By Alesandra Dubin Posted November 18, 2008, 6:25 PM EST
LOS ANGELES When you have tween and teenage America rapt—as is the case for the Twilight book series, and Summit Entertainment's movie by the same name, which opens Friday—you have a recipe for both a high-energy premiere and a potential crowd-control snafu. Set up for the premiere and party for the new film began at 6 a.m. Monday morning, and already a devoted throng of fans was camped out in Westwood. Come nightfall, 2,000 ticketed guests maneuvered past the swelled crowd of screaming fans for simultaneous screenings at Mann's Village and Bruin theaters, followed by a party several blocks away at the Hammer Museum.
Summit senior vice president for worldwide publicity Vivian Mayer-Siskind, who oversees the studio's events, worked with Allison Jackson to produce the premiere, which required massive street closures and crowd-control efforts, and with Chad Hudson on the Hammer party and its surrounding elements.
“We had different promotions leading up to the premiere that tipped us off, and we started to understand what we were going to be dealing with,” said Mayer-Siskind. ”One retail partner sold a set of tickets for $9,500. We sent the talent out on tour into different markets, and in Dallas had 10,000 screaming fans. And at King of Prussia [mall in Pennsylvania] girls were crying—I mean crying. I approached [the screenings and party] as two events. Normally the red carpet is fairly standard and straightforward—in this case, the red carpet in and of itself was an event.” (The Hollywood Reporter also covered the mad ticket scramble; Allison Jackson handled the theater management and frenzied RSVPs.)
After the screenings, 1,200 guests from the bigger theater, the Village, made their way across Westwood to the Hammer Museum, where a party took over the garden-level courtyard and the second story. The fete's design inspiration came from the rainy Pacific Northwest, where the film is set. Towering juniper, fir, and hemlock trees from Jackson created a lush look, and fog machines generated a mist that permeated the crowd. “We used the forest as our backdrop to the party. The art direction of the movie is very mossy and wet—it's shot in Twin Falls State Park in Oregon. I was in contact with their production designer and studied up on the trees from that area,” Hudson said. ”Unfortunately, you can't get trees bigger than about 20 feet into the Hammer.”
Another big set piece borrowed from an important prom scene in the film: A central bar got the look of a romantic gazebo ornamented with white lights. “That's what the teen girls love," said Hudson of the piece's saccharine look. A 12-foot sphere from Airstar hung overhead, evoking a full moon, and lighting filtered through trees, forming moody patterns on the Hammer's exterior walls and floor.
Wolfgang Puck passed bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with parmesan reggianno, wild mushroom and mascarpone tartes, and demitasses of roasted chestnut soup with juniper cream. Stations offered stuffed vine-ripened tomatoes, smoked duck proscuitto, slow-braised short rib, and handmade butternut squash ravioli. “It's a seasonal menu playing off of the best ingredients to use right now," said Hudson.
In spite of the crowds that still lingered outside behind barricades, the event ended without major incidents. “My three guidelines that I gave all the vendors were safety, security, and fun—in that order,” said Mayer-Siskind. ”Everybody could do their own thing as long as they followed those three rules.”