Have you ever wondered who the mugs were who stand for hours in the rain waiting to see some movie star at their latest premiere?
Today that mug was me.
This morning, my 11-year-old son and I found ourselves standing in the pouring rain outside of the BFI Imax Cinema at 6 a.m. waiting to see Tom Cruise and others walk the red carpet for the new film, "Edge of Tomorrow."
The reason the premiere was at 6 a.m. instead of the more typical premiere time of early evening was because it was part of a publicity stunt to do three film premieres in London, Paris and New York in one day. We were on the first leg of the stunt.
As Tom Cruise walked the red carpet it would appear to the unitiated that there were hundreds of people there standing in the rain, clamouring to get a glimpse of the stars while sacrificing valuable sleep in order to do so. The reality was quite different: hundreds of people were lured there to get free tickets to see the movie, but first had to line the red carpet so the sidelines would be filled with "fans."
We were told to report to the cinema at 6 a.m. Thoughtfully, they did provide the "fans" with free coffee, tea and bacon butties to keep us going in the early hours. They also had a comedian and free t-shirts to entertain the crowd. You can't lose sight of the fact that it was stupid o'clock, but at least they had some freebies to soften the blow.
To give credit where it's due, Tom Cruise showed up at 6:45 a.m. to work his magic. He has a reputation for spending a lot of time on the red carpet at his premieres, and this one was no different. He made a real effort to speak to the myriad media outlets lining the other side of the red carpet. He also made time for selfies and autographs for the fans.
Personally, I didn't get much of a thrill from seeing Tom Cruise in person. It felt much like the first time I saw the Grand Canyon: It looked just like it did in pictures and movies. Seeing Tom Cruise in person was no different. He's been photographed so often and in so many movies, you already know what he looks like, it's just that he's walking in front of you instead of walking across a movie screen.
It was fascinating, however, to see the hundreds of people who were working at this one event: photographers taking pictures, journalists asking questions, public relations people shepherding stars, studio personnel keeping a schedule, marketing people handing out t-shirts. I never saw so many black North Face jackets in one place, or for that matter, so many people wearing black. It must be part of the uniform.
After two hours, having our fill of watching Tom Cruise walk the red carpet, we decided to leave. We wanted some breakfast and still had 90 minutes to wait until our screening started, which was at a different cinema. The "fans" didn't get to go to the official movie premiere, but I'm not complaining, since we did get to see it for free.
"Edge of Tomorrow"-- a science fiction-Groundhog Day-war movie mashup was fairly enjoyable. Once again, Tom Cruise plays the flawed military guy who figures out what it's all about by the end of the movie (see: Top Gun, A Few Good Men). Emily Blunt kicks butt and takes names (she was awesome). It's a solid summer film: one you'd want to see if you want to escape the summer rain (in the UK) or the summer heat (anywhere else in the northern hemisphere).
Would I get up at Stupid O'Clock again for a film premiere? Probably not. But it's not every day that you get to be part of a movie publicity stunt, so that was fun.