Last night's world premiere of Laika's Coralinewas everything it was cracked up to be: Swank, star-studded and self-congratulatory. The gala at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall began with a red-carpet press scrum, with reporters and photographers jostling for the opportunity to ask Dakota Fanning what she thought of Portland ("It's beautiful") and query Phil Knight about whether his $70 million investment was worth it. "Ask me on Monday," he said with a laugh. (Who was the $9.8 billion man wearing? Nike, of course: a pair of silver-and-black trainers.)
Then inside to the premiere, where about 1,000 audience members—including delegations from Laika and Weiden + Kennedy, as well as Coraline author Neil Gaiman and Rep. Peter Dembrow—listened to a speech from Phil Knight, who introduced Gov. Ted Kulongoski, who introduced NW Film Center director Bill Foster, who introduced Phil's animator son Travis Knight, who introduced director Henry Selick, who introduced the movie. Yes, that's five speakers, and if you're wondering if they each had a number of people to thank (and, in the case of the governor, an economic stimulus package to plug), yes, they certainly did.
Then the movie itself (still magical! Still with jumping mice!), accompanied by bags of popcorn and bottles of Pepsi-affiliated beverages. After, the charmed crowd relocated to the Portland Art Museum, where the miniature sets from the movie had been artfully arranged in the Mark Ballroom, Laika animators stood by their actual desks and explained how they crafted the characters, and two VIP lounges were guarded by beefy security. (Fanning and Teri Hatcher occupied the couches in lounge 1, while the Knights hosted the politicos in lounge 2.) Also there were bright-pink Cosmopolitans, which may explain why Willamette Weekdoesn't have only has a few photos of this part of the evening.
It was quite the coming-out party, overall, though at least one arts patron was conspicuous by his absence: Mayor Sam Adams did not attend.
Photo slide show here (watch for Phil Knight's kickin' sneaks):