Mel, muskets muster revolutionary praise

'Patriot' preem sets off fireworks, and so does the after-party

HOLLYWOOD — It’s a good sign when a producer not affiliated with a film leaves a premiere and says: “I want to manipulate audiences like that!”

Such was the case at Tuesday’s preem of “The Patriot” (which one woman said should have the tagline: “The Revolutionary War — this time it’s personal”) at the Loews Century Plaza. Wolfgang Petersen, whose “The Perfect Storm” opens against “The Patriot” this weekend, called the pic “a big, great movie. It’s Roland’s (Emmerich) best.”

Another industryite praised the film for “pulling every cornball, jingoistic string you can think of. It’s going to do huge business.”

As for opening against “The Perfect Storm,” producer Dean Devlin said, “The good news for both pictures is we’ve seen the marketplace expanded to where two films can make more than $20 million in one weekend. I think we’re both going to do fine and then really it’s about the legs.”

Among those who legged over from the theater to the outdoor party (which featured seven minutes of fireworks) were Sony’s John Calley, Amy Pascal, Gareth Wigan and Bob Levin; producers Mark Gordon and Gary Levinsohn; director Emmerich; stars Mel Gibson, Heath Ledger and Joely Richardson; plus 1,700 guests including Joe Roth, Tom Sherak, Ed Limato, Helen Hunt, Tony Bill, Robert Towne, Charlize Theron, Bill Paxton, Steve Stabler, Nick Reed, Doug MacLaren, Cher and Kato Kaelin.

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