Written By: Zane Brumley
Sometimes, I really surprise myself on how silly I can be. July 17th, 2017, is a prime example. Here’s some backstory on how events unraveled. About a week before, I was scrolling on Instagram when I noticed the Hollywood Sci-fi Museum’s contest for tickets to Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. What I neglected to notice, because I just nonchalantly sign up for all sorts of contests, was that it wasn’t ordinary tickets for the run-of-the-mill theater chain. It was a pair of tickets to the premiere event at the Telephone Communications Limited (TCL) Chinese Theater, that famous one where all the bigshot Hollywood premieres are held.
Now, under ordinary circumstances, this would have been something exciting that I would have planned ahead for. The real curveball was that I wasn’t aware that I had won as special of a prize until 3am the night before the premiere. At that late hour, I finally received an email indicating my luck of the draw.
It was a real sitcom moment when I discovered my fortune.
It was a real sitcom moment when I discovered my fortune. I was sitting on the kitchen counter, about ready for bed, while talking to my housemate and best friend Cody. I was on my phone when I got an email. It was the tickets. I stopped a moment to peruse it, just to make sure I wasn’t getting “Thanks for entering” junk mail. I was reading off the email to Cody: “You are confirmed for your tickets to attend the Los Angeles premiere of VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS on Monday, July 17th at 7:00pm at the TCL Chinese Theatre.” It was one of those moments when my speech slowed as I came to the realization of what I had won. I couldn’t help but grin when I read those final parts. As big movie-buffs, we instantly recognized that theatre’s name.
“No, you’re kidding,” Cody said.
There was a pause. I didn’t know what to say. I stood up and showed him my phone.
“Zane, you can’t be that stupid. How did you not know?”
This was a common question that I would have to answer for the next couple of weeks. I had to answer it again only minutes later. I quickly texted my mom and planned on getting a response in the morning. She left the sound on her phone that night and I inadvertently woke both my parents up. We texted back and forth to see if this was even plausible when they decided to go back to sleep and make a final decision in the morning. At that point, I had given up all hope, though Cody and I kept talking about the craziness of the situation. About thirty minutes later, we both turned in for the night.
I jumped out of bed the following morning when I received a phone call from my parents. My dad was on the line, “Your mother and I were talking, and since this is a once in a lifetime situation, we’ll pay for your plane ticket to LA. You’re going to pay every cent back.” I didn’t care that I would be in debt to my parents: I was too hyped to go to Hollywood. That. Day.
I had two tickets and refused to travel alone. Who better than Cody? I asked him if he could go, to which he walked off to call his parents. At first, they didn’t think it was a good idea. I desperately wanted to go but traveling alone would have quickly turned into a misadventure.
My parents were messaging me saying to go alone and to pick some stranger off the street to go with me at the premiere. I don’t know who these people think I am, but clearly they had forgotten who their son was. Thankfully, Cody’s parents called again with a change of heart. They recognized the once in a lifetime opportunity and couldn’t deny him the adventure. He vlogged while he packed. I called about plane tickets while I packed too.
The customer service representative told me the only flight that could get us to Los Angeles on time would be boarding in an hour and a half. Not much time to drive to the Tulsa airport from Bartlesville. She didn’t sound too sure about our chances of success, but we purchased those tickets and were out the door. We turned onto the highway when I noticed that I had forgotten something: the tickets. The moment of panic when we realized how pointless this entire boogaloo could have been was extreme. After a short stop back home, we retrieved the tickets. We turned back on the highway when I noticed we had forgotten our luggage.
“We’re not turning back,” Cody said gripping the steering wheel tightly.
Driving with such a tight timetable was rough on our nerves, though we knew this would all be worth it, assuming we pulled it off. During this time, I posted a picture on Snapchat saying we were headed to LA. Nobody believed us, not even Cody’s girlfriend. Almost everybody was certain we were pulling some sort of elaborate prank. Cody handed me his phone so we could vlog and explain what was going on and show it to everyone afterward. I think people started to catch on when we made it to the Tulsa airport. I certainly remember the relief of making it to our flight. They were just boarding when we arrived.
The trip was a lot of firsts for both of us twenty-year-olds. It was our first time on the West coast, our first taxi ride, and our first outing on our own. Once we arrived at Hollywood Boulevard, after an $80 taxi ride for 22 miles of distance, we had a couple of hours to explore the Walk of Fame.
The streets were bustling with people of all kinds: many tourists, bums, police, and performers. The place was lively, music from the performers or stores crowded the area. There was almost too much to look at or listen to. We found the TCL Chinese Theatre and saw a couple of lines wrap around the building. We learned that those were for the general admission; they would have their own premiere showing in a different theater.
We goofed around, taking video and pictures of Hollywood Boulevard, enjoying the sunny day. Cody was feeling self-conscious about how he was dressed and decided to check out one of the stores for dressier clothes. By the time we finished with the shopping and exploring, we were about ready to stand in line.
While in line, we met a few others who had won similar contests for tickets. Unlike us, they knew that it was for the big premiere before entering the contest. One man came from Anaheim, he and I talked about Star Trek: The Fifth Element and other science fiction franchises that related to the premiering film. The older gentleman left the line to change into nicer clothes, but I saved his spot for him. Shortly after, my parents called wanting to know how the trip was going. I was at a loss for words, likely due to culture shock from the alien environment. Afterwards, I simply watched the street, taking in the sights. It was a lively area, lots to look at, whether it be the tourist trap stores, or the colorful individuals on the sidewalk that were performing and or selling goods.
We were a couple of fish out of water that night.
They ushered us into the theatre through a side entrance while the celebrities walked the blue carpet into the main entrance. We didn’t take our seats right away, since we wanted to explore a little. The concessions stand was operated by a couple of young women that kept the counter stocked full of water bottles and bags of popcorn. I took a bottle and some popcorn and asked, “How much?” to which the worker paused and then responded, “It’s free.” I felt stupid in that moment, but it’s also hilarious that the worker may have assumed I was someone that actually belonged at an occasion like this. We were a couple of fish out of water that night. Lots of pretty people dressed in extravagant clothing stood around talking to one another. It was like we were crashing a fancy wedding.
Once we made our way into the main theater, astonishment took hold at the ornate designs of the room. Murals decorated the cathedral ceilings with a theme of red around the curtains and seats. We were directed to the very front row of the seating to the left of the screen. They were arguably the worst seats in the house, but it certainly didn’t dampen our spirits. After vlogging the inside of the theater, we got to know the couple sitting next to us. The man had won a similar contest and was taking the woman out on their first date. They were very friendly and wanted to get to know us. We talked sporadically while we turned around in our seats to eye the various actors, actresses, Vine stars, and YouTubers.
Luc Besson, the director, walked past us to speak about the film and the achievement of the production to create such an adaptation. Followed by the introductions of the cast who was present, Dane DeHaan, Cara Delevingne, and Rihanna being the standouts. The film started and we put on our 3D glasses. Trying to watch a 3D movie from the perspective of our seats was a bit maddening in the beginning. The experience was similar to wearing someone else’s pair of glasses. Our eyes eventually adjusted, and we were able to thoroughly enjoy the film.
The film finished, and the applause stopped, we filed out of the theater. It seemed that everyone was hanging around to talk a while. The couple we met earlier spoke with us, told us of some sights to see, and encouraged us to get some In-N-Out since we had never had it, though we weren’t in the mood to try something new by that late hour. We actually ended up going to McDonalds. The night was cool, and we were thoroughly tired. It was nearing midnight, though the streets showed no signs of slowing down. We got some dinner and took an Uber to a nice little hotel outside LAX. The next morning, we flew back to Tulsa and drove home from there. I still had to pay my parents back for the costly outing, but it was worth all the panic and stress. I mean, who can say they went on a wacky excursion to Hollywood for 24 hours without any initial planning? We vlogged most of our experience so not to forget a single thing. It was a surely unbelievable 24-hour adventure.