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Black Panther Opening Night at the El Capitan!

Jabari Jondee here at the El Capitan,

Opening night screen, photo by the author.

The El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood is basically a Disney owned theater that puts the special touches on films with costume (and sometimes prop) exhibits, shows, and other promotions. The Black Panther Fan Event screen at 6 p.m. on February 15th. It included a souvenir popcorn tub (in the shape of Black Panther’s helmet), a drink, and an exclusive poster. There was also a metal popcorn tub and drink for purchase. I have found the El Capitan is a must-go to theater for any Disney event film. It has the old style Hollywood with its decorations and curtains. El Capitan has such class that it just seems wrong to dress casual. The theater is located across the street from the TCL Chinese Theatre. The staff was fully prepared for a showing with every seat full of people waiting for this movie.

Black Panther’s habit, photo by the author.

First in the lobby is the Black Panther costume worn by Chadwick Boseman. It is in a case and since D23, I have found it difficult to photograph. Pics either come out blurry or washed out with light. A stealth feature of the suit? Downstairs is the costume exhibit past the restrooms. One, the left wall is a series of the character posters, not too remarkable, especially since there usually is props. I would have liked to see Shuri’s gauntlets, the Vibranium container, and the discs thrown by the Black Panther. At the end was Wakabi’s costume, Okoye’s red Dora Milaje armor, and M’Baku’s formal outfit with cape. The middle section contained Erik Killmonger’s costume, then T’Challa’s purple robes, with Ramonda’s white ceremonial dress. The last area had Nakia’s costume with her chakram-like weapon, Zuri’s purple robes, and Shuri’s beaded costume. I’ve been to many costume exhibits at El Capitan and I noticed that there was an energy to everyone this time. Usually there is a passing interest of the costumes, take pics, and move on. Here, there were many guests who were marveling at the costumes and just wanted to be there.

Black Panther swag, photo by the author.

The theater itself was stunning, not the gilded roof, which always amazes me, but suspended above the stage was a giant panther’s head that looked like it was carved from wood above some jungle foliage. There was a dj, DJ M.O.S. this night, playing some great 70’s era music. Usually a massive Wurlitzer organ raises from the stage and the organist plays some Disney tunes. Sometimes there are special guests and in this case, it was Winston Duke, who plays M’Baku in the film, and the composer, Ludwig Goransson. Duke spoke on behalf of the cast and crew about working on the movie was for the audience and a “labor of love.” Following the movie, there was a special behind the scenes segment just for the El Capitan Theatre. Director Ryan Coogler spoke about the different fighting styles used in the movie to reflect African combat moves. It was a great night, a few audience members wore African styled cultural outfits, and the El Capitan was a shared experience between fans for that night.

 

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