Spring may finally be in the air, but the Game of Thrones fans who descended on New York’s Barclays Center know winter is coming. The fourth season of HBO’s increasingly popular medieval fantasy-drama will premiere on April 6, but 7,000 people who bought tickets to the Brooklyn event were treated to an advance screening of the season’s first episode, along with a brief panel discussion with several cast members and author George R.R. Martin, whose books form the basis for the television show.
The show’s plot combines a long war between several noble houses in Westeros, but with elements of magic and fantasy —including dragons and the undead— in the mix. ‘Winter is coming’ is the motto of the Stark House, which saw several of its members killed in the climax of the third season that aired in the spring of 2013. That event, known popularly as the ‘Red Wedding’ among viewers, boosted interest in a show already known for surprising audiences with the unexpected demise of important characters.
Fans swarmed the arena for a chance to sit on the Iron Throne, the king’s seat in the fictional world of Westeros, where the series takes place, see costumes used in the show, and buy merchandise, including a recently released hip-hop album, Catch the Throne, inspired by the series. The rapper Common appeared at the arena to perform his song, The Ladder, which appears on the soundtrack. The third season averaged 14.2 million viewers across all viewing platforms, according to HBO parent Time Warner, which makes it HBO’s second-most-popular show of all time, trailing only The Sopranos.
With each season composed of just 10 episodes, it’s been a long wait since the previous season’s shocking end. Many attendees said they busied themselves with reading or re-reading the books or revisiting old episodes. “I’ve been re-reading, and then really keeping up with what’s going on with the show,” said Jillian Tam, 21, who was in line to take pictures on the Iron Throne.
Fans cited the show’s ability to present nuanced characters that fall along the moral spectrum, and whose biggest struggles are often not with other-worldly creatures, but personal relationships with family members.
“Out of a lot of shows and movies, there is a lot more in the way of complex character-building,” said Nadine Fentner, 23, of Queens, New York. “You can’t say a lot of them are totally bad or totally good.”
Fentner and her companions were among those who came costumed as their favourite characters; the most popular costume among fans seemed to be of Daenerys Targaryen, also known as the ‘Mother of Dragons’, who is played by Emilia Clarke and is on a long journey to try to conquer Westeros. The lines to sit on the thrones— there were four different ones in the arena concourse— were so long that ushers started cutting off the lines so fans would not miss the show. One fan, had earlier decided not to wait in the lengthy queue, but instead found himself the lucky winner of a full-size replica of the throne itself when Martin announced his ticket seat during the pre-show. “I have no idea where I’m going to put it,” he said.
Universal Pictures’ slate of films
Includes Angelina Jolie’s second directorial venture Unbroken
Cars falling from the sky in Fast & Furious 7, clips from Angelina Jolie’s directorial project Unbroken, and the first look at erotic novel adaptation Fifty Shades of Grey provided a glimpse of Universal Pictures’ upcoming movie slate. In the footage, shown to theater owners at the CinemaCon gathering in Las Vegas, a clip from the seventh installment of the Fast and Furious action franchise featured some of the final scenes filmed by actor Paul Walker before his sudden death in a California car crash in November last year.
Walker and other co-stars including Vin Diesel are seated in cars before the cargo door of a plane opens, and the vehicles drive out and plunge toward the ground, deploying parachutes for a safe landing. The film will hit the screens in April 2015. Its release was delayed by nine months after Walker died in the middle of filming. Actor-director Jolie also appeared on stage to promote Unbroken, a drama she directed about Louis Zamperini, a 1936 Olympian who became a prisoner of war when his plane was shot down over Japan during World War II. Jolie said she was drawn to Zamperini’s story, one of a hero who wasn’t perfect and had started smoking, stealing and drinking by the age of nine. “Its message is one we all need now more than ever,” Jolie said. The film brings audiences, “face to face with darkness, and tells us to never give up,” Jolie added. The movie stars Jack O’Connell and will be released on Christmas Day (December 25) this year. CinemaCon is a four-day convention in Las Vegas where movie studios promote their upcoming films to theater owners with sneak peaks and appearances by actors and directors.
Universal, a unit of Comcast Corp, ended its presentation with clips from Fifty Shades of Grey, starring Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan. “Mr. Grey will see you now,” Johnson’s character, Anastasia Steele, is told before she is ushered in to a meeting that will take her into a tumultuous relationship. Other scenes showed the pair in the office and at a coffee shop, highlighting their chemistry. The studio didn’t show any explicit sex scenes. The trilogy of novels by British author E. L. James, about a young billionaire businessman who seduces a college student into a relationship involving bondage and dominance has sold more than 90 million copies worldwide.
Universal Pictures’ Chairman Donna Langley said she is often asked, “how do you make a movie out of Fifty Shades of Grey?”
“The studio chose actors who, “could turn this film into the next iconic film romance,” said Jolie. The movie will reach theaters on February 13, 2015 the day before Valentine’s Day.