When our network of nightvision-goggle-equipped multiplex spies last reported back to us about the moviegoing activities of two-time intramural DreamWorks wet t-shirt competition winner Jeffrey Katzenberg, the bite-sized, permanently V-neck-rocking mogul was helping Tom Cruise boost his opening weekend gross for M:i:III. Last night, one of our operatives spotted him forsaking his company's own, third-place product, Flushed Away, to take in a screening of the eventual box office champion. Our reporter's tale of conspicuous seat-saving, the audience's possibly self-conscious overreaction to Mel Gibson's image, and Katzenberg's obvious enjoyment of the movie's signature moment follows: [Warning: Mild spoiler included]
So, last night I attended a sold-out showing of "Borat" at the AMC Century City theater at 7:25. We got there very early to find seats, which were almost completely occupied by 7:00 p.m. Just minutes before the film started, a teenaged couple two rows ahead of us quickly got up, giving their seats over to Jeffrey Katzenberg and the other three or four people he was with. No words were exchanged, and it was very weird. I am guessing they were paid for the seat-saving service, since instead of moving to different seats, they simply walked right out of the theater and never came back. However, Katzenberg then got up, bought popcorn and drinks for his whole group, and even carried them into the theater by himself right before the preview of "Apocalypto" began.
While people had little to no reaction to the first few shots, as soon as Mel Gibson's name flashed across the screen, the audience erupted in a chorus of boos and hisses that lasted for the rest of the trailer. The noisemakers seemed concentrated in our area, so I don't know if the outcry was intended for Katzenberg's benefit or not. I couldn't detect a reaction from the back of his head, except that he was really uncomfortably staring directly into the movie screen and sitting up very straight and stiff for the entire length of the preview. However, like the rest of the audience, he was totally into Borat's more comedic approach to Jew-bashing. His favorite part of the movie seemed to be the [SPOILER ALERT] naked wrestling. He was rocking back and forth in his seat and even clapping loudly in hysterics.
It's nice to see that Katzenberg had the same visceral reaction to the wrestling sequence as the general public, but we imagine that even throughout his hysterical thrashing, the part of his mind that never stops working was trying to figure out how DreamWorks Animation could work a similar scene into a future project, perhaps one involving a comically obese male cow trying to suffocate his ferret grappling partner with an engorged he-udder.