'Armageddon' launches at mammoth premiere
The film’s ad campaign may have urged people to keep a “Countdown to Armageddon,” but at Disney’s mammoth premiere for the space-age disaster flick June 29 at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., there were bigger numbers to be crunched. Like the $5 million the studio reportedly spent on the event—a figure Disney firmly denies—which included a screening in a 500-seat theater built for the occasion, a buffet of fresh shellfish, and a 45-minute concert by Armageddon soundtrackers Aerosmith (not to mention the cost of schlepping in celebs like Gwyneth Paltrow, Billy Bob Thornton, Laura Dern, Cuba Gooding Jr., and Coolio). Armageddon costar Ben Affleck noted that the sky-high price tag could have funded “20 Chasing Amys,” referring to his 1997 indie. “But you know,” he added, “it’s worth that amount in publicity.” Sure, if conversation had been about the film and not the marital woes of leading man Bruce Willis, who announced a split from Demi Moore five days earlier. Guests couldn’t resist gossiping (did Demi orchestrate the statement to sabotage Willis’ big week?) and wondering if the actor would show. “Everybody kept saying he wasn’t coming,” said Willis’ movie daughter Liv Tyler. Disney even took his name off the guest list. But at the last minute, Willis arrived. Although the star avoided journalists and breezed past camera crews, he seemed relaxed as he greeted fellow cast members with extended hugs. Understandable: After all, it’s not like it’s the end of the world.