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Secret 'Super 8' screening was a crowd pleaser

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(Read caption) Actors, from left, Gabriel Basso, Ryan Lee, Joel Courtney and Riley Griffiths were the stars of J.J. Arbam's new film, 'Super 8.' The film premiers June 10.

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Super 8 – you know, that 1980s Steven Spielberg film directed by J.J. Abrams in 2011 – hits theaters this weekend, but it’s already getting overwhelmingly positive reviews from critics. (Look for our official review on Friday.)

To promote the film’s release, Paramount held a super secret Super 8 screening last night in various cities all across the country – including New York City, which is where Screen Rant was in attendance.

The multitude of fans who lined up for the screening at the 34th Street AMC Loews were treated to free t-shirts, popcorn, fountain drinks, and a raffle for free DVDs courtesy of Jon Hein and Ralph Cirella (of Sirius Radio’s Geek Time). One lucky fan who answered the trivia question “What was the first film written by J.J. Abrams, starring Harrison Ford?” – Regarding Henry – also won some free DVDs. Congrats, informed guy in the audience.

There was even a special message attached to the beginning of the film, from Abrams himself, where he basically just thanked everybody for attending the screening. Meanwhile, many in the theater chanted “Super 8, Super 8, Super 8!” in the style of “U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.!” It’s likely these people were Lost fans at one point.

As for the film, the audience seemed to react as favorably to it as the critics have – and then some – especially whenever the awesome child actors were onscreen. These kids – Joel Courtney, Riley Griffiths, Ryan Lee, Zach Mills, Gabriel Basso, and Elle Fanning – had such incredible chemistry together that they basically overshadowed the entirety of the science-fiction plot.

Indeed, rare is the film that captures that weird combination of innocence, jerkiness, raunchy immaturity, camaraderie, and so forth, which come with a pack of pre-teen boys. Off the top of my head, I can think of Stand by MeThe Monster Squad, and now – this.

The Hollywood Reporter recently reported on the somewhat soft box office expectations with regard to Super 8’s opening weekend (predictions are saying $25 million to $30 million). Apparently, due to the incredibly mysterious nature of the trailers, your average Joe just doesn’t have a clue as to what the film is actually about, so the film isn’t tracking very well. Maybe it’s because audiences are so used to trailers that coddle them and depict just about every major beat from every single film. It’s a shame, if that’s the really the case.

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It has probably been said before, but it bears repeating – Super 8 isn’t just  an homage to J.J. Abrams’ favorite films growing up. It’s specifically his favorite Steven Spielberg films. There’s Jaws (don’t show the monster until the end!), Close Encounters of the Third Kind (I shouldn’t have to explain this one), and E.T. (I really shouldn’t have to explain this one), but there’s also some Raiders of the Lost Ark in there with Kyle Chandler (Friday Night Lights) putting on his best Indiana Jones impression about halfway through the film.

Even though most of the people at the screening were obvious Abrams fans to begin with, it’s worth noting that their comments after the credits (stay in your seats for the credits!) were universally glowing. Comments like “It was beautifully directed” and “Those kids were so good together!” were heard more than once. One comment that was impossible to disagree with: “That kid with the braces stole the show.” If there’s any justice in Hollywood, “That kid with the braces” — A.K.A. Ryan Lee — will have a long and prosperous acting career, because he absolutely stole the show.

After you see Super 8, tweet your reactions  @Super8Movie with the hashtag #Super8Secret.

Super 8 hits theaters this Friday. Be sure to check back then for our official review.

If you want to learn more about the young actor J.J. Abrams discovered to play the lead in the film, check out our interview with Joel Courtney.

Follow me on Twitter  @benandrewmoore.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter

Ben Moore blogs at Screen Rant.

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