It’s good to own a theme park.
The Mouse House put its most iconic piece of real estate to maximum use for the Saturday preem of “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest,” offering everything from a 2,000-foot red carpet down Main Street past thousands of screaming fans to an outdoor screening just yards from the revamped ride that inspired the movie.
“It deserves this kind of hoopla,” said production prexy Nina Jacobson.
The park was shut down at 5 p.m., with paying guests gently herded out of every nook. However, they were allowed to linger along Main Street during the arrivals. And the screaming reception from fans (Disney estimated them at 25,000) was staggering.
“You can’t manufacture this kind of enthusiasm,” said marketing prexy Oren Aviv.
The invite mentioned “pirate garb,” which Dennis Rodman interpreted as black leather jacket with red sarong over khaki slacks. Marilyn Manson, on the other hand, took it as a command to be photographed with a pirate-garbed Mickey Mouse.
Along the red carpet, Disney had “pirate improv groups” (bearded, club-wielding thugs who approached guests and said “We’re from security. We have to take your valuables”); small bands singing “Yo ho! Yo ho! A pirate’s life for me!”; jugglers; and six “pirate babes” who looked like modestly dressed Laker cheerleaders.
A five-piece band of costumed musicians — including a profusely sweating tuba player — played their instruments while stilt-walking down the packed red carpet. As they passed, composer Hans Zimmer looked over and said: “Now that’s a man who is passionate about tuba.”
Of course, the big event was the appearance of Johnny Depp, who made a point of signing every autograph with an obsessive intensity.
The red carpet ended at the gates of Adventureland, where guests could go on the Pirates, Haunted Mansion and Splash Mountain rides, and then eat at any of five buffets before the sun set.
The tickets requested aud members take their seats by 8:15 p.m., but the pic didn’t unspool until a few minutes before 10.This left the thankless task of entertaining the seated crowd to a 12-piece band set on Tom Sawyer’s rafts doing covers of “Proud Mary” and “Everyday People.”
However, the 1,800-strong crowd, which included Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger wearing what appeared to be a ping-pong-ball-size, pirate-like silver skull ring, was remarkably docile throughout the wait.
Disney had set up “bleachers,” but they were fairly luxurious, with stadium seating and an airline-style blanket on each numbered seat. These were the same seats the Mouse House has used for other outdoor preems, including “Pearl Harbor” in Hawaii.
They faced a 100-by-50-foot screen set across the river on Tom Sawyer’s Island. Film was projected with three 2K digital projectors going simultaneously to ensure sufficient brightness.
Again, Disney put the park’s props to full use with the talent arrival: The ship Columbia was redone as the ghostly Black Pearl, making for a much more impressive sight than stars arriving in limos in Westwood.
“Dick Cook knows we’re in the entertainment business,” said producer Jerry Bruckheimer. “He knows how to launch a movie.”