ThirdOrcOnTheleft here, reporting from Vancouver... where I've just returned from a very exciting midnight showing of "The Two Towers".
After deciding at the last minute to attend the late-night show, snagging one of the few remaining tickets, and enduring the obligatory hour-long lineup, I enter the theatre to join a near-capacity crowd of seven or eight hundred very excited 'Ring' fans.
The atmosphere is electric, and cheers break out as the lights finally dim -- unfortunately, we then find out that we are going to be required to sit through TWENTY MINUTES of advertisements and coming-attraction trailers. Each ad is jeered more loudly than the last as the crowd grows more and more impatient; at last, however, the "Feature Presentation" logo appears, the audience applauds and settles back for the start of the show.
Just at that moment, though, the film reel comes to an abrupt halt -- a small spotlight appears at the bottom of the screen, and the theatre manager steps into the light holding a microphone. The audience groans. The manager taps the microphone -- it doesn't work. Louder groans. The manager clears his throat and in the loudest voice he can muster says, "Um, I just wanted to welcome you to our very first showing ever of "The Two Towers..." **applause from the crowd**
"Before we start, I just wanted to remind everyone about turning off their cell phones and pagers..." **a bit more applause, impatient rustling** "I think that was all... oh, wait -- someone wanted to say 'Hi' before we started." The audience looks around, a bit confused -- then all hell breaks loose, and seven hundred people leap to their feet and cheer wildly as Sir Ian McKellen steps into the spotlight.
After a good two or three minutes, he manages to quiet the crowd, then says, "For the last six months I've been living here in Vancouver while working on "X-Men 2,"
**huge applause, shouts of 'Magneto!'** "as well as an independent feature that I've also been filming." He mentions that film's director, Carl Bessai, then continues,
"This is my last night in Vancouver; I missed all the premieres for "Two Towers" in London, New York, etc., so I'm very happy I could be here tonight to share this opening with you. I told Peter Jackson -- who, unfortunately, could NOT be here," he adds jokingly, "as he's in his home town of Wellington for their premiere -- that I was coming by, and he sends his greetings and hopes you enjoy the film. He wanted me to tell you that he thinks "The Two Towers" is a better film than "Fellowship" -- but that he believes "Return of the King" will be better than both! We hope you enjoy it -- thank you and good night." And with a wave and a smile, he's striding up the aisle, through the cheering crowd and out the exit.
Well, needless to say, if the crowd was not well and truly hyped for "The Two Towers" before, they certainly are now -- and the next three hours are three of the best I've ever spent in a theatre in my life. I'm not sure whether he stayed to watch any of the film -- I don't think so...
but it should come as no surprise to anyone to learn that Sir Ian McKellen does NOT need a microphone to make himself heard in a packed theatre.