Earlier this evening, I was in Leicester Square – London’s cinema Mecca – with a bunch of celebrities on a shiny red carpet. Ok, I was behind the barriers and wearing jeans and trainers and not a glam ballgown, but that’s close enough, right?
Part of the London Film Festival, tonight’s event was the premiere of One Chance, starring James Corden (or it might have been Harry Hill – both seemed to get roughly the same volume of heckles on arrival), at the Odeon Leicester Square. Of the many cinemas in London, this is undoubtably one of my favourites. It was there that I had my first experience of cinema on a truly grand scale when I came to see Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers way back in 2002. My friend had booked tickets to watch the first part there the year before and loved it so much she persuaded a group of us to go with her to watch the second instalment the following year. As this involved an eight-hour (!) round trip from Somerset, it was quite a big deal.
I remember being overwhelmed by the sheer scale of the screen and how phenomenal the sound was, even back then. My previous experience of cinema had been confined to the local independent cinema in Wells, my nearest town – a tiny three-screen, family-run affair*, which I loved, but was hardly cutting-edge back then – and the nearby Odeons. It just couldn’t compare. Needless to say, we returned the following year for Part 3.
However, although I’ve been back (and to all of the other cinemas in Leicester Square) several times since then, I’ve never yet made it to a premiere. The closest I’ve come was for the re-release of Titanic in 3D last year. A friend got tickets and I went along to keep him company. I’d never seen the film – having managed to miss it when it first came out, then on its subsequent VHS, TV and DVD releases – so it was fun to experience it for the first time on a big screen, albeit 15 years late. But it was at the Royal Albert Hall, not in a beautiful big cinema with proper surround sound. And while they did have a red carpet, as it was just a re-release (and it was raining) there was barely anyone there, so it wasn’t quite the same. I did get to stand next to Jenna Coleman at the bar though, so it wasn’t all bad.
I have hopes that one day I will be there on the red carpet in Leicester Square, but until then I shall lean on the barriers and enjoy the spectacle from a safe distance…
*Its main claim to fame is that Edgar Wright once worked there as a projectionist