Premiere Day

We woke up. It was premiere day.

And I had no ticket to the film.

Well, there was nothing for it. What was I going to do, not go to the red carpet? After flying halfway around the world?

We made our way into downtown. We’d seen them laying down the red carpet last night, and had seen many of our new friends from Monday’s party already lining up on the street along Courtenay Place, preparing to camp overnight. Their enthusiasm was amazing. We re-took pictures with some of them, partially because their costumes were still so cool, and partially because we had been having too much fun at the party to remember if we’d already gotten photos with them or not.

But now it was Wednesday morning, the carpet was down, and the prime spots, directly along the railing on both sides of the red rug, were taken. It wasn’t even noon yet, and the festivities wouldn’t begin until four, but sizeable crowds had already gathered, especially around the embassy theater.

We puttered around, unsure of what to do. One thing was for sure: it was way too damn hot and bright for us out in the sun. We started looking for a more comfortable place from which to watch the parade.

There was a bar across the street from where we stood called Kitty O’Shea’s. It had a balcony that overlooked the street quite nicely, and the balcony was empty. It seemed too good to be true, but we made our way to it. Things that look too good to be true usually are, of course, and we learned the balcony had been rented out by Weta Workshops for some of their staff.

But the bar had large open windows with a beautiful view of the street. You had a great view of the red carpet and everyone who passed by. And there was a blonde sitting at one of the large open windows, so Ryan was down.

Remind me why I ever left Wellington?

Every movie premiere should be viewed like this.

So we pulled up a stool and introduced ourselves. The blonde was Jessica, her long-haired and mustached friend was Steve and the other, completely unrelated but friendly-as-hell Kiwi gentleman was Patrick.

Chatting started, rounds were bought and the waiting began.

Patrick is in the New Zealand army, and turned out to be an absolute gem of a person. He was on leave before leaving for a tour (I can’t remember where, but not a real hot zone, from what I gathered). He bought us a round and we became friends for life.

Jessica was a Los Angeles girl, like us. Or, not like us, in that we aren’t girls, but are from Los Angeles. You get the idea. Steve was her travelling companion, a friend of the family.

While we were drinking waiting, a guy sat down next to us at the bar. He asked for a Guinness and I could immediately tell he was from stateside, so we introduced ourselves. His name was Matt.

And he had an extra ticket to the premiere.

Matt was an actor working in Los Angeles. I never actually found out why he was in Wellington, since he wasn’t involved with the film in any way. (Lucky prick). Anyway, he had been given two tickets to the premiere. I offered him pretty much anything I could think of, up to and including sexual favors. (I was only half kidding – I was pretty sure that if I exchanged fellatio for a Hobbit ticket, my wife might not forgive me, but she would at least understand). But Matt was trying to get a date with a little more boobs and a little more vag than I was packing. He told me if he couldn’t find a girl to go with him, he’d give me a ring.

He found a girl to go with him. Obviously. It was Wellington on premiere day.

So the parade began. The actors passed by, signing autographs and taking photos with the fans. PJ passed by, Richard Taylor, everyone. A tiny bit of the magic was gone. Why? I’m not sure. Maybe because I’d met them all over the last couple of days. More likely because at this point I was more than a few pints in. Most likely of all, because I wasn’t following them down that red carpet to go see the movie I’d been waiting for the last two years.

But a very, very good friend of mine did get to go, and though I’ve given him nothing but shit for it ever since, I’m extremely happy for him: Jack Machiela, or “Jack the Tour Guide,” as I’ve always called him.

Beer guts come standard in Middle-Earth

He’s the one on the right, in the half-assed costume. (I poke fun because I love).

I didn’t find out until much later that he’d actually made it in. Apparently his boss from the tour guide company had an extra ticket and offered it to Jack. Though it will shock you to hear me say this, Jack is possibly a bigger Tolkien nerd than I am, and probably better with the trivia (although I stumped and surprised him a couple of times when we faced off – but that’s a future post).

Then, the parade was over. Peter Jackson came out and spoke in front of the Embassy, and they played a video speech from Sir Ian McKellan (who couldn’t attend). Others spoke after that, but the crowds started drifting away. The crews came out and took down the red carpet, the stands. The sun was setting.

We left Kitty O’Shea’s. We met up with our friends from the party and the Return of the King screening, and heard how they’d been right on the edge of the carpet and had touched all their favorite actors again. One by one, our new friends drifted off toward their homes.

The sun was down. The movie was playing. I wasn’t watching it.

We grabbed another pint and went home.


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