The 53rd The Times BFI London Film Festival opened last night with a “dual” world premiere of Wes Anderson’s animated adaptation of Fantastic Mr Fox – a first for the festival.
Leicester Square was turned into one big red carpet, as Wes Anderson and cast members George Clooney, Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman, Wally Wolodarsky, Eric Anderson and Jarvis Cocker made their way between the Odeon and Empire cinemas to introduce both screenings. Meryl Streep was unable to attend due to flu.
Anderson told audiences: “We wrote some of the film at Roald Dahl’s house and we shot it at Three Mills Studio, so for me it really is a British film, and it’s a pleasure to have it premiere at the London Film Festival.”
Roald Dahl’s widow Felicity Dahl, who had given permission for Anderson and his co-witer Noal Baumbach to stay at Dahl’s family house in Buckinghamshire, was also in attendance. She said: “The minute I met him [Anderson] I knew he was the right guy for the film.”
Other guests gracing the red carpet included John Hurt, Cindy Crawford and Ben Kingsley.
The total capacity of the dual premiere was around 3000, significantly higher than last year’s opening night..
Festival director Sandra Hebron, who introduced Anderson, said: “The opening night is always exciting for us, but never more so than this year, when the world premiere has seen us spread across Leicester Square and occupy London’s two largest cinemas.”
Sam Horley, managing director of London based Sales Agent Salt, who had been watching the film in the Empire cinema described the dual premiere as an “absolutely brilliant idea”. She added: “By having two premieres you are able to double audiences and the fact that they introduced both, rather than just having a video link up to the other cinema, was very special.”
Still, it didn’t stop audiences speculating on which was the more “A-list” of the two venues.
The screenings were followed by a lavish after party at the Saatchi Gallery on London’s Kings Road.