The Reeler


May 1, 2007

Spider-Mania Sweeps Astoria

Maguire and Co. hit the street as black carpet welcomes hero back to the States

The King of Queens: Tobey Maguire greets the crowd at Monday's Spider-Man 3 premiere in Astoria (Photos: STV)

Even by Tribeca Film Festival standards, shutting down an entire city block for a movie premiere seems dramatic; while last year's Mission: Impossible 3 event at the Ziegfeld was mass chaos, at least 54th Street didn't go into lockdown. Not so for Monday's Spider-Man 3 premiere in Astoria, Queens, which swallowed a stretch of 38th Street with black carpet, a perpetual limo-cade and roughly 7,000 shrieking fans climbing, craning and tiptoeing into whatever positions best accommodated a glimpse at the stars through the press line.

"Look, I live in New York, so I wanted to premiere -- stop yelling!," cried Topher Grace, who plays the movie villain Venom but was helpless against the piercing, tireless wails of a girl across the street. "Stop! Please! It's distracting!" He sighed. "Sorry, I'm not used to this. This is by far the biggest film I've ever been in and this reception is the biggest premiere I've ever been to, so I'm just a little overwhelmed."

He wasn't the only one. Star Tobey Maguire was the film's lone top-liner to brave the adulation gantlet, never breaking his smile as he collected souvenirs and shook hands along the guard rail behind the carpet. The early arrivers -- stars like Theresa Russell and Bill Paxton -- stopped interviews as a marching band from Port Arthur High School rocked the Spider-Man theme to a climactic explosion of red and black confetti. A frail-looking Kirsten Dunst blew by in glimmering silver Versace. Director Sam Raimi, only halfway down the carpet with the screening running 45 minutes late, split as well, vexing interviewers and Spidey obsessives alike.

Actor James Franco, who just Sunday premiered his own directorial debut, Good Time Max, at Tribeca, said he looked forward to the Queens event since it was announced. "We've been doing premieres all over the world," he told The Reeler. "There's a lot of excitement. I watched the film once at the world premiere in Tokyo, but I wanted to wait to watch it again until I got here, because I knew this would be the best crowd. And I'm right. This is the biggest turnout and the most exciting."

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Aside from the migraine minority in the crowd ("Tobey, do you want my underwear? I haven't washed them yet!"), most fans in attendance seemed happy to play along with the spectacle. There was roaring on cue with camera lights, clusters congregated around news microphones. Robert Pineda, an Astoria resident who took the day off from his bank job to shadow the Spider-Man entourage from the Today Show to the Kaufman Astoria multiplex where he'd been waiting since 11 a.m., rifled through a bag of memorabilia that he'd brought along for possible autographs: graphic novels, action figures. It didn't quite work out, though he got a good look at Maguire during the actor's victory lap. "He was one of the decent ones," Pineda told me afterward. "But it wasn't for the fans. But overall, it was pretty good/amazing."

During his all-day wait, Pineda had acquainted himself with Jaime Rathor, who showed up an hour prior to him to land a good spot. And why not? It was her third Spider-Man premiere since the film franchise began. She caught the first two in London, where she lived at the time. Currently a student in Edmonton, Alberta, she flew to New York just for Spider-Man Week.

I asked her how this premiere compared to the first two. "Should I be honest?" she said. "Definitely the worst, but only because in Leicester Square you're right there, and you get to meet them all. They have to come through, and they shake hands. There's signing. And here, it was not for the fans -- it was for the media. You couldn't see any of them."

But when Tobey came over? "He was so awesome!" she said.

"It was pandemonium," Pineda said.

"Did you hear the explosion? The marching band?" Rathor asked.

Indeed. As it turns out, both have their tickets for this week's early screenings; Robert is set for the IMAX opening, while Rathor's stay through May 5 has her booked at additional Spider-Man Week events. "I'm going to see it here, for sure -- at least two or three times," she said. "And of course, the Tribeca double-header. All the way to midnight, for sure."

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