(Room Tone)Industry Premieres: Glitz, Glamour and Hard Work

(Room Tone)Industry Premieres: Glitz, Glamour and Hard Work

Premiering trade films is a delicate balancing act, where the glitz and glamour can quickly turn into a grind, depending on your attitude toward large social gatherings. From the stress of finding a parking spot to navigating the after-party, the night is rife with the intricacies of producing a blockbuster.

First, the dress code: Assuming you’re not walking a line for the photos, there isn’t one. It’s important to note that during the winter months, movie theaters really crank up the thermostat to sauna levels. I’d advise wearing removable layers so you don’t get stuck in a thick wool sweater during a particularly long movie.

On our way to the location. Depending on the film’s distribution company, the premiere will be in Yongsan, Samseong-dong, or Jamsil. If it’s Jamsil, I’d rather take the subway or risk a 90-minute rush hour ride.

Once you arrive, you make your way through a crowded lobby full of fans hoping to catch a glimpse of their favorite star and find a ticket booth where the friendly attendant will have a hard time finding your tickets because you’re registered under a different name.

In the middle of the theater, you find your seat—usually squeezed between the guy financing the movie and a member of the leading actor’s fan club. You suddenly remember that the movie is two and a half hours long and decide at the last minute to go to the bathroom. But the lights dim, and you sit back down, silently kicking yourself for not thinking ahead.

After the screening, as the crowd quietly leaves, there’s usually an immediate rush to the lobby restrooms because you’re not the only one who decided that a big iced Americano before the screening was a good idea. Be warned: the lobby restrooms are a great place to gauge unfiltered, knee-jerk reactions to a movie.

Now that the crisis has passed, the after-party awaits – an event that promises an evening of warm beer, uncomfortable chairs and celebrity meet-and-greets. This is where you’ll find yourself rubbing elbows with A-listers, A-listers and those mysterious figures who seem to exist solely to show up at every after-party.

Taking a deep breath, you enter the after-party, hoping to quickly see a familiar face.

Luckily, you spot a table of familiar faces and take a seat in the corner. They are already engaged in a deep discussion about the movie of the night. You nod quietly, praying they don’t ask you what you thought of the movie.

As is tradition, social interactions are a minefield of name-dropping and self-promotion while keeping an eye on the celebrity table at the back of the room. The food at these events is typically bland, and you’ll often find yourself wishing you’d bought a hot dog from the theater’s bar.

As the night wears on and your social battery drains, you try to make a graceful exit, quickly gliding through the crowded room with a series of nods and waves—all without breaking stride. You finally make it to the exit, the relief of the cool night air just beyond those automatic sliding doors. But wait, someone calls your name.

Whether you’re a fan of the opulence or just trying to survive the grind, attending a movie premiere can be a hero’s journey, full of challenges that test a person’s endurance and patience. It requires courage, strategy, and a healthy dose of self-compassion.

So next time you are invited to a movie screening, don’t forget: smile, nod, and no matter how many times you are asked, don’t say anymore what you really think about the movie.

Thomas Suh is the founder and CEO of Systeme D Entertainment, a film, media and entertainment company that specializes in acquiring, managing and producing content for film and television. “Room Tone,” the title of Suh’s column series, refers to the ambient sound of the space in which a film is being shot. Thomas Suh can be reached at [email protected] — Editors