SAN FRANCISCO -- The San Francisco premiere of the movie "The Internship" had a mix of celebrity, full-length gowns, multi-colored beanies, and wearable tech. It was not quite a red-carpet affair, though there was a very short one, and some Google interns did show up in fancy dresses. The stars, Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson, were after all going to be there, though they showed up in T-shirts and jeans.
Thursday night's screening and Q&A at the Kabuki theaters in San Francisco would be the first time many at Google, including 100 interns, would see the movie about two middle-aged, out-of-work salesmen looking for a fresh start who somehow snag slots as Google interns. Six charter buses full of Google workers were shuttled from Mountain View, Calif., to the theater for their chance to ask questions of the stars and director Shawn Levy.
For Vaughn, who wrote, produced, and starred in the movie, Google was the only setting he said could imagine when writing the script. Vaughn then called Google to see if he could get the tech company on board.
"It was the company that was the most interesting to me. It was the best compliment to the story. I don't think another place would have worked," he told a packed theater.
The Hollywood crew filmed at Google's Mountain View headquarters for most of the exterior shots, but a lot of the interiors were shot at the George Institute of Technology. The filming on Google's campus did lead to an unexpected encounter one day with Google co-founder Sergey Brin, who neither the stars nor director recognized. Wilson said Brin only stood out because he was riding through campus on an elliptical bike wearing yoga clothes.
Vaughn and Wilson, who openly admitted they aren't particularly tech savvy, basked in the famous Google perks during filming. Director Levy said the stars never passed up a chance to grab free food at one of the many Google micro-kitchens and would go wandering off on Google bikes.
When asked what surprised them most about the campus, Wilson remarked, "You assume a lot of working is getting done there, but it wasn't apparent to us. It was like a resort."
Levy compared Google to the Emerald City in the "Wizard of Oz" -- a place where you hear about weird, wonderful, and mythical things and a place where you want to pull back the curtain.
While the director took pains to make the film as real as possible, both he and Vaughn repeatedly emphasized that the movie is a work of fiction. When one intern took issue with the portrayal of the competition among interns, Vaughn responded: "This movie is not a documentary on Google. Google is the backdrop."
Levy said he appreciated that Google gave him creative autonomy, though the movie in many ways trumpets the company's philosophies and ideals. "There was no way to make the movie well if the company wasn't going to have a sense of humor about themselves," Levy said. "We weren't going to be mean-spirited. It was going to be inspirational. We got the benefit of the background without the interference."
Vaughn said the Google product that impressed him most was the driverless car, while Wilson liked Google Glass and joked that he had a lot of ideas for it. There was quite a contingent of Glass wearers at the screening as you can imagine.
The movie was well-received by the Google crowd, with its positive portrayal of the company and its benefits. There were cheers and applause when the movie or stars mentioned Google changing people's lives. It was a sort of mutual admiration society with Google serving as the gracious host, and "The Internship" team serving as the gracious guests.
Wilson said they will return to the Google campus for the next few days. The movie is set for release June 7.