Sir Ridley Scott came to London to present the first 12 minutes of his Alien prequel, Prometheus. Rich Phippen went down to see what all the fuss is about.
It's becoming pretty standard for big summer releases to get extended previews, well in advance of release.
As he would later admit in the Q&A that followed the opening 12 minutes of Prometheus, Sir Ridley Scott is a businessman who has no issue with the studio, in this case Fox, making as much money as possible from his work.
It's why he's embraced 3D for the first time. Why he doesn't have a problem with the movie being cut in order to achieve a family-friendly certificate. It's why he's willing to let a room full of journalists see a chunk of his movie long before it's released...
It's 9am in Leicester Square. Tourists are beginning to mill about. Some are wondering why a crowd of fanboys, bloggers, journos and geeks are streaming toward an apparently closed cinema. Little do they know, several major Hollywood stars are preparing to be grilled by a fanbase that probably knows more about the mythology of the movie they made than perhaps even they do.
After a brief breakfast (fancy yogurt granola and mini-pastries, no less), the viewing theatre fills up. 3D glasses are donned, the screening begins.
It's a cave. Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) is bashing a wall and peering in. Her partner, Charlie (Logan Marshall-Green) is there too. They break into the cave and are not entirely surprised, but ecstatic to find a painting in the cave. "It's at least 30,000 years old," exclaims Charlie.
We soon cut to the Prometheus, an exploratory ship headed towards an as-yet undesignated location. We begin to notice the 3D a little more - the on-screen text is laid nicely in the foreground. This is looking more like an Alien movie. A ship slipping through space, its crew members sound asleep.
Cut to on-board the ship. David (Michael Fassbender) is walking around on his own. Using an "economy of movement", as he later explained, it's clear from the off that David is this Alien's android.
Soon the crew members being to awake. Groggy, and sick, shaking with shock. This early version of cryogenics clearly not as developed as that of Alien and Aliens.
This is when we first find out what kind of character Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron) is. Hard as nails, cold as ice with a mean streak the size of Captain Dallas's beard. She's not groggy - she's doing press ups.
It's time for the briefing. The crew are about to discover what their mission is. Cue a holographic video featuring an 80-odd year old Peter Wayland (Guy Pearce). He's talking about his dream of finding out about the birth of civilasation. He thinks the maps Shaw and Charlie found will lead to the truth.
And that truth is apparently on the distant planet, LV-223 (that's not, repeat NOT the same planet as that at the beginning of Alien), that the crew are about to land upon.
Charlie and Elizabeth fill in the details, where the maps came from, what they show. Where they're going... before we see Prometheus land. Fade out.
The lights come up, and the cast in attendance come out. Fassbender looking typically, and effortlessly, cool. Theron every inch the stunner. Rapace's dress is the sexiest thing in the room. With Fassbender and Theron to her left, that's a hell of an achievement.
Sir Ridley sits with Empire Magazine's Chris Hewitt, who asks the questions. Then the mic is turned over to the audience. Ridley fields questions about 3D ("It's really simple to do!"), production design, Alien references (it's NOT the same planet!), and film classification (the BBFC need to pull themselves together, apparently).
It also turns out he hates to be called Sir Ridley.
Fassbender avoids talking as much as possible, but does enjoy larking around with Theron, who drops the F-bomb on at least three occasions.
Rapace is a little more introverted, but more interesting for it. She explains how she came to meet Ridley, who wanted to work with her as soon as he finished watching Dragon Tattoo, and that she draws very little comparison beyween her character and that of Alien's Ripley.
She also reveals the existence of a scene that gave her nightmares. A scene Ridley Scott admits is this film's equivalent to the infamous chest burster sequence.
Before we know it, the morning is over and the movie stars are ferried off to the Soho Hotel to be quizzed by the media.
Ridley goes with them. His work here is done; he's left an audience crying out for more, an audience that'll go straight to their websites, newspapers and Twitter feeds to tell the world exactly how excited they should be.
And rightly so. Ridley Scott's protestations that this movie is only part-Alien prequel don't ring true when you see the standard conventions - cryogenics, red collar crews in space, the space jockey, a field of 'eggs' et al - but there's something else going on here. Something we've yet to see or hear about. And you should all be very, very excited.