Klaxon! The countdown to Empire Live (2016's Ultimate Film & Entertainment Weekend) has begun!

Friday, August 26, 2016 Craig Grobler 0 Comments

We are less than a month away from what has become one of the greatest film conventions for film fans ever.  I am of course referring to Empire Magazine's Empire Live to be held at The O2, September 23 - 25 2016.  If you are looking for details about what is going on at Empire Live  just head to the middle of this page and skip my reminiscing.

Empire Live 2016
Empire Live 2016   


     I believe Empire Live is the greatest film convention for fans, if you have never heard of Empire Live you are probably wondering how that can be, if so then this post is for you. Let me tell you about Empire Live and why it may be your favourite new thing.

     Some of my fondest film related memories in London have been dreamt into reality by Empire Magazine's Movie Convention Weekender. I wouldn't even know where to start when discussing those moments.

    Possibly the beginning, firstly, finding out that there was a place and time filled with other people similar to me, people with a passion for film all in one place at the same time sharing an experience, beyond the big screen as Empire hosted a weekend, nay not just a weekend, possibly the greatest weekend, of film, talks, events and just general fun for all tastes was mind blowing. I couldn't believe that the event was so under the radar. Back in those days the weekend was called Empire's Movie-Con.

     I joined the others in the know in 2009 for the glorious BFI & Empire : Movie-Con II Weekend. The previous year I was hopelessly unprepared as I arrived for Movie-con I midway through the weekend expecting to buy a ticket and stroll into the secret RocknRolla surprise screening, not quite grasping that it was a weekend or day long walled garden of delights.

Empire's Movie-Con
Empire's Movie-Con    
2008 Movie-Con I guests included: Dirk Blackman, Dave Gibbons, Jack Huston, Jon Mone, Guy Ritchie, Clark Spencer and Mark Strong. The film previewed were Guillermo del Toro's Hellboy II: The Golden Army, David Gordon Green's Pineapple Express and Ben Stiller's Tropic Thunder.
The secret screening was Guy Ritchie's RocknRolla.

     But let me tell you - that weekend no one brought you as closer to the film experience as Empire's Movie-Con II Weekend.

Empire's Movie-Con 2
Empire's Movie-Con 2    
Empire magazine and the BFI join forces once more to bring you a weekend full of special events and activities.

Empire magazine and the BFI join forces once more to bring you a weekend full of special events and activities. From aliens to zombies, the schedule is currently top-secret. Expect a showcase of the best in upcoming action, horror, fantasy and superhero genre movies. We will also feature exclusive footage straight from the San Diego Comic-Con.

     Not only did we get to share a wealth of knowledge and experiences chatting with some of the biggest stars of film like Guy Ritchie and Robert Downey Jr. but we also got to share time and thoughts with the other guys the alternative filmmakers, independents and the upcoming: like "Still not a Sir" Terry GilliamDaniel BarberKathryn Bigelow & screenwriter Mark BoalStuart Hazeldine and Christopher Smith. And there was a certain indescribable feeling in the air  that of -we were part of something special.

      Having said that one of my favourite moments from Movie-Con II is still when I skipped a screening and found a quiet spot in the BFI to write some notes and Robert Downey Jr. casually strolls by and gives me a nod. He could have even winked but as he was wearing over size Tony Stark sunglasses so we'll never know for sure.

     The Establishing Shot: Archive footage MOVIE CON II Highlights  

     Movie-Con II films previewed: Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds, The Hurt Locker introduced by Kathryn Bigelow, Greg Mottola's Adventureland, Funny People introduced by Jonah Hill. The secret screening was Neill Blomkamp's District 9.

Empire's Movie-Con 3
Empire's Movie-Con 3     
     By the time Empire's Movie-Con III came around it was bigger with more screening rooms and had firmly planted itself into the "must do" for any film fan and as Chris Hewitt appropriately described it as:
Comic-Con business class. It’s smaller, more intimate and bespoke.”
- Chris Hewitt, Empire’s News Editor and sharp witted Movie-Con Host 

Like the bit in Jedi when the ewoks and the Rebel Alliance team up, Empire joined forces with the BFI last weekend to put on Movie-Con III, a feast of movie magic spread across two-and-a-bit-days on the South Bank. And as 'part threes' go, it was more Bourne than Alien. There was a bumper show of surprise guests, clips and Q&As that matched Frost/Nixon for gravitas but far outstripped them for references to Loki.

     Movie-Con III was bigger, the stars and QA sessions were bigger and included the likes of: Danny Boyle, Kevin Feige, Kenneth Branagh, Tom Hiddleston, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Andrew Macdonald, Allon Reich, Edgar Wright & Bryan Lee O'Malley (& they brought Scott Pilgrim vs. The World!), Gareth Edwards, Cary ElwesRodrigo CortezMichael Apted, Ben BarnesJames Watkins, Jane Goldman, Simon OakesDaniel Radcliffe, Chloe Moretz, Jonathan English, James Purefoy & Jason Flemyng and Rowan Joffe & Paul Webster.

     And rather than just get sight of SDCC exclusives we actually got first look at some fresh exclusives as well. I'm sure there were more but I can only remember so much awesomeness! It may not have been clear then and there but Empire's Movie-Con was moving onward and upward.

     Movie-Con III films previewed: Sylvester Stallone's The Expendables, Edgar Wright's Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (this felt like a really special screening. I doubt there could have been a higher feel good factor at any other screening, it felt like Wright was showing the film to an appreciative home audience and there was a real buzz throughout the screening and lots of cheering) , Joe Dante's The HoleRichard Berry's 22 Bullets and The Duplass Brother's Cyrus.

    The secret screening was Edgar Wright's Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (this felt like a really special screening. I doubt there could have been a higher feel good factor at any other screening, it felt like Wright was showing the film to an appreciative home audience and there was a real buzz throughout the screening and lots of cheering)

     But in 2011 everything changed. Gone was Empire's Movie-Con "Comic Con business class" in the intimate and personal spaces of the BFI and in came Empire's Big Screen weekend "the Glastonbury for the movies” taking over the entire O2 Dome (the only man made structure in Greenwich that can be seen from outer space).  The format was somewhat the same but everything was much, much bigger!

Empire Presents Big Screen
Empire Presents Big Screen    

Empire Presents Big Screen - Bringing Hollywood to London - The Live Movie Event 
With a choice of over 250 incredible things to do, including a chance to meet the stars, see live performances, a feast of premieres, exclusive screenings, worldwide debuts of new film footage, movie master classes, never before seen glimpses behind the world’s biggest films, Empire Presents … BIG SCREEN truly promises something for movie fans of all ages.

The movie extravaganza is being backed by all the big studios including Paramount Pictures, Walt Disney Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox, Sony Pictures, Marvel Studios, Warner Bros Pictures, Universal Pictures, Optimum Releasing, Pixar, Momentum Pictures, Lionsgate and Icon – and promises never before seen access to the inner workings of Hollywood and the biggest names in movies.

The star studded movie extravaganza which runs from 12th-14th August at the 02 will open with the eagerly awaited UK premiere of Paramount Pictures’ Cowboys And Aliens with the cast of the film in attendance. The film, which is directed by Jon Favreau, (Iron Man, Iron Man 2) stars Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford and is tipped to be one of the hottest films of the year. As well as the star studded premiere, there will be special screenings on Friday, Saturday and Sunday – audiences will truly be able to see it first and exclusively at BIG SCREEN.

Be part of exclusive film studio sessions - Top directors, producers and A-list stars discuss and present scenes and exclusive footage from their unreleased movies from the year ahead and 2012.

     Empire Presents Big Screen premiered with cast in attendance: Jon Favreau's Cowboys and AliensCraig Gillespie's Fright Night remake & Marcus Nispel's Conan the Barbarian.

     Films previewed:  Jon Favreau's Cowboys and Aliens, Rupert Wyatt's Rise of The Planet of Apes, Will Gluck's Friends With Benefits, John Michael McDonagh's The Guard, Tate Taylor's The Help, André Øvredal's Troll Hunter, Ruben Fleischer's 30 Minutes Or Less and Kevin Smith's Red State and others I can't remember as well as TV premieres of Steven Spielberg's Terra Nova and Thundercats.

     Secret screenings: Gavin O'Connor's Warrior, Nicolas Winding Refn's Drive & John Madden's The Debt

    Empire's Big Screen was truly something to behold a cross between a film fan's wildest fantasy, a Willy Wonka created theme park and a film school. As promised it was big, really big, it was spectacular and it was something the likes of which the UK, possibly Europe (let alone London) had never seen before. There was too much to choose from: ranging from screenings of classic films, premieres of new films, talks with masters of film, the cars of James Bond through to the pets from Harry Potter. But I couldn't help miss the old single screening room jam packed with 450 film fans as they shared something special, magical and marvellous - but as Empire promised with Big Screen they brought fans as close to film magic as they were going to get.

     You can view photos from my visit to Empire Presents BIG SCREEN here!
Empire BIG SCREEN : Queues gathering at the entrance
 Or watch my shoddy early morning video walkthrough of Empire BIG SCREEN’s Live Quarter, Hollywood Boulevard and Studio City below.

     The Establishing Shot: Walk through of Empire BIG SCREEN Hollywood Boulevard & Studio City  

     The puzzlingly far more popular 3D version is over here!

     You can also read about my experiences at Empire Presents Big Screen here:

Empire Big Screen Arrival & Industrial Light & Magic Presentation For Star Wars™

Empire Big Screen The Secrets Of WETA Presentation

Empire Big Screen 20th Century Fox Showcase & Titanic 3D

Empire Big Screen - Live Quarter, Studio Stands Walkthrough & Goody Bag

Empire Big Screen Universal Pictures Showcase World First! Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, The Raven and Immortals

The Establishing Shot: 10 Most Popular pics from Empire BIG SCREEN

     Anyway the point I have been building to is two fold:

One: Empire do not reveal their main draw attractions up until the the last moment if at all so you can expect way more exciting things than have been advertised.

Two: There will be something for everyone, no matter what your tastes as an example at Big Screen in one afternoon I had chats with Gareth Edwards (Monsters, Godzilla, Star Wars: Rogue One) then Jeremy Irvine (War Horse), then Tom Six (Human Centipede, The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence) and later on Still not a Sir yet Terry Gilliam) one after another.

     You will be dazzled with so much to choose from and if your are a film fan of any kind Empire Live may be the place to make some of your own favourite memories. Some of the updates we received about Empire Live are below:



Empire, the world’s biggest movie magazine, yesterday revealed its full slate of extraordinary events taking place at the hotly anticipated American Airlines Presents Empire Live. A series of exclusive screenings, filmmaker Q&As and family programming has been added to the action-packed bill, with 2016’s ultimate film and entertainment weekend now less than a month away.

Taking place from 23 to 25 September, the weekend will kick off with an exclusive double Daniel Radcliffe gala screening, of his two new films, Swiss Army Man and Imperium. Paul Dano co-stars in the highly original comedy adventure Swiss Army Man, co-written and directed by Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert.
     Video: Swiss Army Man | Official Trailer HD | A24  

Stranded on a deserted island and on the brink of suicide, Hank (Dano) makes one last bid to escape after discovering a corpse named Manny (Radcliffe) on the beach. After forming a surreal friendship with Manny, Hank is shocked to discover he can talk and possesses strange supernatural powers which he can use to find his way back to civilisation and reunite with his lost love, Sarah (Mary Elizabeth Winstead).

For the second portion of the Daniel Radcliffe double bill, Empire Live is proud to present thriller Imperium, starring Radcliffe as FBI intelligence analyst Nate Foster, on the day of the film’s UK theatrical release.
     Video: Imperium Official Trailer 1 (2016) - Daniel Radcliffe Movie  

After a radioactive isotope is illegally imported into the US, the FBI sends agent Foster on an undercover mission to infiltrate a network of neo-Nazi white supremacist groups they believe may be building a nuclear bomb. Imperium also features an outstanding supporting performance from Toni Collette as Foster’s wisecracking fellow FBI agent, Angela Zamparo.

As a special introduction to the double bill, Daniel Radcliffe will participate in an on-stage interview ahead of the screenings at The O2 to discuss both Swiss Army Man and Imperium, exclusively for attending audiences.

Announced in the Meet The Movie Makers strand is a special sneak peek of upcoming thriller Free Fire, presented by acclaimed British director Ben Wheatley.
Free Fire -  Armie Hammer, Enzo Cilenti, Brie Larson, Cillian Murphy, Sam Riley and Michael Smiley
Free Fire -  Armie Hammer, Enzo Cilenti, Brie Larson, Cillian Murphy, Sam Riley and Michael Smiley © Kerry Brown / Rook Films [Enlarge]     
Wheatley will be presenting first-look footage from his new film, starring Armie Hammer, Cillian Murphy and Oscar-winner Brie Larson. The preview will be followed by a screening of his adaptation of JG Ballard’s ground-breaking dystopian drama High-Rise, starring Tom Hiddleston.
     The Establishing Shot: BEN WHEATLEY'S HIGH-RISE TRAILER  

Hunt For The Wilderpeople has already become New Zealand’s biggest-ever home-grown hit, and is also confirmed for September’s event. The low-budget comic sensation from Taika Waititi dumps odd couple Julian Dennison and Sam Neill in the heart of the New Zealand bush to battle ninjas, direwolves and Child Services.
     Video: Hunt For The Wilderpeople UK Trailer  

It’s now been a full decade since director Shane Meadows first assembled a ragtag group of misfits from the East Midlands and crafted one of the most vibrant, powerful and often shocking British films in recent memory. This Is England is where it all began for Shaun, Woody, Lol, Milky and Combo, with the gang now safely established as something of a national institution. Hailed for its bold and painfully honest window on 1980s Britain, the clashes between alternative skinhead culture and its more extreme racist fringe have lost none of their impact since release. Fans are invited to throw on their Doc Martens for the 10th anniversary screening, with very special guests expected to be in attendance.
     Video: This Is England '83-'90… watch the story so far  

Fantasy juggernaut Game Of Thrones continues to push the boundaries of small-screen drama, and the penultimate episode, ‘Battle Of The Bastards’, was the undisputed highlight of the sixth season as Jon Snow finally went toe-to-toe with arch enemy Ramsay Bolton. Television lovers will now have the chance to catch the epic episode on the big screen in Empire Live’s special one-off screening.
     Video: Game of Thrones Beginner’s Guide: Uncensored (HBO)  

Ghostbusters Slime-Along, showcasing the 1984 original movie, will delight and drench audiences, with a live and immersive event that promises to douse fans with supernatural substances every time an on-screen character gets a soaking.
     Video: Ghostbusters (1984) Trailer [HD]  

Empire Live attendees are invited to join in with an exclusive Aardman Model Making session in the cosy confines of Brooklyn Bowl. As Aardman celebrates its 40th anniversary, organisers are honoured to welcome an experienced Aardman model maker for two sessions, inviting fans to recreate claymation heroes Gromit and Shaun The Sheep. Bristol’s finest will offer hands-on fun for all the family, as the sessions seek to uncover the next Nick Park.
     Video: Welcome to the Wallace and Gromit YouTube Channel!  

The Family Entertainment programme has been finalised with a number of animated hits joining the bill. Beyoncé, Stevie Wonder and Justin Timberlake have all sung at The O2 – and now fans can add their name to that illustrious list, with audiences young and old expected to belt out the likes of Let It Go and Do You Want To Build A Snowman? during the Frozen Sing-Along.
     Video: Bill - Official UK Trailer  

Audiences can also enjoy a touch of Shakespeare in the brilliant Bill, followed by a Q&A with the stars and makers of Horrible Histories. And 30 years since Luxo Jr. first put John Lasseter and his merry band of animation geniuses on the road to world domination, Empire Live presents an animation marathon of all 17 Pixar Shorts.

Finally, Empire’s Editor-In-Chief Terri White has assembled an all-star panel of filmmakers for the Women On Screen panel taking place in The Empire Hub. Belle director Amma Asante is confirmed for an event that promises expert insight into filmmaking, the industry from a female perspective, spirited debate and a whole lot of inspiration.

The new content revealed today joins a world-class programme of special events that already includes: The Raid (featuring a live commentary from director Gareth Evans), Richard Linklater’s Everybody Wants Some!!, Louis Theroux’s eye-opening documentary My Scientology Movie, the Alexander Skarsgård and Michael Peña starrer War On Everyone, The Greasy Strangler (with director Q&A), Green Room, Labyrinth (with puppet makers Q&A), and a hotly anticipated Trainspotting Live Script-Read with a host of top talent taking on the iconic roles for one night only.

The Empire team will also be setting up camp in the heart of Brooklyn Bowl as The Empire Hub sees the magazine come to life with a series of panels and on-stage interviews — in addition to live recreations of popular in-magazine interview segments ‘My Movie Mastermind’ and ‘How Much Is A Pint Of Milk?’ (complete with live interviewees on stage!), attendees can sit in on a live instalment of the Empire Film Podcast and test their mettle at Empire’s Ultimate Live Movie Quiz (the most competitive film quiz known to man). With special previews, blockbusters, classics and never-before-seen footage, there’s something for everybody as American Airlines Presents Empire Live brings you up close and personal with the biggest movies and those who make them.

Swiss Army Man & Imperium – opening night double bill with Daniel Radcliffe in attendance
Free Fire preview footage and High-Rise screening with Ben Wheatley
The Greasy Strangler with director Q&A
My Scientology Movie
War On Everyone
The Martian Extended Edition

Frozen Sing-Along
Pixar Original Shorts
Labyrinth with puppet makers Q&A
Aardman Model Making
The Gruffalo and Stick Man double bill with live costume characters
Bill – with the actors and makers of Horrible Histories in attendance

Trainspotting Script-Read
The Raid with live director commentary
Ghostbusters Slime-Along
This Is England – 10th Anniversary Screening
Game Of Thrones: ‘Battle Of The Bastards’
Green Room
Hunt For The Wilderpeople
Stand By Me
Everybody Wants Some!!
Don’t Look Back from The Criterion Collection
Easy Rider from The Criterion Collection
Dr. Strangelove from The Criterion Collection

Empire’s Ultimate Live Movie Quiz
Empire Film Podcast live record
‘How Much Is A Pint Of Milk?’ live interview, special guest TBA
‘My Movie Mastermind’ live interview, special guest TBA
Women On Screen panel

EMPIRE, the world’s biggest movie magazine, has unveiled further tantalising programming announcements for the upcoming AMERICAN AIRLINES PRESENTS EMPIRE LIVE, 2016’s ultimate film and entertainment weekend taking place at The O2 in London from 23 to 25 September.

With plenty more headline activity still be to be revealed, fans will nonetheless be particularly excited by the news that 20 years after Renton, Sick Boy and company first crashed into cinemas, Film4’s TRAINSPOTTING will be re-cast for a unique live performance, with an exciting group of leading talent and rising stars set to take on the iconic roles in a special one-off live script- read.
     Video: T2 – Official Teaser Trailer – At Cinemas 27 January – Sequel to Danny Boyle’s Trainspotting  

Producer of T2 Andrew Macdonald commented,

We’ve just wrapped on T2 — and what a fun way to remember the original before audiences can see the sequel.”

Also confirmed for the event today is a special preview screening of MY SCIENTOLOGY MOVIE, Louis Theroux’s long-awaited spotlight on one of the world’s most secretive organisations. A decade in the making, Theroux’s documentary provides the inside track on the Church of Scientology, set up by struggling science-fiction writer L Ron Hubbard, who famously said, “If you want to get rich, you start a religion,” and then went ahead and did just that.
     Video: Louis Theroux: My Scientology Movie - Official Australian Trailer  

Audiences can also look forward to a pre-release screening of this year’s most brilliantly bizarre comedy-horror hybrid, THE GREASY STRANGLER, followed by a Q&A with debut director Jim Hosking, as he lifts the lid on the creative process that saw him conceive one of 2016’s most unforgettable characters: a homicidal father who lathers himself in fat before engaging in brutal killing sprees.
     Video: THE GREASY STRANGLER - Official Teaser Trailer  

There’s something for everyone over the weekend and American Airlines presents EMPIRE LIVE is pleased to announce two new additions to the fun-filled Family Entertainment programme — a double bill of THE GRUFFALO and STICK MAN. Based on the much-loved picture books written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler, both these magical animations have an all-star cast and will be guaranteed to keep both little ones and their parents entertained throughout.

Over the course of the weekend, the EMPIRE team will be setting up camp in the heart of Brooklyn Bowl. THE EMPIRE HUB will see the magazine come to life with a series of panels and on-stage interviews, in addition to live recreations of popular in-magazine segments My Movie Mastermind and How Much Is A Pint Of Milk?. The Hub will play host to a just-announced Women In Film symposium and will welcome award-winning screenwriters to the stage to discuss their craft.

Fans will also have the chance to pit their wits against Associate Editor Chris Hewitt in his infamously tricky film quizzes; tune in to a live special recording of the Empire Film Podcast; take part in family workshops; and enjoy evenings filled with music, drinks, themed parties and — for all you Big Lebowski enthusiasts — a spot of bowling.

Fans can look forward to plenty more big announcements in the run-up to September, as organisers up the ante over the coming weeks. The events and screenings revealed today join a promising programme of event screenings that already include: THE RAID (featuring a live commentary from director Gareth Evans), EVERYBODY WANTS SOME!!, THE MARTIAN EXTENDED EDITION, WAR ON EVERYONE, STAND BY ME, LABYRINTH, and a trio of hits from the vaults of THE CRITERION COLLECTION in the form of EASY RIDER, DR. STRANGELOVE and DON’T LOOK BACK.

With special previews, blockbusters, classics, and never-before-seen footage, there’s something for everybody as American Airlines presents EMPIRE LIVE brings you face-to-face with the biggest movies and those who make them.

- Empire Live is proud to host a preview screening of British director John Michael McDonagh’s third movie, War On Everyone, following five star reviews in Empire for McDonagh’s first two films, The Guard and Calvary. The eagerly anticipated War On Everyone follows the exploits of two corrupt cops in Albuquerque, and stars Alexander Skarsgård (True Blood) as Terry Monroe, with Michael Peña (End Of Watch) as his partner, Bob Bolaño.

     Video: War On Everyone - Official UK Online Trailer (2016)  

- Ridley Scott’s The Martian: Extended Edition stars Matt Damon as astronaut Mark Watney. The film won two Golden Globes and a Jameson Empire Award, which was awarded to Damon for Jameson Best Actor. Ahead of the release on DVD and Blu-ray, Empire Live will be screening the very first showing of this cut which includes 13 minutes of extra footage.

- As a tribute to David Bowie, Empire Live will host a special screening of his 1986 film Labyrinth, plus a Q&A with the conceptual designers and puppet-builders, Brian and Wendy Froud. The film sees Jennifer Connelly plunged into a magical labyrinth and given 13 hours to rescue her baby brother, who’s been kidnapped by Jareth the Goblin King. Audience members are invited to come in costume fit for Jareth’s masquerade ball.

American Airlines Presents Empire Live
23rd-25th September 2016

The O2, London SE10, UK

For more information about Empire Live:
For full details of all cinema events announced thus far and to buy ticket packages, please visit: But hurry — the Empire Live Diamond Package and Opening Night Packages are now sold out and other packages are selling fast!