I was present for the New York City premiere of I Am Legend tonight at the WaMu Theater at Madison Square Garden. The place was packed to the walls, with people standing in the aisles just to watch the movie.
Will Smith was there, as were several other stars. Tom Cruise was wandering the aisles, taking pictures with fans and signing autographs. Jada Pinkett Smith was there to support her husband, and Will Smith’s mom was there as well. I think I saw Ice-T, but I can’t be sure.
There were tons of men in uniform walking around, and one of them that happened to be standing in the aisle next to me was actually in the movie! He’s the Coast Guard member who escorts Robert Neville (Will Smith) away from the helicopter his family flees the city on.
Mike will be posting my review shortly, but here are a few highlights of the event:
Will Smith introduced the movie, apologizing to the New Yorkers for shutting down their streets and messing with traffic so much over the course of shooting. He pointed out that the city becomes almost its own character in the film, and he thanked the crowd for the opportunity to have it that way.
He received a standing ovation when he walked in the room, by the way. He also received applause for his first appearance on screen. The audience also applauded the title card shortly after Will’s first appearance. He received more applause and even wolf whistles for a scene showing him doing some pretty incredible pull-ups, and then even more so for his running on the treadmill. (Don’t laugh – the guy is in excellent shape.)
The audience experience at the premiere was unlike anything I’d ever seen. People tend to react to shocking or funny scenes at the movies, but there’s a huge difference between 400 people in a regular theater gasping in fear and over 2,000 people gasping in fear at the WaMu Theater. The audience reaction to this film was overwhelmingly great. Everyone seemed to be truly scared and entertained, and to have positive things to say after the film ended. The audience burst into applause at the end of the movie, which I’m generally not ok with since no one ever knows you’re applauding their hard work when you see a movie at a random theater, but with the director, writer, and star in attendance, a hearty round of applause was definitely in order.
Stay tuned to MovieSnobs for my review, as well an awesome goodie we grabbed for you to win later this week.