Edinburgh International Film Festival lands premier for Disney’s Brave

AFTER the most turbulent period in its long history, the Edinburgh International Film Festival has been given a massive boost with confirmation that its grand finale this year will be the European premiere of new Disney-Pixar film Brave.

A year on from the controversial decision to ban red carpets, outlaw photocalls and shun VIP parties, Scotland’s capital is now gearing up for arguably its most glamorous cinematic event in more than a decade.

While the world premiere of the animated fantasy set entirely in the Scottish Highlands is likely to go to Hollywood, Edinburgh is expected to bask in the glory of a gala premiere at the 1,900-capacity Festival Theatre on 30 June, days after its release in US cinemas.

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Chris Fujiwara, artistic director at the film festival, said: “It makes perfect sense that this film, which is so strongly tied to the cultural mythology of Scotland and the beauty of the Scottish landscape, and in which Scottish talent has such a significant involvement, should be part of our festival.”

Traffic is expected to be halted outside the venue on Nicolson Street for an event set to recall some of the glittering film festival premieres held at the nearby former Odeon in the 1990s.

And it is hoped the film’s star Kelly Macdonald, who voices the lead role of Princess Merida, will be joined by co-stars Billy Connolly, Robbie Coltrane, Emma Thompson, Kevin McKidd and Julie Walters on the night.

Industry insiders expect the premiere of Brave to be the hottest cinematic ticket in Scotland since the European premiere of Braveheart was staged in Stirling in 1995.

However, marketing gurus at Disney and the Scottish Government, which is ploughing £5 million into the campaign to promote the country on the back of Brave, believe Mel Gibson’s Oscar-winning epic is about to be surpassed by Brave, which tells of a princess who sparks turmoil in an ancient kingdom by defying age-old customs.

A major tourism conference in Perth, where exclusive new clips of the film were aired shortly before news of the premiere was confirmed, was told that Brave is already being seen as “one of the jewels in the Disney crown”.

Charlie Coleman, executive promotions director at the Walt Disney Company, said: “The fact is that Toy Story, which came out the same year as Braveheart, actually made twice as much at the box office in the UK and US as Braveheart.

“The global reach and impact of Pixar films is absolutely huge. We believe the film will showcase Scotland’s scenery, history and culture on an unprecedented scale.

“We’re currently planning a stand-out international tourism campaign with VisitScotland to coincide with the film’s release, but there is already huge interest around the world.

“We’ve already had more than ten million hits on YouTube for the first few trailers.”

First Minister Alex Salmond insisted the government’s investment, which will be boosted by £2m from VisitScotland’s own budget, would be money well spent.

“It’s a relatively small amount compared to the kind of money that Disney and Pixar will spend promoting this film, which is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for the country.

“I do believe it will be seen by more people than any other film set in Scotland.”