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‘T3’s’ slingshot effect

Schwarzenegger works preem like a savvy politician

Arnold Schwarzenegger loomed large over Westwood Monday night — both as a 40-foot cutout atop the Mann Village theater and as an actor working a crowd lined with lookalike Terminators.

It is difficult to imagine a personality more in his element than Schwarzenegger at the “T3” preem. Standing with wife Maria Shriver next to a statue of himself, he greeted an array of well-wishers at the Wadsworth Theater after-party like a savvy politician.

Attendees including the pic’s Nick Stahl and Kristanna Loken, Warner Bros. CEO Barry Meyer, Oliver Stone, Michelle Rodriguez and Sean Hayes streamed around the guest of honor. Gesturing expansively around the open-air setting at various props from the film, Schwarzenegger basked in the attention like few have basked before.

“The really amazing thing is that I started out in the first movie as Goliath and now my character is David,” the star observed.

Many revelers had feted “T3” before — most notably in Cannes, where the film started to flex real PR muscle. But with Wednesday’s domestic bow finally at hand, the long-incubating sequel finally felt tangible.

“It’s such a payoff,” said Andy Vajna, one of the producers of the film with C-2 partner Mario Kassar. “We’ve been nervous wrecks all week.”

Intermedia topper Moritz Borman also radiated a sense of relief.

“It’s scary to do a picture of this size,” he said. “But it’s not pretentious. It’s a summer popcorn movie and it delivers.”

Despite all of the goodwill in Westwood, the film’s B.O. fortunes remained the crucial last hurdle.

Director Jonathan Mostow‘s response to a routine question applied to many of the revelers.

“How am I doing?” he said. “Talk to me next Monday.”

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