‘DARK KNIGHT’ descends on Williston

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and his wife, Marcelle, pause outside the Majestic 10 movie theater in Williston prior to a special pre-release screening of ‘The Dark Knight Rises,’ the final installment in the most recent trilogy of the Batman franchise. (Observer photo by Luke Baynes)

By Luke Baynes

Observer staff

Holy senator, Batman!

There was no red carpet rolled out at Maple Tree Place on Sunday, but Williston’s Majestic 10 cinemas could have been mistaken for Grauman’s Chinese Theatre with the appearance of such VIPs as Warner Bros. CEO Barry Meyer and Sen. Patrick Leahy.

The occasion was a special pre-release screening of the Warner Bros. production “The Dark Knight Rises,” the final installment in the trilogy of Batman movies starring Christian Bale and directed by Christopher Nolan.

Though the follow-up to the massively successful “The Dark Knight” didn’t make its New York premiere until July 16, the Williston event was made possible through the efforts of Leahy, a devoted Batman aficionado who has cameo roles in both the new film and its prequel.

Leahy, who said his Batman fascination began soon after he learned to read at age 4, thinks that the continued popularity of the Batman character stems from the Caped Crusader being an essentially ordinary man who does extraordinary things.

“People see it as someone who stands up for the underdog,” Leahy said. “He’s somebody who has no superpowers, yet stands up for the underdog.”

Ripton, Vt. resident Cody McGlashan, who drove more than an hour to see the film four days in advance of its official Vermont premiere, views the latest Batman trilogy as the current generation’s benchmark movie franchise.

“I feel like the ’70s and the ’80s had ‘Star Wars’ and the 2000s have Batman,” McGlashan said. “In my opinion (earlier Batman franchises) were good and they were fun, but they didn’t get to the level of the ‘Dark Knight’ movies.”

The Majestic 10 staff pulled no punches in decorating for the gala reception, transforming Oscars Bistro and Bar into “Wayne Manor,” complete with a VIP entrance overseen by tuxedo-clad theater employee Tyler Bradley—a dead ringer for Batman’s faithful butler Alfred Pennyworth.

Tickets for the movie screening were $100. The reception required a minimum $1,000 donation, with proceeds benefiting the children’s wing of the Kellogg-Hubbard Library in Montpelier and the ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center in Burlington.

Over 300 people were on hand for the 7 p.m. screening—none of whom were members of the media.

“Press coverage of the event is welcomed, however press will not be allowed inside the theater to see the film regardless of how they procured a ticket,” read a statement on ECHO’s website.

“The Dark Knight Rises” will be officially released to the public at midnight on Thursday, July 19.

The Majestic 10 will host a “Dark Knight” marathon leading up to the midnight premiere, with screenings of “Batman Begins” at 6 p.m. and “The Dark Knight” at 9 p.m. Tickets for the movie marathon are $19.50.