By Michael O'Connell & Courtney Thompson Posted May 22, 2008, 10:10 AM EDT
Sex and the City promises to be one of the biggest films of 2008, if only just for New York. As the continuation of a television series that came to define the way much of the world thinks of the city, the film demands a proper welcome. To see that happen, distributor New Line Cinema teamed up with Maria Ruiz, the founder and principle of MAR Events, to create a screening at Radio City Music Hall and a party at the Museum of Modern Art with a string of New York-centric touches for the May 27 premiere.
This is not Maria’s first time helming a New Line event. She’s worked with the studio as an event producer for the past nine years, planning premieres for films like Austin Powers, Hairspray, and The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Maria also produced New Line Cinema’s 40th anniversary, where Nicole Kidman was the M.C. Because executing a premiere of this scope requires a lot of work, Maria moved into the New Line offices, as she does for all of their projects, to work hand-in-hand with the studio's staff in all aspects of the screening and party. We caught up with her last week to see what she was up to with such little time left before the big day.
The premiere is less than a week away. What are you working on right now?
I’m finalizing the specialty drink and putting the finishing touches on the menu selection. New York is the food capital of the world, as far as I see it, and we’re trying to have all our bases covered, whether it's New York street food or a combination of that and cutting-edge, high-end lounge food. There will be lots of passed plates and some stationary buffets. Most of the menu is done; we’re just trying to tweak a couple of things. The same goes for the recipe for the specialty cocktail. We’re in pretty good shape for most of the event details. We’re conceptualizing these trays for the food elements with some of the Swarovski pieces being flown in from Europe, so we’re coordinating the receipt of those.
New Yorkers expect a lot from this premiere. How do you manage those expectations?
New York will be well represented in every aspect of the premiere. Although we are creating a spectacle, and we want this to be a successful event, we’re being good neighbors and not disturbing everyday life here in the city, which was a huge concern for us. People get furious when you derail them. We’re making strides right now in accommodating pedestrians and being really mindful of how we close pathways and when we close them, etc. In terms of the party itself, and its undercurrent, the feel is city life. And I think New Yorkers will appreciate that. They’ll enjoy that Radio City is hosting the screening. A contribution is being made to the Fund for Public Schools.
How are sponsors being worked into the event?
We have Mercedes-Benz lined up, and they have the brand-new GLK luxury vehicle, which will be available in the U.S. in January 2009. That will be parked out front of MoMA, and it’s likely we’ll have more than one.
Another partner is Swarovski. The party is really going to be saturated in crystal, starting with the pink carpet covered in thousands of dollars' worth of crystals. We’re also using beautiful heart ornaments sprinkled in the trees in the garden at MoMA, creating a twinkling effect. We’re working on the cocktail trays, too. Swarovski is going to create these crystallized logos of Sex and the City that they’re going to incorporate into custom-made trays to pass the food. That’s going to be hot. We’re going to do it in an organic way. It’s not going to be Liberace’s living room; we’re going to do it in a really upscale way. And we’re also using crystal lanterns throughout the seating area. We’re doing furniture groupings inside and outside of MoMA and on the tables will be the crystal lanterns. There’s also going to be a [12- by 8-foot] crystal curtain with more than 7,000 crystals on 160 strands that we’re using as a room divider. It’s going to be exceptional, and it will really take everyone’s breath away. Even I haven’t seen that much crystal in my life.
An additional partner is Skyy Vodka, and because we’re also partnering with VitaminWater, we’re creating a specialty spring cocktail. It’s going to be delicious.
What are some of the challenges of a premiere like this?
One of the challenges was finding the right venue—not only for logistical purposes but [to have] a venue that really satisfied everything this movie covers. We considered lots of different venues, and we ended up with MoMA. Not only is it logistically a great fit because of its address, its proximity to Radio City, but it’s a historical site in the city. It offers that modern chic undercurrent that this movie has—the modern, chic, sexy New York lifestyle that is really apparent in MoMA, through its architecture. The garden is really our goal; it's where we are most excited to host guests.
How does Sex and the City compare to the other New Line movie premieres you’ve produced?
We’ve never had this many sponsorship partners, and I think that we also have this amazing decor partner [Swarovski], which is so exciting to have. I mean, who doesn’t want to have crystals at their party? It’s an amazing piece to this puzzle, and the talent we’re working with is extremely exciting. The adrenaline is building, and everyone involved is really enthusiastic to be a part of this. It’s really fun to work on something that has such high expectations. The momentum has not stopped.