Stars on the red carpet at film premieres are a staple of the showbiz pages, but what happens after the cameras flash is something we’ve always wondered about.
Fans line up either side, the media ask who they’re wearing and if they relate to their character, and then they disappear inside.
But do they actually show the film? Do the stars sit there in their couture nibbling on popcorn? Who else actually attends?
We’ve been lucky enough to find out, as we were given the opportunity to attend the European premiere of The Hunger Games at the O2 Arena.
Once again the lovely team at Jones and Jones Fashion have gone above and beyond the call of duty and helped to solve the ‘what to wear’ dilemma. With a day’s notice have arranged to have a choice of dresses sent over for the evening. They arrive on the back of a motorbike. This is exciting. It’s a choice of the Vicky in black or the Dominique in cream. The Vicky wins.
Not being involved in the film, but being someone with a ticket to get inside, you get to take a walk down the red carpet but come in from a different side to the stars.
Waiting in line behind a wall, all you can hear is the deafening screams of the fans as another star arrives. It’s a little bit intimidating, so God only knows how the Hollywood names feel when they do it for the first time.
Then it’s time to be ushered through and it feels like stepping out on stage. The wall of noise hurtles towards you and tall flaming torches throw out heat as you walk past. There’s a fan with a Macbook live blogging behind the barrier. Massive posters cover the barriers, the wall, above the doors.
Straight over to the right is Chris Hemsworth, brother of the film’s star Liam, who is signing autographs and chatting with fans. Not far from him is Elizabeth Banks in an amazing yellow floor length dress by Bill Blass and a white fur coat (it’s at the O2 Arena. It’s on the River Thames. It’s freezing).
Turning towards the doors Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth and Josh Hutcherson are being ushered back and forth to talk with fans, sign movie stills and get photos taken that will be Facebook profile pictures before tomorrow. In the end, they’re outside talking to fans for over an hour.
Inside the arena, there are twice as many fans again waiting inside. Knowing the stars are literally feet away and that there’s nothing they can do but wait for them to arrive practically has a ketteling effect. They’re whipped up into a frenzy and the walls are rebounding the noise.
The red carpet weaves forward towards to escalators up to the cinema. Security ask to see our tickets again.
On the way up you get the full scope of just how many people there are, there must be 1,000 fans who have been waiting for hours just to have the chance to see the stars for five seconds.
At the top security ask to see the tickets again. Just in case we’d managed to sneak though downstairs. Just then one of the first stars makes it inside. Somehow the noise gets louder. The guard quips “it’s ok, I’m still here”. They must do this all the time.
In the foyer the promotional backdrop is set up next to the popcorn counter. Walking along you hand over your phone and cameras (piracy kills the film industry) before being asked once again if we can see you tickets, please? There’s more than one screen showing the film. They need to know you’re in the right one.
It’s then a long wait for the stars to finish their red carpet duties and come inside. The screen is broadcasting the footage from Yahoo! and the interviews done by the lovely Edith Bowman as she talks to the cast and the invited celebs.
It does seem a little odd to see reality TV contestants in the same space as one of the youngest people ever to be nominated for the best actress Oscar. Wonder who compiles the guest list?
Eventually, they’re up the escalators too (hope they remembered their tickets) and a few minutes later a gaggle of security guards walk into the room. Following is the producer Nina Jacobson, who is drowned out by screams of Liam! before she’s even able to welcome in the cast. Couldn’t they have taken the cameras after they came in?
After a few seconds of looking embarrassed the very young cast are off again. No idea if they watched the film or not, but considering how many premieres they’re attending over the next couple of days they’ll be reciting each other’s lines in their sleep.
So the lights go down, the screen lights up, and so the film begins. Two and a half hours later there’s rapturous applause. The fans love it. The new converts resolve to buy the The Hunger Games trilogy. And everyone else needs to know it opens in UK cinemas on March 23rd 2012.