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Monday, 21 May, 2001, 16:01 GMT 17:01 UK
All eyes on Pearl Harbor première
Josh Hartnett (left), Kate Beckinsale and Ben Affleck
Cast members pose for cameras ahead of screening
By Peter Bowes in Hollywood

Hollywood stars and war veterans will be rubbing shoulders on Monday night at an extravagant première party for Pearl Harbor.

The Disney studio has transformed a US Navy aircraft carrier, the USS John C Stennis, into a gigantic screening room at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii.

USS John C Stennis deck
Workers prepare the deck of the ship for the screening
The film starring Ben Affleck, Kate Beckinsale and Josh Hartnett, cost $140m (£97m) to make and no expense has been spared for the opening night.

The première party is reportedly costing Disney $5m (£3.5m) - but the movie's producer Jerry Bruckheimer, believes it will be money well spent.

"I always thought we should have a premère here. I never expected them to do something as elaborate as this," he told the BBC in Pearl Harbor.

The USS Stennis is moored a few hundred yards from where the attack on 7 December 1941 began.

The ship is opposite a memorial for the 900-strong crew of the USS Arizona, who died when the ship sank in the first 30 minutes of the surprise attack.

Also moored nearby is the USS Missouri, on whose deck Japan signed surrender documents in 1945.

'Best thing'

Mr Bruckheimer said he expected the event to receive blanket coverage by American news programmes.

"Based on the reports I'm getting from back in LA it's getting five minutes on the eleven o'clock news.

Josh Hartnett
Josh Hartnett is tipped as a future star
"It's the best thing that we could have done for this picture," he says.

Bruckheimer, whose earlier credits include The Rock and Armageddon, has acknowledged that the film's budget almost proved a sticking point in getting the project into production.

"History wasn't on our side to be honest with you," he says.


"Look at pictures that were on water, like this one, that became very, very costly. Look at Jaws - Titanic is another example."

In my mind it's a great testament to the fact that people still care

Ben Affleck
Bruckheimer explains that executives at Disney had to be persuaded that the film-makers would not be thrown off course through the unpredictability of the weather.

"Once we convinced them that we can make it for a certain price, and we'd live up to our word, the picture finally got green-lighted."

The film, directed by Michael Bay, is more of a love story than a war-time epic.

The surprise attack in 1941 by the Japanese on the US Naval base at Pearl Harbor provides the backdrop for a romantic triangle featuring a navy nurse played by Beckinsale and two pilots - Affleck and Hartnett.


The film-makers insist that meticulous research was carried out to make the three hour epic as true to life as possible - although some stretching of the truth has taken place for the sake of drama.

Kate Beckinsale:
Kate Beckinsale said the set was spartan
Ben Affleck says he believes the film respects the memories of the 2,436 Americans killed in the bombing - and that the picture should serve as a tribute to war veterans.

"In my mind it's a great testament to the fact that people still care. People are still interested.

"And that these sacrifices that were made by men and women my grandparents age live on," he says.


Many veterans will be among the 2,000 guests expected at tonight's premiere.

Affleck says he is proud to be part of the film.

Pearl Harbour
Pearl Harbor has received mixed early reviews
"I'm glad that there will be so many of the survivors here still to see this. And I certainly hope they feel honoured because this is meant as a tribute to them."

While much as been made of the cost of the film, Kate Beckinsale is quick to point out that it was not a lavish production.

"It really was quite spartan. It wasn't a luxurious set at all," she says.

"I didn't have an amazing trailer or anything like that. All the money was really up on the screen. I think I earned more money making The Golden Bowl than I did making this.


"In England everybody is very excited that I'm going to make several million dollars back-end - and I wish that was true. It was very much not like that."

Early critical reaction has been mixed.

Ben Affleck
Ben Affleck: "The film is a tribute to the survivors"
Gayl Murphy from Ultimate DVD Magazine, was among a group of journalists at the first screening in Pearl Harbor.

"It's really spectacular - it's got everything," she says. However, she adds, "the look of the movie is so slick it's almost too slick."

Murphy predicts that actor Josh Hartnett is set to be Hollywood's next heart-throb.

"This is going to make Josh the new poster boy. He's great looking - he's broody and moody."

But the film critic for Newsweek said that "almost every line of dialogue sounds like it came from an old movie".

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20 Apr 00 | Entertainment
Pearl Harbor movie row
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