You wouldn’t think a movie about dystopian rebellion would inspire a lavish Hollywood premiere. But leave it to Lionsgate to turn a society’s downfall into a party theme.
While most studios have pulled back on extravagant movie celebrations, Lionsgate has always gone all out to honor its robust franchise business. For the “Twilight” festivities, the studio once brought in a cage of wolves, inciting the rancor of animal activists.
There was nothing quite as controversial at the premiere of the third “Hunger Games” installment -- “Mockingjay -- Part 1” -- Monday night, though it was clear the studio had spent a pretty penny to make the event memorable.
From the moment guests arrived downtown at L.A. Live they were immersed in the film’s fictional Capitol setting. Though the festivities were largely blocked off from public view, many fans still tried to get a glimpse of the film’s stars -- Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth -- from behind the barricades.
Instead of a red carpet, celebrities walked down a shiny white runway flanked by torches. Their interviews were broadcast on large screens overlooking the courtyard, where fans patiently waited in hopes of snapping selfies with the cast.
Inside the Nokia Theatre, filmgoers munched on stale popcorn awaiting the start of the screening, which began an hour later than scheduled. Before the movie began, Lionsgate Chief Executive Jon Feltheimer introduced director Francis Lawrence.
The filmmaker took the opportunity to remember and thank “a missing part of the family: Philip Seymour Hoffman,” the late actor who plays a major role in the latest entry. The director then trotted out the film’s cast, including Lawrence, who shimmied onto the stage in a demure, tea-length Dior dress.
After the two-hour film, guests rushed to the top of a nearby parking garage, where a huge tent had been erected. Outside the entrance, an eerie scene from the movie had been replicated: a misty, bombed-out District 13 littered with white roses. Inside the tent a canopy of neon lights set a futuristic vibe as models dressed like characters from Panem posed for photographs with guests.
A DJ played spacy remixes of popular hits like “Royals” by Lorde, who curated the movie’s soundtrack. There were plentiful buffets filled with -- what else? -- Wolfgang Puck-catered fare, though most guests were preoccupied with stalking the film talent instead of eating.
The movie’s stars were blocked off in a VIP area toward the back of the tent that was closely monitored by bodyguards. Lawrence changed into a breezier black gown and tuxedo jacket for the affair, though most of her costars remained in their red carpet attire.
Other than ogling the cast, there wasn’t much to actually do at the party. A line for the Samsung photo booth lasted the duration of the evening, as people waited their turns to pose with models decked out in all-white clothing and face paint. Though the majority of “The Hunger Games” cast attended the party, there weren’t too many other celebrity faces in the crowd.
Weird Al Yankovic made an appearance, for some reason, as did the L.A. girl group Haim. Evan Ross, who has a small role in the film, brought along his famous mother Diana, his new wife Ashlee Simpson and her sister, Jessica.
If Lionsgate is nervous about the film’s box-office prospects this weekend, the party was certainly a good distraction.
May the odds be ever in their favor.