Thursday, January 21, 2016

Kung Fu Panda 3 Premiere

Kung Fu Panda 3 Premiere
Los Angeles, California
January 16, 2016

View of the after-party area 
I decided to get up early on a Saturday morning to take some pictures to share with you all of the Kung Fu Panda 3 premiere.  The entire block of Hollywood Boulevard was closed between Highland Avenue and Orange Street for the premiere.  It appeared as if the after-party was going to be happening in the street after the screening in the TCL Chinese Theatre.  As soon as I arrived, I went to the third level of the Hollywood & Highland Center to take some overview pictures of the setup. 

Far left is a manicure station with a food station (beige covered tables) behind them.

You can see a bunch of Panda ear headbands to the right of the Will Call check-in tables. These were handed out to all of the kids.  The fun part of premieres for kid movies is the stars bringing their kids, and seeing what the studios setup for the family-friendly event.  I edited or left out the photos I took of the celebrities with their kids because I don't like to post pictures of kids online.  

Table of panda headbands.
Unfortunately, I posted myself where the stars would be exiting their cars which is normally a great idea, except for the hundreds of autograph hunters who were also stationed there.  This meant I got crushed a lot (especially when Dustin Hoffman was there), and had to push back in order not to get knocked down.  I was only there to take pictures, so the pushing and shoving made it a bit more difficult. I never even saw Angelina Jolie arrive so she either arrived a different way (doubtful) or arrived when another celeb was close to me and I missed her while I was being crushed.

J.K. Simmons - Kung Fu Panda 3 Premiere
J.K. Simmons

Jack Black - Kung Fu Panda 3 Premiere
Jack Black

Director, Jennifer Yuh signing autographs
Jennifer Yuh (one of the directors)

I did manage to get quite a few great up close pictures of Bryan Cranston, J.K. Simmons, and Dustin Hoffman.  I saw composer, Hans Zimmer arrive with (I assume) his children, and no one else seemed to recognize him since no one shouted his name.  I wish I had been bold enough to shout for him because he's one of my favorites.  

Dustin Hoffman signing autographs
Dustin Hoffman

Toc Tien - Kung Fu Panda 3 Premiere
Toc Tien (singer)

Toc Tien - Kung Fu Panda 3 Premiere
Toc Tien 

James Hong - Kung Fu Panda 3 Premiere
James Hong

Bryan Cranston - Kung Fu Panda 3 Premiere
Bryan Cranston

Bryan Cranston signing autographs
Bryan Cranston

Lucy Liu
Lucy Liu

Hans Zimmer - Kung Fu Panda 3 Premiere
Hans Zimmer

Wayne Knight - Kung Fu Panda 3 Premiere
Wayne Knight
I loved the characters they had.  The little panda had a hard time walking, it was more of a waddle, and needed help.  

This little guy needed help. So cute!!
I'm seeing Kung Fu Panda 3 this Saturday, and I'm looking forward to it as I've enjoyed the previous installments.


Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Lightsaber Battle - Los Angeles

Lightsaber Battle – LA
Los Angeles, California
December 18, 2015

I heard about the Lightsaber Battle from either Facebook or Eventbrite, and I jumped on it because it sounded like a weird but fun event to be a party of.  I bought/reserved two lightsabers right away to get them at the discounted price of $5 each.  I took my niece to the battle which was being held at Pershing Square Park in Downtown Los Angeles.  The gallery where we had to pick up the lightsabers was several blocks away, and it was very crowded and busy in there.  They had a photo op inside with costumed characters, but we just wanted to get our lights and head back to the park for the battle. 

I'm wearing a First Order hockey jersey from Geeky Jerseys.
There were several food trucks around for the participants, and tiny duels and battles going on everywhere.  There wasn’t an organized battle, but someone would inevitably referee duels for people to participate in, but I don’t think these referees were part of the organizers.  The craziness is very apparent in the video I edited together from clips from throughout the night. 

When I got home, I saw the battle on the news where they said the battle set a record for largest lightsaber battle.  The San Diego lightsaber battle was scheduled for the next day, but they didn’t have higher numbers than Los Angeles so the record still holds.

It was a fun night, but it was really, really crowded due to a skating rink also being in the park.  I’d definitely do it again, but I’d probably take the SLR camera and just take pictures.


Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Star Wars: The Force Awakens World Premiere

Star Wars: The Force Awakens 
World Premiere

Los Angeles, California

December 14, 2015

Entrance to the red carpet tent

The premiere for The Force Awakens was a huge set up as they set up a 2 ½ block length tent to house the red carpet (which ended up also being used for the after-party) and required a 4 block closure of Hollywood Boulevard.  The road closure was for street traffic as sidewalks and businesses were open during those 4 days.  Hollywood Boulevard was closed to vehicular traffic between La Brea and Highland Avenues.  Most movie premieres in the area only close 1 block of Hollywood Boulevard between Orange and Highland Avenue, and most will only close a few lanes of traffic.  The Oscars only cause that much closure (and more to be honest) on the day of the Oscars, but the days leading up to Oscar Sunday only 1 block of Hollywood Boulevard is closed to vehicular traffic.  
Tent set up days before the premiere:


We were told to meet at the TCL Chinese Theatre by 6am the morning of the premiere at which time we would be escorted to our assigned viewing location.  There were plenty of rumors of what would be happening, and I had my doubts about most of them particularly considering the last minute nature of the entire thing.  It was very cold that morning, but I did get a bit warmed up from taking all of my belongings to the car.  The premiere was actually going to be using the 3 largest theaters in the immediate area, which are the Dolby, the El Capitan, and the TCL Chinese Theatres. 

Kylo Ren's lightsaber setup at the red carpet.

Anakin/Luke Skywalker's lightsaber at the red carpet


This sign being moved to the side of the tent.

We were escorted to our area between 6:30 and 7am, and the route took us west on Hollywood Boulevard to La Brea where we crossed Hollywood and came back west on Hollywood to our location.  Just before our area, we had our IDs checked against a list, had our bags searched and walked through a metal detector.  We were given silver wristbands which would identify us as being permitted in the viewing area.  I won’t go into a lot of the complaining, but several people were not happy we weren’t placed in the bleachers (which were on the north side of the street), and also because we were told we had to be there by 6am, but we were later told we could be there by 2pm).  I wasn’t upset as NOTHING was promised except an area in which to see the red carpet arrivals.  The premiere had been set up in a way which was extremely no fan-friendly.  There was a very, very tiny area of the red carpet which was not inside the tents.  

Lineup members doing press interviews at the Star Wars The Force Awakens premiere
Line members doing press interviews

More press interviews
It was extremely cold and windy and our viewing area was in the shade.  Around mid-morning, we were told we going to be admitted into the premiere and the after-party, and we would need to take all unnecessary items back to our cars.  A few of us had gone back and grabbed blankets when we realized we could come and go, and it was so freaking cold!  There were press outlets coming to us to do interviews, which was fun since we were just sitting and waiting.  There was one lady I particularly remember because she wasn’t part of our group and had come into our barricaded area.  The gentleman working security asked to see her wristband, and though I couldn’t hear her, she shook her head, but then proceeded to argue with him.  The poor guy had to be nice since he is working, but I felt like I didn’t have to be and would help kick the lady out in a less nice manner.  My attitude was “No wristband? Get out,” instead of the “I’m sorry. You can’t be in here without a wristband” thing he had to say.  It took a few minutes, but she finally left, and a few of us made sure to keep an eye out for people we don’t recognize coming into the area.  There were quite a few ordinance sniffing dogs on patrol, and there was one whose handler allowed us to pet him, and I can’t remember the dog’s name!  He was such a pretty and friendly dog, and I yelled bye to him near the end of the arrivals when they looked like they were leaving, too. 

Fan groups in the bleachers

Rebel Legion "behind" the red carpet

Members of the 501st Legion participating in the red carpet festivities for the Star Wars: The Force Awakens premiere

Ordinance sniffing dogs.

The only celebrity who came by our area was Anthony Daniels, who was wearing this fantastic C3-PO pin which had a red left arm.  We complimented him on it, and he said it was a gift from his team.  He made it down part of our line, but he had to leave to do the red carpet.  Before he entered the tent portion of the red carpet, he did come back to finish signing and taking photos with our line.  I just love that man because he is so kind and generous with his time.

Anthony Daniels signing autographs at the Star Wars The Force Awakens premiere
Anthony Daniels

Anthony Daniels
I had taken my telephoto lens back to the car with my other stuff, but did keep my SLR camera with me, and if I couldn’t into the premiere with it, so be it.  I would rather have the opportunity to take pictures.  In retrospect, I should have kept the zoom lens, but I’m not kicking myself for my decision so I'm sorry it's so hard to see the stars in my photos.  I've cropped most of the picture out.

Mario Lopez - Star Wars: The Force Awakens premiere
Mario Lopez

Max von Sydow - Star Wars: The Force Awakens premiere
Max von Sydow

Gwendoline Christie - Star Wars: The Force Awakens premiere
Gwendoline Christie

Gwendoline Christie - Star Wars: The Force Awakens premiere
Gwendoline Christie

Daisy Ridley - Star Wars: The Force Awakens premiere
Daisy Ridley

Domhnall Gleeson - Star Wars: The Force Awakens premiere
Domhnall Gleeson

Domhnall and Brendan Gleeson - Star Wars: The Force Awakens premiere
Domhnall and Brendan Gleeson

Domhnall Gleeson and Oscar Isaac - Star Wars: The Force Awakens premiere
Domhnall Gleeson and Oscar Isaac

Andy Serkis - Star Wars: The Force Awakens premiere
Andy Serkis

Seth Green and Clare Grant - Star Wars: The Force Awakens premiere
Seth Green and Clare Grant

Oscar Isaac - Star Wars: The Force Awakens premiere
Oscar Isaac

I believe this is Paul Dooley, and I have no idea why he was there (or sneaking out before the red carpet tent).

(Far left) Harrison Ford

George Lucas - Star Wars: The Force Awakens premiere
George Lucas

Daniel Logan - Star Wars: The Force Awakens premiere
Daniel Logan

Lupita Nyong'o - Star Wars: The Force Awakens premiere
Lupita Nyong'o

Spike Lee - Star Wars: The Force Awakens premiere
Spike Lee

Kate Capshaw, Steven Spielberg, and John Boyega - Star Wars: The Force Awakens premiere
Kate Capshaw, Steven Spielberg, John Boyega

John Boyega - Star Wars: The Force Awakens premiere
John Boyega

Jon Favreau - Star Wars: The Force Awakens premiere
Jon Favreau

John Williams - Star Wars: The Force Awakens premiere
John Williams

Mark Hamill - Star Wars: The Force Awakens premiere
Mark Hamill

Joseph Gordon-Levitt - Star Wars: The Force Awakens premiere
Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Billy Dee Williams - Star Wars: The Force Awakens premiere
Billy Dee Williams

Geena Davis - Star Wars: The Force Awakens premiere
Geena Davis
After all of the arrivals, it did take awhile for them to bring the passes for the premiere to us.  We were told that they have them, but they’re looking for them.  When the passes arrived we were being rushed into the tents and into the theater.  We were placed in the TCL Chinese Theatre, and we had to give our phones and cameras (and any other electronic devices) to the security teams there.  Then we could enter the theater itself.  It became very obvious to me that our passes were an afterthought because the rows of seats where they placed us had been completely covered with large black “blankets” which we had to ask to have removed so we could sit down.  

One of the walls of the tents

This screen to what you see below

They were playing the livestream of the red carpet interviews on the screen, and the introduction festivities which were happening in the Dolby Theatre (where the cast and crew were).  When I saw the opening scroll and heard the theme music, I got emotional which I wasn’t expecting.  It had been so long since I had seen a Star Wars film in the theater it had quite an intense effect on me.  

Lego Rey and BB-8 inside the tent during the Star Wars: The Force Awakens premiere after party.
Lego builds

BB-8 and Kylo Ren Lego statues inside the tent during the Star Wars: The Force Awakens premiere after party.
More Lego

Lego BB-8

After the screening, I got into the long line to retrieve my phone and camera and proceeded back into the tents for the after party.  The food was great, and I could have eaten a lot more but didn’t want to look like a pig, there was music playing and lots of things to see.  There was a Dodge Viper painted as Kylo Ren’s helmet, a moving lightsaber display (see the video), Disney Infinity stations, and a build-a-droid station.  I really wanted to build a droid army, but I love the little guy I made, and wanted to take advantage of the photo ops they had spread throughout the party.  The dessert table was so good, and I kept going back.  The celebrities were in cordoned off section at the Highland Avenue end of the tent.  

Kylo Ren car at the Star Wars: The Force Awakens premiere after party.
Kylo Ren car
Me standing in front of the costume display

It was a long weekend, so I left around 11:30, and I think the party ended around midnight.  I took a new line friend home before heading home for a night sleeping in warmth.  I took Tuesday to just recover and relax after a cold, wet, and long weekend which was also exciting, memorable and absolutely worth enduring the cold, rain, and wind.
Stormtrooper costume displays at the Star Wars: The Force Awakens premiere after party.
Stormtrooper costume display.
This dessert was so good, but I wasn't expecting the very alcoholic fruit in it.

Captain Phasma costume display inside the tent at the Star Wars: The Force Awakens premiere after party.
Captain Phasma costume display.