M-Net's HBO Game of Thrones Nu Metro movie theatre screening in the wee hours of this morning - packed with Khaleesis from Cape Town to Durban to Johannesburg - was a rare occurence of fantastic corporate synergy: an international pay-TV content distributor working with a local pay-TV operator, working with a cinema chain, to not only build buzz but to create a real immersive fan experience.
You might not see White Walkers today, but if colleagues behave likes sleepwalkers, chances are they woke at 01:30 to go to a Nu Metro to see Game of Thrones on the big screen where audiences burst out in spontaneous applause the second the theme song on M-Net Edge started.
Before the opening theme rolled however, there was surreal fun to be had at the event which was part Comi-Con, part cosplay - and those who came to play along were rewarded.
Not only did M-Net Edge ask ticket winners to dress up - those who did (the Khaleesi character was by far the most popular) were unaware that they were entered into competitions.
There were shrieks of joy in the darkness as M-Net handed out DStv Explora decoders to the best dressed winners, besides other lucky draws.
(No word on whether the spotted Jon Snows, White Walkers, King Joffrey and even a muscled, half naked Khal Drogo are now plotting to steal the prizes.)
In keeping with the whimsy in Cape Town and elsewhere, cinema goers were welcomed by a Khaleesi and a diminutive Tyrion Lannister.
One excited viewer lugged a crate of dragons' eggs with her - ready to hatch.
As if the M-Net Edge goodie bag (sans dragon egg) of a mug, spoon and hot chocolate sachet, black mittens, scarf and beanie all embroidered with "Winter is coming" wasn't enough, there were complimentary cooldrink, popcorn, Jelly Tots and something more prized than a direwolf in the Seven Kingdoms: coffee and an array of muffins.
Besides the wonderful hospitality, the cinematic experience of watching the season premiere of Game of Thrones was amazing.
Audiences collectively and spontaneously clapped at the opening intro title, when the dragons showed up, and laughed several times at some of the humour and witty banter, especially between Tyrion and the crafty Varys in exchanges like:
Tyrion: "I killed my lover with my own hands, I shot my father with a crossbow."
Varys: "I never said you were perfect."
Already event television around the world, M-Net Edge and Nu Metro made Game of Thrones a collective real-world experience, proving that fans and viewers will go to the cinema to watch great television - even at 03:00 in the morning.