When Summit Entertainment asked Chad Hudson to produce the premiere for summer blockbuster “Twilight: Eclipse,” he realized the ministudio wanted a big-money extravaganza for a low-budget price.
So Hudson, president of Chad Hudson Events in Beverly Hills, came up with a solution: Plan several events at the same venue within a brief time frame. That way, they could share the cost of the “Eclipse” party with the other events.
Hudson found out that two other events were being staged about the time of “Eclipse”: the Los Angeles Film Festival Opening Gala on June 17 and Universal Pictures’ “Despicable Me” premiere party on June 27. “Eclipse” was right in the middle on June 24. The two other event planners agreed to use the same vendors for carpets, decoration, lighting, audiovisual equipment and catering.
Although cooperation made economic sense, it ran counter to Hollywood’s taboo against helping a competitor. However, Hudson and the other event planners agreed that because “Eclipse” appeals to teens, “Despicable” was for younger children and the film festival was for the art house crowd, their clients weren’t really competing.
“In 10 years of producing premieres, it’s the first time I’ve heard of studios helping each other by sharing vendors,” he said. “It allowed both studios and the festival to have larger events than they could have done alone.”
For Hudson, the final results proved the benefits of cooperation among competitors. He estimated that Summit cut the costs for the “Eclipse” premiere by 30 percent, with similar savings for the other parties involved. Since the typical studio premiere has a budget between $150,000 and $300,000, the savings could’ve neared six figures.
All the events took place at the Nokia Theater in the L.A. Live complex in downtown Los Angeles. The opening-night gala for the film festival was the smallest and simplest of the three events, with standard Hollywood glamour décor and a guest list of 1,000 people. Then came the “Eclipse” premiere, which required transforming the interior of a giant tent to look like moonlit forest. Workers brought in trees and constructed a faux snow-covered field and a giant model of a partially eclipsed moon. The party had nearly 3,000 guests.
Hudson hired design firm Angel City Productions to construct platforms that would work for both “Eclipse” and the “Despicable Me” event three days later, which also had about 3,000 guests. For the kid’s picture, the décor was switched from “Twilight” colors to neon yellow, and featured children’s games and a play wind tunnel.
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