Virgin Atlantic Sponsors Gala Night at BFI London Film Festival

By: Virgin Atlantic

October 12, 2015

On Sunday the 11th in London, we celebrated our partnership with the BFI London Film Festival at the UK premiere of crime drama Black Mass, starring Johnny Depp and Benedict Cumberbatch. The Virgin Atlantic-sponsored gala took place at the iconic Odeon Leicester Square and was attended by both leading men – as well as their respective wives Amber Heard and Sophie Hunter – plus the film’s director Scott Cooper and an enthusiastic crowd of BFI guests and avid film fans.

Virgin Atlantic Crew - Jon Furniss.jpgVirgin Atlantic proud crew members on the red carpet. © Jon Furniss

As ever, members of our fabulous Virgin Atlantic crew were on hand to greet guests on the red carpet and bring a bit of sky-high glamour to the occasion. “As a British airline, it is great to be involved with the nation’s largest and most prestigious film festival,” explained Reuben Arnold, Virgin Atlantic’s Senior Vice President of Marketing and Customer Engagement. “We have always been committed to providing our customers with quality film and entertainment, and this partnership really highlights this.”

Directed by Scott Cooper – who is best known for the country music drama Crazy Heart, starring Jeff Bridges – Black Mass is an American crime movie based on the life of Irish mob Godfather James “Whitey” Bulger (played by a nearly unrecognisable Depp), who controlled almost all organised crime in South Boston throughout the 1970s. Cumberbatch co-stars as Whitey’s brother Billy, who takes an entirely different path in life, becoming a powerful US senator. Featuring a brilliant ensemble cast – including the likes of Joel Edgerton and Kevin Bacon as FBI agents and Dakota Johnson as Whitey’s girlfriend – this gripping drama depicts how Bulger was persuaded to collaborate with the FBI to eradicate a common foe: the Italian mob. As their unlikely alliance begins to spiral out of control, Bulger evades capture to become one of the most ruthless and powerful gangsters in United States history.


Scott Cooper signing autographs on the red carpet.

The evening began with a luxurious pre-screening event at the fabulous W Hotel, before attendees headed to the cinema for the gala screening itself. As the anticipation mounted, both Depp and Cumberbatch took the time to chat with fans on the red carpet, signing autographs and taking selfies before being interviewed by Edith Bowman. Inside the theatre, lucky audience members nibbled bars of Green and Black’s chocolate while waiting for the show to begin. At last, director Scott Cooper and two of the film’s producers took the stage amidst thunderous applause to discuss the making of Black Mass, before introducing their stars. Johnny Depp and Benedict Cumberbatch then stepped up to answer questions from Festival Director Claire Stewart, and it was quickly apparent that the two had developed an excellent working relationship while playing brothers in the film, laughing and joking as real siblings would.

Scott Cooper, Benedict Cumberbatch and Johnny Depp - Virgin Atlantic Jon Furniss.jpg

Scott Cooper, Benedict Cumberbatch and Johnny Depp. © Jon Furniss

After the screening, Scott Cooper and the Warner Bros team headed along to the Rosewood Hotel in Holborn for the official after party – complete with plenty of champagne and canapés. There was a tangible upbeat buzz as guests raved about their impressions of the film, and particularly the stellar performances by the cast. “Johnny Depp is amazing in it!” says film critic Jason Solomons. “He plays the role with such menace – he is terrifying!”

The BFI London Film Festival runs through to the 18th October, and tickets are still available to see some of the world’s best new films at venues across London. For more information and to see the full programme, please visit the festival website at

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