I am back from my short trip to North Carolina for the Cars premiere and thought I would share my experience. I'm sure the staff here will have a better report since they were able to attend as press, but here is my report. A report from one of the minions.
My day began on Friday, waiting in the Pittsburgh airport for a seat to open up to Charlotte. I can fly for free as long as there is a seat open. After two planes took off without me, I got on the third one and landed in Charlotte around 1pm. After renting a car and finding my hotel, I was ready for the trip out to Lowes Motor Speedway. It was a perfect day in Charlotte until around 5pm. That is when the Heavens broke loose and rain came pouring down. It look me over an hour from downtown Charlotte to the racetrack 15 miles away. The rain slowed everyone down and once close to the track, the cars were standing still, waiting for their turn to get on property and find a parking spot. Thankfully the parking for the event was free. (Did you know Lowes wants $20 to park in their lot? I thought Disney was bad!) I actually got a good spot. I opened up my umbrella and headed towards the gates.
The line to get in was huge. People had been lining up for awhile, but they didn't let anyone in till 6pm. Since it was still raining, they handed out ponchos but told me I had to leave my umbrella at the gate. It was a Tinker Bell umbrella and I did not want to part with it, but I did. (I managed to find it again after the show.) Seating for me and 30,000 of my closest friends was around curve #2. They had erected four huge screens for the show. They were currently "down" because of the rain and would take a bit of time to get them up again. I bought a shirt and some pins for my kids back home and went to find a seat. I scored a good seat in the stadium in front of the stage they built on the field. Next to each screen was a much smaller TV screen that would broadcast the red carpet and close-ups of the performances on stage.
Entertainment was to begin at 6:30pm. A military band started it off with the National Anthem while some country singers sang (sorry, can't remember who, I am not a big country fan) and four F-16s flew by overhead. Real cool. Next a military persision(sp?) team entertained us. I use the term entertained very loosely. The crew at Lowes was working very hard to dry the track for a racing demonstration. There were eight cars and the pace car was manned by none other then Dick Cook. I'm sure the racers were somewhat big in the industry, but once again, I am not a big race fan so I'm afraid I couldn't tell you who they were. Some guy named D.W. won. He was in a Cars car and wearing a Cars jumpsuit. What were the odds on that?
During this "entertainment", an announcer would report on the red carpet while video was being fed to the TV screens. All the actors who provided voices were there, including Paul Newman, Owen Wilson, Bonnie Hunt and Larry the Cable Guy. John Lassetter and Bob Iger walked the carpet as well as race car drivers Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt Jr. The rain had stopped by now but the carpet was pretty wet! All the celebs were seated in the stands by screen #2. I don't know where Iger and Lasseter watched the movie, but it probably was not in the stands since it would sprinkle every now and then. You really needed to keep your poncho on.
Larry the Cable Guy was the MC and he introduced Iger, Lassetter, Newman and two charity CEOs to the stage where they presented two checks, each worth $500,000 to the CEOs. Unfortunately, that is all they did. Neither Iger nor Lassetter spoke. I was very disappointed. Now the musical portion of the night began with the musical group Dance on the Moon, or something like that. They had a lot of energy, but I'm afraid the audience was not too crazy about them. Country singer Brad Paisley was next and he got the stands rocking. Then a surprise appearance by Chuck Berry singing Beethoven and Route 66. I'm afraid he needs to retire. It was actually sad watching him perform. But that's just my opinion. Finally the movie began!
Now here is where I am going to disappoint you all and make you think I am crazy. I did not stay for the entire movie. The movie did not start till after 10pm and I had a 8am flight to catch the next morning and the thought of trying to leave with 30,000 people in an area I am not familiar with was enough to make me panic. I was sitting in the rain, watching a movie with the sound blaring and knowing I would be seeing it with my family in two weeks. I decided I had enough. I did see about 30 minutes of it and all I can say is I hope it gets better. Pixar's animation is beautiful, full of detail, but I just could not get into it. Like I said, maybe it will get better for me in a comfortable movie theater instead of watching it in the rain. Larry said to stick around for the fireworks, but I just couldn't.
Am I glad I went? I honestly don't know. I guess I am because I would have been wondering what it was like if I hadn't gone. I bought the tickets when they were first offered and booked a hotel and a car for the day so I kind of felt I needed to go. It was a bit of a hassel getting there and getting back home and the rained sucked, but that had nothing to do with the folks at Disney/Pixar. I believe they gave it their best shot and am glad they allowed so many "common folk" to attend, I was just not impressed. But I did get a t-shirt out of it and some good memories. I wish I could share some pictures, but I was afraid they would take my digital camera so I smuggled in a disposable that was not that great. It turns out I could have gotten my camera in since they barely looked in my backpack. Oh well, I'm sure the pros will have a fine report this week complete with pictures.
I hope you enjoyed my report. Thanks for reading.