s mind. Instead, the excitement is shown in much subtler ways, like rubbing an arm or making a t-shirt or high-fiving a classmate.
Or maybe the excitement can be expressed by transforming into a total nerd — by rushing home, purchasing the book online, and blogging about a movie that changed the way you look at things.