The World Premiere Grauman's Chinese Theatre
November 10, 1996
Photos & text by Michael Dequina
The world famous Grauman's Chinese Theatre was the scene for the world premiere of Space Jam on Sunday, November 10, 1996. Warner Bros. turned a simple movie opening event into a show of sorts. Prior to the major celebrity arrivals, the Looney Tunes characters who appear in the film were paraded out onto the red carpet one by one--two new evil characters, Sylvester and Tweety, Taz, Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner, Daffy, and Bugs and newcomer Lola, who was very much the crowd favorite at the event, stealing her boyfriend's thunder. After each one had emerged, Quad City DJs and a trio of dancers appeared on a stage near the red carpet and performed their hit "C'mon N' Ride It (The Train)" and a double dose of the Space Jam theme song while the cartoon characters danced along. The big dancer of the group was Wile E. Coyote, a regular Tony Manero who didn't appear to quit dancing throughout the entire event.
Once the impromptu concert was over, deejays Leo Quiñones and Wendy from L.A.'s KIIS-FM sered as defacto masters of ceremonies on the the red carpet stage, interviewing the incoming guests. Despite a star-studded official guest list that included the likes of Harrison Ford, Will Smith, and others, the turnout was not quite on that level. Among those on hand were Space Jam co-stars Wayne Knight, Danny DeVito (with Rhea Perlman and children); and Theresa Randle; producer Ivan Reitman; Earvin "Magic" Johnson; Tyra Banks; Coolio; Los Angeles Lakers coach Del Harris; Henry Winkler; Sabrina, the Teenage Witch star Melissa Joan Hart; music producer David Foster; and my former classmate in this past spring quarter's Film and Music class, Urkel himself, Jaleel White. Kevin Costner reportedly was on hand but entered through a back entrance.
At around 2:40pm, the star of the night, Michael Jordan, blazed a trail on the red carpet with his wife Juanita and surrounded by numerous handlers, photogs, and other press. He moved rather quickly as if he did not want to be bothered, but he stopped for an interview with Quiñones at the stage. Despite all screams for him and general noise, Michael didn't turn any of his attention away from the interview. Once the interview was done, he rushed up the carpet to do his interviews with the television media.
Once everyone was in the theatre, the event crews started to clear out all of the equipment, carpet, and barricades. Crowds still waited around but usually only for a minute or two before going on their way. At around 4:50 the doors to the main auditorium opened, and out poured the sea of people. A smattering of familiar faces could be seen making a mad dash to their vehicles--Magic, Danny DeVito, Coolio, Tyra Banks--but no signs of the guest of honor. By 5:10 the massive crowd in front of the Chinese was clear, and there was no sign of Mr. Jordan, who had obviously, wisely made his exit another way.