A ‘Pearl’ preem to remember

Battleships, fireworks, and then there was the movie

HONOLULU — Even by Disney and producer Jerry Bruckheimer standards, Monday’s premiere of “Pearl Harbor” aboard a 97,000-ton Navy ship — brought in from San Diego — was unique.

“The next premiere will be on the moon,” Bruckheimer joked during Monday night’s seven-hours-plus event attended by the film’s stars and filmmakers, military personnel, Pearl Harbor attack survivors and Hawaii notables like Gov. Benjamin Cayetano.

The $5 million junket brought news media to the Aloha State from the mainland, Canada and Europe to work and play, including tours of the USS Stennis, Arizona Memorial, USS Missouri and every military base on Oahu. “We’re getting 10 times the cost of this thing in publicity,” Bruckheimer said.

Guests watched at sunset as eight Navy SEAL paratroopers jumped out of a Black Hawk helicopter 5,000 feet above. Then all stood in silence as four F-15 fighter jets from the Hawaii Air National Guard flew over the carrier in a “missing man” formation to honor the more than 2,400 Americans killed in the attack, which drew the United States into World War II.

The film was then shown. Disney made a one-of-a-kind print designed for the outdoor setting to guarantee state-of-the-art quality. The print will be retired, a Disney official said.

When the movie ended, a massive fireworks display lit up the harbor with a deafening finale that rained down sparkles on the memorial and the USS Missouri battleship nearby.

At the conclusion of the fireworks, elevators shuttled guests between parties on the flight deck and the hangar deck below.

Disney turned the Stennis’ hangar deck into a 1940s USO club, with the Honolulu Symphony Pops orchestra –reportedly getting about $100,000 –playing pre-Pearl Harbor-era music.

The U.S. Navy required Disney to buy insurance against damage to the ship.

Catering expenses were more than $250,000: about $87,000 for media for five days and $150,000 for the gala dinner.

However, studio topper Peter Schneider took a higher view: “Anything that honors American history, brings life to it, informs people about it, is very good. More people will know about the Arizona Memorial because of this movie. They’ll think about Pearl Harbor … they’ll come celebrate here and discover the true meaning of what happened, and I think that’s good.”

Bruckheimer observed, “We had all the nurses here, all the veterans here, and it broke your heart when they stood up and saluted while (Pearl Harbor survivor Richard Fiske) played ‘Taps.’ The Doolittle Raiders were here. I mean, it was an honor to them, and they were thrilled with the movie. Their legacy lives on.”

Among those honoring the legacy were Disney honchos Roy Disney, Robert Iger, Dick Cook, Nina Jacobson, Mark Zoradi and Oren Aviv; director Michael Bay, exec producers Mike Stenson, Barry Waldman and Chad Oman; stars Ben Affleck, Kate Beckinsale, Josh Hartnett, Cuba Gooding Jr., Alec Baldwin, Dan Aykroyd, Tom Sizemore, James King, Ewen Bremmner, William Lee Scott, Michael Shannon, Catherine Kellner and Cary Tagawa; and military brass Dennis Blair, Thomas B. Fargo, William Begert, Edward C. Correa, Frank Libutti, Joseph McClelland, Edwin P. Smith and Richard K. Gallagher.

(Abbi Toushin and the Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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