It's full 'Speed' ahead

Nokia off to the races with 1st movie premiere

The Nokia Theatre held its first movie premiere Saturday, with Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow unveiling the Wachowskis' first family film, "Speed Racer."

Even the reclusive Wachowskis, who produced the film, joined the more than 4,000 attendees at the downtown bash. The siblings didn't do the red-carpet press line and were well-camouflaged during the party. Photographers were sworn to secrecy as to their whereabouts, and Warners assigned handlers the mission of keeping journalists off their scent.

"Speed" star Emile Hirsch described the pair as having quirky and dry senses of humor. "Almost like the Coen brothers but from another planet," he said.

The site was big enough to accommodate the movie's many promotional partners — including Mattel, Visa, General Mills and Puma — that Warners counted on to help offset the cost of the event, estimated at $500,000. Among those on hand were directors J.J. Abrams and Zack Snyder, who brought their families, as well as 1,700 children bussed in from community outreach programs.

"I go to a lot of Lakers games across the street, so when (the Nokia) was being built, we heard that they wanted to handle a movie premiere," said "Speed" producer Joel Silver, who brought "The Matrix Reloaded" to Walt Disney Concert Hall as that venue's first movie premiere in 2003.

The afterparty, held on the roof of the parking structure, featured not only Nintendo Wii games, racing games and photo booths but also two go-kart tracks — one for adults, one for kids — that were eye-line to the nearby 110 Freeway.

"We wanted to make it a special event," said Warners marketing president Sue Kroll, adding that the size of the premiere would help "Speed" get out there. "Pixar is an automatic buy-in; there's equity to it. 'Prince Caspian' is a sequel. Families know what that is. So you do have to work harder with 'Speed Racer.' " (partialdiff)