An estimated 700 people attended Thursday’s sold-out event, including director Tate Taylor and Chadwick Boseman, who starred as the Godfather of Soul.
“The Apollo was fun because New York is home for me, but there’s nothing like the AUG,” Deanna Brown, the daughter of James Brown, said. “I’m a little tearful, but these are tears of joy. Tonight’s a great night for the City of Augusta and I know my dad’s smiling down.”
Hundreds of fans gathered outside Regal Augusta Exchange Cinemas, hoping to get a glimpse as cast members walked the Red Carpet.
Among the actors in attendance was Lakeside High graduate Keith Robinson, who plays Brown’s band member ‘Baby Roy.’
“Coming back to Augusta really brings everything full circle,” Robinson said. “I never dreamed that I’d go to Hollywood and be in a movie, but especially not one that’s screening in Augusta about such a historic subject like James Brown. It’s truly a blessing.”
Tickets quickly sold out for Thursday’s showing, as well as for the after-premiere party at Augusta Museum of History.
Proceeds from both events benefitted the James Brown Family Foundation.
“The world’s in Augusta tonight and I know for a fact James Brown is in his shoes, smiling,” said long-time friend and radio show host Minnesota Fattz. “I’ve been doing radio for almost 30 years and I’ve never seen anything like this in Augusta.”
James Brown’s family was the second-to-last group to walk the Red Carpet, followed only by Taylor and Boseman.
Boseman, best known for starring as Jackie Robinson in 42, says he was initially hesitant about taking the role.
“It’s hard to put into words how much pressure it is to live up to everyone’s expectations of James Brown,” he said. “But I do my best not to think about it. It’s like shooting free-throws at the end of a game – You just gotta block out the crowd.”
For Taylor, having a premiere in Augusta was “a no-brainer.”
“This is the perfect cherry-on-top,” the director said. “It was very fitting to return to the Apollo where Mr. Brown performed for decades, but we absolutely had to come back to Augusta, too. Chad (Boseman) and I were here a year ago meeting with the Brown family and we’re so happy to be back.”
Like nearly everyone in attendance, Thursday’s premiere marked the first time Kelly Jarrell Gordon, Brown’s back-up singer from 1993 to 2005, saw the film. Gordon, however, said Thursday was more than a showing – it was a tribute to Brown’s legacy.
“I know my last name isn’t Brown, but his band was part of his family,” the Georgia native said. “The man was a genius and truly started a movement in this country. Sure, he did a lot for African-Americans, but during my time with James Brown, there was no such thing as color – we were all one.”
Get On Up opens nationwide Aug. 1.