The Scene: This summer's biggest premiere--"Batman Returns"--Tuesday at Mann's Chinese Theater. The backdrop included a two-block closure of Hollywood Boulevard; 3,000 star-watching fans--watched by two dozen L.A. police officers and 200 security guards; the Budweiser blimp overhead; plus 33 TV film crews and 100 photographers recording the event for history. With all this attention, you begin to expect something important to actually happen . What happened is the usual: They came, they saw, they clapped, they left.
The Locale: After the screening, guests drove over the hill to Warner Bros.' Burbank lot. The party was held on the massive Soundstage 16 (built in the '30s by William Randolph Hearst for Marion Davies) where part of "Batman Returns" had been filmed. The 1,000 guests entered through a 150-foot tunnel that opened onto a spectacular scene. The film's neo-industrial/heroic modernism-style takeoff on Rockefeller Center had been transformed into a 65-foot-high ballroom filled with colossal statues, staircases, wall hangings, each towering item seeming to be made of cement.
Key Emotion: Awe. Lots of it. Awe over the sets. Awe over the expected grosses. Awe over the realization that it all comes down to a weird guy who dresses up like a bat to fight crime.
Who Was There: The film's stars, Michael Keaton, Michelle Pfeiffer and Danny DeVito; director Tim Burton and producer Denise Di Novi; plus guests Arnold Schwarzenegger, Faye Dunaway, James Caan, Mickey Rooney, Mike and Judy Ovitz, Time Warner co-CEO Gerald Levin, Bob Daly, Terry Semel, Peter Guber, Jon Peters, Marvin and Barbara Davis, Harvey Keitel, Christian Slater, James Woods and Paul Reubens.
Quoted: "The main thing is Tim Burton," said Keaton. "He's got his handprints all over this. He's the star of this film as far I'm concerned."
Observed: A woman reacting to the news of the party location: "The premiere's at Grauman's and then you're supposed to drive to . . . Burbank!?"
Character Analysis: Cast member Vincent Schiavelli on The Dark Knight's appeal: "In an age when people feel disempowered, they want someone to rescue them," he said. "Batman provides that rescue."
Historical Footnote: Before "Batman" opened in 1989, some industry analysts predicted it would flop. They dubbed it "Howard the Bat." Amazingly, they still have jobs.