How to “Attend” a Movie Premiere (as a fan)

In December of 2011 I blindly booked a trip to London to see my favorite actor, Robert Downey Jr., in-person at the Sherlock Holmes 2 film premiere. After searching like a madman for what to do, what to wear, what to bring, and how to act at a premiere, I couldn’t find any resources on the internet except forum posts from 2005 or earlier. Then again last September, I began my search to find what to do at a premiere in Los Angeles. Again, I was foiled. All I could find was how to get tickets into the film or what to wear if you’re actually important enough to be invited to walk the red carpet. Since I was just wanting to go as a crazed fan, these guides didn’t apply to me and I wanted to write out one for people like me searching for a way to know what to expect in advance.

  • RESEARCH IN ADVANCE
Hugh Jackman
Hugh Jackman at the Prisoners premiere in Los Angeles

Using websites like Seeing Stars (for LA) or MarkMeets (for London), you can find out which premieres are happening when/where, read press releases, see which celebrities are supposed to attend. That’s all you’re really going to get out of those websites, the rest of the research will be up to you to map out the place, go there early to scope it out, looking up pictures from other premieres in that location to see the usual layout, etc.

  • SURVIVAL KIT
iPod, Apple, Water Bottle
iPod, Apple and Water Bottle

Keep it simple. The more you bring with you, the more you are carrying around all day. I like to bring one water bottle because bringing more means more bathroom breaks. Apples are great because they have a lot of water in them so you get food and hydrated. Depending on when you get there, you may need entertainment, so a book or iPod is helpful to pass the time. Obviously you want to bring a camera. And I will tell you that your small point-and-shoot might not cut it for getting good shots, so if you’re going to be doing this a lot, you may want to invest in a lower-end DSLR so you can make sure you don’t miss the action. An autograph book or journal is good just in case the celebs actually sign, as well as a sharpie or two.

  • ARRIVE EARLY, EARLIER THAN YOU THINK
Prisoners Setup
The set up for the Prisoners premiere in Los Angeles

There’s nothing worse than getting to a premiere two hours before the talent is supposed to arrive and already seeing the area blocked off or not being able to see any of the action. Better safe than sorry. Depending on which celebrities will be there and the day of the week, there may be some people there camping out overnight, or people who get there at 8am the morning of, or even just showing up 6 hours in advance can be enough time. Or 1 or 2 hours before could be completely fine. The earlier you get there, the more of the set up for the premiere you can watch, which is always fun to see how they transform the area.

  • DON’T TRUST SECURITY, DON’T TRUST ANYONE
Sherlock Holmes Setup
Early morning set up for Sherlock Holmes 2 premiere in London

Premiere security and people in charge are notorious for telling the fans to leave the area, to move somewhere else, or just for being mean because they don’t want to deal with you. Until they physically push you or they start threatening, stay put. Also, don’t trust other fans telling you what they think is best. Follow your gut. If you found a good place to stand, stay there. Rarely you’ll get a nice security person who gives you the correct information or wants to help out the fans, but most of the time they’re trying to get you as far away as possible. Stand your ground. You don’t want to move and then end up seeing 50 people take your spot because you were lied to.

  • MAKE FRIENDS WITH OTHER FANS
Natalie and I
My friend Natalie and I, whom I met at the Sherlock Holmes 2 premiere in 2011

You can meet the most awesome people at premieres. Find allies. You’re all there for the same reason so talk to people. You may meet someone who goes to celebrity events all the time and knows how they set up the fan areas or can insider info on other events not posted online. Plus, if you end up staying in touch, you can go to the next premiere with them or just have someone great to talk to again.

  • BEWARE OF AUTOGRAPH HOUNDS
Jude Law autograph
Jude Law’s autograph

Some people make their living off coming to premiers with bulk stacks of pictures for celebs to sign, and they are ruthless. They will push you, go over your head, scream in your ear, and do whatever it takes to get an autograph, which they later sell. They’re the worst kind of premiere goers because they’re not there as real fans, but to make money and ruin the experience for others. Don’t let them win.

  • EXPECT GOOD THINGS
Jake Gyllenhaal
Jake Gyllenhaal waves to his fans at the Prisoners premiere in Los Angeles

You may end up waiting outside the theatre for hours and then missing out on the whole thing because they push all the fans across the street, or you may just not be able to see anything because of where you’re standing, but there are good moments that can happen. You may get that perfect spot and take the most amazing photos or get a bunch of autographs, or at least a close up look at your favorite star. Positivity goes a lot further than being negative about the event. If you end up going home in defeat, at least you have an experience you can talk about. But if something awesome happens, then you have something even better to brag about.

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