Page last updated at 22:17 GMT, Thursday, 19 June 2008 23:17 UK

Bigger better at Caspian premiere

By Liam Allen
Entertainment reporter, BBC News

Bigger was definitely better for 10,000 film fans at London's O2 arena on Thursday night.

Lizo Mzimba reports on the UK's 'biggest ever' premiere

They were there for the premiere of The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, the follow up to 2005's The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe which took a whopping 381m ($750m) at the box office.

It was an event which organisers boasted had, among other things:

  • The biggest audience for a UK premiere
  • The biggest cinema screen - at 91ft by 38ft - ever constructed in Europe
  • The biggest ever venue for a film screening in Europe

The 190m-long red - and, bizarrely, partly green - carpet gave every one of the 10,000 ticket-holders the chance to feel like a film star as they walked down it on their way into the arena.

Fans were also treated along the way to a recreation of the gateway to Narnia, music and fighting knights.

Nathan and Kyle Catherall
We knew we were going to get a surprise but we didn't know it was going to be this big - going to the O2 arena
Nathan Catherall

But the most important thing about the scale of the event was not that it made for impressive statistics.

It was the fact that so many members of the public got to play such an integral role in the premiere of a major film - a point not lost on young Nathan Catherall from West Wickham, in south-east London.

The 10-year-old, along with brother Kyle, 8, was brought along as a surprise by mum Louise.

"We knew we were going to get a surprise but we didn't know it was going to be this big - going to the O2 arena," he said.

"I've never been to a film premiere before - I want to see the person who plays Peter and the person who plays Prince Caspian."

And, despite the size of the event, the long walkway leading into the arena meant that many fans got a good sighting of the stars of the film as they stopped to speak to press as well as to sign autographs and pose for pictures.

'Best premiere'

Fan Daisy England arrived at 1400 BST, hours before the stars began to arrive, in order to "get a good place".

Daisy England
You get invited to actually go and see the film - that's what I like the best
Daisy England

The 21-year-old, who travelled all the way from Chesterfield, in Derbyshire, said at the start of the night that it was her best premiere experience so far. She said she had previously been to Harry Potter premieres in central London.

"You get the red carpet, the green carpet, people drumming.

"And you get invited to actually go and see the film - that's what I like the best."

She said she was keen to see the film's stars as well as "anybody else who wants to turn up".

She may have been disappointed that, outside of the cast, other big celebrities were conspicuous by their absence.

Rejects from the BBC One's The Apprentice, however, were more than willing to sign autographs.

It was lucky then that, among the Prince Caspian cast, is one of Hollywood's biggest stars - Liam Neeson, who voices Aslan the lion in the film.

Ushered off

Neeson, 56, who told the BBC News website it was "great to be in London", exuded star quality as he played the crowd.

He stopped to chat to so many fans that he was eventually hurriedly ushered into the arena by an official so as not to miss the start of the film.

Ben Barnes
Ben Barnes received the attention of screaming girls

If the reaction of female fans outside the O2 is anything to go by, Ben Barnes - Prince Caspian himself - could be set to follow Neeson in becoming a UK export with significant box office clout.

Barnes, 26, said his previous experience in theatre had not prepared him for Prince Caspian.

"I've had to learn a new skill of psyching yourself up to do tiny little moments every day and obviously two-and-half hours on stage takes two-and-half hours.

"Two-and-a-half hours on a movie can take seven months or a year so it's been a big change," he adds.

"And I never had this many people waiting for me backstage after a show."

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19 May 08 |  Entertainment
Apted to direct third Narnia film
20 Jun 07 |  Entertainment
Third Narnia film delayed to 2010
20 Sep 07 |  Entertainment
Caspian to be second Narnia movie
18 Jan 06 |  Entertainment

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