Editor's Note: Both Sue and I want to thank Tina Gurney for the kind use of her photos and help in covering this event. - Al
Another Pirates film, another Pirates premiere at Disneyland. Much the same as the last three, this one was chaotic good fun for the fans, filled with pirate performers, pirate musicians, Johnny Depp look-alikes (good enough that the audience was fooled more than once), free pirate Mickey ears, and lots of famous folks.
I watched the parade of those famous folks, the not so famous, and the famous wannabes, right where I wanted to be — nestled amongst a crowd of real Pirate fans, many of them dressed like a certain illustrious Captain. While I’ve been on the press line in the past, I have to tell you, it’s a whole lot more fun watching all the hoopla with the fans.
Next to me, a mother and her small daughter had come to Disneyland for the day not knowing what was about to take place and wondering why Disneyland was scheduled to close so early. When they learned what was about to happen, they reluctantly joined the fray, thinking there was no way they’d stay till the final end because it was the little girl’s birthday, and they had other things to do and see. But they did stay, caught up in the excitement, and ended up with Johnny Depp’s autograph as a result. Now, that’s what I call a birthday present!
While this premiere was pretty much the same as the last three, Disneyland did one thing just a tiny bit differently than they have in the past. This time, they added bleachers all up and down Main Street for the fans. This was a good thing. This was also a bad thing. The good thing was that the bleachers accommodated a whole lot more people, enabling them to get a real front row view of all the action. It also kept the park’s walkways from seriously clogging up earlier in the day and made for a generally more pleasant experience of just walking around Disneyland.
The bad part about the bleachers though, was that Disneyland did not enforce the “no standing” rule they kept talking about all day. It’s a natural thing to get so caught up in the excitement of these events and I don’t fault people for getting sooo exhilarated that they leap to their feet to see a favorite star. But that caused a domino effect — when the front row folks stood up, the folks in back of them stood up, and the folks in back of them stood up, and so on and so forth.
This would have been okay, but they stood up on top of the bleachers and that looked like an accident waiting to happen to me. I mean, really, people were practically hanging from the trees and it got a little out of hand.
Pirate Mickey and Jack the Monkey (above)
Teri Hatcher and Eva Longoria (below)
Disneyland needed to take action the whole night like they did when Johnny Depp finally started to slowly make his way down Main Street. At that point, they had BIG security people go up and down telling, not asking, but telling, everyone to sit down. The crowd listened. The accidents waiting to happen stopped waiting to happen.
Vanassa Hudgens, Jodi Foster and Emma Roberts (above)
Director Rob Marshall and Producer Jerry Bruckheimer (below)
Lauren Maher and Ian McShane (above)
Geoffrey Rush and Keith Richards (below)
Penelope Cruz (below)
The best part of the night though, for me was, yeah, I’m gonna say it — Johnny Depp, but not for the reasons you might think. Okay, yeah, he’s nice to look at. I admit it. I really do like looking at him. The guy’s got style. But what I really liked ... was his soul. He treated the fans so wonderfully, no famous person-diva-ness from Mr. Depp, no sir. I ran up and down Main Street flitting in and out of the crowd, watching the action and that man put all his energy into his fans.
Once he hit the area around the Emporium, he didn’t even go over to the press side of the street. He signed autograph after autograph, even bringing his own pens so he didn’t have to waste a moment handing off one fan’s pen and taking another’s.
At one point, he bent down and talked to a little girl and when his handlers motioned for him to move on from her, he wouldn’t until he finished what he was saying to her and had given her a big old hug. You know that’s a moment of magic that child will carry with her, her entire life. He never once acted like it was a pain to smile for people’s cameras and talked to each person like he was there just for them. It was impressive.
And that’s what I think I’m going to take away from this Pirates premiere, the memory of a very big movie star acting like his fans mean the world to him and at that moment in time, nothing else was of any importance. He was just a regular guy with a whole lot of friends.
Well, and he looked really good too, you know?
By the way, Hollywood’s El Capitan Theatre is running “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides,” in Disney Digital 3D™ and RealD™ 3D, from May 20th through June 22nd. As we've come to expect from this Disney flagship theater, there will be a display of items actually used in the making of the movie. Included are ornate props, elaborate costumes worn by the cast, and set pieces from the film itself.
The theatre will also commemorate the opening by offering each ticket purchaser, while supplies last, a soft drawstring bag containing two “Pieces of Eight” tribute coins sponsored by Goldline International. The collectible alloy coins, designed exclusively by Disney for the El Capitan showings, have a look reminiscent of coins common to the period depicted in the film.
In addition, Goldline International is giving away four authentic 18th century Mexican 8 Escudo gold coins to lucky audience members for the film during its four-week engagement. Three of them have an estimated retail value in excess of $2,000 and one (to be given away the final week) is an authentic 1787 Mexican 8 Escudo gold coin with an estimated retail value of approximately $2,800. Each week, the El Capitan will randomly select one showing of the film, and at that showing, the lucky recipient of a coin will be identified before the show begins.
The film is set to screen daily at 9:30 a.m., 1, 4:30, 8 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at the El Capitan box office (6838 Hollywood Blvd.), online at www.elcapitantickets.com, or by calling 1-800-DISNEY6. Special group-rate tickets for parties of 20 or more are available by calling 1-818-845-3110.