On the 10th of April 2014, Britain flagrantly celebrated reclaiming a symbolic part of its old colony with the world premiere of The Amazing Spider-Man 2. The superhero, one of American pop culture’s biggest icons, is now played with aplomb by Surrey’s Andrew Garfield. And while Garfield technically has dual citizenship on both sides of the pond, for that night, he was unabashedly a shining local star.
But we are getting ahead of ourselves. For the fans, the day started obscenely early With a substantial number having queued overnight, I found myself 118th in line despite being at Leicester Square before 6 a.m., a time normally allocated to cursing the sun for coming out. Luckily, the venue is large enough to ensure the first 500-700 get front row spaces, so no harm done.
The numbering itself was a fan-organised initiative. There is a group of film memorabilia store owners who attend all major premieres and, for the past few years, they have taken it upon themselves to sort out queue places so that people can step out to use the bathroom or get food without losing their place. If you ever go to Leicester Square premieres, keep an eye out for a tall lady with a clipboard lurking at the back; she’ll know what to do.
The pens that line the red carpet were not opened until 3 p.m., so the next few hours were spent making new friends, procuring and devouring breakfast and then lunch, and drinking copious amounts of water. I was also advised to put all my belongings into one easily-manageable bag and to make sure that whatever I wanted signed was not too big or it might get damaged. Believe me, it all helped. Especially the water; quite a few people were brought down by cramps as the day wore on. Once the pens were declared habitable, we poured into them as only excitable geeky fans can: appropriately polite but with the single-minded purpose of finding the best spot.
Once introductions were gotten out of the way, the first star to arrive was Andrew Garfield. The actor arrived in a double decker, having stopped by a children’s charity unannounced earlier on and bringing them along to the event. What a man! Emma Stone followed soon after, and a grinning security guard told us that the big stars usually arrive at the end, but they were brought out early because they wanted to meet every last fan and sign every single piece of paper. Altogether now: AWWWWW!
A grinning security guard told us that the big stars usually arrive at the end, but they were brought out early because they wanted to meet every last fan and sign every single piece of paper.
Producers Matthew Tolmach and Avi Arad, and director Marc Webb joined the red carpet – Stonefield already pluning themselves into the adoring masses by that point – before Jamie Foxx and Dane DeHaan also arrived. For an event that was clearly meticulously organised, there was a very laidback atmosphere, with a DJ at the top of the cinema playing an eclectic mix of beats while Foxx and Garfield had a dance-off.
Alex Zane hosted the proceedings and gamely did his best to get the cast and crew to pile into the cinema on time. But while they obediently walked up to the cameras for interviews whenever they were called upon, they invariably returned to the same fan they had just left to continue signing. The same security guard, no longer grinning, pointed out that this rarely happened. Not that any of us were complaining!
Foxx was the first one to finish, despite being the last to arrive, but instead of meekly walking into the cinema, he took over DJ duties as the crowd erupted. By then, Garfield and Stone were not just signing autographs, they were hugging all the fans too. I kid you not; Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy were hugging people. Excuse me while I resuscitate myself. DeHaan was the only one who seemed a little shy, but he was still nice enough to stop and chat with the more excitable attendees.
When the evening finally drew to a close – the premiere running late due to its friendly stars – I had lost all feeling in my legs as well as my voice from all the screaming. And, as a lifelong fan of the Spider-Man universe, it was undoubtedly worth it.