This Event Screened a Movie on the Side of a Hot Air Balloon
A touring promotion for Amazon Prime Video's The Aeronauts, which hits theaters tomorrow, also offered hot air balloon rides and a sprawling Victorian fair.
Photo: Jeff LovinLOS ANGELES—Amazon Prime Video's recent promotions for its movies and television shows have including the headline-grabbing Maisel Day in Los Angeles and the interactive Museum of Modern Love in New York.
Its latest endeavor continues the out-of-the-box streak: The brand is currently hosting a high-flying nationwide tour to promote The Aeronauts, an upcoming feature film that follows an 1862 gas balloon that broke the world flight altitude record. The drama, starring Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones, hits theaters tomorrow and will be released on Prime Video on December 20.
The tour, dubbed "The Aeronauts' Incredible Journey," is free and open to the public. The events kicked off in Los Angeles November 23 to 24 before traveling to San Francisco on November 26 and Phoenix on November 30. It will also make stops in Atlanta, Orlando, and Austin this month before returning to Los Angeles in late December.
"The Aeronauts is anchored in the defiant spirit of exploration—inspired by the story of the ballooning team that essentially founded modern meteorology," noted Jen Verdick, head of partnerships and events at Amazon, who added that the film "captures a time when humanity was shattering our natural limitations with the tools of science and unbridled optimism."Photo: Jeff Lovin
In that spirit, Amazon decided to immerse fans in the film by creating a sprawling Victorian fair set in the year 1862. The weekend-long Los Angeles edition filled the Rose Bowl Stadium with more than 50 costumed performers, and guests could take hot air balloon rides in a balloon modeled after the one in the film. The balloon, created and operated by SkyCab Balloon Promotions, could accommodate four people at a time, and rides took place every six to seven minutes for eight hours a day.
In addition, the experience included on-theme food and games, plus a fortune teller, cartoonists, and even a hypnotist billed as being able to help attendees conquer their fear of heights. More than 100 staff members were deployed on-site to keep the ambitious experience going.
And speaking of ambitious: The Los Angeles event and the nationwide tour also include a screening of The Aeronauts projected on the side of a hot air balloon, in what organizers call "the world's first Fly-In Theater." Amazon worked with CSM Live on the project, which took 18 months to produce. A flexible LED screen with more than 76,000 pixels wrapped 360 degrees around the balloon, allowing the screen to be viewed from all directions even in daylight conditions.
"Every single pixel is hand-calibrated during cold inflation, and then the balloon is raised with conventional propane to remain rigid for the screening," added Verdick. "Both are spectacular to witness in person, and audiences have been awed to experience the story of the Aeronauts in this way."
Amazon wanted to screen the film in such a large-scale format to showcase its scope and technical feats. Added Verdick, "The idea for the early screenings stems from the fact that at its core, Amazon is obsessed with customer experience. And it’s no different when it comes to supporting our filmmakers and promoting our Amazon Original films. Immersive activations like [this] allow us to build excitement at both the local and national level—but more importantly, to create an authentic emotional connection."
Due to the logistical feats, locations for the tour were carefully considered. "Because of the hot air balloon rides, cities were predominately chosen based on historical climate information," explained Verdick. "When you’re ballooning, wind is everything. And though you can’t win every time, we wanted the best chance at getting our balloons up. So since we are into the winter months, we largely kept to the southern part of the country."
But part of the goal, added Verdick, was to make guests—many of whom arrived dressed in Victorian garb—forget they were even at an event. "When the sun hit golden hour and the soft glow of the lights came on, it really did just take your breath away," she said. "If you squinted your eyes just right, you might have forgotten you weren’t walking through Vauxhall Gardens, where [characters] James and Amelia took off in the original Mammoth balloon. Our goal was to just make the logistics fade into the background."
Scroll down for a look inside the Los Angeles event.