Empire Big Screen: DAY TWO

Sunday August 14th 2011

Hello again. Don’t worry, I won’t be writing as much today because a) this is in danger of turning into Aint It Cool News and b) I’m typing this into my phone on the tube and I’m a bit concerned about repetitive strain injury.

Yesterday began in much the same way that Friday did, in the main hall of the convention (the ‘Big Screen’ if you will) where master of ceremonies Chris Hewitt was introducing clips, trailers and countless glorified EPK packages from some of the year’s most expensive exciting movies. Here’s a quick rundown of the bits and bobs I saw:

  • Some bewilderingly out-of-context clips from Contagion, Steven Soderbergh’s virus drama.
  • That Dark Knight Rises trailer we’ve all seen.
  • One of Peter Jackson’s Hobbit production ‘vlogs’, featuring some immensely adorable dwarves. Nobody told me The Hobbit was adorable. I’m suddenly three hundred percent more excited about it.
  • The opening scene of Final Destination 5, which looks genuinely brilliant and prompted the first audible audience reaction I’ve heard this weekend. Motherfuckers were hollerin’.

I slipped out when the threat of Sherlock Holmes 2 footage become all too real and went to see a panel a bit like the one I was on yesterday. It was both fun and informative, and featured fun and informative insights from Anna Smith, Karen Krizanovich, Neil Alcock from The Incredible Suit (pictured above fiddling with his phone during the panel… amateur) and Olly Richards.

Somewhat inexplicably, a member of the audience gave Neil some Hobnobs.

While the rest of the world dutifully trotted off to see footage from The Amazing Spider-man, I retreated once more to the press room, where I spent the best part of half an hour staring down at the little people as they went about their business. Here’s a woman who looks a bit like Boris Johnson from above:

Only a little bit, mind.

I’m still struggling to understand the point of outdoor seating inside a building. Most of the restaurants in the O2 even have umbrellas, presumably in case rain manages to negotiate its way past the MASSIVE FUCKING DOME above everyone’s heads. I don’t know… It’s almost ridiculous enough to form the basis of a slightly lacklustre observational comedy routine.

Unable to locate any of my friends (I do have friends, honest) I wandered lonely as a cloud through the stalls and displays, stopping occasionally to inspect an Avengers poster or watch a Puss in Boots trailer. I must have cut a pretty pathetic figure because after a while people just starting giving me stuff. Two women in John Carter of Mars t-shirts gave me a John Carter of Mars t-shirt (“only a hundred were made so you’re very lucky”) and some John Carter of Mars stickers.

I reached my lowest ebb around 1pm, when I had lunch on my own at Subway.

What had happened? Yesterday had been all VIP room this and free champagne that. Today I was eating a Sub of the Day surrounded by empty chairs. I felt like Dexter Mayhew circa 1998.

Things picked up a bit when I went to see a Q&A with notorious disaster man Roland Emmerich, who was there to promote his new movie Anonymous. They showed a few insanely lengthy clips (I’m talking 20+ mins) before he took to the stage, and I can exclusively reveal that Anonymous is a bit on the silly side. Based on the Oxfordian theory of Shakespeare authorship, the movie asserts that it was in fact the Earl of Oxford who wrote all of the Bard’s plays, and that Shakespeare himself was a bumbling idiot. They’ve even drafted in everybody’s favourite bumbling idiot Rafe Spall to play him. Oh, and Derek Jacobi’s involved too, meaning that In The Night Garden is no longer the most childish piece of work he’s done.

Sadly, my date with Roland Emmerich’s accent had to be cut short because I had an appointment with a very important movie. The Scream trilogy was showing in one of the smaller screens at the O2 Cineworld and even though it had to be projected from Blu-ray because they don’t have any 35mm projectors, I wasn’t going to miss a chance to see Scream 2 on the big screen. I even bought popcorn for £4.85!


Luckily the genius of the copycat-killer / horror-movie-sequel parallel is no less genius fourteen years on, and even though the sound system was whisper-quiet, I had no trouble enjoying the film MORE THAN LIFE ITSELF.

Next on the agenda was the Surprise Screening, where ‘surprise’ here means ‘Nicholas Winding Refn is here and there is absolutely zero chance that this isn’t Drive‘. So, justifiably, people were excited. We joined the endless queue for standby tickets and waited for 20 minutes before being told that there were in fact none available. Just as a riot was about to break out, some ‘comedy stormtroopers’ came along and effortlessly pacified the crowd. True heroes.

This is Chris Hewitt speaking to Chloe Moretz before a screening of Kick Ass. We didn’t stay for the movie because it’s a bit rubbish, isn’t it?

Back in the safety of the VIP room, we sipped champagne from paper cups and ‘talked shop’. I know what you’re thinking: “That’s no VIP room, that’s a fabulous penthouse apartment with aerial views of the O2 itself!” But no, fair reader, it is merely an illusion.

Eventually the free beer ran dry and we were forced to seek intoxication elsewhere, but not before we were confronted by this:

Apparently it wasn’t an impromptu Ku Klux Klan get-together but in fact a ‘themed rave’ that was happening at the O2 that night. We were in no way tempted to join in. Instead, we shot off to a launch party for the Scala Forever festival, which is now official ON, and the weekend reached its inevitable peak when I saw this sign:

It’s just plain silly. You might as well have outdoor seating inside a dome.