Empire Big Screen: DAY ONE

Saturday August 13th 2011

After literally months of waiting, Empire Big Screen was finally unleashed upon the public yesterday as thousands of students, freelance journalists and other degenerates descended on London’s fabulous Millennium Dome (or ‘the O2’ if you prefer) for three days of wholesome movie-based fun. I was there, press passed to the nines, and luckily for you I took LOADSA PICS.

My day began in the absolute worst way that any day can begin: on the tube at rush hour. I know it’s boring to complain about public transport, but I also know that it’s the one thing I enjoy above all else, so I’m going to do it anyway. I mean, SERIOUSLY, why can’t people just wait for the next one rather than cramming in to within an inch of their lives? And why does nobody understand the phrase ‘move down inside the carriage’ these days? Am I right? Is this thing on?

When I finally got to North Greenwich station, I was greeted by these rather pretty Cowboys & Aliens saloon-style ticket barriers. Inventive, I think you’ll agree.

There was already a massive queue forming outside the dome when I rocked up at 9am, and it was filled with people confused about the ticketing system. Inside, there were more people confused about the ticketing system. It seemed even the staff were confused about the ticketing system. There were people with passes, people with badges, people with tickets and diamond tickets and tattooed barcodes. A friend of mine who’d come just to see the Titanic 3D footage was suddenly given a weekend press pass. It makes a mockery of the entire accreditation system I tell you!

The shiny figure you see above is charming man (and certified deity to the readers of Empire Magazine) Chris Hewitt, who’s hosting most of the event this weekend. To kick the morning off he introduced some footage from a few upcoming 20th Century Fox films, which I will now attempt to summarise for you here:

  • Rise of the Planet of the Apes was a weird opener, given that it was already in cinemas nationwide by that point, but the audience dutifully sat through the glorified EPK we were shown and responded with a delightfully British round of quiet applause. None of your bullshit Comic Con Whooping for us, thank you very much.
  • In Time looks amazing, so much so that I was tempted to agree with the man from Fox when he predicted that it’ll be the film to cement Justin Timberlake as ‘a lead male’ (his brilliantly clinical choice of words, not mine).
  • Martha Marcy May Marlene, which I saw at Cannes (darling), is being marketed as a thriller when it’s actually an arty psychological thing. It’s great though.
  • Titanic 3D looks every bit as beautiful as I’d hoped.

I ducked out before the Sherlock panel began and instead wandered the O2 in search of fun. And by ‘fun’, I mean a poster for Hanson’s upcoming tour:


I soon discovered that most of Big Screen’s most enthralling sights were to be found within ‘Hollywood Boulevard’, a collection of stalls and displays every bit as simultaneously shit and brilliant as the actual Hollywood Boulevard. Observe:

Here’s a replica of the DeLorean from Back to the Future. At this point it would be easier to list the events I’ve been to that didn’t have a replica of the DeLorean from Back to the Future.

This delightful creature played Hagrid’s dog Fang in some of the Harry Potter films. He was all slobbery and gross but also da cuuutteesst ickle fing evaaa!

This must be that ‘inspired’ Dark Knight Rises marketing campaign I’ve heard so much about.

This is me and FilmJuice writer Beth Webb taking advantage of the London Film Museum’s Star Wars set replica, a blast for kids and grown-ups alike. As at least fifty people pointed out later on, the entire point of the Darth Vader strangling thing is that he doesn’t actually have to touch his victims, but I think we still deserve points for execution.

It goes without saying that the biggest crowd inevitably gathered around the stall with the FREE T-SHIRT sign. All you had to do was ‘register with Sony Pictures’ and you got your choice of Men in Black 3 or The Amazing Spider-man. I went for the former. And I’m not saying I used a fake e-mail address but wobblyrob@hotmail.com may well be hearing about certain exciting offers from Sony Pictures in the coming months.

There were also free Smurfs posters, one of which I quickly set about modifying into a humorous photo opportunity. Here’s purveyor of all things well-designed Olly Moss taking the opportunity to be humorous with it:

Oh that Olly Moss, what a cad. I went to see him on a panel called ‘What’s the greatest movie poster ever?’ later that day, and while they never told us the answer to the question I suspect that my interactive Smurfs creation is up there. One of the other people on the panel was dressed as The Dude from The Big Lebowski, insisted on being referred to as such, and spent the duration of the discussion swigging conspicuously from a hip flask. He’s actually very talented, but that doesn’t make me hate him any less. See if you can spot him in this blurry photograph:

(Second on the right.)

After that I dropped by the exciting Empire Big Screen press room to see PR kingpin James Warren, who you may remember from my award-winning coverage of Big Screen’s press launch. He was in typically high spirits:

Elsewhere in the room, there were some inconveniently high chairs and an arrangement of glasses that may or may not have been art. Feel free to decide for yourselves:

I asked around to see if I could get hold of a much-coveted ‘VIP pass’ before my own scheduled appearance on a panel that afternoon, but was assured that there was no ‘special green room’ as I’d heard and that my press pass was exactly the same as the VIP pass anyway. Could it be true? Or was the truth being systematically withheld from me? I JUST DIDN’T KNOW WHAT TO BELIEVE!!

The panel in question was titled ‘How to become a film journalist’ and although my inclusion can only have been some kind of ironic joke on the part of the organisers, the audience were kind enough not to point that out. They even posed for a photograph, the lovely beggars.

And best of all, I did eventually stumble upon a VIP pass and … *drum roll* … THERE WAS A MOTHERFUCKING SPECIAL GREEN ROOM AFTER ALL. Complete with free lager and comfortable chairs! My two favourite things in the whole wide world ever!

Everything’s coming up wobblyrob.