Ash Fallout Affects Films' World Premieres

The London world premiere of Iron Man 2, planned for Monday (April 26), and the European charity premiere of Julie Anne Robinson's The Last Song (April 20) are the first major movie events to be grounded by the continued volcanic dust cloud that has shut down airspace across the whole of continental Europe.

"Due to the continuing air travel uncertainty, Paramount Pictures and Marvel Entertainment have taken the decision to move the Iron Man 2 world premiere and junket to Los Angeles," the companies said.

International distribution of the movie seems as yet unaffected. "Luckily, we had the copies of Iron Man 2 delivered a week ago, just before the volcano erupted," said an employee at German distrib Concorde, which will be bowing the Marvel actioner next month. "If they had been delayed, it would have been tight getting the film dubbed and mixed for the May 6 release."

If the Icelandic ash continues to keep European planes grounded, the widespread use of digital distribution technology means that majors will be better shielded from any ill effects. An increasing proportion of copies for Hollywood tentpoles are now delivered digitally to cinemas via satellite, making air traffic regulations irrelevant. And virtually every major studio uses SmartJog or a similar digital delivery system to provide its international outlets with press and marketing material.

"We had some sound material scheduled to be sent on DVD by Fed-Ex that was held up," said Alexandra Meister of Germany's Senator Film. "But we were able to switch over to an FTP server for that. There haven't been any major problems so far."

Europe's big TV players are adopting a wait-and-see approach to the mounting confusion arising from the dust cloud of volcanic ash still hovering over the continent five days after European air space was totally shut down, with a slew of companies including NBC Universal, Fremantle, Disney, Zodiak Television and Endemol maintaining that they were monitoring the situation.

By Mimi Turner and Stuart Kemp, The Hollywood Reporter