Movie News

Exclusive: Q&A on The London Premiere of The Hobbit

It’s exactly four weeks to the Royal Film Performance London premiere of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and the arrangements for it are well underway.

Many of us are planning to be in Leicester Square for the premiere, some of us even have tickets for it. But what arrangements have been made and what should we expect?

Grace Carley, Head of Fundraising for The Cinema and Television Benevolent Fund which organises the event, took time out of her busy schedule to answer some questions for Middle-earth News.


First of all,  thank you for being interviewed, Grace.
Can you tell me a little about the CTBF and the Royal Film Performance?
The CTBF has been in existence since the 1920s (when it was called the Cinematograph Benevolent Fund) when it was set up to help cinema workers that fell on hard times. This was quite common in a lot of industries due to the absence of the welfare state or a national health service at the time. The idea of the RFP came about when King George VI was the Royal Patron of the Fund and the first one was in 1946 – “A Matter of Life and Death”, which was attended by the whole royal family including the young Princess Elizabeth, now Queen Elizabeth II – the current patron.


How is a film selected for the Royal Film Performance? Does the Royal Family have a say?
Traditionally, the RFP is held after Remembrance Sunday, so it very much depends what is due for release in the month or so after that. When the options are known, we discuss them with the Palace and a decision is taken with the input of the Royal Family.


When will you know which members of the Royal Family, the film’s cast and film-makers will be attending?
As of 12th November, we can confirm that TRH The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will be attending, and a lot of the cast and film-makers including Sir Ian McKellen, Sir Peter Jackson, Martin Freeman, Cate Blanchett, and many more to be confirmed.


When do you start making arrangements for the Royal Film Performance? What part of the event is the most difficult to organise?
We usually start conversations with distributors during the summer to ascertain what might be available and we then liaise with the Palace to establish possible dates for Royal availability. In the case of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, we have had much more time than usual to prepare as the film was confirmed in September and we announced it on 10th October, at which time we started selling tickets and advertising.  The only really difficult part is the last week before the event when every single detail has to be tied down, and there are inevitably people losing their tickets, wanting to change their seats, asking lots of questions…


The film is being shown at two cinemas. How does that work? Will it be shown in HFR3D with Dolby Atmos sound?
Both cinemas are on Leicester Square, and the red carpet will run around two sides, allowing the fans to see all of the stars meeting and greeting.  The Duke and Duchess will be in the Odeon along with the main cast members and film-makers, while some of the cast will be in the Empire. CC TV footage of red carpet interviews and the arrival of the Royals will be broadcast into both cinemas, and the film will start slightly earlier in The Empire, while the Royals take their seats in the Odeon and receive the Loyal Address. It will be shown in HFR3D.


What preparations are going on inside the cinemas?
Not much happens inside the cinemas, but there will be some interesting set dressing in the Square – but I’m not allowed to reveal anything yet!


What arrangements are being made for the press and TV coverage?
Media crews and photographers will be positioned around one side of the square, including crews from the royal rota, who customarily cover whatever the Royal Party are doing.


How large a crowd are you expecting in Leicester Square? What arrangements do you have to make? Do you provide loos for the fans? Will there be screens in Leicester Square for the fans to watch the red carpet arrivals on?
We are expecting a very large crowd, given the depth of the fan base both for The Hobbit and for Peter Jackson, not to mention the attraction of the royal couple and the largely British cast. Barriers will be in place to hold the crowds – mainly on the north side of the square, and there will be a large screen in the corner between the two cinemas. I understand that loos will not be provided, but there are public loos in the square that will be open until a little while before the event.


How hard is it to roll out the red carpet?
It’s quite a logistical headache, as business must go on as usual in the Square, given the number of restaurants and businesses that operate there, so they can’t be obstructed as it is being laid.


Will there be a souvenir programme of the event available?
Yes, we produce a Commemorative Brochure which has all the details of the film, some history of the RFP and congratulatory messages from suppliers and sponsors. These will be distributed in the cinemas, and a limited amount will be available to purchase on our website ( after the event.


I know the cast and film-makers are introduced to the members of the Royal Family. Are you ever asked to brief them on the etiquette when meeting royalty?
Yes, we provide briefing on the correct way to address them and appropriate behaviour.


Do the people attending the premiere have a chance to meet the cast for autographs and photos?
It really depends on luck more than anything, as the audience is required to take their seats well before the arrival of the Royal Party, so they are not encouraged to linger on the red carpet when the cast are meeting the crowd. You probably have a better chance as part of the crowd!


Is there anyone from the film that you are particularly looking forward to meeting?
I am looking forward to seeing Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh as I worked with them years ago on the funding and distribution of Braindead and Meet the Feebles – I even have a walk on part in Braindead!


Although you arrange the Royal Film Performance every year, for many of those attending this is their first premiere. Have you any words of advice?
If you are actually going into the cinema, travel light, as there will probably be queues for bag searches.  Remember that it will be quite a long night as doors open at 5.30, and we don’t expect the film to end before 10.30. And if you’re going to join the crowd outside, wrap up warm, as it could be freezing!!  And bring an umbrella!


Thank you, Grace. That’s given us all a terrific insight into the event.  Roll on the 12th December!


You can find out more about the work of the CTBF and buy tickets for the premiere here.

Follow me on Twitter @ eviebowman


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  1. Amazing interview!!

  2. Great interview! I wonder what the set dressing in Leicester Square will be!

  3. Pingback: Lo Hobbit: Un Viaggio Inaspettato, tutti i dettagli sulla premiere londinese |