Man on a Ledge premiere in LA
The day of the premiere started with a dark sky over Los Angeles. Rain was whipping the transparent plastic walls around the tables on the terrace of Hotel Petit Ermitage in in West Hollywood, Asger and Mikael Rieks were reading the showbizz media's reviews on their computers. They were pretty negative towards the film. A couple of reviewers thought the story was too incredible, not least the end. But they all thought the film was professionally well made. Asger had done a good job tying the loose ends together, the images were amazing, the cast well functioning, good actors making the story alive.
At 3 p.m. Asger had a meeting with Brian Glazer's Imagine-producers about a big new project. Later some of Asger's Danish friends joined us in the hotel's bar. Ulrik Wivel, Elvira Lind, David Dencik, Tue Wallin, Gregers Heering, Nicolaj Fuglsig, René Ezra. They had to leave before us, to pick up their tickets at the theater in the very tightly security-checked system. Asger and I were picked up by a limousine precisely 6.30 pm. Asger had asked me to accompany him on the Red Carpet. It was an honour, and I was proud.
A documentary crew from DR had been cleared to be with us in the limo, but they weren't allowed to follow us through the media set up. Big lamps were lighting the entrance of the legendary Grauman's Chinese Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard. First a couple of hundred still photographers had their classical shots in front of the film's poster, then reporters and cameramen from about fifty tv-channels. A pretty amazing sight. Wilder than the Tour de France 'mixed zone', I thought. I was impressed by Asger's relaxed and varied answers. It was like a film itself.
Then into the darkness in the Chinese's mythological cinema. And the film was rolling. Immediately it seemed to turn the audience into a happy atmosphere of suspense and excitement. High energy and visual imagination from the opening scenes and on. We got the dizzying view of Mid-Manhattan's street canyons thrown at us. It starts with Sam Worthington crawling out of a hotel room's window and standing on the ledge of Hotel Roosevelt's 21nd floor. Then flashback to his getting involved in a fight in the Sing Sing prison where he is a prisoner dressed in orange. Then he is allowed to attend a funeral of close family, and gets involved in another, this time well planned fight with his brother, during which he gets away from his prison guards and disappears after a dramatic car chase.
Read about the storyline another place, it is pretty wild, but the main element is that he is standing on the ledge threatening to jump, and that this scene is attracting a big New York crowd on the street. Only much later we understand that the attraction and chaos is part of a complicated heist to steal a diamond which again will prove his innocense in events that led to his being in prison. He needs the right setting for his false suicide threat. Elisabeth Banks plays a police psychologist who has a reputation for negotiating with suicide desperados, even if she lost a couple of them. There is a number of other policemen, some nasty and negative, others simply evil and even criminal. Ed Harris plays a wealthy, corrupt real estate mogul and diamond collector, the villain of the film. The plot thickens (he is very good).
There is big applause after the film.
Then after party in a big hall on top of the theatre. More people from Danish film are here, among them LA residents like Kim Magnusson, who, with Rieks, helped start Asger's career with the production of the groundbreaking documentary, 'Ghosts of Cité Soleil. Also present were former ballet dancer Alexander Kølpin, and actor Ulrich Thomsen, in town to cast a film he will shoot this year. The composer Mads Helleberg coming in from Sundance, he composed the score for one of the Danish entries.
Lots of food and drinks, a big open bar, individual tables where director and stars could invite their guests. Selected photographers were there to shoot pics with celebrities. All other guests had received instruction not to bring camera nor use cellphone. We knew there was an after-after party waiting for us at Petit Ermitage.
That became very animated. The owner Stephan had produced a big dark cake copy of the film's poster with the man on the ledge, only here with Asger's face replacing Sam Worthington's. I have a conversation with Asger's manager Darin, who tells me Asger has many proposals to consider. They are setting up meetings while he is here. He tells me he has a reputation of being good with actors, and that's very important in this town. I also talk with one of the producers who tells me he was impressed with Asger insisting on shooting all the dramatic ledge-scenes on location, instead of in a studio.
Later in the night, Nicolaj Fuglsig was the first one to jump into the pool. We all sat down around the outdoor fireplace on the roof and had our view over the lights of Los Angeles. I left the party at 4 am, others were staying.
Next day was hangover day, but it finished with a wonderful drive in cabriolet towards the sunset in Santa Monica. We stopped to take pics of a big billboard with Man on a Ledge. The sunset spectacular as always here. An incredible piece of pop art. With sharp edges of black sea towards the glowing sky.
And next day Asger had meetings again, with Sony and with Warner. And Thursday evening brought the precise and positive review in Wall Street Journal where among other good observations the reviewer says this about the director: '... (he) has directed only one other film, 'Ghosts of Cité Soleil', a highly stylized doc that revealed a soul yearning to breathe free of nonfiction. He has an instinct for weaving sturdy narrative fabric out of intersecting plot lines.' And Friday 27th the film will open in 2800 cinemas in the USA, plus in many cities around the world. 4500 prints have been made.
For the full Wall Street Journal review, please visit this link.