Today: February 22, 2024

Friday the 12th of August, and Empire staff, bloggers, writers and film fans alike stormed the screens of the O2 dome for the hotly hyped movie event of the year.
A host of previews premieres, panels and presentations were promised to those in attendance, and we certainly weren’t let down with an overwhelming schedule of cinema treats.

Friday the 12th of August, and Empire staff, bloggers,
writers and film fans alike stormed the screens of the O2 dome for the hotly
hyped movie event of the year. A host of previews premieres, panels and presentations were
promised to those in attendance, and we certainly weren’t let down with an
overwhelming schedule of cinema treats.

Friday 12th

Being a weekday, the opening of Big Screen seemed primarily
filled with journalists, clutching weekend passes in our sweaty palms and
holding smart phones close to our chests we flocked into the O2’s indigo room.
Weekend host Chris Hewitt, donning a Keep Calm Movie Con tee teased crowds with
highlights of things to come before we were launched into the first showcase of
the morning, an offering from 20th Century Fox. Admittedly this was
mostly glorified trailers, but a documentary on the making of Rise of the
Planet of the Apes, accompanied by a recorded intro from Andy Serkis satisfied
enthusiasts and eased us into the programme.

From then we broke loose onto Hollywood Boulevard, a honey
pot of photo ops from the big upcoming features, movie memorabilia, and freebies.
We petted Crookshanks and Fang from Harry Potter, posed with droids and cuddled
the Real Steel robot in an experience not too far off Christmas morning.

It was then back to the Indigo for helpings of Universal’s
upcoming features, including footage of the unspeakably interesting Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, introduced
by Gary Oldman, before two panels;
one on the Greatest Movie Poster of All Time including Empire illustrator Olly
Moss, and the informative How To Be A Film Writer, with UltraCulture’s Charlie
Lyne and Mirror critic David Edwards.

By far the most interesting event of the day came in the form
of Tom Six, director if The Human Centipede parts 1 and 2.
Having caused the first ban of a film in the UK in 11 years, Six faced the
crowd to defend his creation and the conclusions reached by the BBFC.

“I was at first pleased with the BBFC for the amount of
publicity this has caused but now I am angry,” he responds when asked on his
thoughts of the decision. “I feel Harry Potter is a more influential film;
children are more likely to jump off of a building with a broom than try and
create a human centipede.”

The secret screening for Friday was revealed as Gavin
O’Connor’s Warrior. With award murmurs already humming the event was sold out
long before the announcement, and so a hop, a skip and a press pass later
landed us in a screening of the surprisingly good Friends With Benefits, directed by Easy A’s Will Gluck.

Saturday 13th

A completely different atmosphere from the previous day,
weekenders filled every event going with whoops and cheers overriding the
previous days polite applause in a stream of fan pleasing offerings.

The Warner Brother’s showcase trumped yesterdays programmes
hands down with a glorious documentary of the upcoming The Hobbit, which had Peter
chatting to us throughout as he stumbled around PineWood studios
looking for his way back to New Zealand. This was one of the most enjoyable
slots of the weekend, with cast members taking us through the freshly awakened
Middle Earth and Sir Ian McKellan
frankly showing off by being the only participant able to name all 13 dwarves.

Another wriggly highlight that hit it off was the opening
sequence of Final Destination 5,
which, in bone crunching 3D had people clutching their neighbours as teenagers
got impaled, crushed and drowned inches from their noses.

Breaking up Warner Brothers and Optimum was Breaking Dawn, which, although provoked
a few squeals from the Twi-Hard in attendance, mostly caused giggles at
lingering shots of Robert Pattinson’s
jaw line.

After a cracking year of releases, Optimum has been the
studio hotly tipped to watch, and they didn’t disappoint with sneaky footage of
Guillermo del Toro’s haunting Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark and Kill List, the Brit genre hitman drama
that critics can’t shut up about. The latter was followed by a panel with the
film’s director Ben Wheatley and
leads MyAnna Buring and Neil Maskell, whose real life persona
couldn’t be further from his terrifying on screen presence.

A satisfying finale came from Sony, with footage from Cannes
winner Drive that made your face
scrunch in on itself, plus an in person introduction from its award winning
director, a panel with the Norwegian genious behind Troll Hunter, and a devilishly good looking Mark Strong talking about new release Welcome to the Punch.

Saturday afternoon was mostly spent hurtling. After some
belly laugh inducing footage of 30
Minutes or Less
, the latest from Zombieland’s Ruben Fleischer, FilmJuice grabbed the last seat going for 83
minutes of neck aching chuckles before zooming to an ashamed first time viewing
of Attack the Block.

Given the first 20 minutes had already been missed this
editor would have admitted defeat was it not for a Q&A straight after with
director Joe Cornish and a ghetto
sized chunk of cast members. Broaching everything from the London riots to
sequels to Cornish being shortlisted for the next Die Hard, the ensemble proved
in person just why the film has become such a success.

After a brief break having remembered to eat, it was then
onto the Crazy Stupid Love preview
for some hideously good looking people pretending to have problems, which was
reluctantly received as a quite tender piece of cinema.

Sunday 14th

Another day, another emotional rollercoaster of a showcase.
Paramount put up fantastic competition with a hilarious 10 minutes of Puss In Boots and the sort of footage
from TinTin that makes you feel 12
years old again. This along with The Hobit and Spidey proved one of the big
winners for fans, as the real motion characters form an intriguing breach
between reality and computer animation.

Determined not to burn out circa Saturday, a saunter was
taken to the Empire Movie Mastermind, which put the lovely Noel Clarke under the spotlight for a quiz based on his film career
so far and scored a noble 8 out of 10.

Undoubtedly the highlight for most this weekend came at 3
o’clock in a sold out theatre, where a small green frog brought an audience
back to their childhood with a live streamed interview and preview footage of The Muppets, set for release next year.

“I can’t believe I’m actually talking to Kermit the Frog,”
exclaimed one giddy middle aged man as the mic was passed around the crowd.
Cameos from Miss Piggy and Animal caused more hysteria than the later reported
mobbing of Jason Momoa at the Conan the Barbarian premiere.

A third instalment of Emma Stone followed in The Help, and
then it was onto the big finale; the UK premiere of Disney’s Fright Night, hosted by David Tennant.

“It’s so nice to see a sea of actual film fans here and not
the cast of The Only Way is Essex,” bellowed Tennant as he bounded on screen. A
gory but awesome feature film later and fans were up and cheering. This is a
movie that is bound to generate a cult following and a perfect choice for the
end of a packed weekend, and so it was with a cheerful disposition that the
exhausted veterans dragged themselves home from a mammoth weekend.

Alex Moss Editor

Alex Moss’ obsession with film began the moment he witnessed the Alien burst forth from John Hurt’s stomach. It was perhaps ill-advised to witness this aged 6 but much like the beast within Hurt, he became infected by a parasite called ‘Movies’. Rarely away from his computer or a big screen, as he muses on Cinematic Deities, Alex is “more machine now than man. His mind is twisted and evil”. Email:

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