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AP Photo/Matt Sayles Actor Matthew McConaughey arrives at a screening of "We Are Marshall" in Los Angeles on Thursday, Dec. 14, 2006.

HOLLYWOOD -- Back in April the movie industry went to Huntington and got the ball rolling on "We Are Marshall."

On Thursday night, the stars of the Warner Bros. Pictures film and officials from Marshall University were in Hollywood for the traditional red carpet walk and premiere at Grauman's Chinese Theater, a Los Angeles landmark where visitors are drawn to the famous forecourt with the hands and footprints of movie stars set in cement.

Grauman's Chinese Theater opened more than 70 years ago and has been the site of many gala movie premieres.

Marshall was represented in Hollywood by president Stephen Kopp, athletic director Bob Marcum and Vice President of Communications Keith Spears.

"This is a once in a lifetime thing for us, very special indeed," Kopp said. "We knew how the people in Huntington would react. It was so powerful in Huntington. Now we'll see how it plays here."

Those lining up for the movie weren't just from Hollywood.

"I've had people tell me they're looking forward to seeing this movie," said Mark Ellis, who choreographed the football action scenes. "I haven't had that reaction before."

Ellis, president of Reelsports Inc., arrived from Columbia, S.C., where his office is located. He has coordinated athletic scenes in more than 30 sports-related movies including "Invincible," "The Longest Yard" (2005) and "Miracle."

"We Are Marshall" covers the time of the Nov. 14, 1970, Marshall football team plane crash through the 1971 home opener against Xavier at Fairfield Stadium. The focus is on how the university and town recovered from a tragedy that took 75 lives, including most of the players and coaches and some fans. The ending is the Xavier game when the Young Thundering Herd scored on the final play to win.

The film releases worldwide Dec. 22.

Bert Ellis, whose mother used to teach at Marshall, was excited to see the film.

"I was very close to Huntington when the plane went down," he said. "I was friends with the producer, so I know something about it. I look forward to it and I still have lots of family in West 'by God' Virginia and they are looking forward to seeing it next Friday."

Ellis' friend Nicholas Longano of Los Angeles thought the movie looked enjoyable.

"I know a little about it, but I'm here to be entertained tonight and I believe I will be."

The first premiere, complete with a walk down a Marshall green carpet was held Tuesday night in Huntington. An estimated crowd of 10,000 people attended the downtown event that included showings of the movie at the Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center and Marquee Cinemas.

Cast members Matthew McConaughey, who plays Young Thundering Herd coach Jack Lengyel, and Matthew Fox, who portrays assistant coach Red Dawson were in Huntington along with actress Kate Mara, actor Anthony Mackie, director McG, producer Basil Iwanyk and screenwriter Jamie Linden.

They were all on the guest list Thursday night, along with many others.

Also in town for the event is 1971 Young Thundering Herd quarterback Reggie Oliver, whose character has a prominent role in the movie. Officials from the West Virginia Film Office and Department of Tourism also attended.

Those walking the red carpet on Thursday got a little taste of Marshall. The Monrovia High School band from Monrovia, Calif., were donned in green and white and playing Marshall's fight song. When people walked down the carpet, the band broke into "Sons of Marshall."

After the movie, the red carpet turned into a tailgate party.

 

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