The world’s biggest and most popular movie magazine put together a weekend of film celebration and entertainment. Titled Empire Live and billed as 2016’s ultimate film and entertainment weekend, it took place at the 02 Arena on 23rd to the 25th September.
As with all such events there is always too much going on to sample everything but I was lucky enough to see some of the event’s highlights.
There was a Daniel Radcliffe-centric opening night with a red carpet and screenings of the unexpected critical hit Swiss Army Man and Imperium. Other pre-release movies over the weekend included the darkly comic War On Everyone, Louis Theroux’s first feature film My Scientology Movie, and the uniquely odd The Greasy Strangler.
There were also classics on show including Easy Rider, Aliens, Labyrinth and Don’t Look Back. Despite having a toddler obsessed with Frozen I missed the sing-a-long screening but many heralded it to be the highlight of the weekend especially when it started snowing! There was also a slime-a-long viewing of the original Ghostbusters which was exactly what it sounds like. The very popular Empire podcast hosted another of their live recordings with Luke Cage himself Mike Colter.
The highlight for me though was the so-called Empire Hub with their master classes and panels. These included an Ardman workshop, a live script reading of Trainspotting and some fascinating masterclasses including a humorous insight into the world of production design with four time Oscar-nominated Eve Stewart.
The best panel of the Empire Hub was Women On Screen that generated some great debate on the shocking Hollywood gender gap. Only 20% of film leads are female and only 6% of blockbusters have female directors. Partnered with Grazia, the panel, that included director Amma Asante and actress Natalie Dormer, recounted tales of sexism, marketing injustice, and the hope for a time when this conversation doesn’t need to happen because 50% of the population are represented as such in the industry and on screen.
Empire magazine has been a must read for all of my adult life and their last life event in 2011, Empire Big Screen, had a lot more to see and do outside the organised events including photos putting you in movie posters, stalls, merchandise and film studios selling their new releases to you. Empire Live had minimal stalls and less of a convention feel to it concentrating more on the celebration of live cinema without studio involvement. I do not know the official numbers but the event felt on a smaller scale to Big Screen in 2011 and that is my only criticism of the event. However any live event with the Empire brand will get me there. Hopefully this will be an annual event unlike Big Screen that was unable to produce a second outing.