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LONDON — Daniel Craig and a glittering array of stars including Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, Judi Dench, Ben Whishaw and director Sam Mendes stepped out for the world premiere of Skyfall, the latest in the James Bond franchise, in London on Tuesday.
The royal gala, which benefitted charities to help members of the security services, attracted huge crowds hoping to catch a glimpse of the cast. Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall Camilla Parker-Bowles also attended the event at the Royal Albert Hall.
Normally one of London’s classical music concert destination venues and home to the BBC Proms, the circular-shaped building had been converted to a giant cinema for the evening. The top brass from MGM, Sony and Eon Productions all gathered for the screening, with Royal protocol keeping everything in check.
Prince Charles requested the event’s proceeds go to support charities that help members of the three intelligence agencies — the Secret Intelligence Service, better known as MI6, the Security Service, commonly known as MI5, and the GCHQ signals intelligence agency.
Producer Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson walked the carpet along with writers Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and John Logan. Craig is used to his Bond outings, receiving Prince Charles’ seal of approval with both Quantum of Solace and Casino Royale enjoying royal gala status.
After a military brass band played out some of the Bond themes from the past fifty years of the franchise, including You Only Live Twice and Goldfinger, the audience inside was treated to a showreel of clips from all previous 22 outings with actor’s Sean Connery and Pierce Brosnan getting the biggest cheers from auditorium before Craig made his appearance.
At that point, the noise rose visibly inside the hall. Then the arrival of the Royal party and the meet-and-greet outside the converted concert hall was beamed in.
Sony Corp. CEO and president Kazuo Hirai and former chief and board member Howard Stringer were among the first to get the Royal handshake before a string of the movie’s production team, ending with director Mendes.
Mendes was followed by his actors including Whishaw, Berenice Marlohe, Fiennes, Naomi Harris, Bardem, Dench and finally Craig, with wife Rachel Weisz standing politely behind him.
Wilson and Broccoli took to the stage ahead of the movie saying that since 1964 and the film Goldfinger, the Bond movie premieres had been Royal galas to raise money for charities.
Wilson, to applause, told the audience the evening had raised more than £300,000 from the sale of tickets and programs for Prince Charles’ nominated charity.
Mendes was then brought to the stage by the producers and he thanked everyone for coming declaring it an honor and privilege “and something of a relief” to be standing on stage just ahead of the film’s debut.
He noted the two main reasons for “the 50 years of Bond are standing next to me,” referencing Broccoli and Wilson.
Mendes then introduced his cast declaring that, as everyone knew, “a director is only as good as his cast.”
The biggest cheer from the enthusiastic crowd was again reserved for Craig although the applause for Dench ran the Bond actor close.
“Everyone owns Bond and tonight he belongs to all of you,” Mendes said before saying he hoped the crowd enjoyed it and thanking them again.
The Mendes-helmed Skyfall marks Craig’s third turn as Bond in the franchise’s 23rd installment. He’s signed on for the next two films as the British secret agent; MGM and Sony will continue to co-finance and distribute.
The movie “yanks Bond, M and MI6 out of the world of colorful megalomaniacal villains and into the vexing world of shadowy terrorists and cyber warfare,” THR chief film critic Todd McCarthy wrote in his review.
Skyfall will be rolled out by Sony Pictures across British cinemas on Oct. 26 and into most U.S. theaters Nov. 9. The latest installment is due to land in Imax theaters across North America on Nov. 8.
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