Having already made its World Premiere at Cannes last month, the U.S. Premiere of The BFG was perhaps a tad more subdued than it may have been, had it been the first big splash for the film - an event that felt more casual than the first Disney Premiere I had the opportunity to attend, that of Jon Favreau's THE JUNGLE BOOK, back in March. I've had the good fortune over the years to build a great friendship with the folks at The Walt Disney Company, and it's always an honor and a privilege when they invite me to attend an event as their guest (and on Mickey's dime, disclosure and all) - a red carpet being among the pinnacles.
While I was not one of the legions of kids who grew up on Roald Dahl's 1982 book, The BFG, I was one of the kids that grew up on another icon of 1982, Steven Spielberg's E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. All these years later, Dahl's story would come to life on the big screen under Spielberg's direction, from a screenplay by E.T. writer Melissa Mathison (who sadly lost a battle to cancer last year), with an original score by the legendary John Williams, whose iconic themes (including E.T., JAWS, INDIANA JONES and STAR WARS) have been a regular part of my personal playlists for my entire life.
Walking the carpet and grabbing some pictures early-on in the evening, our group headed across the street to the Hard Rock Cafe for the official Premiere Party, grabbing some drinks and snacks while Spielberg and recent Oscar-winner Mark Rylance (who stars as 'The BFG') hung out with family and friends nearby. I spotted some familiar faces roaming the party, including FRESH OFF THE BOAT's Forrest Wheeler (who I'd met last year), Sophie Reynolds (who I'd interviewed on the set of GAMER'S GUIDE TO PRETTY MUCH EVERYTHING last summer), and LAST MAN ON EARTH's Kristen Schaal (FLIGHT OF THE CONCHORDS).
As our group headed back across the street and settled into our seats at the El Capitan Theatre for the Premiere screening, I was quietly in awe of the fact that we were about to watch a film while some of the most influential forces in entertainment were seated right behind us - people who have not only made such a lasting impact on the world, but whose work has been such a big part of my own life. Premieres are always a special thing, but being a part of this one felt extraordinary... magical. From the crowd reaction upon seeing Cinderella's Castle and the Disney Logo followed by E.T. and Elliott flying into frame for the Amblin Entertainment card, it was obvious that I was not alone in that feeling, and the movie was just getting started.
On July 1, 2016, audiences will be able to enjoy The BFG in theaters everywhere, with a new generation of children bound to experience a film to which they will hold a lifelong connection -- this coming from a "big kid" back in Illinois, typing these words while a statue of E.T. looms nearby, now accompanied by a new friend...
Disney's THE BFG:
The talents of three of the world’s greatest storytellers – Roald Dahl, Walt Disney and Steven Spielberg –finally unite to bring Dahl’s beloved classic “The BFG” to life. Directed by Spielberg, Disney’s “The BFG” tells the imaginative story of a young girl and the Giant who introduces her to the wonders and perils of Giant Country. The BFG (Mark Rylance), while a giant himself, is a Big Friendly Giant and nothing like the other inhabitants of Giant Country. Standing 24-feet tall with enormous ears and a keen sense of smell, he is endearingly dim-witted and keeps to himself for the most part. Giants like Bloodbottler (Bill Hader) and Fleshlumpeater (Jemaine Clement) on the other hand, are twice as big and at least twice as scary and have been known to eat humans, while the BFG prefers Snozzcumber and Frobscottle. Upon her arrival in Giant Country, Sophie, a precocious 10-year-old girl from London, is initially frightened of the mysterious giant who has brought her to his cave, but soon comes to realize that the BFG is actually quite gentle and charming, and, having never met a giant before, has many questions. The BFG brings Sophie to Dream Country where he collects dreams and sends them to children, teaching her all about the magic and mystery of dreams. Having both been on their own in the world up until now, their affection for one another quickly grows, but Sophie’s presence in Giant Country has attracted the unwanted attention of the other giants, who have become increasingly more bothersome. Sophie and the BFG soon depart for London to see the Queen (Penelope Wilton) and warn her of the precarious giant situation, but they must first convince the Queen and her maid, Mary (Rebecca Hall), that giants do indeed exist. Together, they come up with a plan to get rid of the giants once and for all.