By COLE CAVISTON, Staff Writer
The whiteboard sign outside the Memorial Union Building theatre stated that the line for the screening would be open at 5 p.m. By 4:30 p.m., there were all ready a few students sitting against the wall nearby the ticket booth, quietly chatting.
Just past the hour, the line stretched outside the door and onto the sidewalk of the MUB upper roundabout.
These students were eagerly waiting to see the fifth season premiere of HBO’s runaway hit “Game of Thrones.” Unlike many other fans across the United States and around the globe, they would be viewing the episode 10 days before its official debut on the network on April 12.
The premiere episode “The Wars to Come” was hosted by MUSO in collaboration with HBO, which supplied the episode on a Blu-ray Disc in MUB Theater II. While not the first screening of “Game of Thrones” to be held there, this event is significant for having the most direct participation from HBO.
As preparations inside the 200-seat theater were underway, Vica Shobe, an account executive for GMR Marketing that worked with HBO on the event, cheerfully checked in on students and provided updates.
According to Shobe, the night’s screening was an opportunity to provide students with an event that only a few other colleges across the country have held.
“We want to have a cool event for UNH,” Shobe said. “We want to do something the students are going to enjoy coming to and something we can build on for the next year if we do this again.”
Shobe credits HBO’s two campus agents Shayla DeRosa and Rebecca Woodes with effectively coordinating the event preparations with MUSO.
“They found the organization that worked best, they found the venue, they found the people they wanted to partner with, they found the volunteers,” Shobe said. “It’s really their event. I’m just here to help them out in any way.”
Despite the growing excitement that evening, the mood of the line remained calm. Many students brought along laptops and homework to preoccupy themselves. Some left the line and came back with sustaining snacks.
A few students even kept themselves occupied by refreshing their “Game of Thrones” knowledge. One student watched the battle-filled episode “The Watchers on the Wall” on his laptop with headphones while another quietly read “A Storm of Swords,” the third novel in the fantasy series the show is adapted from.
Others wore “Game of Thrones” themed clothing to show their support for their favorite characters and feudal houses.
Kara Graney, a sophomore, wore a shirt bearing the map of Westeros, the country the series is set in, a gift from a friend who was also waiting with her in line.
Zoe Grenier, a freshman, began watching the series a few months ago and came after seeing posters in her dorm advertising the event. For the occasion, she modeled her hair after the style of Daenerys Targaryen, claimant to the Iron Throne and Mother of Dragons, but felt mixed about the results.
“I tried to do it after Daenerys, but I don’t know if it worked out,” Grenier said, laughing.
Fern Lima, a senior, wore a shirt emblazoned with the Targaryen dragon and its house words: Fire and Blood. The shirt was homemade by Lima’s boyfriend, who won a VIP access pass from the MUSO Facebook competition for his efforts, and was worn that evening for her favorite character, Daenerys.
“She was in a crummy place last season, so I hope her situation gets better [this season],” Lima said.
Another VIP winner was Zac Desmarais, a senior who submitted a photo of photograph of “A Storm of Swords” next to a “Game of Thrones” puzzle book and vinyl White Walker figure.
“I couldn’t tell you half the things from earlier in the series, but I still like,” Desmarais said.
While the students were eager to see the episode, many said they would still tune in to watch it on the small screen next Sunday.
“The thing about this show is that you can watch it again and again and again and get something different every single time,” said Chris O’Donoghue, a senior.
At 6:10 p.m., the VIP winners were brought into the MUB theater lounge to be awarded their swag bags, full of “Game of Thrones” memorabilia. Lima, collecting her boyfriend’s bag, returned with the complete fourth season on DVD, a language book for learning Dothraki, and a themed drinking cup.
The VIPs were also allowed to take pictures against the HBO backdrop set up in theater waiting room, nearby a table stacked with black “Game of Thrones” shirts.
Soon afterwards, MUSO staff began to pass out paper replicas of the royal crown worn in the show to the waiting attendees. Before long, most members of the line had received a coronation.
At 6:45 p.m., MUSO staff began to run wildly down the line, chanting with great gusto and successfully spreading the cue that the long wait would soon be over.
“Game of Thrones! Game of Thrones! Game of Thrones!” the cry rang.
By this time, the line outside in the fading day had stretched itself around the inner quad of the MUB, forming a perfect square. A few MUSO staff set about coordinating new-coming students to line up on the sidewalk.
Before the line was admitted into the theater, the first-in-liners were presented with more “Game of Thrones” freebies: copies of the fourth season, t-shirts emblazoned with the sigil of the Stark direwolf, and a calendar fronted with the shadow of a dragon in flight.
At just past 7 p.m., the doors were opened. Students piled into the theater as music from the show’s hip-hop mix-tape blared from the speakers. Projected on the cinema screen was the Twitter wall, showing the latest tweets of attendees, including a message from MUSO.
“We’re so excited to be apart of this event. Thank you for joining us,” it read.
Soon, more students began to tweet their own feelings. Many were humorous, some were spoilery, and several were…strange.
“Me and 200 other people have our priorities straight tonight,” one Tweet read.
“So what’s Game of Thrones about again?” tweeted one student.
“I hope this season has more quidditch,” another tweeted.
A few security guards from HBO remained in the background throughout the evening, alert for any attempts to pirate the episode. All cell phones had to be turned off before the episode began and any type of recording equipment inside the theater was forbidden.
Before the show began, the UNH comedy troupe Sketched Out performed two routines, starting out with the “Easter bunny” expounding on the importance of weed-smoking during the holiday, followed by an April Fool’s gag flavored with plenty of “Game of Thrones” spoilers and pornographic references.
More engaging were the show-related trivia questions from the past four seasons called out by MUSO film director Joe Rogers. If students could tell Myrcella from Melisandre, they won either a copy of the second season on DVD or a t-shirt. Most winners chose the DVD set.
A few minutes past 7:30 p.m., the moment all had waited for began. The lights dimmed and after a welcoming pre-taped message from actress Sophie Turner, who plays Sansa Stark, the audience settled in for an hour of standard “Game of Thrones”: political intrigue, graphic violence, sex and nudity, and a good dose of humor to balance the episode’s dramatic events.
When the credits rolled, the crowd let out a cheer, wholly satisfied. If the caliber of the premiere episode continues for the rest of this season, then the fans have a lot more to look forward to in the next few months.