Author: Lois G. Russell
The Mighty Marching Hornets will be featured on the big screen again with the upcoming release of the Ang Lee movie, “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk.”
When Academy Award-winning director Ang Lee’s newest movie opens in movie theatres around the country, the Mighty Marching Hornets band will again gain national prominence.
“Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk” is scheduled to be released this month. Sony Pictures will host a private screening for the Marching Hornets and invited guests on Thursday, Nov. 10.
“We’re making sure that they have the full ‘red carpet’ treatment,” said Dr. Tommie Stewart, dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts. “These students deserve the best because they always give their best in representing Alabama State University.”
The film stars newcomer Joe Alwyn in the title role, along with veteran actors Vin Diesel, Steve Martin and Chris Tucker. Based on the book by the same name, “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk” tells the story of a 19-year-old who is brought home for a victory tour after a harrowing Iraq battle. Through flashbacks, the film shows what really happened to his squad, contrasting the realities of war with America’s perceptions.
Band director, Dr. James Oliver, said the Marching Hornets were handpicked to be in the movie by Meghan Currier of Search Party Music Casting for Sony Pictures.
“She said, ‘we’ve been observing your band for a whole year because we wanted the right band to do this particular halftime show with us,’” said Oliver. “When she said that, I was honored. All of us were overjoyed.”
The Marching Hornets are featured in a pivotal scene that “USA Today” calls “eye popping.” The scene is staged on a football field with the Marching Hornets giving the halftime performance, along with a girl’s singing group reminiscent of Destiny’s Child. (See movie trailer below.)
“I joked that I wanted it to be the biggest musical number since ‘The Producers’,” Lee told “USA Today.”
Even though Oliver has been a part of movie productions before, he describes the filming of “Billy Lynn” as being a special experience.
“I’ve been on a lot of sets before, but the experience of filming in the Georgia Dome with all of the cameras and all of the equipment was amazing,” said Oliver. “The best part about it was when I saw my students’ eyes light up when they saw the set. It hit them then that they were really going to be in a movie.”
Oliver said anytime the band is featured nationally, the University benefits.
“All of the publicity that we’re getting is great for Alabama State University, and it’s great for the Marching Hornets. The best part about this particular film is that when I saw the credits, they have us listed six times. I counted and we are there six times. That’s really wonderful,” Oliver added.
The movie is already being publicized nationwide. Check your local movie theatre listings for showings of “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk” in your area.