Disney’s “A Wrinkle in Time” premiere, held Monday night at Hollywood’s El Capitan Theater, took over an entire stretch of the boulevard as A-list stars like Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, director Ava DuVernay, and others gathered to celebrate the adaptation of the classic Madeleine L’Engle novel.
The film represents a milestone for DuVernay, who became the first woman of color to direct a live-action film with a budget bigger than $100 million. “A Wrinkle in Time” also features a multi-cultural cast, including Winfrey, Mindy Kaling, and newcomer Storm Reid in the lead role of Meg Murry. DuVernay noted that she set out to tell a story that could inspire a generation of children — girls in particular.
Meg Murry, DuVernay said, is “not a Jedi, she’s not a superhero — I love those movies, but this is just a regular girl in a plaid shirt and she saves the world.” “It’s a metaphor for what we all can do in our lives,” she added.
The film centers on Meg and her little brother, Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe), who have been without their scientist father, Dr. Alex Murry (Chris Pine), for four years after he used a concept known as a tesseract to travel to a new planet. Joined by Meg’s classmate Calvin (Levi Miller), the three set off to rescue Dr. Murry with the help of three mysterious astral travelers known as Mrs. Whatsit (Witherspoon), Mrs. Who (Kaling), and Mrs. Which (Winfrey).
“Black Panther” director Ryan Coogler praised DuVernay for her staunch support of him and other men and women she has championed. “Being here for her tonight is incredible because she’s put her arms around all of us, and taught us the way,” Coogler said. “We support each other. We give each other notes and talk through situations when they’re tough so we can learn from each other’s mistakes and build off each other’s victories.”
Justin Simien, director of the 2014 film “Dear White People,” praised Disney for backing films like “Black Panther” and “A Wrinkle in Time,” saying it has proven that “a great movie with black people in it” will bring audiences in droves. “People will show up and they will show up no matter how much we make the movie for if we promote it properly and we give them the budget they need,” Simien said. “(Disney) didn’t have to do it. They didn’t have to take that risk, but they do it time and time again, even with the ‘Star Wars’ franchises, making sure that black folks and Asian folks and women are in roles that traditionally they weren’t in in that series before. I think that’s really remarkable.”
The premiere and after-party at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel were themed for the colors of the cosmos, featuring brilliant hues of purple, gold, and blue.
Winfrey attracted the most well-wishers at her table at the after-party. Coogler, Martin Lawrence, Salma Hayek, and others stopped by to chat with her and take pictures.
Pine, before the screening, said it’s unsurprising that Winfrey has that effect wherever she goes. “I think that all of her success comes down to the fact that despite her larger-than-life personality and this glowing aura she has around her, is that she’s intensely interested in the other, in you and what your experiences are, what you like and what you’ve been reading,” Pine said. “Taking all that energy and focusing it outwards is pretty special.”
“A Wrinkle in Time” also stars Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Zach Galifianakis, Rowan Blanchard, Bellamy Young, and Michael Peña. It was produced by Jim Whitaker and Catherine Hand, based on a screenplay by Jennifer Lee (“Frozen”) and Jim Stockwell.
The film bows March 9.