By COLE CAVISTON, Staff Writer
On April 2, MUSO and HBO will host a screening of the much-anticipated premiere episode of the fifth season of the hit show “Game of Thrones,” 10 days before it debuts on the premium cable network.
The event will be held in MUB Theater II at 7 p.m., with seating being first-come first serve for UNH students only. It is the third time that a “Game of Thrones” premiere episode has been screened at the MUB.
According to MUSO film director Joe Rogers, the fantasy series’ widespread popularity made it a perfect choice to attract a large and enthusiastic audience.
“There’s always a lot of hype about this show,” Rogers said. “It’s going to be bigger than [others] in the past.”
MUSO has usually hosted films, such as “Selma” this past semester and “The Dallas Buyers Club” last April, but with the exception of the series finale of “Breaking Bad” in September 2013, it has not held any major screenings for television.
“We do a lot of special screenings, like panel-type discussion afterwards, but usually for TV our main one is ‘Game of Thrones,’” Rogers said.
Rogers reached out to HBO in order to arrange a screening ahead of the show’s April 12 premiere. He made contact with an HBO marketing representative based out of North Carolina.
The marketing representative allowed MUSO to acquire a pre-loaded DVD of the episode on the condition that a number of security measures were taken. The foremost condition was that no recording devices would be allowed into the theater in order to prevent pirating of the episode before it premieres on HBO.
In addition, security personnel from HBO will be present at the screening and on the look out for attempts at recording while the episode airs.
Having the episode be presented in DVD form was a direct request made by Rogers, who remembered the problems with live streaming with past screenings.
The premieres for the second and third seasons were both live streamed through the service HBO Go, but the latter crashed early on in the screening.
“Having it printed in DVD ensures that it doesn’t pause or skip because we have had that trouble in the past,” Rogers said.
Promotional efforts have been large in spreading the word, according to Shema Rubdi, the promotion director for MUSO. She says that HBO’ involvement has been greater than for previous events, making the event more “official.”
As part of its advertising efforts, MUSO has tabled in the MUB Union Court with the two HBO reps on campus every Wednesday from 10 a.m. to noon for the past few weeks.
“They’re very hands-on about this event. They’re so good at their jobs,” Rubdi said.
Posters have been spread across campus and in residence halls, but the major innovation for the event, according to Rubdi, has been the use of Facebook and Instagram to attract attention.
A contest was set up on Facebook that allowed fans to submit any evidence of their devotion to the show to the page, whether it be cosplay, a video or fan art by March 31 at noon.
The top 10 contestants chosen by MUSO and the HBO reps will be given VIP Access, which allows them to enter the theater half an hour early and win free HBO “swag bags” filled with “Game of Thrones” memorabilia.
“That’s probably the most fun thing about promoting, getting students involved and participating,” Rubdi said. “It’s definitely one of the most popular events we’ve had, especially with promoting it on the Internet and social media sites.”
HBO has allowed MUSO to use official hashtags in its promotion, namely #GoTPremiereUNH and #HBOCollege. In turn, these will be used for a “Twitter wall” before the premiere, allowing viewers to tweet their thoughts about the event and see them up on screen.
“We haven’t decided if it’s going to appear on the big screen or the outside [screen] of the theater where people will be lining up,” Rogers said.
Music from the official mixtape tie-in “Catch the Throne,” featuring music by hip-hop artists like Snoop Dogg, will be played throughout the evening. An official MC will also be present before the screening and will be interviewed by HBO.
The merchandise that HBO will provide for the event is being kept under wraps by MUSO, but it will include numerous prizes and giveaways.
“Hopefully, with that interaction and participation, we’ll get to work with HBO again,” Rubdi said.
Both Rogers and Rubdi believe that the expected turnout for the 200-seat event will be high, particularly from word-of-mouth among the student body. Despite a great numbers of students on the Facebook page indicating they will attend, Rubdi says that it will be larger.
“I have a lot of faith that there is going to be a lot more people coming,” Rubdi said.
Despite hosting the massively popular show, Rogers says he personally hasn’t watched it. Rubdi has only sporadically watched a few episodes and admits that the length and complexity of the episode storylines make it difficult to catch up on.
“I think they’re beautifully shot, the writing is incredible, there are so many layers to the depth of the characters and the story,” Rubdi said. “I appreciate it for that and its artistic value, but you ask me what’s going on and I have no idea.”
For Rogers, a successful screening will serve as a stepping-stone for future screenings of other TV programs that MUSO can hold in the future.
“We hope that we can keep doing this, especially with other shows if we find out this works, and we can get other organizations and companies to hop in on it and get other TV shows,” Rogers said.