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When the ticket will-call line wrapped down 54th Street and onto Sixth Avenue Wednesday night, it was easy to see that the world premiere of Righteous Kill was going to be one of city’s bigger fall film debuts—if not one of the season’s bigger events in general. The turnout alone said a lot, considering the evening’s competition: Chanel and Vogue’s screening of The Duchess, Target’s Bullseye Bodegas opening night, the Stand Up for a Cure concert at MSG—not to mention Fashion Week’s parties-of-every-color.
But then again, if a New York-based crime drama starring tried-and-true New Yorkers Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino can’t draw a crowd to the Ziegfeld, what can? This is a film about New York, filmed in New York, starring actors from New York. (Remember Sex and the City?)
Although the line turned off some who just don’t do waits, most of the 1,000 guests stuck it out, and the screening was delayed some 30 minutes. After a brief speech by director Jon Avnet, the premiere went off as most do, with obligatory clapping, hooting, and hollering throughout. Once the final credits began rolling, guests bee lined for the exits and hopped aboard waiting busses bound for the after-party at Terminal 5.
Produced by Overture Films director of events and promotions Tonya Toone—who also oversaw the Traitor premiere a few weeks ago—the event had New York themes both obvious (hot dog and donut vendor carts) and not-so-obvious: Corregated metal sheets brought to mind a “gritty, streets of New York” look that was pervasive throughout the film, explained Best Events Los Angeles’ Justin Cohen, who handled production. The film’s cop storyline was apparent, with gobos of human target outlines projected onto white chiffon panels hanging from the ceiling, along with a loop of stills and scenes from the movie. Another clever shout out to the film’s theme: Empty shell casings accented single roses submerged in water-filled vases. Cohen, who made special note that the shells were “not to be confused with real bullets,” purchased thousands of shells from a gunnery.
Inside Terminal 5, Toone and Cohen created a series of all-white V.I.P. lounges on the venue's main floor, most of which were backed with flat walls that varied from 8 to 15 feet tall. “The walls helped us break up the large open space that is Terminal 5, and to create more inviting lounge environments for our guests. With such a large cast we wanted to make sure we could take care of everyone,” Cohen said.
The venue’s stage became an impromptu V.V.I.P. section when the film’s entire cast, including DeNiro, Pacino, John Leguizamo, Donnie Wahlberg, Carla Gugino, and 50 Cent, and other notables like gymnast Nastia Liukin, Chevy Chase, Tracy Morgan, Mickey Rourke, and Ice-T took over the raised area. Toone, whose pet peeve is seeing a line at the bar, created a behind-the-scenes bar for the V.I.P. section cocktail waitresses in order to get celebrities and Overture execs their drinks as soon as possible, and to free up long waits at the upstairs and downstairs bars.