J.J. Abrams‘ new fantasy sci-fi series “Westworld” converted Hollywood Boulevard in to “Westworld-World” on Wednesday night with a sprawling premiere at the TCL Chinese Theater and party, four days ahead of its HBO debut.
Fresh off the Emmys, where the network won 22 statuettes, HBO CEO Richard Plepler, Programming President Casey Bloys, and their event sorcerers delivered “Game of Thrones”-level pomp and circumstance for the new series, an adaptation of the classic 1973 movie starring Yul Brynner.
The creators of the futuristic serialized drama describe it as “a dark odyssey about the dawn of artificial consciousness and the evolution of sin, exploring a world in which every human appetite, no matter how noble or depraved, can be indulged.”
Critics compare it to “Grand Theft Auto,” “Game of Thrones,” and the original 1973 Michael Crichton film on which it is based.
However, Wednesday night’s bash for at least 1,000 guests at the Roosevelt Hotel recalled the sort of gathering for a studio tentpole. The show feels too big to be actual TV, though we know with HBO’s multiple “to-go” platforms, not to mention its well-worn catchphrase, it doesn’t have to be viewed on just “TV.”
“It’s an extraordinary achievement in television,” Bloys said, as he began the pre-screening introduction to what he called “the first season premiere of ‘Westworld.'”
That phrasing suggests a season two pickup announcement may already be holstered, simmering until after the October 2 premiere.
Earlier in the night, a live feed showed Abrams giving interviews on the red carpet as guests munched popcorn and soda inside the Chinese.
Plepler, too, had one of each in his hands as he navigated the crowded aisle — faces like Reggie Watts and Bruce Vilanch patiently waited with civilians in the check-in line for tickets and glittery silver bracelets to the after-party.
Vilanch is no stranger to the most touristy block in L.A., regularly planted backstage during the Oscars to write punch-up jokes.
Once Abrams emerged from his front row corner seat, he called husband-and-wife showrunners and writers Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan “dream partners” for this project.
“They are brilliant, thoughtful, creative, fun ….and super tall,” Abrams joked. Joy is also super pregnant, with husband Nolan helping usher her out of the bay. The spoke of Abrams’ amazement at “Westworld’s” large production footprint, even for someone who had just stepped off the set of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”
The bash consumed the entire first floor of the Roosevelt, with Western-clad cowboys and brothel-ready dames milling through the ballroom, lobby, Teddy’s lounge, and the restaurant normally known as “Public Kitchen” — converted on this night to a casino.
Evan Rachel Wood initially perched on the back patio smoking cigarettes and sipping champagne with friends. Meanwhile, decommissioned “hosts,” the euphemistic label for the A.I. robots in the series’ living theme park, populated glowing pedestals throughout the space.
Over jalapeño cornbread, steak, s’mores, and rice krispie treats dipped in liquid nitrogen to imbue guests with the ability to breathe smoke, principals such as James Marsden and Rodrigo Santoro camped out at an array of center tables.
“Westworld” debuts on HBO this Sunday at 9 p.m. before joining the arsenal of portals including HBO NOW, HBO GO, and HBO On Demand.