Whew!!! The trip to Austin was exhausting. Well, not the trip, because that was only 2 1/2 hours. But everything after the trip just plumb wore me out.
We got to Austin in plenty of time to check into the hotel, get dinner, and run by the theater to pick up our tickets. Thank goodness we did, because the directions we had were terrible, the streets weren't marked, and if we had waited until dark to try to find the place we'd still be driving around Austin. We got the tickets around 6:30, and didn't see anyone in line, which surprised me.
I wanted to be back at the theater by 8:00, but was overruled, so we went back at 8:45. There were about 120 people already in line. The people directly behind us had driven in from Dallas. There was a film crew that I thought was from a local station, but turned out to be a documentary crew from Universal. We were obviously not the demographic they were interested in, because whenever they walked by us they literally turned the camera away. Middle Daughter was one of only two children in line; the other was a boy about 10. The rest of the crowd ranged from early twenties to early sixties. Browncoats know no age boundries.
The crowd was very polite and relatively quiet. Around 9:20 or so they let us in the theater so we could line up in the lobby. Then they announced the doors would open at 9:45, so we got some popcorn and settled in. Security was very tight. They checked everyone in line for cameras (which was annoying, since the 'Versal board specifically asked people to take pictures of themselves in line) and camera phones. Bags were searched. Pockets were ocassionally patted. We lined up against the wall to have our tickets checked and hands stamped.
The doors opened a bit late, but we eventually made our way into the theater and found pretty good seats, about halfway up but on the aisle (I'm a dead-center girl at heart; not surprising to anyone annoyed by my persistant middle-of-the-roadness). Suits were present. The documentary crew filmed everything. One audience member walked to the front of the theater, said "No talking" and held up a sign that said "Special Hell". She almost got a standing ovation, as did the two guys who showed up in knitted Jayne hats who had been sitting outside the theater since 3:00 that afternoon hoping for tickets.
Finally, everyone was settled in and a Universal Rep gave a little welcome speech. Then there was a pounding on the exit door, and he said, "There are some guys outside that wanted in but didn't have tickets, so I hope you don't mine if we let them in." The door opened, Ron Glass walked in, and the room exploded. Everone was on their feel cheering and then Nathan walked in and the cheering got even louder, which I didn't think was possible. They seemed genuinely overwhelmed by the reaction. They spoke briefly and clowned around a bit, then Nathan said, "I hope you don't mind if we watch the movie with you" and they grabbed some seats down front.
Then we got a short filmed welcome from Joss, which made everyone laugh and cry at the same time. Everyone involved with this movie just obviously loves it so much, and is so grateful for the support of fans and the opportunity to take this story to the big screen.
And then the movie started. And for the next two hours, the audience was on the edge of their seats. This movie grabs you in the first five minutes, shakes you like a dog with a chew toy, and doesn't let go until the absolute last frame. This is Joss at his most Josslike. He has said all along that the studio didn't interfere, and it shows.
The movie was exactly what I hoped it would be. Funny, dark, suspenseful, thrilling, shocking, warm, and everything I love about Joss in that it often managed to be all of those things at the exact same time. I think non-fans will enjoy it, although they might not have the same emotional reaction and some in-jokes might slip by them. It is different from Firefly, in that the pacing is much quicker. There just isn't time for the languid interactions and story unfolding that Joss was able to do in the series, but it is still very much a character-driven story. It is also much darker, but if you've listened to the commentaries you know that Joss intended the darkness all along, but Fox wouldn't allow it.
The crowd was well-pleased. Lots of laughs at the funny bits, holding-your-breath-silence during the tense bits, exploding cheers at the "yeah, baby" bits. The Suits were grinning from ear to ear and writing down comments from everyone. Standing ovation when it was over.
Then Nathan and Ron got up and did a Q&A session for about 45 minutes, which I will not repeat since most of the questions were about the movie. But they were very gracious, and Nathan is possibly the funniest person I've ever met. He knows how to work a crowd. He and Ron both managed to get in a few digs at Fox, which made the Universal reps snicker.
After the Q&A, a table was set up and Nathan and Ron signed mini posters for everyone. We all lined up by rows, and everyone was moving pretty quickly because it was already 1:00 a.m. and we knew the guys were tired. (They had flown in from London) I wasn't planning on saying anything, but when our turn came up Nathan saw Middle Daugher and said, "Hi, how are you doing?" and she got a bit tongue-tied, so I thanked them for coming and mentioned that we had driven in from Houston. Husband told them it was his birthday and this was his present from me, and Nathan wished him happy birthday and thanked us for coming so far. I said, "You came farther" and he laughed, and then we had to go.
I will say that I totally understand what happened to cyby when she first met Nathan at a con and burst out with, "OH MY GOD YOU ARE THE MOST HANDSOME MAN I'VE EVER SEEN IN MY ENTIRE LIFE" instead of the nice polite banter she had prepared. And Ron is also one good-looking man, and they are both incredibly down-to-earth and still a little overwhelmed by the fandom. They come across as people you would love to just hang out with at Denny's.
We were so wired, what with the movie (which literally left me shaking, but in a good way) and meeting Ron and Nathan, that it was after 2:00 before we were able to calm down enough to even try to get some sleep.
Today they anounced another round of sneak previews, same 10 cities plus 10 more. All showings sold out in under four hours - some venues sold out in under 15 minutes. I think Universal is just now realizing how big the Browncoat Army is.