Eclipse Premiere Lets Fans Camp Out, Drawing Estimated $3 Million in Publicity

By Alesandra Dubin June 28, 2010, 2:25 PM EDT

Photo: Line 8 Photography

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Long before The Twilight Saga: Eclipse debuted on June 24, the premiere had the makings of an enormous event: a wildly successful franchise, a media frenzy, and an existing army of rabid fans. And it delivered on all the drama, which began on Monday before the Thursday night screening, when fans started camping out in tents on the Nokia Plaza and news outlets lapped up the spectacle.

Summit Entertainment executive vice president of publicity Eric Kops oversaw the event, tapping Chad Hudson Events—which also produced the premieres of the first two films in the vampire series—for the fan camp management, arrivals coordination, and party production. Hudson estimated the Summit-sanctioned fan encampment garnered publicity equal to $3 million in advertising by the time the premiere kicked off. This screening was three times as large as that of the previous installment, New Moon, and the accompanying party was twice as big.

A letter from Hudson's team on behalf of Summit Entertainment urged guests to avoid freeways in favor of alternate routes into downtown, which was clogged with traffic. Screaming fans tipped the decibel scale on risers at L.A. Live during the arrivals, produced by 15/40 Productions, which were also broadcast inside the Nokia Theatre so guests could watch from their seats as they waited for the screening to begin, an hour after the film's 7:30 nominal start time.

Next, about 3,000 of the approximately 5,000 screening guests shuffled amid the crowd to the party space on the Event Deck at L.A. Live, where motifs from the movie were represented in broody props and decor. A lake sat in the center of the tent, surrounded by fake snow, boulders, and foliage. White roses and hydrangeas topped tables, and fake snow filled glass vessels for a moody floral look.

Along Came Mary catered extensive buffets, including theme dishes like Pacific Northwest salmon—a nod to the movie's setting—with melon mango salsa, served on a bed of grilled white corn and baby artichokes. Another station nodded to the Forks High School cafeteria with turkey meat loaf and fried chicken, both with homemade country gravy. Washington State apples on a stick were dipped in caramel or chocolate and topped with granola, mini chocolate chips, and toasted almonds, and pretzel sticks were double-dipped in chocolate caramel and toasted nuts. Crumbs donated cupcakes for more sweets.

To save money and time, Summit shared resources for the premiere with Universal Pictures, Nokia Theatre, and the L.A. Film Festival, even though the organizations' various events were arguably competing with each other. With Nokia Theatre serving as the venue for Eclipse, Universal Pictures' Despicable Me, and the L.A. Film Festival's 2010 showcase, the hosts shared resources and vendors that allowed each company to produce their events on larger scales for less cost. Each entity used the same carpet, kitchen rentals, lighting, sound equipment, power, restrooms, projection equipment, and other elements. Despicable Me's event was the following Sunday afternoon in the same space, and the film festival shared general resources for its programming, which overlapped the Eclipse premiere and the days surrounding it.

Chad Hudson Events facilitated the sharing, designing the Eclipse premiere party to have a framework that worked interchangeably with Universal’s, so that minimal decor needed to be changed. “This allowed the core design elements—such as lighting, carpeting, drapery, projection, tent, kitchen, rentals, and framework—to be used for all events,” said Hudson. He added, “It was a really rewarding experience, and we hope that cost-sharing can catch on and allow all of us to continue doing larger premieres.”

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