1. The Premier Premieres

    By Luke Freeman on 2003-04-11

    Every two years or so, cinemas around the world are privileged enough to be able to show the newest James Bond film on there humble screens. When the new Bond film is released, the very first screening is the Super, Duper, Royal Premiere. The premiere is a lavish, glamorous affair attended by the films cast, key crew, and other distinguished guest. Even Her Majesty the Queen and her beloved corgi’s (the only pets allow) are present. It’s a rather exclusive event, and security is high, any uninvited persons who try and sneak into the theatre to catch the film and mingle with the audience are swiftly booted out on their derriere by security.

    But trying to gatecrash the event is certainly worth a try. Whilst all three of my attempts (Tomorrow Never Dies, The World is Not Enough, and Die Another Day) to get into theatre of the premiere have failed, leaving me out of the cold and seriously injured, I’m spurred on to try again each premiere. I’m spurred on by the way I hear those in the loop speak of the event. Each and every Bond film premiere has proven to be a memorable occasion, a night that those in attendance never forget. But most people, even famous and widely respected 007 journalists like myself, would never have experienced a Bond film premiere. So, I thought it would be nice to cast an eye back over some of the best James Bond premieres of them all, the premier premieres, to get an idea of what it is we are missing…

    OHMSS (The Nude Premiere): The premiere of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service was the first time that a film was shown in public to a nude audience. Hey, it was the sixties, people felt conformable and free by being naked, something to do with expressing themselves. Plus the producers wanted to try something different for this premiere, to take peoples minds of the fact that Sean Connery wasn’t starring in the film. Guest arrived and walked down the red carpet in their evening wear, to maintain the glamour aspect of it all, but once inside the theater everyone stripped naked. There were no seats in the theatre, everyone sat on the floor and held hand, waiting for the curtain to draw. Numerous members of the audience were rather distracted and barely saw the movie, their eyes watching elsewhere. Hence “The Nude Premiere” was considered a bit of a failure, everybody once again fully clothed by the time that Diamonds Are Forever came around. I wont give out the name of the person responsible for the idea behind “The Nude Premiere”, but lets just say that Harry Saltzman wasn’t put in charge of a premiere ever again.

    Octopussy (The Blood Bath of ’83): The Octopussy Premiere, also known as the “Blood Bath of ’83”, was perhaps the most memorable premier of them all, but for the wrong reasons. It all started with a small seat allocation problem, discovered about 15 minutes before the film was done to start. Desmond Llewellyn and Robert Brown were both given a ticket with “B-12” as their seat. What started as a minor argument between the two of them over the ownership of the seat soon escalated into an all-in brawl. Cast, producers, distinguished guests, all jumped into the violent punch-up. It wasn’t long before the theatre was a sea of blood. 17 people were emitted to hospital, thankfully 12 survived. After a slight delay, the showing of the film went ahead as planned, but since the screen had been badly damaged (not to mentioned blood stained) in the fight, no one could really see what was going on. If you ask people who were there that night about the “Blood Bath of ’83”, they’ll claim it never happened, either trying to save themselves from embarrassment, or from reliving the horrific memories of the events that took place.

    Licence to Kill (The Premiere of Peace): So often, ideas that are great in theory don’t quite work to plan when implemented. Such was the case prior to the inaugural screening of Licence to Kill, where a flock of doves were released in official commemoration of what was supposed to go down in history as “The Premiere of Peace”. It was a nice gesture, very symbolic, and it’s worked successfully in many Non-Bond related events before. But the key difference is that all those over ceremonies took place outdoors, while the doves for the Licence to Kill premiere were released inside the theatre, unable to fly out. Apparently, releasing the doves was an idea though up on the spur of the moment, to kill a bit of time while Maurice Binder scampered to get his title sequence finished. No one could have predicted just how much of a disaster it proved to be. The doves had no way of getting out of the theatre, so they had to just fly around. Patrons offered the doves popcorn and soda, the doves replied by releasing their droppings over of the audience throughout the entire duration of the film..

    Thunderball (The People’s Premiere): Most agree that that the World Premiere of the fourth James Bond film, Thunderball rightfully deserves the title of “The People’s Premiere”. Keeping in the spirit of Thunderball being “The Biggest Bond of All”, 40000 people crammed into the 1000 seat capacity theatre. It was a bit of a tight squeeze, but those present wouldn’t have had it any other way. The film was a perfect viewing experience. The patrons applause the witty one liners, marveled at the epic story, took in the exotic locale, and used the underwater sequences as an opportunity to chat to the person next to them. Many a long lasting friendship was formed that night. Her Majesty the Queen was there, and after the film she invited everyone back to Buckingham Palace for tea and crumpets. Apart from Adolpho Celi spiking the teapot, Sean Connery throwing up in the bathroom, and Kevin McClory claiming to be the rightful owner of the Crown Jewels, the after-party was an incident free, and long running success. Her Majesty is one real party animal. The party didn’t just go long into the night, or into the next morning. It went on for three months straight. There’s been 16 Bond films and 16 after-parties thrown since, but the Queen’s shindig has never been beaten.

    Until next time,