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So You’re Going to a Movie Premiere!

The Top 10 Things You Need to Know Before You Hit the Red Carpet

If you've been invited to a movie premiere, you're probably wondering what to wear, how movie premieres work, and what happens at a movie premiere. Here are 10 tips from Jen at mydreamcametrue.com that will help you have a magical time. Be sure to also check out Jen photos and reviews of her experiences at the Finding Dory premiere and after party and at the Divergent premiere!

Me on the Finding Dory blue carpet at the El Capitan Theatre

1. Wear an outfit that makes you feel like a star.

You don't have to spend a lot of money or even necessarily go shopping. Unless you're a celebrity, you probably won't be photographed by the media on the red carpet, so what matters the most is that you wear something that makes you feel special. For my first premiere, I bought a department-store dress that made me feel like a princess. It gave me the extra bit of confidence that I needed to float around the premiere and afterparty like I belonged there.

If your invitation does not specifically mention a dress code, then you will be on your own to decide how dressy or casual you want your outfit to be. If you'd like to get ideas of what attire others will be wearing, check out celebrity red carpet photos for recent, similar movie premieres in the same city or theater or venue as the premiere you will be attending by doing an image search online. Daytime premieres (eg. animated movies) are often more casual than evening premieres. Non-celebrities are usually dressed in outfits that are a little less formal than celebrities, however, if you have a red-carpet look that you'd like to wear, go for it.

2. Bring a photo ID and a copy of whatever confirmation information you have to the will-call tent.

Unless you are a big-name celebrity and your limousine will be dropping you off on the red carpet, you will need to check in at a will-call tent to receive your tickets. If for some reason your name is not on their list, you will need to provide information to allow your invitation to be confirmed. Having something in writing (including the name and contact details of the person who confirmed the invitation) gives me piece of mind.

Will call area at the Planes premiere
Will call area at the Planes premiere

3. When you check in at will call, check whether you are invited to the after party.

After the premiere, an after party (see below) is usually held at a nearby location. Generally, not everyone who is invited to the movie premiere is invited to the after party. If you are invited, you will usually be given a special pass that you will need in order to enter the party.

4. Be prepared NOT to walk the red carpet.

You might be surprised to learn that not everyone who goes to a red carpet premiere gets to walk the red carpet. I was. At my first premiere, I was ushered into the theater lobby through a side entrance.

Unless you're a celebrity, you will most likely bypass the red-carpet area where the news media and photographers interview the celebs. At some premieres, you'll be escorted into the theater through a side entrance; at others you will walk a roped-off portion of the carpet.

Celebrity drop off area at the premiere of Red Riding Hood at the TCL Chinese Theatre
(Note that non-celebrities entered the theater through a separate entrance.)

Walking down the red carpet at Disney's Planes premiere
The view while walking down the roped-off portion of the Planes red carpet

Bonus thing to know: The red carpet might not be red!

This probably isn't essential for you to know in advance, but don't count on the red carpet being red. Nowadays, carpets come in all colors. For example, white (Disney's Frozen), black (Divergent), green (Lion King 3D), light-blue (Finding Dory), red with an airplane runway (Disney's Planes).

Black carpet at the Divergent premiere in Westwood

Overhead view of the white carpet at the Frozen premiere at the El Capitan Theatre

Bustling green carpet at the Lion King 3D premiere at the El Capitan Theatre

5. If you bring your camera or cell phone, be prepared to check it.

Before entering the theater auditorium, there is usually an area where security staff collect cameras and phones. They return these after the movie. Guests must often pass through a metal detector and get "wanded." If small bags are allowed, they are usually searched.

6. Beverages and popcorn at the concessions stand are probably free.

The buckets of popcorn and beverages that you'll see sitting on the concessions stand counter at a red-carpet movie premiere are usually free for the taking. If you're not sure, stand back and watch for a minute.

7. Inside the theater, celebrities do not expect to be approached by fans.

Once inside the theater, you will see celebrities socializing with their friends and colleagues. Because cameras, press, and fans are not generally allowed inside the theater, celebrities are usually not approached by people that they don't know.

8. The movie screening IS the event.

When it's time for the screening, there might be a quick introduction by the director, and then the film, without any preview trailers, is screened in its entirety. After the screening is over everyone leaves.

The author on the Planes red carpet after the premiere
The Planes red carpet after the premiere

9. If you are invited to the afterparty, GO!

Even if it's late. Even if you have plans the next day. Every afterparty that I've attended has been amazing. Generally, they have theming appropriate to the movie, entertainment, and a tasty buffet. Sometimes, small movie-themed gifts are given out as party favors. Cameras are sometimes allowed at the afterparty. Most people don't take too many photographs, however taking an occasional photo shouldn't raise eyebrows.

The afteparty turned preparty entrance at Disney's Planes premiere
The afterparty entrance at the Planes premiere

10. Relax and enjoy yourself.

These were the only words of advice given to me before my very first movie premiere, by a friend's friend who is a Hollywood publicist (coincidentally, she happened to be at that premiere with one of her clients), and it was the advice that I needed the most: "Relax and enjoy yourself!"

My first movie premiere was very important to me because I was actually in the movie (I had a very small speaking role). I was extremely nervous because I wanted it to be special, and, because I forced myself to follow that publicist's advice, the experience was magical … even though I had to figure out tips 1-9 by myself.

May your movie premiere experience be just as magical!

The El Captain Theatre marquee reflection in one of the VIP limousine windows
The El Captain Theatre marquee reflection in a limousine window

Thanks for reading!
~ Jen (California, USA)

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The Big Bang Theory (2013-2014 Season)
The Big Bang Theory (2011-2012 Season)
Two and a Half Men (2011-2012 Season)
The Ellen DeGeneres Show (Riff-Raff Room)
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American Idol taping
American Idol finale
Today show

Jen's list of bucket-list-worthy things to do in Los Angeles

Reviews of red-carpet movie premieres:
Finding Dory premiere and afterparty
Divergent premiere
Disney's Planes premiere and pre-party
The Lion King 3D premiere
Red Riding Hood premiere
Disney's Frozen premiere

Top things to know if you're going to a movie premiere without a ticket

Attending a hand and footprint ceremony at TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood

Visiting the Oscars red carpet the day before the Oscars

Dining at Disneyland's Club 33

Performing in a show at Disneyland

Auditioning for Universal Studios Hollywood

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Read Jen's science fiction novels: Above the Sky and The Unknown