As I mentioned in an earlier post, I was invited by Disney to attend a series of screenings and behind-the-scenes previews of a number of upcoming films, At the top of the list was the red carpet premiere of Tim Burton’s new film, Frankenweenie. I have posted my review and will be posting an interview with the young voice actors from the film over at GeekDad soon, but right now I’ll tell you about the premiere and star-studded after-party.
Frankenweenie is a stop-motion animated movie, the first such film to be in both 3D and black & white, so the theme for the evening was black & white, since most of us are usually in 3D anyway. All the guests wore black, white, grey or some combination thereof, and the red carpet turned out to be white. As is usually the case, the carpet has two tracks; the celebrities get to walk down the wide path, stopping every few feet to be screamed at by photographers — “Look this way, Winona! Over here, sweetie!” — while all the ordinary folks who somehow scored a ticket walked on the narrow path along the rear, hurried along by the security staff so that we didn’t end up in too many of the A-Listers’ photos.
Once inside the theater, concessionaires pushed buckets of popcorn and bottles of soft drinks at us, along with the necessary 3D glasses. We made our way to our seats, from which we craned our necks looking to see where all the actors were sitting, while the El Capitan’s organist played through a medley of well-loved Disney songs and movie themes.
The El Capitan may have the world’s longest curtain opening sequence, after which the movie got started. When it was over (my review is at GeekDad), we all filed out the doors, across Hollywood Blvd and up to the third floor for the party. The security guards checked our wristbands and we went inside to mix, mingle, eat, drink and talk to the stars of the movie.
Almost immediately I found myself standing near the great Martin Landau, star of TV’s Mission: Impossible and Space: 1999, also well-known for having played Bela Lugosi in Tim Burton’s film, Ed Wood. I dropped down next to where he was seated, thanked him for all the years of great entertainment, said I grew up watching him on TV, and asked if I could get a picture. He immediately asked if he needed to stand up, and I said of course not. I whipped out my iPhone and tried to do the typical “Facebook” self-shot photo, but (a) I’m not good at it, and (b) the flash didn’t go off, so you won’t be seeing that picture here, as neither of us looks particularly attractive in it.
After a quick stop at the Lil Rae Cakes table (they are incredibly tasty, and owner Jenny Rae always does a fantastic job of tailoring her presentation to the venue), I meandered over to the arrangement of couches where Tim Burton was shmoozing with the big names. He made a point of emerging from behind the security guards at regular intervals and posing for photos with the ordinary folk. I happened to be there on one such moment, and I got to ask him if the resemblance between Frankenweenie and the Family Dog was an intentional homage; “no,” he replied, “I just have a very limited drawing style.”
Another high point for me was seeing voice actor Tom Kenny again. We had met a few times in the past, the most recent occasion being a party at the San Diego Comic-Con a few years ago, where we discovered that I might know how to get hold of a childhood friend of his. (It turned out I did; a friend who lives in his hometown knew the person in question, and was able to provide contact information, which I passed on.) Tom Kenny is the nicest person in Hollywood. It happened that one of the other bloggers on this trip had interviewed him by phone about a month before and wanted to meet him; after we had caught up a bit, I introduced them, and by the time I walked away, Tom was recording a special greeting on her phone for her son whose birthday was the next day.
Later, I was able to have a few words with Robert Capron, who plays Bob in the film, and then with Atticus Shaffer, who plays E. Gore. Shaffer is a 50-year-old Borscht Belt comic trapped in the body of a kid actor. He’s very verbal, very funny, and has a maturity about him that’s at odds with his appearance. It happens that a couple of my archery students are child actors, and one of them is represented by the same agency as Shaffer, so we chatted a bit about that.
All in all, the premiere and party were one of the high points of the three-and-a-half days I spent getting treated very nicely by the good people at Disney animation.