When Ben Affleck presented the world premiere of his new movie air At the South by Southwest Film & FTV Festival in Austin earlier this month, the director, producer, and star of the Amazon Studios release described it as ” The most important night of my professional life.”
Monday night at Westwood must have been a close second.
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Affleck moved to the Regency Village Theater for the L.A. premiere of his new film, which traces the roots of a game-changing partnership between then-up-and-coming Michael Jordan and Nike’s fledgling basketball division that revolutionized the world of sports and culture with the Air Jordan brand.
Matt Damon has been cast as Nike’s resident basketball expert Sonny Vaccaro, Affleck as Nike founder and CEO Phil Knight, Jason Bateman as Nike Chief Marketing Officer Rob Strasser, Chris Tucker as Howard White, Sony colleague and advisor, Chris Messina as Jordan’s agent David Falk , Marlon Wayans as legendary trainer George Raveling, Viola Davis as Michael’s mother, Delores Jordan and her husband Julius Tennon, who plays Michael’s father, James Jordan, and Matthew Maher as Air Jordan designer Peter Moore.
Everyone was in attendance for the star-studded premiere, a well-produced spectacle hosted on a red carpet sectioned by an elegant basketball court, complete with a hoop (Wayans scored a basket on arrival), stands with Nike-clad fans and a pair of Mercedes-Benz cars. The premiere also featured swarms of Nikes worn by guests, publicity and working press, several pairs that could easily rival a basketball game or sneaker conference.
After Affleck and company worked their way down the press line — the Academy Award winner generously stopped by each outlet to chat about his film, a collaboration between Amazon Studios and Skydance Sports to present Equity Artists and a Mandalay Pictures production — he took his time below the stage. Lights to present the film and offer gratitude to all participants.
Although he didn’t say it was the second most important night of his career, it did seem that way as he got emotional at times while giving his remarks. “I know it sounds a little like a Saturday Night Live Draw,” Affleck said before shouting out to the main cast and praising each and every one of them. “A dream cast of actors, you know, the ridiculous payoff for this cast was overwhelming but they were all wonderful and extraordinary.”
He’s reserved a special nod for his longtime best friend, Matt Damon. The couple did not meet again only on screen air But the movie marks the first production effort for their new company, Artists Equity, which aims to revolutionize the way crews are paid for their work. (Affleck spoke at length about the company’s mission in a THR Cut cover.) “If you are really lucky in life, you will have a friend like Matt Damon. I love him and it is the greatest joy of my career to work with him,” Affleck said.
The night was full of celebration and friendly praise like that, but it wasn’t without its heavier moments, particularly when Amazon Studios head Jennifer Salke admitted the death of Beloved Distribution Director Eric Loomiswho passed away suddenly last week at the age of 64.
“This is a huge loss, not only for our company, but for the industry as a whole,” Salik said in her opening remarks. Eric ran theatrical distribution for MGM and Amazon and was a true movie hero. I know those of us lucky enough to know him will cherish our memories of him and keep his passion for movie theatrical alive. air is a film about taking risks, believing in something bigger than all of us, and putting it to the test to chase greatness. This is what this creative team has done to bring this movie to the screen and is most befitting of Eric’s continuing legacy.”
Speaking of legacy, Affleck made that clear air It is not the definitive story of Michael Jordan but he is “present in, above and inhabiting every cell in the film”. Affleck said Jordan didn’t have a lot of requirements for the film but insisted that Davis be the woman to play his mother. “I think she’s a symbol of mothers guiding their children in situations where they find themselves rushed at a young age into worlds that are difficult to navigate. I don’t think you succeed or survive without a strong mother,” he explained. On the note, he thanked his mother, “who loves all my movies.” Even really bad movies.”
Affleck then prepared to close his introductory remarks but not before pausing briefly to enjoy the moment and a shout out from the stage’s VIPs — co-star Jennifer Lopez’s wife.
“It was such a joy,” he said, “and I want to savor this moment just for a second.” “And I want to say that none of that would be possible—this company, this movie, this joy tonight—without the love and support of my wife who means more to me than anything in the world. I want to thank you. I love you. You mean the world to me. You are amazing.” You are amazing, you are wonderful, good, kind, wonderful and I love you.”
See below for at thr interviews with air Family from tonight premieres including conversations with Affleck, Damon, Bateman, Tucker, and Messina. air It will celebrate Amazon’s first global theatrical release and hit theaters on April 5.
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