Over the weekend, journalists from around the world flocked to the Four Seasons Resort on the Maui island of Hawaii for all things Angry Birds. The movie, which is slated for release just over a month from now, hosted one of, if not the, best press junkets of all time.
To start the week, I found myself in Los Angeles on Saturday for Captain America: Civil War's press events. The movie was fantastic - the best Marvel film to date.
Riding high on speaking with the film's writers, the Russo Brothers, and attending a fun pair of press conferences, it was time to head to Las Vegas for CinemaCon. Any trip to Vegas to watch and talk about movies practically speaks for itself.
On Thursday, though, it was time to get on a flight from Vegas to Hawaii (Seriously? A flight from Las Vegas to Hawaii... Does it get any better than that?) in the name of Angry Birds.
For those of you who are not familiar with press junkets (which I assume is most of you), let me explain how they work. Typically, the journalist will fly in to the city where the junket is being held, watch a movie the night of arrival, attend a press conference the next morning, maybe nail some interviews later in the day, and catch a flight back home that night.
The Angry Birds Movie's junket became a five day ordeal for me and a handful of other journalists.
Upon arriving on Thursday, a private driver met me at the gate of my flight into Kahului Airport. He grabbed my bags, escorted me to a private part of the airport where an Escalade was waiting with all of its doors open, and we were off to one of the top resorts on all of the Hawaiian Islands. It was a humbling experience for the kid who couldn't afford a car until sophomore year of college and it was only just beginning.
Pull up to the Four Seasons Resort at Wailea and get greeted with a lei. Head over to the check-in counter where another greeter is waiting with some fresh cut pineapple, a shot of fresh squeezed lemonade, and some cool towels. Straight up to the room on the seventh floor where a gift wrapped waterproof phone case is waiting. This place had speakers in the bathroom. It was unreal. It's clearly game time (until 6:30 PM Hawaiian time when I have to watch The Angry Birds Movie). What to do in the mean time? Check out the beach, of course.
After the movie - which was a ton of fun (and that's all I can say until May 7) - it's time to head back to the resort with some new friends, fellow journalists who live in my dream city of Los Angeles. Back at the hotel now, it's time for a five-star dinner at the resort's restaurant (probably should have been more adventurous than beef sliders) and an amazing fireworks show goes off on the beach.
Fast forward to the next day (which is basically what my brain did after a few mai tai's), we're up and at 'em early in the morning for some Angry Birds activities. While a handful of journalists elected to hit some beachfront yoga, a pull straight from the movie, I decided to hit the resort's weight room. It had been about six days since the last time I hit a gym, forgive me for missing the 7:30 AM yoga class. From there, though, it was time for some ziplining - or "flying like an Angry Bird."
Half the journalists in attendance hop on a bus to the Maui Zipline course while others enjoy the pool and beach, awaiting their turn. Luckily for me, I found myself on the bus with a friend from last night. We arrived at the course by 10:30 AM and my tan lines were ugly by 11. Turns out, they were serious when they said bring sunscreen... Who knew? Five ziplines with a group of hilarious mommy bloggers later and it was time to head back to my flawless resort.
A few hours go by, alternating between watching Jason Sudeikis and Olivia Wilde play with their adorable almost-2-year-old Otis at the pool and hanging at the beach with a friend who tagged along & the island girl he met in the morning. It's now time to shower up for roundtable interviews at the Angry Birds luau.
The luau was something to be remembered. After a quick chat with Sudeikis, Josh Gad, and Maya Rudolph (which got a bit more serious than I had hoped when one journalist at the table asked some more personal questions), it was time to enjoy the Pig Roast (Get it? Because Angry Birds hate pigs?) Open bar, open buffet, and an awesome cultured performance going down on stage, I found myself seated with the wonderful Catherine Winder, producer of the movie which assembled us all in Hawaii.
Friday night's luau was the conclusion of the junket for "print" journalists and most would head home the next morning. Not me. As soon as I was invited on this trip, I asked for one extra day so I could fly over to the Oahu island and see the remaining sets from LOST. Unfortunately, none of my buddies wanted to make the trip, so I was stuck on Bird Island. Bummer.
On Saturday, broadcast journalists had their shot at interviews so as someone busting into the video world, I dropped into that side of the junket to learn a few things (and get some delicious lunch). I found myself geeking out with Fox's Kevin McCarthy who shares a passion for super hero flicks and filmmaking in general with me and, moments later, we were at the "Serenity Pool" sipping piña coladas from coconuts.
By the way, going to the pool at the Four Seasons isn't just going to the pool. When you sit down, an attendant rushes over to make up your chair up with towels, bring you some cool water, and hand you a menu just in case you get hungry. They'll even swing by periodically with some ice pops or fresh fruit. It really felt like being too spoiled having never experienced anything like it before. At the end of the day, you just realize how much class is exuding from the resort.
Saturday night, my new friends and I decided to venture off campus to "The Triangle," a local spot comprised of the few Maui bars which stay open past 10 PM. By this point, we've combined rooms, tossing four of us into one for splitting the bill purposes but also having a bunch of fun together. Going out, we learned local Hawaiians don't love tourists but nothing was stopping us from hitting up the dance floors and meeting everyone in sight.
Sunday morning rolls around it's time to pack up and head to the airport. One last foot in the ocean, moment by the pool, and I head back to Kahului Airport around 11 AM. That's where I found an airport security line which stretched across every check-in counter and out the airport's main entrance. There was no way I was making my 1:13 PM flight. Guess what that meant... Another night and day on Bird Island which translated to some exploring of other beaches, forming of even more new friendships, and treasured memories.
The bottom line is that Sony Pictures Entertainment hosted one of the most memorable weekends this young journalist has ever experienced. We were in a dream resort, on a beautiful island, celebrating a fun movie. To tell you the truth, one of the last shots of The Angry Birds Movie is a pull back over Bird Island, reminding us in the theater Thursday night that we were actually in a place as magical, beautiful, and memorable as the one we had been watching. Little did we know the weekend would shape up to be something so remarkable, unforgettable, and impossible to recreate.0comments