Hollywood lands in DC for 'Museum' premiere

WASHINGTON: Abraham Lincoln rises from his chair at his memorial to keep the peace among warring characters from history who came to life Thursday in the premiere of the film, "Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian."

It was the first Hollywood premiere ever for the world's largest museum complex, the Smithsonian Institution, which is also the setting for the sequel to 2006's "Night at the Museum." And one of the most popular of its 19 museums, the National Air and Space Museum, rolled out the red carpet for stars of Hollywood and politics alike.

The film's stars, Ben Stiller, Amy Adams, Robin Williams, Owen Wilson and Hank Azaria, mixed with Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts and members of Congress.

Stiller, who starred in both movies, said he was happy the way the sequel turned out.

"The Smithsonian was the springboard for doing the whole thing again," Stiller said.

Stiller's character, security guard Larry Daley, comes to Washington to find his museum friends from the first movie, who had been shipped from New York to a mythical vault under the National Mall.

"Creatively, I think it turned out better than the first movie," Director Shawn Levy said.

The new film adds a romantic twist between Stiller's character and Amelia Earhart, played by Adams.

"I have always admired women who take a step out of traditional roles and take a chance," Adams said. "She was able to make such an impact in a man's world."

After the first film, attendance shot up at New York's American Museum of Natural History, and Smithsonian curators hope the same thing will happen this time around.

"This is really bringing the Smithsonian to life for a new audience," said U.S. Rep. Doris Matsui, D-Calif., who is on the Smithsonian's board. "A lot of people haven't been here yet."

The Smithsonian Institution and 20th Century Fox have inked numerous promotional deals and have plans for a slew of movie-themed products. On Wednesday, game maker Majesco Entertainment Co. released the first video game to explore the halls of the Smithsonian after dark, following the movie's plotline.

Screen writers Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon also took on the roles of Orville and Wilbur Wright to make their 1903 plane fly again. Garant said the Smithsonian offered endless possibilities for their story.

"Every possible prop, every possible character — they've got it," he said. "The sky's the limit."

The movie opens nationwide May 22.